Glastonbury this year features some of the most consistently hyped new generation bands around at the moment plus the odd golden oldie thrown in for good measure. The Comet Is Coming play on the Friday like a lot of the jazz acts taking to the West Holts stage. Ezra Collective appear there on the Saturday while on the Sunday it is the turn of Kamasi Washington and token older jazz legend Roy Ayers plus novelty booking Jeff Goldblum booked for his movie star power presumably and not for his really pretty wack piano playing! Steam Down play the Park Stage on the Friday, Sons of Kemet also are on the Park Stage on the Saturday. Madeleine Peyroux and the Hackney Colliery Band can also be spotted playing the Acoustic Stage both on the Sunday. The Pussy Parlure stage, who knew?, also has a few new jazz acts featuring with Joe Armon Jones, Poppy Ajudha and Emma-Jean Thackray’s Walrus shoehorned in on the Friday. Glastonbury website.
I have long been a fan of trumpeter Ralph Alessi but to be frank do not know any of the other players here who are Danish drummer and composer Terkel Nørgaard with Alessi, pianist Søren Gemmer and bassist Jesper Thorn. Their relative obscurity notwithstanding together they paint an engrossing picture, quite heavy and intense in places: Alessi’s mood, often dark and verging on the tragic but equally capable of a skipping dancing quality, with open drumming and a feeling of abstraction arranged around him. A fine achievement and excellent introduction to some talented Danes. Alessi plays his socks off. SG
Babelfish return with their third album Once Upon a Tide on the Moletone label in June. With Brigitte Beraha, voice, Barry Green, piano, Chris Laurence, double bass and Paul Clarvis, drums/percussion theirs is an intoxicating blend that draws vocal and instrumental jazz improvisation together in a tight bond. Check Babelfish in action, above. Babelfish launch the album at Kings Place, London on Saturday 29 June.
Well, that thing about “being in fashion” might be pushing it a bit or even not that welcome given how faddy mini-trends can be but Joel Ross on his new album KingMaker is certainly doing his best. I do like the album but there is a bit of a technocrat flavour to it. Or maybe this is actually why the vibes are never really quite the satisfying listen that say sax or trumpet can be. Ross to me is a Steve Nelson in approach, again a player who is quite a master but again very much a technocrat kind of player whose soloing can be a little too opaque at times.
What I am missing is the sort of blissed out touch Bobby Hutcherson brought to us on an album like San Francisco back in the 1970s. On this side of the Atlantic a player like Lewis Wright of Empirical has a similar approach to Ross but he fits in within the group sound more rather than as the lead instrument which to be frank I think is best for vibes, to colour the instrumentation rather than define it. So let’s not get too carried away but remembering that KingMaker ups Ross’ profile no end and the vibes have a little mini-moment: let’s leave it at that. SG