Aaron Parks Little Big, Live in Berlin ***1/2

Amazing what can be recorded live on an iPhone - Live in Berlin was recorded in the Zig Zag club in the German capital earlier this year - and given the grittiness of the recording the audience sound picked up actually has a sense of reality to it …

Published: 2 Dec 2023. Updated: 3 months.

Amazing what can be recorded live on an iPhone - Live in Berlin was recorded in the Zig Zag club in the German capital earlier this year - and given the grittiness of the recording the audience sound picked up actually has a sense of reality to it that a lot of more finessed live recordings don't. We've long been a fan of pianist Aaron Parks in these parts, first hearing him live with Terence Blanchard and then later on his solo album Arborescence for instance. There's another Blanchard connection here in the presence within Little Big of bass guitarist David Ginyard Jr from the New Orleanian icon's E Collective and the bassist contributes non-Parks piece 'Right in Front of Me' while 'Sports' is by band guitarist Greg Tuohey. Tunes connect in these live versions with earlier Little Big material. Parks has a joyful exuberance in his improvising flow and while you can't really pin down what happens here to a strict genre anyone into the open philosophy of contemporary 21st century jazz way beyond the rules of bebop or jazz-rock will dig this. I get a little of the feel of a Lionel Loueke record in the passages where Tuohey comes more to the fore. Quirkily the album also comes as a cassette format release. SG

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Erskine and Kavuma, Ultrasound, Banger Factory ****

Love this from hard bop trumpeter Mark Kavuma very much in the zone with tenorist Theo Erskine in a retro set that punches above its weight. Pianist of the moment Noah Stoneman is spotted yet again and works very well here in the quintet setting …

Published: 2 Dec 2023. Updated: 3 months.

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Love this from hard bop trumpeter Mark Kavuma very much in the zone with tenorist Theo Erskine in a retro set that punches above its weight. Pianist of the moment Noah Stoneman is spotted yet again and works very well here in the quintet setting along with bassist Michael Shrimpling and Empirical drummer Shane Forbes completing the line up. There's a very retro sense here convincingly delivered in the tunes full of riffery and knowing modalities mostly written by members of the band. And if you are into Monk and heritage bebop this is very much for you. So many appealing sax-trumpet heads and plenty of space for improvisation in the soloing fed in hooks us in time and time again. Dates coming up include Crookes Social Club, Sheffield on 19 January; Pizza Express Jazz Club on 17 February; Guildford Pavilion on 22 Feb; The Verdict, Brighton on 23 Feb and Cambridge Modern Jazz Club on 21 March