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Bassist in the Pat Metheny Quartet alongside the guitar great, pianist Gwilym Simcock and Birdman drummer composer Antonio Sánchez, Linda (May Han) Oh’s latest studio album is to be released in mid-April on Biophilia Records. Oh, as the Malaysian-born Australian was known when she burst on the scene, now also including her birth name in her full nomenclature, initially championed by Dave Douglas is I suppose alongside Esperanza Spalding, among the most high profile female jazz bassists probably anywhere on the international club and festival jazz scene. But her style and artistic persona is of course different. Spalding, certainly in a funk rockier space at the moment and moving more electric while Oh prefers acoustic primarily. Both players certainly came out of modern mainstream straightahead jazz situations, in Spalding’s case with Joe Lovano who of course Douglas has worked with a lot. And Oh has played with both the trumpeter and Blue Note label veteran tenorist in their popular Soundprints outfit who put out for instance a high profile Live at Monterey record not so very long ago and regularly tour to the UK. Walk Against Wind features the core quartet of Kneebody saxophonist Ben Wendel, guitarist Matthew Stevens, who was coincidentally with Spalding on Emily’s D+Evolution, and the highly effective drummer Justin Brown last heard by marlbank on brilliant form performing with Ambrose Akinmusire and who reminds me of the power and glory of Dennis Chambers or Billy Cobham. The net result of the Oh concept on these tracks is some remarkably gutsy highly propulsive pulse-heavy yet airy very rhythmic freed up post-bop which is full of engrossing melodic twists and turns and where intersecting rhythms and different points of entry create driving patterns and somehow rational resolutions. Listen to excerpts, above
Gilad Atzmon pays tribute to John Coltrane 50 years on at intimate Spin club show.
They have a new album together but on a day storm Doris wreaked havoc on travel plans for millions, Alan Barnes was not able to join Gilad Atzmon at the Spin in Oxford's Wheatsheaf. Instead the fiery saxophonist breezed into the long upstairs room of the pub on the High playing a John Coltrane-themed set half a century as he observed in a wry intimate aside to the front row after the great man departed this mortal coil. 'Impressions,' 'Afro Blue', Atzmon switching from tenor sax to a heavily amplified viscerally effective clarinet reminiscent of his dazzling For The Ghosts Within co-leading stint with Robert Wyatt and Ros Stephen, and a waltzing 'Giant Steps' saw the set well underway the confirmed Ornithologist joined by Frank Harrison on piano, Yaron Stavi on double bass and Enzo Zirilli, drums. The Spin's Mark Dorfmann, manning the door and standing up on a table at one point to better view the stage explained to marlbank, dipping in briefly, that the Spin club night at the boozer which serves decent Hobgoblin ale among other beer on tap has been running for 18 years and he and guitarist Pete Oxley are regular performers.
• A new piano bar called Sandy's that marlbank is looking to check out will also open in this city of dreaming spires later this year on nearby King Edward Street.

Joyce guests on Harry Allen quartet set Something about Jobim (***1/2) on the Danish Stunt label, an album recorded in a Brooklyn studio the summer before last. The Brazilian adds her low toned poetically oblique sensuous input that Allen in his more fogeyish days never really could capture.

Her tune written with Gerry Mulligan, ‘Theme for Jobim,’ (above in a much earlier version with Milton Nascimento), remains simply, staggeringly beautiful. Tenorist Allen whose tone lifts even his non-fans to admiration and silence simply plays out of himself. There isn’t too much distracting swing, drummer Tutty Moreno instead plays a blinder, keeping it really casual by casting a rhythmic invisible spell hypnotically in the air. 

While there are dozens of Jobim songbook albums his music is so constant it reels back the years. Jobim songs are on hundreds of albums but if push were to come to shove I’d go for 1967’s Francis Albert Sinatra & Antônio Carlos Jobim or, just one song, one version, ‘Corcovado’ on Quiet Nights by Miles Davis from four years earlier. On the Allen album the tenorist is joined by Helio Alves on piano, producer Rudolfo Stroeter on bass join Moreno and Joyce (on a few tracks), the album opening with the classic ‘Dindi.’ Allen has learnt a lot from Coleman Hawkins and is now a falconer of considerable skill and taste. In brief it is the Tom and Harry, Joyce-stealing show. And no one can ever in the theme for Tom forget Gerry.

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


ason Moran’s Fats Waller Dance Party project when it makes it to a release in the autumn is bound to shake up our perceptions of the music of Waller. It’s safe to speculate the perception of the distance of years and clash of styles in Moran’s hands is likely to, respectively, shrink time to the point of collision and metamorphose a range of historic musical idioms in front of our very ears. Think back to what Moran did with his epic Town Hall Monk re-imagining for some kind of clue.



acca-preferred jazz pianist and arranger Alan Broadbent is appearing and teaching at this year’s Sligo Jazz Project. And here are a few trio selections of his, just fire up Spotify to listen. More on Sligo here. Promises to be a great summer of music in the town with the jazz festival coming just ahead of the fleadh cheoil returning to Sligo after Derry last year.

Ahead of the release of Paul Bley’s solo piano album Play Blue, Oslo Concert confirmed by ECM for a 31 March release here's a Spotify playlist of non-ECM vintage Bley to whet your appetite. The new album was recorded live at the Oslo Jazz Festival in 2008 and material featured includes the Canadian free-jazz piano innovator’s own compositions for the most part, with Sonny Rollins’ ‘Pent-Up House’ (featured on Newk’s 1956 Prestige album Sonny Rollins Plus 4) also added. Bley’s Black Saint and Soul Note 1983-1994 period was reissued back in October and you can get the skinny on all that here: The Complete Remastered Recordings on Black Saint & Soul Note

Inspired, that’s not quite the word, but certainly prompted by listening to the new Curtis Stigers album Hooray For Love, here’s a little ‘crooning for beginners’ playlist and why not. Obviously everybody here in this handy list isn’t a beginner, but where better to start if you want to move your crooning on from the Rat Pack

Ahead of the release of Polar Bear's new album In Each and Every One later this month let’s take five with a prog-jazz Spotify playlist to get us into the right head space, beginning with some Allan Holdsworth and Mahavishnu Orchestra not forgetting Polar Bear themselves and the new generation with WorldService Project and Troyka. Stand well back.

Here's some further New Melodic listening, including Jazz on 3 listener suggestions.