Catch-up time — Turas came out earlier in 2018 and worth mentioning all these months on because it was a thrill earlier this year given my unforgiveable lapse at not reviewing the record making up for it a tiny bit at least by hearing Fergus McCreadie play a club gig in London with the Matt Carmichael Quartet.
It certainly roused me out of my slumber and surprised me at the time and in retrospect was one of my gigs of the year. Not long afterwards I bumped into the pianist lurking in the shadows at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards but he did not win, ridiculously, that night. He did not seem to bear much of a grudge as he picked up an award for the Glaswegian promoter Jill Rodger who could not make it to Holborn that night. Fergus hardly needs the parliamentarian parchment because his debut, all bright voicings, melodic, folky, containing a lilt to Turas that is never trite or too homely — the work of the McCreadie trio legislates all by itself.
The title, the language scholars among you will know, is a Gaelic word for that X Factor much used-and-abused noun of choice “Journey”. McCreadie, who writes the tunes, is with David Bowden on double bass and Stephen Henderson on drums in solid support and cleanly recorded by Liane Carroll’s favourite producer/studio engineer James McMillan working from his own studio.
The style and sense of flow of the tracks are very mature, and regards McCreadie it does not take a genius or very long at all to realise that the pianist has Loch Ness Monster-sized chops, or if you prefer think Brian Kellock-meets-Gwilym Simcock preferably not on a boat, less trad than Kellock and not at all jazz-rock going on prog as is Simcock’s wont but the common ground they share applies.
When McCreadie moves full tilt into an improvisation it is completely Jarrett-fluent circa My Song in terms of feel and composure, swings like the clappers and has a real passion to it sometimes aided by say on ‘The Set’ the metrical rigour and discipline of a reel, kilts flying, sporrans ever more dubiously dangling as the trio go ape and a delirium of sorts seems to set in.
How rare is that? Answers, suggestions, advice, recipes perhaps not, on a postcard to Santa’s little helper c/o the Jazz Grotto. Why not, while at it, scribble a kindly request for this as a stocking filler addressed to one of your nearest and dearest’s come sleigh time? Santa won’t mind.
COLLECTOR Fond of shrink wrap, shelving, spines.
GIGGER Into the atmosphere, a sherry beforehand, the occasional pie.
DJ Digs a beat. Bangers. Haircuts.
MUSICIAN WANNABE Plays air Tubby, air Airto, ’ardly ever at home.
SHOWBIZ SPOTTER Turns up for Jeff Goldblum. Loves life-size cut-outs.
It is easy to forget given the understandable hoopla surrounding the 50th anniversary of Astral Weeks that fell recently that Van Morrison keeps on putting out new records.
Of the two 2018 albums the better of the pair was certainly the much less, scratch that, not at all, patchy You’re Driving Me Crazy, which made it into the list of marlbank albums of the year.
This new one released today and which shares much of the same formula as its predecessor has its gently swinging blues and jazz soaked moments. It somehow feels a lot tamer however even with gutsy blues input including a cover of a John Lee Hooker song, ‘Dimples’, turning a twirling boogie of a thing that Van has been playing for years and years into a gauzy canter.
To be fair we do not turn to a Van Morrison album for a riot of rattle and hum, that was never the point as long ago as the yearningly poetic Astral Weeks although before that Them gave it the welly.
But you do get a proletariat earthiness still in the shout and wail of that astonishing voice and it is still present and correct and derives from the urban blues usually flashed up by searing harmonica or the precision groove of the formidable Joey DeFrancesco band.
The originals always along with that voice the best thing about any Van Morrison album have not pulled me in so far apart from the spiky title track which nonetheless instantly grabbed me.
Their charms may well grow on me — they usually do because this whole style Van has long championed is not fast food music by a long chalk. Return to its brother release for the best choice of main course to keep the hunger pangs away until the next one comes along. SG
Photo of Van Morrison: Richard Wade.
Few British entrepreneurs have invested as much hard cash as well as genuine love in and for jazz and employed so many jazz musicians over many decades as Peter Boizot, who has died aged 89. He founded the Pizza Express restaurant chain in 1965 and made jazz the soundtrack of his restaurants. He opened the first of his many restaurants in Wardour Street in Soho not far from the illustrious jazz club which still is at the heart of UK jazz on Dean Street. He also later published a jazz magazine Jazz Express and presented the Soho Jazz Festival for many years. Tributes are pouring in. Pizza Express managing director Zoe Bowley told the Daily Mail: “In his 89 years, this remarkable entrepreneur achieved an astonishing amount, not just within the dining industry, but across music, sport, and charity as well.”
Basho Records’ Dan Paton has commented after marlbank got in touch to ask if The Impossible Gentlemen will record again for the label: “Not sure,” he says, “I can confirm anything either way about the Impossible Gentlemen for the long term, but I can definitely say there’s nothing planned for 2019.”
The band’s drummer Adam Nussbaum who himself will be touring with Mark Egan (the bass guitarist on the original 1978 Pat Metheny Group album) and Linley Hamilton in Ireland in May had earlier this year told this blog when asked about the Gents’ future plans: “I hope we play again.”
Gwilym Simcock, top left, Steve Rodby, Adam Nussbaum, and Mike Walker. photo: impossiblegentlemen.com
Saxophonist composer Cassie Kinoshi above was a winner in the jazz composition for large ensemble category at the British Composer Awards announced last night at a ceremony held in the British Museum winning for ‘Afronaut’ scored for two trumpets, alto saxophone, tenor saxophone, trombone, tuba, guitar, piano/Rhodes, upright bass, and drums. Pianist Simon Lasky won for ‘Close to Ecstasy’ written for piano, harmonica, acoustic & electric guitar, fretless bass, kit, and percussion.