welcome

One Year by Tom Arthurs’ trio who will follow up by playing London and Bristol dates after release was partly inspired by the films of Andrei Tarkovsky (1932-1986).  Trumpeter composer Arthurs is with his fellow Englishman pianist Richard Fairhurst and the Finnish percussionist, Markku Ounaskari

Arthurs writes: “I was deeply impressed by how Tarkovsky edited his masterpiece Mirror [1975].  He had no story, no plan, no storyboard. He just shot a lot of material and then, for two years, he had these clothes lines in his house and was putting together the scene into different forms until he had the movie.” 

Tom, who has lived in London and Berlin in more recent years and was a BBC New Generation artist in 2008-2010, is beginning a new phase of his career in Switzerland at the Hochschule der Künste, Bern, as artistic leader of the jazz and contemporary music department. 

Upcoming trio dates, introducing the album project and marking its release, will include London and Bristol appearances, the first at Pizza Express Jazz Club, London  on Saturday 10 March at 1.30pm followed on Sunday 11 March in the evening at St George’s, Bristol playing acoustic. On Ozella.  Vinyl + CD link 

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Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen
Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen
Laborie ***
This has got New Melodic written all over it from the opener ‘Mirage’ onwards. Little known beyond the Benelux although that may well change swiftly, Luxembourg pianist and composer Michel R­eis studied at the Conservatoire de la Ville de Luxembourg, later Berklee, and the New England Conservatory. So he’s studied hard and long, and the effort has paid off (he must have lived a bit as well as this is not a bookworm’s record). As a leader Reis put out four albums of his own and here teams engagingly with relative newcomer Marc Demuth on bass and Paul Wiltgen, drums. I love the beginning, a headspinning circular motif taken at a great clip by the drummer, and by the second track ‘No Stone Left Unturned’ the band is well and truly into its own space. Drummer Wiltgen sounds a bit like Magnus Öström a bit, no bad thing, but Reis is his own man. Brahmsian at times, there’s a grandeur to Reis’ playing, and the trio manages to carve a style that’s in keeping with EST. That’s unavoidable. When Demuth plays the bass all exposed on the ballad ‘A Clock Apart’ it’s big Dan immediately! This trio is a real discovery. Pick of the set? The beautifully aching ‘If Only You Would Know’ a tune Brad Mehldau would be proud of and the middle eastern folkloric ‘Straight Circle’ is rather lovely. SG

Reis/Demuth/Wiltgen above. [Review first published in 2013.]

It is something that is not often written about by album reviewers.  With a bit of a stretch it may be like a card playing member of the magic circle sworn to secrecy for professional reasons, the analogy I am thinking of relates to how we listen.  Well, everyone is different in their time devoting methods and choice of formats but I am sure few would argue that listening because of technology has changed hugely and not always for the distortingly better.  For instance, we are teased before album release in a radically different way than pre-web, say experiencing the Tigran Hamasyan EP For Gyumri (Nonesuch) firstly via a video for Rays of Light, the second of the five tracks. 

That was almost enough, a superb, ghostly sensation derived from Armenian folk traditions, the passage of time and glories of jazz hoving into view, an uneasy ancient calming conjured somehow seemingly but of course not without skill and artifice. 

When MTV began music videos (Herbie Hancock was an early adopter) the visuals were mostly confined to TV and before satellite TV came to the UK and Ireland cable.  Most people then only knew about albums via press ads and specialist very small circulation magazines so really the general public brain-dead on Top 40 music or a little better informed if they were clubbers knew nothing about what was going on to all intents and purposes. 

If you come upon an album I would contend without having heard anything at all of it and sit down to listen to it in one long listen your experience will be different and probably better (because you will concentrate more) than piecemeal snacking or if you are into pop a paltry single no matter how much of a banger it is.  

Ubiquity these days or as good as access to music via streaming, which means we are drowning in content, reveals everyone to think that they are a curator or critic and no one really knows anything because we are too frazzled or time poor. Having listened properly to the full EP now a few times my impressions are threefold without droning on: the first, well never mind the EP width or lack of feel the quality; who said you cannot whistle (gorgeously The American)?; and marvel or thrill to the still pianism and gnosticism of it all. Rating, out of a maximum of five stars based on levels of innovation, quality of musicianship, recorded sound, unique sense of artistry, originality and overall sense of completeness: ****  

Tigran website; label site     

Image result for Joachim Kühn Love & Peace

A new album by Joachim Kühn, the distinguished German pianist-composer known for his work with Ornette Coleman and an array of much admired albums of his own to cherish in recent years such as 2014’s Moscow, will be released later this month in Germany followed internationally on 9 February.

An intergenerational piano-bass-drums trio affair, the septuagenarian Kühn is joined by Canada-born bassist Chris Jennings and German drummer Eric Schaefer (best known for his Wagner variations and his work with Michael Wollny) on Love & Peace to be released by ACT records two years on from their Beauty and Truth

A studio album recorded in France in May 2017 Ornette Coleman’s ‘Night Plans’, which featured on the Ornette-Kühn 1990s Leipzig live album Colors, is among the material that nestles alongside originals of the pianist’s plus contributions by Jennings and a Doors cover – a Jim Morrison & co thread begun on Beauty – plus a treatment of 19th century Russian composer Modest Mussorgsky’s ‘Le Vieux Chateau’. Eric Schaefer, top left, Joachim Kühn, and Chris Jennings. Photo: Lena Semmelroggen/ACT

Accordionist Gaby McArdle (above, left) is at the heart of the Enniskillen traditional music scene, the paterfamilias, performing with the sage-like Professorial rocker Pat McManus back in Fermanagh after a lot of touring last year (above, centre) in traditional Irish mode on violin and the singer-guitarist Paddy Shannon (above, right) who guested the last time I reviewed in the well laid out East Bridge Street pub. 

Enniskillen is a small town alive with an ever growing live music and poetry scene over the last few years, musical highlights of which include more Irish traditional music taking place on Tuesdays at the Crowe’s Nest and in Blakes of the Hollow on Fridays, rock and covers by two bands each night at Granny Annies on Townhall Street through each weekend and usually a choice country singer floating in on Saturdays at Charlie’s in Church Street among the best things on offer plus The Thing Itself monthly poetry happening in Belmore Street’s Cellar Bar. There is no jazz on anywhere at the moment on the central island part of the town itself alas but that may change I hope, the last few included a couple of gigs that marlbank put on in Jazzeys, now a just opened restaurant called 28 Darling Street run by a chef, formerly of the award winning MacNean House located in the Black, county Cavan, and his wife. 

Discerning tourists at Magee Mondays join the locals via word of mouth, the set hardly derailed apart from a few eyerolls directed at a waywardly shoeless lad dancer who continued his staggery turn on a different pavement stage later.  Dick Farrelly’s ‘The Isle of Innisfree’, with a great vocal by Shannon, was the song that I took home and listened to again online although none I managed to find matched Shannon’s excellently unsentimental treatment and ‘Dirty Old Town’ is always a pleasure, almost compulsory.  The reels, jigs and polkas element of the set are when the music journeys deeper and you feel lost in the zen of it all as Pat clicks up into a higher gear and the heart races.  Gaby keeps great time and has a haunting lilt when he solos while Shannon’s guitar accompaniment was faultless and his convincing low tenor voice, landing between the Christy Moore and Johnny McEvoy sound maybe, rose as if to greet and bow down to the great mother Erne running high and fast only yards away.  Story and pic: Stephen Graham/marlbank  

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