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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.

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.

There’s no turning back. The place of jazz radio in today’s listening has changed irrevocably.

Cast your minds back to pre-web days. No Spotify, no Youtube, no Soundcloud. In shops you might have found “listening posts” or turntables and headphones to check out a record before purchase but that was all there was in terms of audio apart from the radio. The radio was the only way to hear records that you didn’t own yourself. TV, then and now, hardly ever played the music you were after so radio programmes, national and local, were what mattered.

That isn’t the case now. We as listeners are our own DJs: we can filter and select the music we want to hear without the need of a DJ presenter to guide us on our way. We can hear records much more readily than even the most knowledgeable DJ can provide via the web and our online purchases.

Why waste time listening to shows that are playing music that was around a month or two ago as is the case with a lot of BBC local and national radio programmes? Even the national programmes struggle to keep up, trying to improve their offering by padding them out with interviews which are often scarcely more than plugs and live broadcasts some of which have as much atmosphere as a game of billiards taking place on the moon.

Local jazz radio now needs a shake-up. It needs to be more web-led with a better social media profile so we know it is there (most BBC local jazz programmes have none or hardly any profile), and more relevance locally and certainly less puffery by DJ/presenters who are musicians promoting their own mates and gigs which is sometimes embarrassingly the case. Having musicians as presenters personally I think is a bad idea anyway: the presenter needs to be just like the listener, a fan and enthusiast, a Bob Harris, a John Peel, who between them would have found it hard to muster more than a couple of chords but still produced great programmes.

Some stations are catering for niches within niches (eg trad jazz only, mainstream only) and that is just too indulgent given how big the jazz community is and how little airtime in a station is devoted to it and this only results in salami slicing the audience still further.

Radio needs more imagination than ever. Pop-ups during festivals are a good promotional idea, sure, but isn’t it more interesting to go to the gigs rather than listen to people talking about it on the radio? But more than imagination it needs to be relevant and offer a proper service that you can’t get elsewhere.

In an age when a few clicks of a computer mouse brings up the vast majority of listening needs radio may be fighting against the tide and may in the end just have to give in and become web only, with text and visuals part of the package within a bespoke website. But even then sites like Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Spotify where the content actually arrives first will still be ahead. It is a sad story for those who really love radio but it is what’s happening out there. Gone are the days when you wait for a week to tune in to your favourite programme because you had nothing else to turn to and actually when you think of it that isn’t a bad thing at all. Jazz record requests via the wireless – simply a quaint notion now. Time to move on instead.

Quite funny really the things you’ll find on Bandcamp. On the one hand there is the seriously excellent music you’re getting a preview of weeks before release; on the other the daft band name/album title combos that litter the place.

I’m amazed how much sheer crap there is there, and in the spirit of bafflement I bring you my favourite preposterous listens this week. 

Some things are just lost in translation as in Mayborne Hash’s Arts of Low, above. Love the title of one of the tracks: ‘Perfectamente Borracho!’ Yes, we are masters of grief as the lyrics have it on ‘The Chain,’ Leonard Cohen eat you heart out.

Things get a lot worse, and really the art directors have a lot to answer for. Take a look at the pitiful cover of Hits From The Valley for instance. Tagged under jazz, of course it isn’t. God knows what it is!

This could go on, but really the funniest I’ve found recently is You Wouldn’t Drink Bleach by TSB, teenage prank masquerading, well not very, as well teenage prank. 

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

Brutally compelling, this is a thunder storm of a record: one of the strongest, wildest reedists out there in Ken Vandermark here with Hamid Drake, the US drummer who has been recently touring in the UK, bassist Kent Kessler, and then in the ultimate coup de gras the formidable Scandi trio The Thing joining forces.

Let’s put it this way it's not for the faint hearted, a full on record that’s a bit like being part of a triathlon and that's just listening.

Recorded in the Polish city of Kraków a year ago and released on Not Two Records earlier this month there’s a great sense of catharsis achieved once you have listened to these great improvisers at work on just three epic tracks. 

Free composition at its most considered, quite a feat given the immense energy all the musicians put into their work and the freedom they allow each other. One of the best free improv records of the year to date. 

Listen to the storming opening track ‘Cards,’ above


A master of mood and darkness, trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær continues a story begun on Switch. There’s a plangent delicacy to the music on offer, generally quite downbeat, slow and tender, full of material that nevertheless cooks up an inert heat that becomes ever more engrossing as you enter into its uniquely futuristic world.

Working with Geir Sundstöl, guitar/banjo, Jo Berger Myhre bass, keyboards, guitars, and drummer Erland Dahlen there’s little backward-looking or copycat in Molvær’s approach and the trumpeter manages to manipulate a spatial dimension to magnify his intimately lonesome solo statements.

When the band whips up some extra energy say on ‘Jackson Reef’ there’s a new intensity in the band interplay. But it’s the aching, involving, passages that really dominate and captivate here and make this such a fine record.

NPM is over with the Buoyancy band in the UK later this autumn playing Ronnie Scott’s on 25 October, a must-see for anyone interested in state of the art jazz from Europe.  

Well, prizes aren’t everything and certainly quality tops all the kudos going. But it must be galling for Empirical not to have got recognition as the Mercury token jazz act or in the shortlist at the MOBOs.

Their new album Connection clearly marked a huge return to form this year, and the bar was already set high, as anyone who saw them at their Old Street station residency back in the late winter will know.

Hearing them several times over the course of the residency it struck me how they just seemed so at ease and were playing as one, their rapport and sheer musicality putting them in a different league to many of the younger bands out there snapping at their heels, and their writing is better than ever, an alchemy of bop and beyond that communicates on several levels.

Maybe there should be an award for best band not to gain an award this year! But seriously catch them if you can at these upcoming gigs and you won't be disappointed.

Lewis Wright, left, Tom Farmer, Nat Facey and Shaney Forbes of Empirical above at Old Street