No sign of really breaking through yet but it could happen any time soon. But first Charlie Stacey is appearing with his trio at the New Blood strand of the London Jazz Festival next month. One of my picks of the new talent to impress me most for the first time this year last year’s list included Daniel Casimir who has picked up the odd prize or so this year and guitarist Artie Zaitz who did not disappoint when I next caught up with at Kansas Smitty’s having heard him for the first time at Ronnie Scott’s.

Stacey was playing at Rich Mix in Shoreditch on the Bethnal Green Road at the Tomorrow’s Warriors jam when I heard him for the first time earlier this year, part of a quartet, the sound of Jackie McLean, nurtured over the years by the Harrow-based artist development and jazz education-centred organisation, ringing out.

In his early twenties his background is unusual for a British jazz musician as he is an Old Etonian (Humph the only other one I can think of) but don’t hold that against him. He is also a former student of philosophy at Princeton and part of the Tomorrow’s Warriors family since long before his teens, Warriors boss Janine Irons had filled me in on more background as we sat with her husband Gary Crosby, artistic don of the Warriors, on sofas enjoying the band.

With Stacey coming up at the LJF (think a young Jarrett but only stylistically circa his Life Between the Exit Signs period based on what I heard) are bassist Michele Montioli and another new name to me at the time drummer Jamie Murray, who I later in the year caught and was very impressed by jamming at one of the Grim Reaper’s astonishing Sunday bop banquets at the Vortex. Stephen Graham

The date is 19 November for the Stacey trio gig at London SE1 venue Iklektik. Stacey video, above

Things have changed a lot in jazz this year underneath the bonnet if you are a regular listener and in terms of sourcing where you are going to go listen and consume. 

The main one is because musicians have seized back the initiative to make their own DIY labels more professional and crucially universally available by the web mainly by using sites such as Bandcamp that have been around for a while but seem at last to provide a better alternative, rather than the large number of specialist sales sites that don’t really serve the purpose musicians want from a label (eg mainly a way to sell their stuff without taking too much time or being too corporate or needing a lot of time spent on it) and are more like mini-Amazons.

As someone interested in hearing the latest jazz preferably at the promo stage or real time release stage it is the first port of call for me now. It has the great advantage too of bypassing professional publicists who distort our perception of the music and cost musicians so much that a lot of Kickstarter campaigns are based around funding publicity costs which often see little return as publicists are not always able to do what they are supposed to do: get column inches.

One upshot of all this is that indie labels like the ‘pro’ non musician-owned single artist ones within the list here aren’t necessarily the curatorial gatekeepers that they used to be. Why? Well musicians typically go to labels because of good distribution and sales potential. Physical distribution for anyone in jazz is hard to achieve. So a good label with a good distributor will get the product out. If a label has a good distributor relationship that is probably their greatest benefit for any musician wishing to achieve modest but regular sales and yet that is not always achieved.

The key problem is the label doesn’t usually pay for recording (only pressing costs and tiny marketing campaigns if at all) so the musician has to invest loads to get the record done and then they only get small sales in the short term not because the music is crap but because the market is small and stuff takes time to sell even with a distributor and label and the label and distributor then take time to pay what they are contracted to.

Without marketing or word of mouth buzz most jazz distributors don’t sell much product anyway because they can’t devote much time to it. OK that lag in payment might be a couple of months or longer but for young musician bandleaders struggling to pay off student loans, invest in buying instruments etc and then having to pay the hefty costs of professional studios and their bandmates’ session fees deep pockets are often needed.

It is far better for a musician to own their label and crucially be able to sell via it themselves. If they can do this by being organised and have a competence for doing it then sites that allow them to sell and get paid quickly a bigger cut is possible.

Before the web running your own label was harder to do because individual musicians could not afford marketing costs so the labels often were very obscure and relied on the post and pressing CDs and vinyl was much more expensive than now.

People can listen to good samples online now before they buy and the listening is a far better free advert than looking at an album pack shot cover without the audio which was all that most buyers could do even in the web a while back before better audio provision for sample listens became more common. SG

Further reading: Click for more on the power of Bandcamp and its huge growth 

New on Bandcamp at the moment is singer Cleveland Watkiss' Song Diasporas (****), some gorgeous treatments of classic rock and pop songs in the main, that Watkiss says “explores the idea of taking some of these songs and reinventing them through the art of improvisation. Though these songs and themes may be familiar, we come at them differently every time they’re played and sung.”

The project is a collaboration with Lineage bassist Larry Bartley and pianist, Monk expert, Jonathan Gee. Steve Williamson is a radical guest, restless and creative on a free form version of The Who’s ‘My Generation’ and on Bowie number ‘Space Oddity’. Love the version of the Ken Gold/Mickey Denne song ‘You to Me Are Everything’ a great reminder of how important The Real Thing were back in the day but apart from that a song that isn’t covered enough but is instantly familiar.

Listen to the Glimmer twins’ ‘Angie,’ above

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The Porter video, above, is a promo of the track from the springtime release Take Me To The Alley that marlbank has been playing most all year... one of GP’s best ever songs, certainly when it comes to luurve... and there’s quite a choice. Why it’s a cut above? Well listen and it has the capacity to move even the most cynical of us all – and that voice, and the message, continue to astonish.

Topical stuff sees a new Porter live video, from Berlin, coming soon (filmed two months after the UK & Ireland tour that began in some style in what certainly was a marvellous night for a moondance under the gaze of The Man himself in Belfast), and there’s a documentary Don’t Forget Your Music premiering this autumn, too, brainchild of Gregory’s estimable UK agent Heather Taylor. Yes, sometimes the good guys and jazz do win in the end, against all odds.

Watching Supersonic, the new Mat Whitecross-directed documentary film that the Gallagher brothers have executive produced about their glory years in Oasis, you cannot help but realise that rock stars and jazzers are poles apart. 

Yes there are, have been and always were wild jazzmen and women but most jazz musicians live lives more akin to your favourite geography teacher or less introverted than type librarian than their rock star counterparts essentially more attuned and hard wired to chasing the lowest common denominator in every which way.

The documentary on release right now concentrates on charting the football loving working class Gallaghers’ lad status back in the day, getting deported from the Netherlands after drug and drink-fuelled fighting ending up with the full band arrested on a cross channel ferry; getting off their faces sufficiently on meth in LA to play several of their tunes disastrously all at once leading to Noel going AWOL in San Francisco; and trashing a perfectly nice recording studio after an otherwise productive day laying down what are now legendary songs, feats that they share in a gruesome litany of bad behaviour and lots in common in terms of sheer destructiveness with Charlie Parker and his tragically dysfunctional life, although Bird never cracked anyone over the head with a cricket bat to the best of my knowledge unlike the brothers Gallagher, the outcome of a particularly frank exchange of views between the brothers.

The film has a compulsive mad-for-it narrative driven by low quality backstage video footage taken on tour. And rather than relying on staged full face to camera interviews with the protagonists and talking heads uses only their voices, the minimal captioning more than enough to enhance what we’re seeing and straining to believe. Noel Gallagher in particular is pithy and witty even though like Liam he is not at all likeable and the film scores dozens of points for its candour. The crowd scenes (particularly from Earl’s Court) are brilliantly edited while the music as ever with Oasis is simply a thrill. 

By staggering or rather sobering contrast most leading jazzers since the 1980s have avoided excess or at least the public disclosure of it like the plague and genuinely wild jazzers are thin on the ground. I can’t imagine Pat Metheny throwing a TV set out of his hotel room window or Stacey Kent writhing around the stage like Janis Joplin or lobbing her tambourine at her unsuspecting hubbie on sax. But then again I also can’t imagine Noel Gallagher delivering an absorbing 20-minute improvised solo let alone revving up a beast of an orchestrion that he has spent months developing with boffins and then has the balls to take on the road bored with the bother of having a band but geeky enough to suffer the indignity of a robot instrument breaking down on stage.

Gallagher never claims to be the greatest musician alive in a rare burst of modesty. But as a songwriter he’s up there with anyone, and Liam is one of the great lead singers on the planet. Jazz leaders could learn something from Oasis in terms of stage charisma that is for sure but that is about it really. Everything else is not exactly ideal. The drugs and booze helped wreck the band. But ultimately as the film demonstrates the sibling rivalry between the Gallaghers did for them all. The violence that Liam suffered as a child at the hands of his hated father is never far away either when Noel and Liam translated their love for each other into horrible, destructive and highly public hate.

Definitely worth seeing for the ear poppingly magnetic bursts of Oasis in their pomp that no one much since has got close to replicating. While it is pretty obvious that you cannot teach charisma at rock or for that matter jazz school yet somebody out there must have the formula to be let out and used in the live playing setting and the film gives plenty of clues to the sheer maverick nature of a most elusive quality.

Stephen Graham


PATRICK HINELY knows only too well that radio is searching for answers in a landscape where the dinosaurs have never died and refuse to roll over and still know how to really roar  

Perhaps I betray my age in opining as I will on this subject, having just turned 65, and thus having entered the final media demographic here in the USA, having aged out of the penultimate ‘55 to 64’ and entering ‘65 and over.’

My origins as a radio listener date to the early 1960s on the AM dial but really blossomed in the mid-1960s, when pop radio in my Floridian homeland was dominated by the 3 Bs: the Beatles, the Byrds and the Beach Boys, augmented by sweet soul from Memphis, Muscle Shoals and Motown.

It was AM radio such as this which made the success of integration inevitable, but that’s another story. At the time, it was possible to simply tune in to your favourite station – and there were multiple, real choices available – and listen for however long you liked, whether driving in the car, doing one’s homework, working one’s job, eating, socialising, whatever. It was a matter of choosing the station and/or DJ who played more of the music you liked, thus freeing you from the constant shuffling among stations, seeking something better, which seldom improved what you were hearing anyway. Now, with most everything ever recorded at one’s device-equipped fingertips, radio is hardly needed, thus adding another art form to all the other media already upended by the digital revolution.

‘The recurring image in my mind about so many media operations, from newspapers and magazines to record companies and now broadcast entities as well, trying to find a workable framework in the digital age, is that of a cockroach on its back, legs flailing in the air’

It must indeed be a great convenience for those who have the time to do so to plan a day’s listening in advance and load it all into/on to whatever the day’s chosen means of delivery might be. In the US it is only through primarily non-commercial stations such as WBGO, streaming on the web, that we have anything like the BBC, and I continue to enjoy being able to hand responsibility for what will be played next over to someone as knowledgeable as Dr Michael Bourne. Just tune in and let it run. What a luxury!

My own 90 minutes on air per week at WLUR (Mondays, 4.30 to 6pm, also streaming) are designed with that same goal in mind: to improve the listener’s quality of life while going about his or her life, as I take care of providing a suitably substantial soundtrack, with limited – and pertinent – commentary, striving to be creatively predictable in an unpredictable way, as it were – jazz, after all, has been defined as the sound of surprise, all of which may make me truly a dinosaur, but, with a finite potential for learning new tricks, I am content with my lot.

The recurring image in my mind about so many media operations, from newspapers and magazines to record companies and now broadcast entities as well, trying to find a workable framework in the digital age, is that of a cockroach on its back, legs flailing in the air. But we know it can be done, must be done, and, eventually, will be done. We just don’t know what the new forms will be, yet, and my hope is that the tub and/or baby don’t get thrown out with the bathwater.

Lee Morganabove, still as relevant as ever. Just click

Interesting, understatement or what? Actually pretty stimulating – today’s listening has revolved mainly around Matt Mayhall’s Tropes, out next month on Skirl records (the tasteful US label that has Anna Webber on it).

Mayhall is a drummer/composer who reminds me of Steve Reid a little with dollops of Paul Motian thrown in. Based in Los Angeles his jazz playing credits include Larry Goldings and Adam Benjamin, Tim Lefebvre and Eric Revis, and he was drummer on Charlie Haden’s final recorded performance, Spain’s song ‘You And I.’ He also drums for Aimee Mann, that’s as cool as it gets as any Paul Thomas Anderson fan well knows.

Tropes has guitarist Jeff Parker from Tortoise on it and bassist Paul Bryan (Aimee Mann, Meshell Ndegeocello), as well as keyboardist Jeff Babko (Frank Ocean, Mark Guiliana’s Beat Music), and tenor saxophonist Chris Speed (Human Feel, Claudia Quintet).

The tunes are Mayhall’s and there’s a great lazy quality to them, mood and space hugely catered for and interesting riffs arriving from nowhere that suddenly go somewhere as the band catch on and run with new ideas and input.

It’s the sort of record you might have thought can’t really exist as it falls through the cracks of so many different kinds of music, a kind of a slacker ECM vision with a bit more blood and guts to it than some of the German label’s more pastel shades and poking through lots of bluesy connotations, hints and nods. Parker is magnificent as ever and Mayhall has incredible cymbal touch and a authoritative swagger about him that frames the whole sound. Just great.

Mayhall’s website is here if you want to check out more on the drummer, pictured. 

Photo: Kelly Jones

Accompanying the release of Spacebound Apes, the Neil Cowley trio’s latest album, the band have released a video for album track ‘Weightless.’

Upcoming dates are: Turner Sims, Southampton tonight; Union Chapel, London 27 Oct, and church of St John the Evangelist, Oxford 4 November.