‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’ performed by Birth of the Cool icon Lee Konitz plus woodwinds, reeds and strings jazz chamber nonet arranged and conducted by Ohad Talmor is now streaming.

Konitz who turned 92 recently has a dauntingly large discography and keeps adding to it. He is a huge influence globally on a generation of players sometimes referred to as part of the new Cool School.
The latest record Old Songs New will be released in November and you can listen to a treatment of the 1950s David Mann standard ‘In the Wee Small Hours of the Morning’ from the album streaming today via Sunnyside. (Mann also wrote melodies for the classics ‘Don’t Go to Strangers’ and ‘No Moon at All’.) Personnel on the album: Lee Konitz, alto saxophone; Ohad Talmor, tenor saxophone (5), arranger, conductor; Caroline Davis, flute & alto flute; Christof Knoche, clarinet; Denis Lee, bass clarinet; Judith Insell, viola; Mariel Roberts, cello; Dimos Goudaroulis, cello; Christopher Tordini, bass; George Schuller, drums.

Lucky Peterson, one of the greatest bluesicians on the planet, talks about Jimmy Reed in a new promo video for 50 – Just Warming Up to be released by the folks at French label Jazz Village on 25 October. Lucky, a regular visitor to Ireland and the UK, is playing a decent run of mainly French dates this autumn running through the winter and into the spring next year. View the video and audio.

Deep catalogue listening Zakir Hussain currently on the marlbank album of the week with Dave Holland and Chris Potter – Good Hope – here on Into the Music with Van Morrison on ‘Bright Side of the Road’ adding that incredible upness in the off beat, a fabulous head bobbing bounce, to the life of the song.

One of the world’s great jazz innovators here using guitar effects for the first time in ages and a year on from the release of his inspirational Monk project Work guitarist Miles Okazaki grounded in MBASE and pushing towards stellar regions unknown has a new album out later this month called The Sky Below stocked with original compositions. Listen to a couple of tracks from the album which will be put out by a label that he has been on for a while, Pi. Check out some of the very erudite literary sleeve notes that Okazaki has written on his website, for instance for a taste of his thinking. He explains the fifth track called ‘Monstropolous’ along these lines:

“The monstropolous beast had left his bed. The two hundred miles a hour wind had loosed his chains. He seized hold of his dikes and ran forward until he met the quarters; uprooted them like grass and rushed on after his supposed-to-be conquerors, rolling the dikes, rolling the houses, rolling the people in the houses along with other timbers. The sea was walking the earth with a heavy heel.”

– Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God

The tempest arrives, erasing the boundary between land and sea. Water creatures washed ashore, land creatures pulled into the depths. For New Orleans.”


Okazaki draws on earlier album Trickster, according to the official description “reduced them to their basic components, and rewrote new compositions from this genetic material to carry on the story to a new generation with symbolic and sonic continuity.”

The band is interesting: Okazaki with Tim Berne pianist Matt Mitchell; the Brit long-time US-based Quite Sane bass guitarist and long time Steve Coleman sideman Anthony Tidd; and another MBASE family member – Sean Rickman on drums. Look for the full album on 25 October.

Free at Last

It is quite a saga and to be fair pretty exciting however exasperating at how little we still know about the prospect given how official channels are very tight lipped about the whole project. The main takeaways in addition to earlier snippets: Free At Last – Extended Edition will be released in November on 2 LPs.

Top of the marlbank wish list for 13 months in terms of records we want to get hold of is now the slightly more imminent reissue than it was then of the Mal Waldron album Free At Last, which is still impossible to find in the physical LP format. Even on CD you would need to be a super sleuth journeying deep to ring the doorbell of some eccentric shop in somewhere like Penge or Potter’s Bar to have a hope of finding one because it was the first album ECM put out almost 50 years ago and yep that starts everyone on a sentimental journey even if they were only ankle biters at the time or remarkably given the power of all our imaginations among the unborn.

The record itself was released not in 1969, however. It was recorded in late-November of that year and so label history begins with the recording session and then ECM itself began in terms of its public release on 1 January 1970 and that started the whole Edition of Contemporary Music story rolling.

We all have known for a while that extra tracks will be made available on the reissue. Thankfully unlike a lot of reissues this is actually an important record historically even though it is so atypical in many ways in terms of the vast majority of the ECM output certainly varied and highly eclectic in recent years. It may very well not have seemed at all like that at the time.

Waldron in his note on the original LP wrote: “As you can see and hear this album marks for me a different approach to my music. It represents my meeting with free jazz. Free jazz for me does not mean complete anarchy or disorganised sound. In my vocabulary disorganised sound still means noise. And don’t forget that the definition of music is organised sound.”

Familiarise yourself with Impressions ten years before Free At Last if you have some quality listening time available. No wonder ECM wanted Waldron on the brand new label. Waldron (piano) here with Addison Farmer (bass) and Albert ‘Tootie’ Heath (drums) recorded at the Rudy Van Gelder studio in Hackensack, New Jersey on 20 March 1959.

Marlbank understands that the release will be in the form as the lead format of a 2-LP set which will come out in mid-November although this release date might slip given the fact that ECM are fastidious about test pressings often rejecting batches of them until the product is right and vinyl in the UK also takes longer than in Germany to reach the shops and there is let us not forget also the not insignificant matter of the pesky Dog’s Breakfast shape of Johnson to come before that which might mean that we will all be living in a cave and eating cold baked beans from a spoon: best case scenario.

Free at Last: The Extended Edition, no track titles relating to the extra tracks are known beyond the inner circle in Munich HQ. Presumably everyone has taken a vow of silence down by the autobahn as usual. Leaks are frowned upon.

Anyway dear anoraks quick recap: Waldron made history as one of the great Billie Holiday accompanists. The Free at Last trio had Isla Eckinger on double bass and Clarence Becton on drums and the album was recorded on 24 November 1969 at the Tonstudio in Ludwigsburg. Tracks were: ‘Rat Now,’ ‘Balladina,’ ‘1-2-234,’ ‘Rock My Soul,’ ‘Willow Weep For Me’ and ‘Boo’. All titles were written by Waldron with the exception of the Ann Ronell standard ‘Willow Weep For Me’. A CD was issued in 2000.

The album was produced by Manfred Scheffner who sadly died recently. Scheffner was known for the marvellous initially pre-Internet reference book the Bielefelder Katalog (now online) which for a long time was one of the most prized books in various editions on my bookshelf and desk, an extremely accurate and well produced list of records available to buy which was frequently updated – and was an outstanding achievement of research, knowledge and record business insight. SG

Gary Crosby is presenting a one year programme dedicated to Trojan Records to launch during Black History Month. The mighty Jazz Jamaica All Stars are touring The Trojan Story part of The Reggae Ticket.

From The Roots

The inspirational bassist and bandleader says: “It’s great to take The Reggae Ticket across the UK and heighten awareness of the Trojan catalogue among the next generation and new audiences as both a musical form and a cultural phenomenon. We’ve tried to focus our efforts in communities at a cultural and socio-economic disadvantage and thank Arts Council England for their crucial support.

“I’m looking forward to sharing and celebrating the rich heritage of reggae in British culture, and providing a platform on which to hand down an oral history from elders to the younger generation, which is of vital importance if black culture is to survive and leave a legacy. Through our decades of work in the community, Tomorrow’s Warriors has built an incredible network of creative partners across the UK and it will be our honour to collaborate to create something really unique across each of the seven cities. We hope that, through The Reggae Ticket, we will continue to inspire and enrich the next generation and local communities alike.”

The tour kicks off at Birmingham Town Hall on Friday 25 October, with dates to take in Bristol, Liverpool, Manchester, Gateshead, Edinburgh and London.

Drawn from Yesun by Roberto Fonseca to be released by Wagram on Friday.

Need to know just enough essential parts, Fuse Number Eleven is now out and does not early listens suggest disappoint in the slightest. Check the Swedish language electronic press kit complete with subtitles in English and evocative sounds from the trio underlaid as they retreat to the country to record. If you are so far in the dark this is a chance to edge towards finding out why there is already quite a burgeoning groundswell of interest in the trio. Extra Daniel Karlsson trio dates are now by the looks of it already stencilled in as they hurtle around Europe.

Thurs 7 Nov The Albany Club, Coventry

Fri 8th Stoller Hall, Manchester
Sat 9th Clun Valley jazz, Shropshire
Sun 10th Blue Arrow, Glasgow

Wed 13th Fougou Jazz, Devon
Thu 14th Left Bank Village, Hereford
Fri 15th 1000 Trades, Birmingham


The Good Noise 24 October 2019 The Lough Inn

A word on the band who are playing together for the first time – the Kenny Burrell-loving Cris Gill is best known for his work with Rico Rodriguez in Rico & His Band (Rico very famously was on ‘A Message to You Rudy’ in The Specials), Roni McManus is a fine bassist and vocalist who leads, playing bass guitar, Sidewalk Boogie, the popular Chicago blues loving four-piece and in The Good Noise will play double bass alongside fellow Boogie guitarist Gill; plus there is Caolán Hutchinson who surfaced as part of The Jazz Hole scene in Omagh and who has jammed at Arthur’s in Dublin with the Irish jazz great Ronan Guilfoyle and is a very bright piano talent; and James Anderson from Belfast is the latest in a line of great drummers from the city and beyond further into Antrim and Down (“Dakiz” Davis, Darren Beckett, David Lyttle, Peter McKinney) to emerge, and on the BBC radar a few years ago recording at the high profile Music Day Blackstaff Sessions. The gig marks a crisp new Sugar Projects originated marlbank look and 6 years of the blog – into the music.

The keyboardist, composer and arranger Milcho Leviev has died at the age of 81. He appeared on Billy Cobham, Gerald Wilson, Don Ellis and Roy Haynes records and as a leader recorded for a number of labels his work spanning several decades, notable titles including The Oracle with Dave Holland.

Read a report in The Sofia Globe.


Remember Me, My Dear

ECM celebrating its fiftieth anniversary soon has often delighted in a riddle, in this case when Manfred Eicher first paired a jazz saxophonist, the greatest European jazz musician since Django Reinhardt no less, with a celebrated early music vocal group and somehow made the collision of styles match and fuse.

Officium was a big seller and beyond sales it somehow had a numinous quality that its subsequent albums possessed to a certain extent but could not dream of repeating that once in a lifetime alchemy. Hearing Garbarek in St Paul’s cathedral some years ago, indeed hearing him in any cathedral, he has played in quite a few, in this context of a Swiss church makes sense but in certain ways and this applies to his jazz output, Garbarek journeys beyond the religious and spiritual deeply into the realms of the humane. Its haunting qualities invade and that is part of the unique majesty of the sound secular or not because Garbarek as the main protagonist (the Hilliards are largely his backing singers) has a profound sound and as listeners you could say we forget that he is playing the saxophone – because essentially he is rendering his lifetime song: a factor easily discernible on his famed collaborations in the “Belonging” band with Keith Jarrett, Palle Danielsson and Jon Christensen.

Recorded in 2014 the album says hello goodbye to a collaboration that lasted half of the length of ECM itself and is book ended by Komitas and the title track, an anonymous 16th century Scottish song. Skip the ordering if you like and dive into the elegiac  ‘Allting finns’ followed by ‘We Are the Stars’ for the Garbarek compositions. Remember Me, My Dear also includes the beautiful ‘Most Holy Mother of God’ by the great Estonian composer Arvo Pärt among other material and where would we be without a 12th century piece by Hildegard von Bingen? Bereft possibly – incidentally a feeling thankfully entirely absent among these very uplifting sounds. SG  
• Jan Garbarek plays the Brewin Dolphin Cambridge International Jazz Festival next month. 

Start next week the right listening way looking towards release.

Bassist composer improviser Michael Formanek and his Very Practical Trio: MF alongside saxophonist Tim Berne exceptionally, bluesily, raw on the thriving-on-a-riff Even Better pre-release tracks, with the justly fêted guitarist Mary Halvorson

To be released by Swiss avant label Intakt – this inspired studio affair remarkable on glimpses so far for its concision and bite was recorded eight months ago in Mount Vernon, New York.

Ron Carter album cover

Recorded at Fasching in Stockholm 11 months ago with the same personnel as seen on YouTube in Vienna, Ron Carter, his place in jazz history secure for many reasons but especially from his tenure in the Second Great Miles Davis Quintet (1964-1968), the baton passed on to him in many ways by Ray Brown, leading his quartet that features fine pianist Renee Rosnes, the ex-Horace Silver tenor saxophonist Jimmy Greene and choice drummer Payton Crossley on Foursight – Stockholm Volume 1 just released by Frank Kleinschmidt’s In + Out Records. 

Tracks are 1. Cominando (07:39) 2. Joshua (08:51) 3. Little Waltz (07:04) 4. Seguaro (10:35) 5. Cominando, Reprise (02:00) 6. Nearly (13:10) 7. You And The Night And The Music (7:57). Three years ago the Guinness World Records put out a press release entitled “Ron Carter earns world record as the most recorded jazz bassist in history” with 2,221 recordings to his name at the time of publication. Add quite a few since and as ever in addition to quantity crucially unrivalled quality – in the same breath. 

As regular readers will know marlbank has been keeping an eye on the top releases in 2019. The next and last update for 2019 will be published on 31 December. Jazz list purdah otherwise until then.

Love and Liberation (Concord) by Jazzmeia Horn

Near and Now (ACT) by Gwilym Simcock       

Modern Ancestors (Afrasia) by Carmen Lundy   

Mothership (Gearbox) by Dwight Trible    

New Frontier (Esoteric Antenna) by the Steve Howe trio   

Golden Valley Is Now (Intakt) by Reid Anderson/Dave King/Craig Taborn    

7 The Long Game (Edition) by Liam Noble  

8 O’Higgins & Luft Play Monk & Trane (Ubuntu) by Dave O’Higgins and Rob Luft

Paradise (Company) by Mattson 2   

10 Common Practice (ECM) by Ethan Iverson quartet with Tom Harrell 

UK best-of

1 Gwilym Simcock Near and Now (ACT)
2 Steve Howe trio, New Frontier (Esoteric Antenna)
3 Liam Noble The Long Game (Edition)
4 Dave O’Higgins and Rob Luft O’Higgins & Luft Play Monk & Trane (Ubuntu)
5 Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet Live at the Jazz Cafe 091218 (Lyte)
6 Huw Warren and Mark Lockheart New Day (CAM Jazz)
7 The Comet Is Coming Trust in the Lifeforce of the Deep Mystery (Impulse!)
8 Paul Booth Travel Sketches (Ubuntu)
9 Nérija Blume (Domino)
10 Emilia Mårtensson Loredana (Babel)