2019 Highlight: Blue Brass feat. David Murray, Vortex, EFG London Jazz Festival

David Murray is one of the few living saxophonists who deserve the accolade ''a great''. This is not news. What is news is that going on the second house last night at Oliver Weindling’s Vortex jazz club in Dalston, Murray is still playing at the …

Published: 23 Nov 2019. Updated: 12 months.

David Murray is one of the few living saxophonists who deserve the accolade ''a great''. This is not news.

What is news is that going on the second house last night at Oliver Weindling’s Vortex jazz club in Dalston, Murray is still playing at the top of his game, strong and expressive in the volatile altissimo part of the upper register of the tenor saxophone and nimble and raw further down as he went for the bigger statement and explored the saxophone in all its possibilities.

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David Murray above with the painter Aurelie Freoua at the Vortex. pic. marlbank

At speed he makes complete sense and he switched between ferociously avant and into the mainstream best of all on 'In a Sentimental Mood' in all its emotional grandeur and the passionate 'Afro Blue' towards the latter part of the set.

The final piece went back to intimations of early jazz on 'Down by the Riverside' and the rhythm section were a stalwart and steady support for Murray who is now living back in New York.

Austrian band leader trombonist Paul Zauner goes back decades with David Murray and in Blue Brass bassist Wolfram Derschmidt and drummer Dusan Novakov completed the line-up.

Lead photograph: Roger Thomas

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2019 Highlight: Kassa Overall

Heard recently on Carmen Lundy's superb Modern Ancestors, drummer-rapper Kassa Overall in duo with pianist Mike King and picking up a lot of acclaim for Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz took to the stage of the Pizza Express Jazz Club just after …

Published: 22 Nov 2019. Updated: 10 months.

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Heard recently on Carmen Lundy's superb Modern Ancestors, drummer-rapper Kassa Overall in duo with pianist Mike King and picking up a lot of acclaim for Go Get Ice Cream and Listen to Jazz took to the stage of the Pizza Express Jazz Club just after midnight. This was a smart laidback show, whether drawing on Satie or dreaming up funny little sounds vocodered and mucked about with as Overall in a well travelled onesie stripped off to a vest to unwrap his comfortable alter ego as a zany rapper.

As a drummer he has Karriem Riggins-level chops and operates in that space but his really literate often wry raps recalling Soweto Kinch's deft style when he MCs were a refreshing change and King, a young Herbie in some ways, not just in his Chicago origins but because the headphone wearing player showed great skill on the Steinway (using his left hand to reach up to the Nord electric piano sometimes for some squelchier house beats) proved an excellent sparring partner. I liked best of all the rap over was it the chords for the Bob Haggart standard 'What's New' later. I'd hear these guys again pretty much any day of the week. Stephen Graham

Photo of Kassa Overall: marlbank