Kit Downes
Pianist Kit Downes is touring Ireland next week taking in Cork, Limerick, DublinKilkenny, and the
McHughs Jazz Festival in Belfast. The tour begins on 9 September. Downes first surfaced on Empirical’s self-titled album in 2007, has been Mercury-nominated for his Golden trio’s album, and even found himself at the heart of the burgeoning prog-jazz movement playing futuristic organ with groundbreaking Allan Holdsworth-influenced trio Troyka, as well as recording with Dublin band ReDiviDer. The band Downes is appearing in on tour is one he co-leads with bassist Cormac OBrien of the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra. Michael Buckley is on saxophone, and Shane O’Donovan, known for his work with Louis Stewart, drums.

Kit Downes, above

Gay McIntyre

If you can’t wait for the first Further into Jazz gig that takes place a week on Friday then the build-up couldn’t be easier this very weekend as theres a rare chance in the Fermanagh area to check out a legend of the music on the Irish jazz scene, Derry jazz icon saxophonist Gay McIntyre, who’s appearing with a strong band at Ardhowen theatre on Saturday night. Singer Victoria Geelan, whose own band Further into Jazzs Neil Burns plays in, is also guesting at the gig.

Gay McIntyre, above

 

The video above is a live version of the title track, the very last number, on Next Beginning, a debut by saxophonist Samuel Eagles. If you think the surname is familiar you’d be right as Samuel’s brother, also a saxophonist, is well-known now on the Cool School and hard bop-inspired end of the new generation London jazz scene as a member of the adventurous piano-less trio Partikel. Drummer Eric Ford, who is also in Partikel, joins Eagles who plays alto and soprano saxes on this quartet recording of Eagles own compositions made at Derek Nash’s Clown Pocket studio, and released by the F-IRE label in its “Presents” series this November. The line-up of the quartet is completed by vibist Ralph Wyld and bassist Fergus Ireland. The Eagles (trips off the tongue, doesn’t it?) play the Lancaster Jazz Festival later this month on 20 September, with dates to follow at London venue the Mau Mau Bar (23 October), and the Oval Tavern, Croydon (9 November) ahead of a Sunday lunchtime launch in Soho during release week itself.

Blue Eyed Hawk

Blue-Eyed Hawk, Under the Moon, Edition ****
Literary influences abound on Under the Moon. WB Yeats, Armand Silvestre, and most compellingly Seamus Heaney, on the final track ‘Valediction’, singer Lauren Kinsella at her most natural. “Since you have left the house/Its emptiness has hurt”, the starkly touching refrain a choir of possibilities. Kinsella takes an experimental, more ethereal, route that’s very different to her fellow Irishwoman Christine Tobin, possibly Kinsella is closer in sensibility, if not sound, to Norma Winstone in the unpredictable excursions she takes the notes on the page on. Pure and slightly vulnerable yet with a determined inner strength to it it’s a voice that soars and swoops, dream-like on the beautiful ‘Aurora 5AM’ begun with birdsong, her defining journey through Yeats, besides both the fandom of band and album title on this excellent album has a world weariness to it that matches the exasperated sentiment of the advice-laden “O do not love too long/Or you will grow out of fashion/Like an old song.” There’s no danger here (the extravagant version of ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’ the biggest proof) that trumpeter Laura Jurd, guitarist Alex Roth, and drummer Corrie Dick, or Kinsella, for that matter, will wallow in the complacencies of an old song. Released on 15 September

 

It’s getting near that time of year when one lucky jazz artist, or band, ends up warming in the glow of a Mercury nomination. Or not, as the case may be. Its the unique chance to hang around and compare haircuts with bands that don’t as a rule play to phonebox-sized audiences. Last year the Mercury judges ordained that jazz was in for a bit of snubbing. This time, a little oddly, even if the genre is unfairly neglected again, there’s a strong chance among the ranks of the many landfill indie bands under consideration that jazz will creep in anyway, but only in the moniker of the must cooed-over Adult Jazz, whose album Gist Is has been described by that arbiter of indie taste and tactics The Quietus as “texturally ravishing and textually fascinating,” quite good in other words. Strong jazz contenders that should be in with a shout or might just as easily be preparing to be cruelly snubbed include: Get the Blessing, Lope and Antilope (Naim Jazz), GoGo Penguin V2.0 (Gondwana), Zara McFarlane If You Knew Her (Brownswood), Black Top #1 With Special Guest Steve Williamson (Babel), and Neil Cowley Trio Touch and Flee (Naim Jazz). The nominations come through on 10 September.

In for a shout at the Mercurys? Get the Blessing, above

In this the centenary year of the Saturnian one’s birth, a mouth watering helping of 20 mainly infectiously groove-friendly Sun Ra pickings from the vaults chosen by Arkestra leader Marshall Allen, is set for release by dance label Strut in late-September.

More than a quarter century of music from Ra’s sprawling career is covered here on this double CD/vinyl issue with audio sound quality clean and crisp the tracks well sequenced, and there’s no annoying stop/start jumping about that a lot of scattergun compilations suffer from. There are also a number of unreleased tracks included as is the custom as a selling point with this kind of labour-of-love compilation, including an unheard Rome 1977 recording of ‘Trying to Put the Blame on Me’.

‘Plutonian Nights’, above, the Ra composed fifth track of the first of the two discs, is taken from the El Saturn Records LP The Nubians Of Plutonia recorded in Chicago at the tail end of the 1950s. You, too, can, once again, travel the spaceways.

Smith and Kellock
Brian Kellock and Tommy Smith are to perform at the Islay jazz festival 

Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival 12-14 September Tony Kofi's Future Passed trio, Donny McCaslin, Champian Fulton, and the duo of Tommy Smith & Brian Kellock are among those travelling to the Hebrides this autumn.
Herts jazz festival, Welwyn Garden City, England 12-14 September Chris Barber, James Pearson trio, Alan Skidmore quartet plus Georgie Fame, Nigel Price, Jean Toussaint, John Taylor quartet, Clark Tracey quintet, Alan Barnes/Dave Newton, and Mike Gorman are among the line-up.
Lancaster jazz festival, England 18-21 September Courtney Pine, and the Dennis Rollins Velocity trio, appear this year. Also among those on are the Peter Edwards trio, Elliot Galvin, the Paul Edis sextet, and saxophonist Samuel Eagles whose debut Next Beginning is released later in the autumn.
Limerick Jazz Festival 25-28 September Van Morrison, David Sanborn, Julian Siegel, and the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra, are among the artists announced in the line-up for this year’s Limerick Jazz Festival. It’s a big autumn for Morrison, who turns 69 at the end of August, with the publication of his selected lyrics, Lit Up Inside.
26-28 September  Nigel Kennedy is to appear with ex-Soft Machine guitarist John Etheridge at this autumn’s Scarborough Jazz Festival, the organisers have announced. And also on their way to the Yorkshire seaside town are Maceo Parker trombonist Dennis Rollins, singer Anita Wardell, Alan Barnes who comperes the event, drummer Clark Tracey and his quartet, pianist Gwilym Simcock, plus the Little Radio duo of Iain Ballamy and Stian Carstenson. New talent is represented by the piano-vocals/saxophone duo of Theo Jackson and Nathaniel Facey as part of a dedicated strand of musicians plucked from the ranks of the next generation.
ReVoice, London, Surrey and Suffolk, England 9-20 October Carmen Lundy, Rebecca Paris, Ian Shaw, and Liane Carroll are among the top jazz vocals line-up at Georgia Mancio's annual festival that this year spreads its wings beyond its Soho base to, yes, Dorking and Bury St Edmunds.
Cork jazz festival, Ireland 23-27 October Dianne Reeves, Ginger Baker Jazz Confusion, Carmen Lundy, Quercus, Michel Legrand, The Drifters, Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings, Imelda May, Carla Cook, Ensemble Ériu, the Bruce Barth trio, Cape Grace, Francesco Turrisi and the Taquin Experiments, the Vanburgh Quartet, Slow Skies, Dimman, Lee Fields and the Expressions, and Sleep Thieves are all heading to the Cork gathering, Ireland's top jazz festival, this autumn.
Bluesfest, London, England 26-31 October Elvis Costello (solo), Van Morrison, Gregory Porter, Georgie Fame and the Blue Flames, Sheryl Crow and Level 42 appear in the Albert Hall.
Tampere Jazz Happening, Tampere, Finland 30 October-2 November Just dates so far.
Jazzfest Berlin, Germany 30 October-2 November This year's programme has now been published on the festival's website, a little earlier than the September unveiling as previously thought. Ahead of the festival too, with a link to Martin Luther King’s famous festival preface featuring in the build-up, is a performance by saxophonist Denys Baptiste with his acclaimed Now is the Time Let Freedom Ring MLK-themed concept concert on 5 October. And at this year's 50th year anniversary festival itself, Elliott Sharp MLK Tribute; the Eva Klesse quartet; Francesco Bearzatti Tinissima 4tet; Benny Golson quartet; Get The Blessing; Soweto Kinch; Daniel Humair quartet; WDR Big Band & Kurt Elling; Jason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party; Mostly Other People Do the Killing; Free Nelson Mandoomjazz; Trio Feral; Hedvig Mollestad Trio; Brass Mask; Alexander von Schlippenbach & Aki Takase; Ulrich Gumpert / Jochen Berg; Silke Eberhard; The Thing; and the Fire orchestra are among those down to play. More details on the Jazzfest Berlin website.
London jazz festival, London, England 14-23 November  John Surman + Trans4mation Strings + Chris Laurence: Surman at 70 residency (the residency also includes an appearance with the Bergen big band), Abdullah Ibrahim Ekaya + new trio,  Bill Frisell, Sam Amidon, Branford Marsalis quartet,Tomasz Stańko New York Quartet + Stefano Bollani and Hamilton de Holanda, Snarky Puppy, Jazz Voice, Trish Clowes and Guy Barker with the BBC Concert Orchestra, Chucho Valdés, Dan Tepfer Goldberg Variations, Jason Moran & Robert Glasper, Richard Pite, John McLaughlin, Jane Monheit, Dr John, Dave Holland & Kenny Barron, Dedication Orchestra, and DeeDee Bridgewater among the names so far. 

Nguyen Le

It sounds like a huge dare making a jazz version of Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon. Well it is a considerable undertaking by anyone’s yardstick. Following in the footsteps of the Flaming Lips in tackling the ubiquitous 1973 classic album that has sold more than 4m copies in the UK alone, there have nevertheless been precedents as recently as this year of jazz artists tackling revered rock material, Dylan Howe, for instance coming off triumphant with his clever take on Bowie’s Low period. But this is a step up in terms of sheer scale. I’ve always quite liked Nguyên Lê although not all his albums quite cut the mustard in terms of sheer consistency and live he can be a bit erratic even though technically he is quite obviously a heavyweight player. Scratch deep and you’ll find a Hendrixian at heart, so by tackling Pink Floyd at least Lê keeps faith with the same historical era even if Jimi had shuffled off this mortal coil by the time The Dark Side came to be made. Teaming Lê with Mike Gibbs on Celebrating The Dark Side Of The Moon (ACT) makes a lot of sense and collaborating here with the NDR Big Band playing arrangements mainly by the French Vietnamese player with orchestrations by the great Gibbs, featured artists singer Youn Sun Nah, drummer Gary Husband, and bass guitarist Jürgen Attig, means there’s certainly lots of firepower. Tracks include songs from the classic album, and Nguyên Lê’s own compositions.

When The Dark Side of the Moon came out having taken something like a year to make in the studio, staggering in terms of how long it takes to make your average jazz record then or now, a Rolling Stone reviewer noted that the album resembled “a single extended piece rather than, a collection of songs”, continuing:  “It seems to deal primarily with the fleetingness and depravity of human life, hardly the commonplace subject matter of rock,” or of jazz for that matter. But how have Lê and Gibbs managed to match the “grandeur” the Rolling Stone writer saw in the source material? Answer well, by both caressing and bombarding the material to hand. For grandeur Sun Nah’s contribution reaches the powerful emotions needed most successfully.

There will be, one would imagine, a strong range of reactions to this new work when it comes out in November: downright hostility, possibly. Intrigued acceptance, more likely; but even a non-committal shrug or two. The original album ran like this, a track order ingrained probably in the heads of millions of rock fans the world over: ‘Speak to Me’, ‘Breathe’, ‘On the Run’, ‘Time’, ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’, ‘Money’ (the opening track of side two), ‘Us and Them’, ‘Any Colour You Like’, ‘Brain Damage’, and finally ‘Eclipse.’ In Lê’s treatment ‘Speak to Me’ opens proceedings followed quickly by a new piece ‘Inspire’, then ‘Breathe’ with Youn Sun Nah superbly laconic and the WDR giving it a whole lot of well, Welly. Then it’s ‘On the Run’ and ‘Time’ from The Dark Side, new pieces ‘Magic Spells’ and ‘Hear This Whispering’ followed by the Floyd’s ‘The Great Gig in the Sky’, ‘Gotta Go Sometime’, then ‘Money’ and ‘Us and Them’ (both from the original album), new piece ‘Purple or Blue’ followed by ‘Any Colour You Like’, ‘Brain Damage’, and ‘Eclipse’ from The Dark Side complete what’s on offer here.

As ever with such classic rock archaeology you’ll want to immediately listen to the original material and to be perfectly frank you might just stop right there and never return to these particular Lê lines. That might be a shame though but I can’t help but feeling Colin Towns, say, could come up with a completely different way of tackling Pink Floyd that might resonate more. And who knows he might one day. SG
Nguyên Lê, the NDR Big Band, and Mike Gibbs, above. Photo: ACT/Patrick Essex

Bang on a Can All-Star clarinettist Ken Thomson and his ensemble Slow/Fast are about to release their second album Settle (NCM East records). And you can listen to the title track above. It’s four years on from their debut It Would Be Easier (Intuition). Reedist Thomson is joined on Settle, which has a kind of a revved-up John Hollenbeck quality in the writing to the title track, by guitarist Nir Felder who made a splash earlier in the year with his major label debut Golden Age, Chicago-based trumpeter Russ Johnson, and New York players bassist Adam Armstrong and drummer Fred Kennedy.

Mammal Hands
The future of jazz is in new bands and in original material. That claim is pretty easily backed up with the emergence and debut album here of Mammal Hands. The three-piece sit squarely within the ambit of the New Melodic and extend on the sound of label-mates, the revelatory Aphex Twin- and EST-influenced piano trio, GoGo Penguin. Released by forward-thinking Mancunian spiritual jazz label Gondwana the eight tracks from a band that first got together in Norwich were recorded in a Manchester studio. Saxophonist Jordan Smart, Jordan's highly expressive piano-playing brother Nick Smart, and drummer/tabla player Jesse Barrett sound and think as one, very much a crucial element of the collectivist instinct displayed by the most creative jazz in which the band, as a unit, alternates between operating as a soloing and accompanying entity.

Animalia

Animalia
begins with the anthemic ‘Mansions of Millions of Years’, followed by the Knee-Deep period Portico Quartet-recalling ‘Snow Bough’ where Jordan Smart cycles through his emotions heightened by strong narrative comping from Nick Smart.

Refreshing, stimulating, basically a reimagining of the piano trio via a bass-less format and saxophone lead line, ‘Kandaiki’ mines minimalism and balladeering, the rough-hewn saxophone line followed by tender piano with drums temporarily as dispassionate but highly rhythmic onlooker. ‘Spinning the Wheel’ is more in Neil Cowley Trio territory (particularly circa Radio Silence) Mammal Hands exploding out of the initial theme into new space of their own. A highly promising, and at times, quite moving, debut. SG

Released on 15 September

updated 14/8 with additional video

Hype
As a follow-up to yesterday’s piece about jazz journalism and comments published on The Jazz Breakfast here are some further points worth raising about hype, the positives social media and journalism share, how print can embrace online more fully, and brand loyalty as the last defence propping up print.

Extra questions are also worth raising. First of all the subject of expectation seems important.

• What do you, as a reader, actually expect from reading an article about jazz?

News?

Gossip?

Are you interested in getting to know the musicians’ point of view?

Or is it purely the history of the music you desire to learn about?

Stripping it right back: you’re new to the area and you’d like a beginner’s guide, right? Perhaps, though, it’s behind-the-scenes detail you want. Industry insights. More on the actual notes on the page. Or more broadly you’re interested in how jazz culture manifests itself, and how culturally jazz connects with other art forms and socio-political movements. Or maybe it’s opinion you crave, simple reportage too, with loads of analysis on the side. Or just reviews, reviews, reviews.

Good journalism doesn’t do hype
You might say you want all of the above if possible! But what you probably don’t want, though, is relentless promo and hype although you probably want news. Social media is very good at promo and even better at hype and news in music journalism often goes hand in hand with promo in a certain sense (particularly release details and gig announcements). Good journalism doesn’t do hype, it campaigns, although it can make use of the energy of passionate engaged interest as a locomotive of change that sets off in a parallel direction but at a different speed to turn to reach a new destination. Good journalism allows readers to make up their own minds by putting information at their disposal that actually entertains, informs, and educates. It is so much more accessible and practical, at its best, than academic writing about the subject.

Areas social media and journalism have in common
In the list of questions at the top of this article, the one wondering if it’s “opinion you crave” belongs in an area that both social media and journalism provides. But there really isn’t going to be much considered analysis in a discussion within social media. There isn’t time or the inclination. Let’s face it you’re more likely to be trolled or just attacked for expressing divergent opinion as take part in a proper discussion. Especially in below-the-line commenting, which you get on newspaper sites. The main difference for the writer in real-time is the degree of accessibility to the reader whether it is via below-the-line comments or via Twitter and Facebook. That is far more democratic than print as it’s much more exposed. This “direct response” in feedback online actually can raise the future quality of the writing more quickly than in print because of longer production processes and bureaucracy that might take months to iron out errors or right major wrongs, if at all.

Print content needs to be free online eventually
In terms of print and web priorities, if there’s an important article in a print publication that isn’t reproduced fully online then that story, even if the magazine or newspaper has a reasonable circulation, is still not going to achieve the reach it can achieve online. As music magazine circulations get ever smaller surely magazines have to keep their profile up just for self-preservation by publishing their paid-for content free, leaving enough time between the on-sale date and free publication to retain the publication’s bread and butter sales. But jazz print advertisers need to take the plunge in specialist areas to advertise online because their potential buyers are, let’s face it, more likely to be consuming digital media than print media nowadays.

Brand loyalty
If bloggers with no resources can scoop music publications regularly, which they often do, and provide big interviews, podcasts and video spots of quality, then the fabric and very existence of the print music publication is surely in doubt. Sticking with it from a reader’s point of view might only just be brand loyalty and that can fade. New readers who haven’t contracted the virus of brand loyalty won’t fall for the concept at all. And with new online publications springing up all the time readers move around more, again a democratisation and contrast to the days when a music magazine was really one of the few places in terms of the written word to go to to fill the information void.

Niche products become more niche
Maybe some day, just as now there is a new interest in vinyl, readers will realise that it’s a better experience to immerse themselves in music journalism by abandoning online formats and returning to print, the equivalent of ditching MP3s and CDs and opting for vinyl. But if that does happen it will be high-end niche, and probably will cost a hell of a lot more for your average magazine than it does now. You might even be paying as much as a book as you do for your magazine now just like the purveyors of vinyl know it’s a luxury product essentially and charge accordingly a price purchasers are deemed willing to pay.

Hitting at hype where it hurts though will involve more than just ever more specialist products. It will surely embrace not just new attitudes in journalism but also a willingness by the record and live music industry to partner more fully and effectively with specialist music media outlets in very specialised areas to serve everyone’s customers, reader and purchaser alike, that bit better. SG


Sponsored by reed and mouthpiece company Vandoren this is an informative conversation, reeling in the years, between two NEA Jazz Masters, Phil Woods (82), Jimmy Heath (87) – players you don’t often see interviewed that much these days and saxophonist Gary Smulyan (58!). Each of the two interviewees touch on their early days, Woods in Springfield, Massachusetts, Heath in Wilmington, North Carolina, and in Philadelphia. Heath’s live big band album Togetherness was released earlier this year.

Standards are the ultimate comfort zone. But life is not always a GAS when a tune you’ll find in the Real Book or one that comes straight from the Great American Songbook is about. Not that you’re always going to hear them although you’re more likely to in a restaurant, hotel or jazz club setting when a jazz band is playing to a lot of people who have jazz expectations particularly for the fabled ‘atmosphere’. Digressing at the thought of atmosphere I’ll resist the temptation to think of that terrible Russ Abbot song, not a jazz standard, by the way, but you never know a future one in the hands of such crack ironists as Mostly Other People Do The Killing. Too late: don't click if you're squeamish.

In some ways if you’re instead looking for real insights into what kind of jazz it is you’re actually consuming, it’s good to isolate whether there is a jazz standard on the set list or not. That’s pretty simple, even in these complicated times, and that actually tells a lot. Most self-consciously forward-looking jazz outfits for instance won’t play them as a rule, whether the band happens to be Polar Bear, WorldService Project, or more understandably Led Bib. Maybe somewhere hidden away in some scary bunker there’s a Peter Brötzmann Plays the Great American Songbook album, which would prove as explosive to his fanbase as the thought of an audience turning up for some state-of-the-art doom-jazz treated to an impromptu set from cuddly crooner Buddy Greco. But the point is even the avant gardists flirt with standards in their own way. They’re the elephant in the room. Or maybe it's: when are they going to play a tune I know?

What forward-looking bands do however explore when they cover non-original material is to find another standards route, for instance by choosing rock, pop, or dance gems, or alternatively pick say jazz-rock repertoire that have become sort of standards themselves (typically covering a Weather Report or Return to Forever tune). These then act as aural shorthand as to where the band stands musically. Jazz-rock, just to pick one sub-genre, has its own notions of standards and they generally don’t involve playing ‘Autumn Leaves’. Someone like Robert Glasper who relies a good deal on hip hop and soul material and who has been known to joke slightly affectionately about old jazz standards will even pick an on-the-face-of-it unlikely Bruce Hornsby tune such as ‘The Way It Is’ and by merging his own style via his own Herbie Hancock and J Dilla influences create something new that sits alongside what jazz people have been doing via Broadway tunes all along.

The problem remains, however, for those sticking to the standards line: how on earth can you make your mark when for instance there are 137 versions of something like ‘All of Me’, according to the invaluable covers website secondhandsongs, many just a few clicks away online, a cheesy standard in the wrong hands, and one you’ll also hear any night of the week? Answer: it’s going to take some originality. But also most people playing standards, and here’s the crux of the matter, aren’t really interested in making their mark on them, even if the discipline of jazz improvisation allows them infinite choices and fairly free rein. The standard just invades you, and in effect you are dancing along to the tune of history as much as you are the jazz of today. And that’s much too comforting a thought to entertain for too long.

Stephen Graham

Earl Hines and Teddy Wilson’s 1965 version of ‘All of Me’, above

Bound to be an occasion, the first Charles Lloyd Dublin concert in a decade, has been announced by the National Concert Hall. No better time to turn on, tune in, and drop out all these decades on still courtesy of the saxophonist who convinced the hippies to stick with jazz.

There’s a live take of ‘Caroline No’, a Brian Wilson song that also appeared on Lloyd’s best album in decades, 2010’s Mirror, above. The concert is on 18 November.

Elan Mehler

It’s a blink and you’ll miss it sort of gig. Just one night, a “school night” at that. But if you're in central London on 9 September and you still haven’t managed to catch Elan Mehler live then a trip down below street level to the Pizza Express Jazz Club might well and truly open your eyes. Mehler is still in the cult pianist bracket (witnessing the transition from cult player to concert hall favourite is as tricky as making it your mission to see the Northern Lights). The New Yorker's latest album featuring the likes of ‘Come Rain or Come Shine’, ‘Don’t Explain’, and ‘It Never Entered My Mind’ probably won’t change that perception of Mehler as a well kept secret of a player, though, for now. But it might make the devotion of the Mehler fanbase burn that bit more brightly as the originals here on Early Sunday Morning (Challenge), including ‘Abigail’s Waltz’, are the ones that stand out on what is an approachable solo piano album. As exciting a player as Brad Mehldau was when he first emerged from obscurity Mehler now in his mature prime might not have anywhere near Mehldau’s outrageous technique or sense of danger at his beck and call but he certainly makes up for it in teasing out evocative mood music at will. Mehler is at the Pizza with his trio of bassist Chris Jennings and guitarist/cellist Karsten Hochapfel, according to the club's website.

David Virelles

Cuban pianist David Virelles, known for his appearances with Steve Coleman’s Reflex, and with Ravi Coltrane and Tomasz Stanko, as well as featuring on Chris Potter’s highly acclaimed The Sirens, one of last year’s best records, and for his own band Continuum, has signed a solo deal with ECM, and his first album for the label, Mbókò, is expected in early-October, according to Amazon.

Virelles is joined by two bassists: fellow Wisława Stańko New York quartet band member bassist Thomas Morgan; and ex-Branford Marsalis bassist Robert Hurst, whose quintet Virelles also plays in. Vijay Iyer trio/The Vigil drummer Marcus Gilmore (who also crops up on new Mark Turner record Lathe of Heaven out next month), and long-time Virelles colleague Cuban percussionist Román Diaz complete the personnel, heard on Abakuá Cuban biankoméko drums, and vocals. Updated 29/8/14: There are track listings up now on US Amazon and a little blurb explaining the title Mbókò, apparently, fundament, sugar cane, or “The Voice”, as glossed by Abakua culture relating to a spirit, or spirits. But you knew that! The album carries a subtitle, too, which is: Sacred Music for Piano, Two Basses, Drum Set and Biankoméko Abakuá.

Virelles, born in Santiago de Cuba in November 1983, is the son of a singer-songwriter father and symphony orchestra flautist mother. He became interested in jazz as a teenager and was later mentored by Canadian flautist Jane Bunnett. Virelles went on to study at the University of Toronto and Humber College and became a winner of the first Oscar Peterson Prize, in more recent years moving to New York where he has studied composition with Henry Threadgill. SG
David Virelles, above. Photo: ECM

Expected to be released on DVD in the autumn here’s a trailer from Prashant Bhargava film Radhe Radhe: Rites of Holi featuring music by Vijay Iyer. The pianist/composer drew inspiration from the Holi festival and Stravinsky coinciding with the Rite of Spring’s centenary for this new setting. The work was performed by the International Contemporary Ensemble and the film includes footage made during the Holi festival in Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, marking a journey of devotion for the goddess Radha.

Courtney Pine
Courtney Pine, above, and Dennis Rollins are to top the bill at this year’s Lancaster Jazz Festival.

Also appearing are the Peter Edwards trio, Elliot Galvin, the Paul Edis sextet, and saxophonist Samuel Eagles whose debut Next Beginning is released later in the autumn. The Lancaster festival, which runs from 18-21 September, has also commissioned Leo Geyer to write a new piece, which is to be performed by the young composer’s ensemble Khymerikal.


Here’s an exclusive look at ‘This’, a video accompanying the sixth song of The Signal, Elizabeth Shepherd’s new album. Released by Linus in late-September the Canadian singer/pianist-songwriter collaborates with Herbie Hancock guitarist Lionel Loueke who, as you can see and hear, is heavily featured on the song. Shepherd is sometimes compared to Esperanza Spalding and Gretchen Parlato, her experimental pop-jazz soulful sound blurring genre distinctions admirably, an approach that also sits nicely with that of Kairos 4tet singer Emilia Mårtensson’s.

Jochen Ruechert
London label Whirlwind Recordings sign a lot of artists. It’s hard to keep up. Here’s the latest one they’ve just announced, a tantalising new album from New York-based German drummer Jochen Rueckert whose impressive CV include stints with the might-as-well-be legendary Marc Copland and with Eric Clapton-approved jazz guitar supremo Kurt Rosenwinkel.

Rueckert's first album for Whirlwind is called We Make the Rules. It’s a stellar quartet affair, the drummer joined by Fly trio tenorist Mark Turner, whose new solo album for ECM Lathe of Heaven is about to come out, and by guitarist Lage Lund (remember Owl trio?), with highly-rated James Farm bassist Matt Penman completing the line-up.

All the tunes are Rueckert's, including the one in this video, which is a live version of ‘Eggshells’, a tune that opens the album: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lmujuRCDXkY

Rueckert, above, with his quartet, play the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London on 9 October just ahead of release.