March is a significant month for jazz in Belfast kicking off on Monday night with the launch of Dana Masters’ Basement Sessions live EP at the Lyric theatre.
Coming not long after the recording session back in December and following extensive gigging as a backing singer for Van Morrison – up there in the Van backing singer firmament, to many fans already, with Katie Kissoon – trumpeter Linley Hamilton who performed with Dana on the EP and plays on Monday says the Lyric show will be a very special night:
“I started working with Dana Masters about three years ago when she expressed her interest in jazz. She is such an expansive singer with a huge vocal range, incredible power but also an emotion in her delivery that I haven’t heard live that often. She listens to everything and has a huge armoury of songs that she knows and loves from hip-hop, R&B, soul, groove, jazz gospel, singer/songwriter. She is powerful but sincere and one of the most genuine people I have ever met who is committed to helping as many people as she can with a generosity of spirit that makes her so easy to work with. As a result, she is taking the world by storm... the McHughs sessions bringing her to an enthusiastic underground audience and helping her form relationships with musicians that eventually led to her work with the Ulster Orchestra at the BBC Proms and latterly with Van the Man.
“The Basement recording sessions were held over two nights just before Christmas with her new band that featured a horn section and a cracking rhythm section which included Paul Hamilton from the Foy Vance band on drums, and Johnny Taylor on piano from Mary Coughlan’s band. It was extraordinary: her army of fans came out in force and we produced a five-track recording which will be launched at the Lyric Theatre gig on Monday at 8pm. She has further put changes to the band bringing in top Dublin bass player Paul Moore [Van Morrison band] and guitarist Paddy Groenland and has moved away from the jazz which was the core of her repertoire for several years, instead turning to a more eclectic mix of modern songs that she visits with the usual intensity. It has to be the gig of the year so far.” SG
Dana Masters, above. Tickets for Monday's show: here
Linley Hamilton's latest tour begins on 12 March
- Category: News
- Published: Thu 5th Mar 2015 12:31:55
His appearance in a double piano setting with Michael Wollny on 2013’s Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic I released in the year he became the pianist of choice for the first EST Symphonic concert were just two high profile events in Iiro Rantala’s recent career trajectory.
On Jazz at Berlin Philharmonic recorded at the home of the Berlin Philharmonic in itself something of a coup for jazz it was on the Finn’s composition ‘Tears for Esbjörn,’ the lovely melody of which curiously recalled Phil Collins’ ‘Another Day in Paradise’ – non-Collins fans don’t let that coincidence put you off – in the harmonic setting of the opening notes of the main theme that Rantala impressed most as well as his measured arrangement of ‘Aria and Goldberg Variation,’ which turns into ‘All the Things You Are’ by the end.
On Rantala’s earlier album My History of Jazz the Trio Töykeät player made his vision more explicit, explaining at the time: “My entire history in music can be heard on this album.”
Beginning with his encountering the music of Bach at just six, hence the presence of five improvisations on the Goldberg Variations at the core of a sprightly modern-mainstream album, Rantala’s ‘journey’ via Bach took in Kurt Weill, Monk, Gershwin, Juan Tizol, and Lars Gullin plus his own tunes, his indomitable zest for a good improvisational break always standing out. That journey is explored further when Rantala plays the Model in Sligo on 14 March, and the Hugh Lane Gallery in Dublin at noon next day.
- Category: News
- Published: Mon 2nd Mar 2015 10:23:52
Jamie Cullum, Dennis Rollins and Charlie Wood among the line-up at this year’s City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival
Beginning on Jazz Day, the line-up for the 2015 City of Derry Jazz and Big Band Festival is filling out rapidly with more names added to this year’s headline-grabbing appearance of Jamie Cullum.
In addition to the singer/pianist’s final-day appearance at the Millennium Forum, 2015 also features the ex-George Shearing and Ronnie Scott guitarist Irish jazz legend Louis Stewart with Memphis singer/organist Charlie Wood and the John Leighton Trio; drummer David Lyttle launching his latest album Faces; trombonist Dennis Rollins known for his extensive touring as a member of the Maceo Parker band with pianist Robert Mitchell and alto saxist/flautist Tom Harrison; and hot property singer Dana Masters and the Linley Hamilton Band.
Derry scene enduring inspiration saxophonist/clarinettist Gay McIntyre is also appearing as are the returning Jive Aces, Harry Connolly, Ricky Cool and the In Crowd, the Derry Jazz Quartet, The Roaring Forties, Cat Scratch Fever, and Mission Impossible among an ever-burgeoning line-up. Keep reading Marlbank for more updates in the run-up to the festival this year.
Running from Thursday 30 April through Bank Holiday Monday 4 May there is more about this year’s festival including ticket information and accommodation details to be found here
- Category: News
- Published: Thu 5th Mar 2015 11:43:58
Heartland with versions of Duke Ellington, Doc Watson, David Bowie and Pink Floyd material, a new album by singer Indra Rios-Moore, is to be released by Impulse in the UK and Ireland on 13 April.
Rios-Moore is a former student of Mannes College of Music in the US who later moved to Denmark with her saxophonist husband forming a trio with bassist Thomas Sejthen. Their second album In Between won the Danish Music Award for Best Jazz Vocal Album in 2012.
A fan of Joni Mitchell’s 1990s album Turbulent Indigo, Rios-Moore approached the album’s producer Larry Klein to work with her on this new record, which was recorded in the States.
- Category: News
- Published: Thu 5th Mar 2015 07:20:22
TAKE TEN – NEW LISTENING
1 ‘Little Girl’ ... Julia Biel from LOVE LETTERS AND OTHER MISSILES, Rockit
2 ‘All of Me’ ... Cassandra Wilson from COMING FORTH BY DAY, Legacy
3 ‘In Between the Lines’ ... Szandra Szoke quintet from MEMORY PALACE, Hunnia
4 ‘Tuesday’s Blues’ ... Spin Marvel from INFOLDING, RareNoise
5 ‘Don't Let The Feeling Go’ ... Polar Bear from SAME AS YOU, Leaf Label
6 ‘Faces’ ... David Lyttle feat. Cleveland Watkiss from FACES, Lyte
7 ‘Tempest’ ... Justin Kauflin from DEDICATION, Jazz Village
8 ‘And They All Came Marching Out of the Woods’ ... Jakob Bro from GEFION, ECM
9 ‘Nouvelle Vague’ ... Anouar Brahem from SOUVENANCE, ECM
10 ‘Unlimited Source of Pleasure’ ... Zhenya Strigalev from ROBIN GOODIE, Whirlwind
Covering the period January 2015-date. Coming Forth By Day is released in April
Julia Biel, top. Photo: Jenna Foxton
- Category: Listen
- Published: Wed 4th Mar 2015 14:02:36
One of the very best jazz clarinettists around, Cohen is a seasoned player very well known in the States particularly where she has been on the cover of both Downbeat and Jazz Times.
This is the Israeli’s seventh album as a leader, a studio album recorded in April 2014 at Avatar in New York, the Brazilian choro urban style and Flying Lotus-referencing electronica providing in part a springboard for absorbing improvisatory flights of fancy in Cohen’s hands.
Here with her band in chamber-jazz mode featuring keyboardist Jason Lindner, bassist Joe Martin and drummer Daniel Freedman who appeared with her on Claroscuro plus guests including members of Cohen’s band Choro Aventuroso. Milton Nascimento songs also form part of the mix of material, Cohen a long-time appreciator of the great Brazilian. She also pays tribute to guitarist Baden Powell, Rio guitarist Romero Lubambo, well known for his work with Dianne Reeves, guesting on Cohen’s composition ‘In the Spirit of Baden’ as well as on three other tracks.
The leader adds bass clarinet to her choice of instruments and she plays tenor sax on ‘The Wein Machine’ a tribute to Newport Jazz Festival impresario George Wein whose all-star festival band Cohen has musically directed. Considered and timbrally elegant this is an album whose appeal lies chiefly in the way Cohen manages to reinvent the clarinet as a lead instrument in eclectic circumstances, the zesty Brazilian flavours never rendered complacent and heard in a new light.
Released on 17 March
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Tue 3rd Mar 2015 17:40:47
When asked by Jason Crane of The Jazz Session what he thought the relevance of jazz was, Sonny Rollins, in many people’s eyes the greatest living jazz saxophonist, said this:
“I think that the relevance of jazz depends on what you think jazz is. For instance, if you think that jazz is a piano trio playing in a small nightclub — they’re good musicians, maybe have a girl singer — and you come in and there are people smoking and sitting at tables … if that is your conception of jazz then of course jazz is not relevant, because that refers to a time and place. Jazz is something which is much bigger. Jazz has to do with freedom of expression. I think of jazz as having the big umbrella, so that a lot of styles of music that have merged over the years all fall under the umbrella of jazz. The act of trying to create something musically and spontaneously is something that is a part of life. It’s like the weather — it’s always there. Jazz as something that fits into a narrow little remembrance, no, that kind of jazz is not relevant. But jazz is as relevant today as the yearning for people to be free. That’s how relevant jazz is.”
His words are worth quoting to sceptics or people who simply have never really considered the subject, preferring to go with the flow and accept whatever the mass media throws at them whether credible or not.
But what are the ways in which we can all emphasise the relevance of jazz in 2015? These are 10 approaches that struck me as positive. Do write in with your own thoughts.
1 Topicality is relevancy, and if arts coverage in newspapers dismisses the place of jazz in the general cultural zeitgeist it forces the music further underground. Newspapers and cultural websites should give it more coverage – so many fail so lamentably to do so.
2 Putting on jazz once a year or every few months isn’t going to bring in big audiences. But doing so more regularly and giving the audience time to build will. Encourage bookers and promoters at pubs, restaurants, hotels, and local arts centres to put on more jazz.
3 Let people actually hear the music more on the radio by giving it better spots, particularly for new jazz played by, for now, the unknowns. On the little TV there is increase it, for example put more jazz on Later with Jools a programme that actually encourages people to try new music.
4 Fund it better: the investment will be worth it. Look at the strength of the scene in countries that do invest properly in jazz.
5 Encourage the music industry to take jazz more seriously. What sells now isn’t necessarily going to sell in the future. If the industry wants to grow under-performing genres (as jazz is seen in their eyes) they should invest more in marketing rather than accept the status quo. Doing nothing makes things worse.
6 Go see the music live as often as possible. And buy a CD of the artist if they’re selling stuff at the venue.
7 Buy more jazz on whatever format you prefer. Support your local record shop if you have one or choose good quality digital and stream jazz if you prefer. Ask your local store to stock more jazz.
8 Ask your local cultural bodies to explain why they are ignoring jazz or paying it scant attention.
9 Ask why they haven’t thought about putting on a festival that will bring visitors to their towns and cities. Jazz stimulates local tourism and funding it via local tourism costs a fraction of more risky and big budget events that regional governments and councils seem happier to support and which often don’t deliver.
10 Include jazz more in general arts programming. It’s not enough to just preach to the converted at specialist events.
- Category: Opinion
- Published: Sun 1st Mar 2015 12:14:09
Bands that have global reach, meaning those who tour around the world as a rule rather than just in their own country or regional patch, are certainly the exception rather than the rule. Maybe this has always been the way.
But in spite of, or counter-intuitively because of, music’s ubiquity on the web – controversially: who needs to be there any more in a world where a gig can be livestreamed? – most bands are territory (local) bands. That’s why a lot of people talk about the scene here, the scene there. Usually that scene isn’t all that well known beyond, especially the real local movers and shakers content to do their thing in local places.
While musicians might and often are often willing to travel anywhere to play if the price is right and the audience likely to gather most usually gravitate to regular gigs in certain big cities, London, Paris, Berlin, New York, Tokyo, wherever there are opportunities. Or just somewhere near home where the band can get to and there's the prospect of a regular gig.
‘It’s not too much of a leap to say that territory bands rule’
Famous US bands particularly in jazz often have the advantage of making a lot of their music in countries other than the US, often in Europe and Japan. Playing around the world moves them away from being territory bands or national bands in an instant because immediately they are not part of the local scene they came up from. This does have its disadvantages, concert hall culture can be detached and anonymous in the backstage bubble cut off from the world, the airport lounge just hours away: the artists are no longer part of a community apart from the community of travelling global jazz stars they bump into at airports or hotels.
But territory bands who only play set cities and towns over a period of years must feel that they want audiences beyond their local areas to hear them. That’s only natural. But perhaps because of the nature of their music – although that is highly debatable as music is a universal language accessible by all – their style doesn’t travel or more specifically tastes for their music do not always correspond with the current fashions.
The joy of the territory band is that these guys are part of the local community as well. The people in the audience might be their friends and neighbours or people they see walking about their towns and cities. Music at this level you could easily say actually connects more with people on a direct scale. The territory bands might suffer from over-familiarity as they might play a lot in the same places and as a keen gig-goer you might only want to see them every few months or so. But you’ll still go back. Maybe they’ll have added to their repertoire. Maybe they’ll have changed their look or added a singer. Or gone electric. You won’t know sitting at home and these guys can’t be bothered with social media as much for updates. You’ve got to be there sooner or later. With modern technology putting up as many barriers to human communication on a face-to-face level as it is dismantling them in terms of information provision the territory band – going nowhere apart from somewhere near you – is like that welcome light at the end of a long and lonely road.
- Category: Interviews and features
- Published: Wed 4th Mar 2015 16:55:30
Two years on from the release of Songs of the Metropolis the Orient House Ensemble looking a little different – long-time bassist Yaron Stavi and pianist Frank Harrison still on board. But there is a new drummer this time: hard bop hotshot Chris Higginbottom newly installed in place of Eddie Hick.
The issuing label is new too. It’s the first album on the saxophonist’s own Fanfare Records. Songs of the Metropolis had a theme of the “sound of the city”, with tracks named after places and was a ballads-driven album that tapped into a line going back to at least Sidney Bechet in terms of the saxophone. And ballads play a strong role on The Whistle Blower too settling in after the boisterous middle-eastern sounding dancey opener ‘Gaza Mon Amour.’ The gorgeous ‘Forever’ is a beauty. In a note in the sleeve Atzmon comments: “These compositions are about love, nostalgia, devotion, and simplicity.”
Recorded in a listener-friendly manner by Ben Lamdin at London studio Fish Factory over a couple of days of early-September last year Atzmon besides alto, soprano saxophones and clarinet – the harrowing soprano solo at the beginning of ‘To Be Free’ worth the purchase price of the album alone – also adds contributions on accordion, liltingly so on ‘The Song’, and guitar, while Harrison also switches between piano and keyboards, Stavi double bass and electric bass, all four adding vocal touches to the mock chorus of the title track. Atzmon’s wife Tali and Antonio Feola add some vocals as well, vocals particularly a presence on the title track kept to last. All the music is Atzmon’s, the penultimate song of the eight a slow romantic ballad dedicated, unusually for a jazz album, to Moana Pozzi, Italian porno actress and co-founder of the Love Party of Italy.
Stylistically, overall, The Whistle Blower is less about the Charlie Parker side of Atzmon’s considerable artistry, and leans more for instance on ‘Let us Pray’ towards Coltranian transcendentalism and balladry and pretty impressive that side is too. More tense in its best moments than Songs of the Metropolis but playful too, particularly on the amusing surf guitar-flavoured wordlessly vocalised title track (yes there is whistling, wolf whistling). Vintage Atzmon.
Released on 23 February The Orient House are touring extensively over the next few months. Selected Whistle Blower dates include the Verdict in Brighton on Friday (16 January); Hideaway, London (17); 606 London (31); Swansea Jazzland (4 February); Hen and Chicken, Bristol (1 March); Drill Hall, Lincoln (10 April); and Spin Jazz Club, Oxford (30 April). Full tour details here
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Wed 14th Jan 2015 19:34:39
Moving to a new label Cassandra Wilson begins this latest phase of her recording career with a Billie Holiday-themed album.
7 April 2015 marks the centenary of the birth of Billie Holiday, and Wilson’s homage to Lady Day will be issued by Legacy in April to coincide.
Produced by Nick Launay and recorded in Los Angeles’ Seedy Underbelly studios with personnel including members of the Bad Seeds such as drummer Thomas Wydler and bassist Martyn P. Casey and featuring strings arranged by Van Dyke Parks, guitarists T Bone Burnett and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner also feature as well as pianist Jon Cowherd from The Brian Blade Fellowship Band and guitarist Kevin Breit who was on New Moon Daughter.
Definitely the Mississippian’s best album since the excellent but very different Loverly which deservedly won the best jazz vocal Grammy for Wilson back in 2009 and much much better than the eclectic Silver Pony and indifferent Another Country. But why so? Well the thrust of the album seems more coherent than some other attempts at Billie Holiday-themed albums, mostly recently for instance Canadian singer Molly Johnson on Because of Billie took a more orthodox approach but was too stagey. Wilson has never to my knowledge remotely sounded like Billie Holiday unlike a lot of female jazz singers who typically are compared: even Amy Winehouse was bracketed with her other supposed Holiday-ers also numbering Madeleine Peyroux probably a closer match.
The songs, 12 in all are ‘Don’t Explain’; ‘Billie’s Blues’ from Columbia album Billie Holiday Vol 1; ‘Crazy He Calls Me’; ‘You Go To My Head’ from 1952 album Billie Holiday Sings; ‘All of Me’ from the same album; ‘The Way You Look Tonight’; ‘Good Morning Heartache’ from Lady Sings the Blues; ‘What A Little Moonlight Can Do’ a song Holiday sang with Teddy Wilson back in the 1930s; ‘These Foolish Things’ again from Billie Holiday Sings; the important protest song ‘Strange Fruit’ elaborately arranged in an absorbing way again sung by Holiday on Lady Sings the Blues; the very slow ‘I’ll be Seeing You’; and less grippingly ‘Last Song.’ Some get the lush treatment with strings prominent (eg ‘Crazy He Calls Me’ and in the sweeping beginning of ‘You Go To my Head’ and on the very old-fashioned luxurious treatment of ‘The Way You Look Tonight’); but some are built more on an Americana stripped-down sound wrapped around woozy guitars, Wilson’s voice lightly obscured in a cloudy sonic wash which really works and aids, in the handsome sound production, her low tones conjuring so much emotion.
This collection of magic spells, to draw on the title allusion from the Book of the Dead, should connect with a lot of people no matter how jazz attuned they are or not. There are no clichés however but there is enough here to draw in rock fans too given the guitar presence and enough celebratory mood for nostalgia fiends drawn by the Holiday legend for whatever reason.
A reminder of Wilson’s great great voice that first knocked everyone’s socks off back in the very different MBASE era and even more widely on the magnificent Blue Light 'Til Dawn. Highlights? Well the way ‘All of Me’ begins is just beautiful emerging out of the bossa feel of ‘Insensatez’ for a short while before switching time and feel seamlessly to the melody of All of Me.’ It’s all there, just caught in the air. Stephen Graham
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Wed 28th Jan 2015 15:23:55
One thing I’ve noticed recently is a strong tendency followed by some jazz record companies to break their own news on their own websites before the media. They don’t send out press releases or brief anyone, they just go ahead and use their own websites as a news source, sometimes even dressing it up as ‘news.’
Blue Note is a good case in point. Have a look at their site here. Often it is newsy – here they are breaking the news that drummer Kendrick Scott’s Oracle for instance has been signed to the historic label.
This tactic pursued by whoever it is is always promotional about us stuff, buy us stuff, with no filter: this, let’s not be fooled, is just a sales pitch no matter how well crafted and objective the tone. If there is a video put up, and there often is, then you can make up your own minds better (along the lines of a film trailer where you immediately know when something is a turkey or not). But other than that it’s sell-sell-sell, superlative after superlative. It is also revolutionary in the sense that it appeals directly to the consumer rather than to a promotional conduit the label has no or little control over. Yet only the most devoted fans or jazz nerds without media prompting are going to read record company websites for pleasure (the Argos catalogue in the ‘prehistoric’ world of print isn't going to be everyone’s favourite bedtime reading for that matter).
There are a few consequences about this approach: the main one is that the ‘story’ is up there on the Internet and it won’t go away and even if a news outlet finds it (preferably very quickly by themselves not by finding it on Twitter or Facebook) they may well not write about it unless it is box fresh. The media have thus been scooped by the company in question and more to the point a sometimes large online readership who are already talking about it on social media.
The net result is no-one – or not many – in the time-pressed proper story-chasing media writes the story or it’s just a collective shrug diluting the impact.
It is, of course, more democratic, modern, and cost-effective for companies not to use publicists to get the message out to private and highly coveted lists of journalists. It also ensures that coverage in the public domain is the official version. That is useful when lines get blurred and the public image of an artist is very different to the way the artist and the label wishes it to be portrayed. But it does reduce a release that bit more to pure and simple product. Dressing everything up with promo video this and promo track that as some labels do is honest but again it makes it blatant hard sell which might actually be counter productive.
The journalist is written out of the equation in this scenario or writes him or herself out. I’m not sure if that’s healthy and the reason is mainly because less news about releases is written. An interested journalist may tweet the story a label has put up (that’s all if they’re really picky and they might not even want to do that!) or if it is really unusual or super interesting write a few words on a slow news day.
Labels do things differently but personally I feel that if they want to maximise coverage they have to go to the press online and print first and then put up their own story after a little time has elapsed not break the story themselves first. No media outlet likes to run secondhand news especially if it is actually essentially a story with a promotional character in the first place.
Let readers trust their favourite news sources first rather than just beat the sales drum all the time. They are labels after all not the New York Times. Otherwise that message may not be heard at all.
- Category: Commentary
- Published: Tue 3rd Mar 2015 08:58:48
There seem to be two main options with songbook albums. The first: doing them the obvious way. That’s including all the most famous songs. The second – and generally the more adventurous, iconoclastic, and stubborn the artist is – plumping for the less familiar stuff.
It’s a tightrope to navigate: make the album too familiar then what is the point? Make it too obscure and then everyone will go: what is this, anyway?
With Billie Holiday this year it’s an embarrassment of riches. So much is so familiar. There are any number of ultimate Holiday album compilations out there, a huge seam of songs.
Already we have some idea what’s in and what hasn’t made the cut. Some songs go in and out of fashion and although ‘Lover Man (Oh Where Can You Be)’ is one of the songs most associated with Holiday, it is not included on the new Cassandra Wilson album probably the most high profile release of the year in prospect. It is however included on the new José James tribute album Yesterday I Had The Blues. Inducted in the Grammy Hall of Fame in the late-1980s Dee Dee Bridgewater covered the song on her tribute Eleanora Fagan (1915–1959): To Billie with Love From Dee Dee Bridgewater five years ago which begins with another instantly identifiable Holiday number ‘Lady Sings the Blues’ a song again Wilson avoids although the pair both cover ‘Good Morning Heartache’ and ‘Don't Explain’, ‘Strange Fruit’ and ‘All of Me.’ On balance Wilson has touched on enough cornerstone tracks but again she passes on ‘God Bless the Child’ another biggie, perhaps done far too much in recent years although James risks its inclusion.
Song selection isn’t the be-all and end-all but it’s always a challenge especially with such cherished material. Ultimately what Wilson has done particularly on ‘All of Me’ and ‘Strange Fruit’ is enough to find a whole new way into the songs. And on any tribute album that is as vital a factor as song choice itself. SG
In or out of the reckoning in centenary year: Lover Man above
- Category: Commentary
- Published: Tue 3rd Feb 2015 22:02:28
Resonance have made a name for themselves in terms of the care they take in releasing archival material and this is no different: handsome artwork and detailed liner notes really do make their releases refreshing and a pleasure.
Most specialist labels these days don’t take anything near the trouble Resonance and producer Zev Feldman take, and their labours were justly rewarded this year at the Grammys with a win for Ashley Kahn’s liner notes adorning their 2014 Offering: John Coltrane Live at Temple University release issued jointly with Impulse!
Kahn’s scholarship is utilised again here in the chunky booklet along with a contribution from another heavyweight jazz writer Bill Milkowski, a Kahn interview with Quincy Jones, and even a short but warm article by The Who’s Pete Townshend (a bit of a coup there) and excerpts from Wes Montgomery’s brother Buddy’s unpublished autobiography among other contributions.
The packaging may be great but what about the music? Well beyond the practically chemical high achieved by the archive dust and memorabilia, the double CD set only spasmodically lights up but beware the more you listen and get used to the very old sound the more you’ll be hooked. I even ended up on a major Titus Turner kick after getting used to the music here (that was after listening to ‘Going Down to Big Mary’s’ on the first disc).
Of historical interest particularly to Montgomery fans and those interested in the Indianapolis scene Resonance’s previous release Echoes of Indiana Avenue is hand on heart better but some of these tracks here (the set includes little known 1955 studio sessions produced by Quincy Jones the chief draw) are of significant interest despite the sometimes random live club sound quality and casual flavour to some of the playing.
Disc one is located eight years into Montgomery’s career (some of his first sideman recordings were with Lionel Hampton in 1948) largely in the Turf Club in Indianapolis complete with plenty of atmospheric sound – whoops, shouts, laughter and chat – mostly from August 1956 with some tracks recorded the following month and in November.
The second disc flits about more beginning in 1958 at the Missile Lounge again in Naptown moving back in time to 1955 for the New York Epic tracks and even further by the end to some California tracks dating from the late-1940s. There is also a vocals element to some tracks in the collection Ellington singer Debbie Andrews not quite my taste on an expansive treatment of ‘I Should Care’ the audience quite talkative but scoring big at the Turf on the gutsy ‘Going Down to Big Mary’s,’ that song again, Wes simply inspirational, the band flying. SG
Released on 9 March
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Fri 27th Feb 2015 11:48:17
Horovitz superjams with Albarn, Coxon & Weller to be reissued ahead of the poet’s 80th birthday gigs
Following on from yesterday’s story about the celebratory 80th birthday superjams coming up to coincide with poet Michael Horovitz’s 80th this year London label Gearbox have indicated that they are to reissue on 28 March ahead of the Pheasantry gigs a white vinyl LP limited 500 record run of ‘Bankbusted Nuclear Detergent Blues (Jazz Poetry SuperJam #3),’ which the distinguished Beat made with Damon Albarn, Graham Coxon and Paul Weller recorded in 2013 at the Modfather’s Black Barn Studio and the Blur singer’s Studio 13.
‘Ballade of the Nocturnal Commune / Extra Time Meltdown’ (Jazz Poetry SuperJam #2), a 45rpm vinyl single taken from the same session also featuring Weller, Blur’s Graham Coxon and Albarn will also be reissued the same day in a 300-record run. ‘Ballade of the Nocturnal Commune’ above captured in a live version
- Category: News
- Published: Tue 3rd Mar 2015 17:20:49
Yazz Ahmed has written new music commissioned by Tomorrow’s Warriors to be premiered by the all-female Nu Civilisation Orchestra.
Titled ‘Polyhymnia’ the music to be performed at the 2015 Women of the World Festival has been inspired by the first Saudi female film director Haifaa al-Mansour; Ruby Bridges, the first African-American child to desegregate an all-white elementary school in the south of the USA; Nobel peace prize winner Malala Yousafzai, shot by the Taliban for fighting for her right to go to school; African-American civil rights activist Rosa Parks; the Suffragettes, British women fighting for the right to vote; and jazz saxophonist Barbara Thompson who as a performer has battled Parkinson’s disease to continue making music despite suffering great pain.
Tomorrow’s Warriors CEO Janine Irons MBE says in a statement: “Since the beginning of time, women have had to demonstrate remarkable resilience to survive the challenges of inequality and life generally. As a young woman in the music industry, Yazz will be very mindful of this.” Ahmed, a British-Bahrani composer and trumpeter, further comments: “I see my composition as a way to celebrate women, and to raise their aspirations. In choosing women from today as well as women from the past – many of whom we still don’t know enough about – for me these six movements celebrate some rather special people who fought and continue to fight.”
The concert takes place in The Purcell Room on Sunday 8 March. Tickets: here
Yazz Ahmed above
[updated from 20 Jan article]
- Category: News
- Published: Mon 23rd Feb 2015 16:07:12
Slang might not be the most gripping of band names, more suited perhaps to a metal band, and you’d never guess the band in question is from Belgium. Yet Pace of Mind (Zig Zag World ***1/2) is a breath of fresh air exerting a magnetic pull for Indofusion fans, Indian sitar player Purbayan Chatterjee guesting.
To be released in mid-April there’s plenty of improvisational sound and fury as you can glean from the video above, saxist/bansuri player/flautist Manuel Hermia, bassist François Garny and drummer Michel Seba whipping up a frenzy of sound, Chatterjee floating effortlessly over the top of it all cool as they come on electric sitar.
Playing together since 2013, the album recorded in a Liège studio in May 2014 Indojazz fusion has entered a new mature phase in recent years and Pace of Mind sits nicely within this, a broadly inclusive music that spans out from Trilok Gurtu’s pioneering approach over the years and one that feeds into and beyond jazz. Sometimes it's as if the band are delivering an Indofusion take on In A Silent Way or even on the band-and-Chatterjee-written title track drawing to mind the lovely Irish traditional melody/folk standard ‘My Lagan Love’ taken way way out by these talented players. SG
- Category: News
- Published: Mon 2nd Mar 2015 12:27:48
It takes a while to warm up. But when it does there’s no stopping revered bluesman guitarist/singer and erstwhile banjo player Otis Taylor.
With several versions of his own song ‘Sunday Morning’ and a couple each of ‘Hey Joe,’ the Billy Roberts song synonymous with Hendrix that Taylor loves and plays a lot, rather than duplication on this Colorado-recorded studio album this approach does what it says on the tin or rather underlining the matter-of-fact floating mantra on the sleeve: “These songs explore the decisions that we make and how they effect us.”
Taylor knows how to tug the emotional heart strings, bleeding the blues and folk into a rough blend with rock and other influences – trance blues is what he likes to call what he does. The deftly mobile banjo-flavoured ‘Peggy Lee,’ glossed in the artwork as concerning a man named Lee [who] transitions to a woman called Peggy is the best thing here along with the B version of ‘Hey Joe,’ the jam atmosphere tipping over into freedom.
Guests include guitarist Warren Haynes from the Allman Brothers, acoustic guitarist Bill Nershi, and singer-guitarist Langhorne Slim. Ex-Bill Frisell/Ginger Baker sideman cornetist Ron Miles also adds some delicious touches within the skilful band sound.
A live version of ‘Hey Joe’ above
- Category: Reviews
- Published: Tue 24th Feb 2015 12:33:35
The Institut Français’ It’s All About Piano festival next month features John Taylor, Dan Tepfer and French rising star Édouard Ferlet – known for his work with Mark Murphy and Geoffrey Oryema – among its jazz strand this year.
The third running of the London-based festival, which encompasses a variety of styles beyond jazz, Dan Tepfer’s recent work includes a duo album with singer Joanna Wallfisch his empathetic Mehldau-esque style moving into his own space as an improviser on ‘Never Let Me Go.’ The Paris-born US player was also on the Lee Konitz album First Meeting: Live in London Volume 1 featuring a masterly take on ‘Giant Steps’ caught above in the video in another playing context.
UK jazz great John Taylor, who spoke so movingly at the memorial service of his late friend Kenny Wheeler last autumn, released In Two Minds for the Italian CamJazz label at the beginning of 2013, an exquisite solo piano album that featured the distinguished Manchester-born jazz pianist’s three-part ‘Ambleside Suite’ and six other compositions including two by Wheeler. The festival runs from 27-29 March. More information may be found here
- Category: News
- Published: Wed 25th Feb 2015 19:03:05