Blue Note do deal: They partner with Deutsche Grammophon in America and Canada to put the Nordic noir of Danish singer songwriter Agnes Obel out there.
The Obel style is certainly of appeal to even the most casual Kate Bush fan.
Don Was, Blue Note president, says: “Agnes is a profoundly imaginative and soulful artist. All of us at Blue Note Records are honoured and thrilled about the opportunity to present her music to US audiences. I’m really looking forward to hearing her new music and am certain that whatever she creates next will emanate from an inspired, honest and unique place.”
“All Too Human is, to me personally, a culmination of years of musical friendships with some of those who have been most influential to my musical development and still are today.”
That is how Django Bates Belovèd drummer Peter Bruun sums up his skeletally improv-fracturing prog-like four-piece whose splinteringly tense album Vernacular Avant-garde is to be released on Ayler Records in March.
Bruun pretty much sweeps in and up with trumpeter Kasper Tranberg, guitarist Marc Ducret and keyboardist Simon Toldam on a sultry scifi-esque Moog-saturated affair given to sporadically destructive tendencies the tunes on this Copenhagen recorded studio album are Bruun’s and certainly worth your precious time and pennies.
Sample listen, above, get it via Ayler
“Reis-Demuth-Wiltgen, a great trio from Luxembourg I cannot speak more highly of their music,” that’s the enduringly totemic 1990s/2000s/2010s jazz saxophone star Joshua Redman (Wish, Moodswing, Walking Shadows) on the piano trio Reis-Demuth-Wiltgen who he is shortly to tour with.
“The first time that I heard them was when my quartet and their trio did a concert together in France in the summer of 2014, and quite frankly I didn’t know them at all and had never heard their music but I fell in love with their music from the moment I heard it.
“They are a very unique jazz group. They play very modern jazz, uncompromising, jazz. But their music is really lyrical and melodic, and at times also very cinematic.
“I think they are really great storytellers as composers and they have a very, very refreshing and unique approach to composition.
“So I fell in love with their music from the moment that I heard it and I’ve had an opportunity to play a few of their songs with my own band; I played Paul Wiltgen’s ‘Floppy Disk’ with my trio; and I have also played Michel Reis’ ‘The Story of You and Me’ with my quartet and they’re always hits whenever I play them with my band; they’re great compositions.”
The tour spans several European countries and includes the band’s native Luxembourg, where the four piece will be joined by a classical orchestra featuring arrangements by the acclaimed Joni Mitchell arranger-conductor Vince Mendoza (Both Sides Now, Travelogue). Tour dates
Choice names of interest for Boomtown include Maribou State, Bilal, Jah Wobble and The Invaders of the Heart, Zara McFarlane and Sampa the Great while Gorillaz, Ben Harper, Jimmy Cliff and Morcheeba have already been announced by the Matterley Estate, Winchester located festival.
Returning collective Nubiyan Twist, Blue Lab Beats and Norwich’s finest the mighty Mammal Hands, above at the Jazz Cafe, Camden Town, are also a summertime pick. Speakers this year include Amelia Womack, deputy leader of the Green Party. Dates 9-12 August / WEBSITE Pic, marlbank.
Adding a twist of free improvisation to rumbling grooves, a style that has propelled Thunderblender into the spotlight enough to scoop up in rapid succession a brace of awards including the prestigious Toots Thielemans, their Irish leader Sam Comerford says audiences for his Brussels band’s tour of Ireland can expect plenty of “feeling and passion”
“When I was studying in Brussels with John Ruocco in 2014, I had been thinking about starting my own group for some time. Compositionally, I was quite inspired by Tim Berne’s approach to integrating writing and improvisation, and so it seemed natural to write for a bassless trio. I met Hendrik [Lasure, Thunderblender pianist] at the conservatory, and it seemed like a great fit immediately. He was able to take my compositions, which can be dense and ugly at times, and make them into something personal and beautiful. Jens [Bouttery who is on drums and bass synth] I had never played with before the band. I saw him play a few times and loved what he was doing. They’re both great composers, very sensitive people, and I think that’s very important when you write in such an open way.
“The first time I played these compositions was in the Flemish Conservatory, in a quartet with Hendrik, for which I won the Toots Thielemans Award in 2015. A year later we played the first gig as Thunderblender in the Bravo, a great Brussels club which has since closed. Over the last two years we’ve played around Belgium, the Netherlands and France, and won a prize in the Tremplin d’Avignon competition in the summer. Since the first gig, the music has become more free and more tight at the same time. We can [take] more risks and play with the material more, as we’ve gotten to know how the compositions work. I’ve also been writing some new music which we hope to record by the end of this year.
“Last Minute Panic [their first EP released in the autumn] is a recording of our first live performance! As the music is quite improvised, I wanted to record it live in front of an audience. It was important to capture the feeling of risk and excitement. Manolo Cabras, a great double bassist based in Brussels, had been documenting what was happening in the city with live recording sessions at Bravo. Before the gig I wasn’t expecting to release it but I was very happy with the recordings, and Marco Giongrandi of Honolulu Records insisted on putting it out on their label. While the music sounds different every time, I’m still very happy with this record. By virtue of the members of the band, it’s a very joyous group to play in! We’re already played a lot in Belgium, so it will be a real pleasure to bring Jens and Hendrik to my country.
“Growing up, Charles Mingus was my introduction to jazz. The feeling in his music really moved me. When I started playing saxophone, I was really excited by Held on the Tips of Fingers, the Polar Bear record. I love the compositions of Tim Berne, he never takes the obvious route. I discovered Henry Threadgill relatively recently, his music is incredible. As a saxophone player, I’ll never get tired of the lyricism of Lester Young. Eric Dolphy, Lee Konitz and Chris Speed [who] were also big influences. Óskar Guðjónsson has the most beautiful sound I’ve heard live, I’m quite inspired by his approach.”
Dates are Tuesday 6 March: Crane Lane Theatre, Cork, free entry; Wednesday 7 March Black Gate, Galway (with support from Matthew Berrill and Aengus Hackett); Thursday 8 March Black Box, Brilliant Corners festival, Belfast; Saturday 10 March Fumbally Stables, Spectrum Festival, Dublin; and Sunday 11 March, Wexford Arts Centre, Wexford (3pm).