‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’ and more from Bammi Rose and Adrian Reid
Jools Holland Rhythm and Blues Orchestra saxophonist/flautist, a founder member of legendary 1970s street funk Afrojazz pioneers Cymande Mike “Bammi” Rose, joined by Cymande pianist Adrian Reid on Nord keyboards continued their regular residency in the congenial and relaxed surroundings of the House of Tippler on London’s Lordship Lane in East Dulwich as World Cup fever began to grip the capital.
Performing after the Portugal v Spain game (a Portuguese supporter at the bar who had watched the match on television compared Ronaldo understandably to Eusébio) Bammi, you might remember hearing him for instance on Charlie Parker’s ‘Barbados’ from Jazz Jamaica’s excellent 1990s album Skaravan got into his stride when he switched from flute to tenor as the pair performed with a backing rhythm that introduced a light Caribbean twist on such early set numbers as Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’ and Billy Taylor’s joyous ‘I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free’ and then with more of a carnival feel the classic ‘St Thomas’ synonymous with Sonny Rollins. Reid’s own album Nyanza Street I enjoyed a few years ago and it was somehow fitting even if completely by chance to hear the pianist south of the river. Photo + text: marlbank. Mike Bammi Rose above left and Adrian Reid at the House of Tippler.
On a Friday
Unveiled for the first time live in front of a receptive crowd at 229 The Venue last weekend the beguiling ‘On A Friday’ from indie four-piece DropPink, who played a blinder.
Lee Konitz/Dan Tepfer/Michael Janisch/Jeff Williams, First Meeting: Live in London: Volume 1, Whirlwind Recordings ****
The ultimate in being too cool for school is, to some extent, a contradiction, and that’s becoming the school. The acme of cool is cutting it live, at any age. Fashionably late, in jazz terms if First Meeting: Live in London Volume 1 is anything to go by that’s currently clocking in at around a year as it’s that amount of time that has elapsed since the release of this album was first flagged up. It’s even longer, nearly four years now, since First Meeting was recorded over a couple of nights at Pizza Express Jazz Club, a basement supper-club venue in London’s Soho. Cool School icon Lee Konitz plays the soprano saxophone, an instrument he is not so much identified with, on a piano-less ‘All The Things You Are’, ‘Body and Soul’ (a piano/sax duo version) and ‘Alone Together’ (all four players, that’s Konitz with pianist Dan Tepfer, bassist Michael Janisch, and drummer Jeff Williams). Konitz is on the much more familiar alto on the remaining tracks: opener ‘Billie’s Bounce’, ‘Stella By Starlight’, ‘Subconscious Lee’, and ‘Outro (Sweet and Lovely)'. He isn’t on ‘Giant Steps’, which is done as a trio of the other players. So what’s it like? Obligatory quibble out of the way first: the record could do with some composer names in the credits and in the context here sleeve notes, preferably an essay from some scribe of note, to enhance the listening pleasure with a few choice words written in the right spirit. That’s made up for by its strong ‘look’, the album has a geometric-like cover design with a quirk in the typography (a bit cut out of the ‘r’ in the word ‘First’ as you can see above) and soft almost tactile velvety hues. Note the “volume 1” too in the subtitle, there were six hours of music to choose from and just over an hour of it is here. Listen to this valuable album and you’ll want more of: the weariness (‘Billie’s Bounce’); the soliloquising in the jazz soloist’s sense (Konitz’s soprano solo at the beginning of ‘All The Things You Are’); the modernism (Tepfer’s beginning to ‘Stella By Starlight’); the Monkian dimension, again Tepfer setting things up on the intro to the off kilter swing of the trio take on ‘Giant Steps’; the spontaneity (there was no rehearsal or plan); and the tenderness and quietude with Konitz’s entry on ‘Body and Soul’ just beautiful. My favourite Konitz album is Alone Together, the 1997-released set where the Chicagoan found himself playing with Brad Mehldau and Charlie Haden. If you, like me, appreciate that album you’ll be pleased that the Arthur Schwartz title track ‘Alone Together’ is here in a poignant 14-minute version, the quartet led off by the tasteful Janisch. The final track ‘Outro’ sends you back to the bebop of your imagination, a fade to 52nd Street.
Indie jazz labels
Babel Current artist releases include Free #3 by Black Top.