The Kitch tour got off to a tremendous start at Keats House in Hampstead, north London, part of the Windrush 70 celebrations marking the first significant wave of migrants arriving from the Caribbean to the UK in the 20th century who disembarked from the Empire Windrush at Tilbury Docks in Essex on 22 June 1948.
Poet singer writer Anthony Joseph’s fictionalised biography of calypsonian Lord Kitchener is published on the day of the 70th anniversary itself and ahead of the publication Anthony, above wearing a trilby, took part in a relaxed and highly informative onstage conversation with poet Hannah Lowe and took questions from the audience, some of whom are pictured greeting Anthony just after the reading finished and before the book signing queue began to form.
These were evocative, vivid, poetic tales of Lord Kitchener, Mighty Sparrow, and the calypsonian universe spanning from the Caribbean to Kitch’s life in Manchester, and which also included Anthony’s recollection of the profound moment when he actually met Lord Kitchener as chance would have it in Port of Spain.
The tour continues in the Alhambra theatre for a Bradford Literature Festival appearance on 7 July when Anthony will be joined by alto saxophonist Jason Yarde who features on the new Joseph album People of the Sun. Anthony told me in a brief chat during the signing that the album which has been introduced with the trail of the infectious ‘Dig Out Your Eye’ will be released in September. SG
Latest live review: Tim Garland and the Weather Walker trio
At the Edition festival this was an unusual lunchtime opportunity to hear the ex-Chick Corea saxophonist Tim Garland along with Jason Rebello (formerly with Sting and Jeff Beck) and the distinguished jazz and classical Russian double bassist Yuri Goloubev (Gwilym Simcock).
The trio date chimed with the release of landmark release Weather Walker and took place during the Edition label’s 10th anniversary festival. The album also features a large string section and star German pianist Pablo Held who was also appearing at the club later in the day, the album recorded in Studios 1 and 3 of Abbey Road. “Movie magic, (but not as we know it!),” Garland has described it.
Full of interest imbued as it is with an English sense of melancholy and the blue sky of the endless horizons of contemporary jazz inspired by the English Cumbrian lake district and the intricacies of Garland’s compositional and arranging skill heard for instance earlier in his career on The New Crystal Silence, the title track of the new album was kept to last tucked in right at the end of the second set – and what a gloriously dark mood it conveys certainly one full of thought provoking reflection.
Earlier we also heard a fine composition by Jason Rebello called ‘Pearl’ featured on the pianist’s 2016 album Held but for me it was ‘Black Elk’ from Garland’s orchestral record Libra that was the pick of the concert.
Garland chose a variety of reeds instruments, soprano sax most significantly. His bass clarinet playing (“the random note generator” as he referred to the instrument jestingly) was colourful. Judicious use of electronics were fed into the sound for extra space during the set and his tenor playing was magisterial.
Rebello was on fine optimistic form, and his style now is certainly his own. His main influences of notably Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter have long since been assimilated and distilled into a driving style where harmonic accompaniment is lifted into solo space and you cannot see where the seams are.
Goloubev I suppose stole the show in a way without grandstanding. He was at the heart of the trio sound in several ways. Garland mentioned his arco capabilities borne from the double bassist’s classical orchestral background in Moscow and his musicianship is unerringly used in the service of the beauty of the music.
I first heard Garland in the 1990s when he played in the folk jazz group Lammas which featured the acclaimed poet Don Paterson who played guitar and singer Christine Tobin. The folk side of Garland’s writing has not left him and I suppose makes his music English in certain nuanced ways and adds to his specific compositional profile. Garland is also able to share the pulse across the trio and allows space for each of the instruments to contribute without distracting at all. The set drew on the contrapuntal chamber jazz of Acoustic Triangle a little too. A tender gig full of character by three masters at work and play.
Tim Garland among family and friends above at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, London
In the round
Black Top # One with Special Guest Steve Williamson Babel **** RECOMMENDED First of all I’m not sure why CD buyers have to wait until mid-July for the release of Black Top’s debut available now as a download album. Surely the label should bring the physical release date way forward. I attended the concert captured on # One with Special Guest Steve Williamson recorded at the opening night concert of Jazz in the Round at the Cockpit theatre in London's Marylebone on 30 January 2012 and the album is a vivid souvenir of that excellent performance, the sound quality, even via a stream, strong and sure. Black Top was initiated in the latter part of 2011 by Jazz Warrior and multi-instrumentalist Orphy Robinson and pianist/sound sculptor Pat Thomas, and the group appears in different formations, with Steve Williamson guesting here (Williamson and Thomas had appeared as support to Steve Coleman’s Reflex a few months before at the London Jazz Festival). “Exploring the intersection between live instruments and lo-fi technology combining twisted loops, samples, dub-effects that draw on their Afro-Caribbean roots with the spirit of pure improvisation which is rooted in the free jazz experiments of NYC musicians like Sam Rivers,” according to the band. ‘There Goes the Neighbourhood’, with its Space Invaders-like bespoke keyboard sounds bubbling up from the Cecil Taylor-esque imagination of Thomas, brooding marimba density from Robinson and tender soprano saxophone lines from Williamson, who hasn’t been heard properly on record for years, is the 13 minute-plus opener; with the abstract hugely long ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner’ (a nod perhaps in its title to the 1950s Stanley Kramer film starring Spencer Tracy and Sidney Poitier) coming in like velvet via an a cappella Robinson beginning, Thomas later funnelling wild octave-trampling sheets of sound on what essentially is an extravagant ballad and the most startling achievement of this superb album. ‘Archaic Nubian StepDub’, the short closer, with Thomas’ zappy sci-fi keyboard lasering the opening before Williamson’s Gary Bartz-like tones give Robinson a feast for thought. That’s improvising. Stephen Graham