Big band side of Django Bates tantalises on Tenacity

There are very few people who can without any fear of embarrassment at the sheer effrontery of coming up with a name be called a genius. One of these lucky few is certainly Django Bates, the English pianist and composer who, and this defeats me to …

Published: 9 Sep 2020. Updated: 19 days.

There are very few people who can without any fear of embarrassment at the sheer effrontery of coming up with a name be called a genius. One of these lucky few is certainly Django Bates, the English pianist and composer who, and this defeats me to write because he always seems so youthful, is 60 next month. This afternoon I've been listening to Tenacity, his new big band album, a studio album recorded in Sweden, the release of which chimes with this milestone of his birthday and the centenary of his childhood hero Charlie Parker.

It is a wonderful freewheeling affair that anyone into big band jazz will have to hear. With Django there is always a sense of mischief, intense, anarchic detail and a puckish joie de vivre combined with an almost Spike Milligan sense of humour. Over the years I've interviewed him several times and the last time caught up with him was five years ago when he was writing some music for a stage version of Around the World in 80 Days.

This new project has a whole collision of things going on with alongside him his acclaimed Beloved trio and for extra beef the Norbotten big band. The material is at once very familiar to Charlie Parker fans but at the same time full of signature Bates touches in the arranging that has the atmosphere of a raucous circus as much as a smoky 1940s jazz club and this is combined in terms of material with some of Django's fantastic writing including the beautiful 'Study of Touch'. Reasons to be cheerful? At least 60 or so. Tenacity is released in October on Django's Lost Marble label.

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Billy Childs, Acceptance

A strong contender surely for album of the year whether for the engrossing, Weather Report-like atmosphere of 'Leimert Park' or the warp speed fastness of Billy Childs' piano on 'Dori' or possibly even better the title track itself where you just …

Published: 9 Sep 2020. Updated: 19 days.

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A strong contender surely for album of the year whether for the engrossing, Weather Report-like atmosphere of 'Leimert Park' or the warp speed fastness of Billy Childs' piano on 'Dori' or possibly even better the title track itself where you just lose yourself in the song itself and emerge somehow a different person. Childs' version of 'It Never Entered My Mind' is also a considerable masterclass in its concision and again that mature mastery of mood. An album, on which Childs switches from Fender Rhodes to piano, that's not about fireworks more subtle rapport shaped around saxist Steve Wilson, Hans Glawischnig on electric bass, Eric Harland on drums and Munyungo Jackson on congas with very effective guest vocal contributions from Alicia Olatuja, Aubrey Johnson and Sara Gazarek and the flautist Elena Pinderhughes. The very clean unglossy production does not get in the way of the album and you can actually get a sense of the clarity of the compositional mind at work. Something special is going on here. Out on Mack Avenue Records.