Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Gig of the week looking ahead and further ace choices for 8-14 May - plus Saturday morning Sarah Brown Mahalia listening

Coming up - these are our main choices for the week ahead Alice Zawadzki trio The Yard Manchester Monday Singer violinist Alice Zawadzki with bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado and pianist Fred Thomas for Manchester. It was in 2014 that the …

Published: 6 May 2023. Updated: 13 months.

Coming up - these are our main choices for the week ahead

Singer violinist Alice Zawadzki with bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado and pianist Fred Thomas for Manchester. It was in 2014 that the singer-songwriter-violinist-pianist emerged with China Lane three years on from graduating with a masters in jazz singing from the Royal Academy of Music after earlier violin study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. Part of an adventurous new wave of singers, the nostalgic title track on that seek out record was a tribute to Manchester, home of China Lane, relevant for Manchester fans coming to her work given this Northern Quarter gig in the offing. In the trio with her are two remarkable players Misha Mullov-Abbado (son of famed classical conductor Claudio Abbado and acclaimed violinist Viktoria Mullova) who in 2020 on his own record Dream Circus produced a work of bittersweet sometimes slightly 1950s type pastoral nostalgia that is one of his best to date, his arranging exuding a John Dankworth-like elegance. Multi-instrumentalist Thomas is an ECM artist and his artistry spans classical music and jazz, and is known as a bassist, a drummer and a pianist. His Wagner themed album for Babel Dick Wag was excellent as was his Monk work with Zac Gvi.

GIG OF THE WEEK

Sarah Brown Ronnie Scott's London Tuesday

We adored Sarah Brown's Sings Mahalia Jackson album last year and here the singer with a sizeable band of fine players is at the greatest jazz club this side of the Vanguard singing Mahalia. Simple Minds backing singer Brown made her debut as a leader and proved superb. Of course gospel and yet there is a lot of jazz here (mainly in the piano and organ arrangements) which isn't often the case on most gospel although gospel has fed directly in to jazz for a hundred years via the African American church but exists in a whole world of its own usually as a genre. (But think: call and response routines among instrumentalists let alone singers and that's just for starters). The rhumba feel of 'I'm On My Way' is an early high spot here. ''At 10 years old, I remember hopelessly trying to sing along to her bellowing thunder of a voice. In my bedroom I would become her. I chose these songs because they tell of my story. Growing up in a Caribbean home to parents who were a long way from their home. Anger and fear were the two prominent emotions that I lived with,'' Brown has commented regarding her route to Mahalia. Best of all done as if we are in the deep countryside with simple guitar hard up against the vocal, and up there with Van Morrison's very different 1990s See Me Through Part II version on Hymns to the Silence, on 'Just a Closer Walk' which is the best version by anyone covering a hymn associated with Mahalia although there are lots of great versions around. You don't have to be a Christian to appreciate this album. It works on multiple levels and is excellent given the power and flexibility of Brown's voice and is the most relevant vocals gospel record we've reviewed since the very fine Mica Paris album, Gospel.

Debuting this year with originals written by Sharp Little Bones bassist Simon Paterson there is a questing non-complacent side to what saxophonist Tony Kofi - probably one of, even, the, most in-demand touring post bop saxophonists on the UK jazz club scene at the moment - and relative unknowns keyboardist Paul Deats playing piano, Rhodes and synths, upright and electric bassist Simon Paterson and drummer Andrew Wood do. It's an album which isn't about all guns blazing and that takes its time without being tedious. And you get a certain narrative arc within each piece. It's not like it's a procession of formulaic Buggins turn soloing. 'Chromatose' certainly has real meat and the best soloing of tenorist Kofi's formidable work on the album is contained there. But there are other highlights from the 56-year-old and the tender lead line on 'Downfall' also is among the best bits of all. The trio who back Kofi are knowing and steady: they work a lot at Nottingham venue Peggy's Skylight. Kofi also hails from the east midlands city. So this is clearly the place to catch the band live.

In addition to the above among the array of acts taking part at the Birmingham Jazz Festival located at 1000 Trades in Birmingham's Jewellery Quartet Giulia Marro, Kate Luxmoore and Ineza are also taking part in the weekender which focuses on women jazz musicians and women-led groups. Tobin's Returning Weather this year is a career peak. Dark and at times radical the first thing that sends shivers down the spine on a first record in far too long from Ireland's greatest jazz singer is the uilleann pipes of David Power on 'Loch Glinne,' a piece that later returns equally evocatively further on in this 9-track album. Later its droning soulfulness is set against wordless vocalising. Tobin specialises in the poetic whether in the past inspired by the work of Leonard Cohen, Brian Wilson or most meaningfully her own Paul Muldoon-esque erudite sense of a lyric. Weekend passes are £70 with daily passes for £30 on Friday and Sunday, £40 on Saturday.

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Tineke Postma, Aria, Edition ****1/2

'Sankalpa' from Tineke Postma sets the bar high. A second under 5 minutes it is the double bass you predominantly hear first plodding along with drums in lock step behind. Then the Dutch saxophonist comes in. It's a high register melodic shard at …

Published: 5 May 2023. Updated: 13 months.

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'Sankalpa' from Tineke Postma sets the bar high. A second under 5 minutes it is the double bass you predominantly hear first plodding along with drums in lock step behind. Then the Dutch saxophonist comes in. It's a high register melodic shard at first which is then harmonised by the guitar of Ben Monder. The double bass of Robert Landfermann continues its own melody behind. Then drums, played by Tristan Renfrow, seem so independent rhythmically.

'Frede' isn't exactly mournful, its ache is something Postma on the album on alto and soprano saxes does so well and Monder on this track circles in for his solo a little like the way Jakob Bro operates. New tunes reveal once again that Postma is a persuasive writer - her writing style sits well with the imagistic panoramas you find on a Wayne Shorter record like 1+1 - and the mood shifts whether in the hurtle of 'The Sky Is Everywhere' where Monder teeters on the point of murderously ripping a punk hole in the fabric of the group play or the more colour saturated things again Monder does on 'Still Another Day.'

There isn't anything safe here and in the fractured splintering of the shards of rapture all four players maintain on this studio album recorded in the German city of Osnabrück last spring you can't guess what's next. At heart Monder and Postma have some sort of uncanny understanding of each other's every turn in their back and forths and Monder while sometimes dystopian does not shy away from the pristine either in his opening statement on 'Idyll for Ellemis' that Postma in turn responds to so plangently. I don't really come away thinking of anything operatic about all this (although that is part of the point of the inspiration of the album apparently) but that doesn't really matter. Given the quality here there are so many multiple interpretations of response possible which is just one reason why this latest album from the remarkable Postma - taking up the mantle of Lee Konitz and making a paradigm shift that contributes so much to the state of the art - works so well. SG

Tineke Postma, photo: press

Out today

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