Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

John O'Gallagher, Beast, Whirlwind ***1/2

Not at all radio-friendly in a Gilles Peterson radio show type sense at all. Because the tracks are mostly so long - only 'Practically Speaking' might get played if the red lines of the track length issue are a stumbling block. Or maybe 'Fishing …

Published: 27 May 2024. Updated: 53 days.


Not at all radio-friendly in a Gilles Peterson radio show type sense at all. Because the tracks are mostly so long - only 'Practically Speaking' might get played if the red lines of the track length issue are a stumbling block. Or maybe 'Fishing for Paramecium' at a push. But 'Permeable' at more than 20 minutes long? Not a hope really.

More to the point stylistically Beast isn't a Gilles Peterson sort of release at all. Mainly that's because it isn't nu jazz, Brazilian music, ravey davey dancey stuff or spiritual, the influential DJ's main stylistic preferences. Spotify playlists that try to keep things succinct won't have room for this release either.

Does that sense of being out of the swim Gilles-wise make Beast less valid? Er, no. But what then happens to long-form jazz given neglect from tastemakers and media gatekeepers? Answers on a postcard please to Tim Davie or complain to Feedback if you really want to waste the price of a stamp and your breath.

Exasperated at the thought a few lines from classic 1972 Stevie Smith poem 'Not Waving But Drowning' - completely out of context - somehow intrude - and yet prove so welcome:

I was much too far out all my life

And not waving but drowning.

Altoist O'Gallagher isn't at all as ''far out'' as so many in a musical sense - a world away from Smith agonising over the dead man in her great poem. It's his best album to date even if the live recording quality of the audio isn't amazingly impactful (particularly on tracks 3 and 4). And we also certainly retain a soft spot for the alto saxist's Anton Webern 2013 album also issued by Whirlwind and hearing him live back in Dalston in 2016 in Jeff Williams' band was a turning point in appreciating just what he is capable of.

The American here is with German pianist Samuel Gapp, Portuguese bassist Zé Almeida - who was on Apophenia's fine 2022 release, Prötzeler - and Almeida's compatriate the drummer João Lencastre who are all very much in O'Gallagher's shadow on this weighty Portuguese recording. And yet they all as supporting players add a few simpatico touches that certainly inspire this significant player - who is up there as a quality player with another avant-alto icon Steve Lehman - to new heights. John O'Gallagher, photo: via Bandcamp

Tags: Reviews

In the British and Irish jazz clubs this week

NoSax NoClar: Bastien Weeger, Julien Stella Watermill, Dorking Tuesday 28 May. Joe Webb trio Ronnie Scott's, London Tues 28 May. The Earl Hines loving pianist Joe Webb with double bassist Will Sach - on social media recently spotted playing …

Published: 27 May 2024. Updated: 52 days.

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The Earl Hines loving pianist Joe Webb with double bassist Will Sach - on social media recently spotted playing the American ambassador's residence with Wynton Marsalis - and drummer Sam Jesson.

Stellar band joining drummer leader Andrew Bain are erstwhile Impossible Gentleman Salford guitar icon Mike Walker, Welsh piano great Huw Warren and tone don bassist Mark Hodgson best known for his work with Julian Joseph. Last year Bain succeeded bassist Paula Gardiner as the head of jazz at the Cardiff institution the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, the leading music college in Wales. The Edinburgh born Bain who himself studied at the Guildhall in London and later the Manhattan School of Music in New York had previously served as deputy head of jazz at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

An unusual line-up trombonist Rory Ingham with Hammond organist Matt Carter and drummer Luke Tomlinson

The reliably groovy Delvon Lamarr with guitarist Jimmy James and drummer Julian MacDonough.

New York based Canadian pianist Sean Fyfe in Chelsea with UK tenor sax legend Dave O'Higgins and the NYC scene alto ace Jon Gordon


We reckon that Belgium based South African Tutu Puoane's Wrapped in Rhythm: Volume One is the year's best release to date produced like the upcoming Jo Harrop album The Path of A Tear by the great Larry Klein. No better place than Ronnie's to hear Tutu live for the first time. The singer is with her husband pianist Ewout Pierreux, bassist Brice Soniano and drummer James Williams.

Soulful guitarist Edison Herbert with a top band: pianist Sean Hargreaves - a doyen of the Woodman jazz pub scene in Highgate; bassist ''Level'' Neville Malcom, last heard by marlbank upstairs in Ronnie's back in 2018 with fine singer Deelee Dubé; and completing the band, UK drum royalty all present and correct in the dynamic presence of Winston Clifford.

No One Got Saved, a track from which is streaming at the moment, is marlbank's album of the week

Scottish jazz piano legend Brian Kellock's tribute to the swinging Marty Grosz - Kellock with guitarist Ross Milligan and bassist Roy Percy.

  • Myra Melford's Splash trio feat. Neil Charles and Ches Smith Vortex, London Fri 31 May.

Nicole? Papa! Remember that vintage Renault Clio ad that ran in various guises for many years? UK guitar great globetrotting Englishman Martin Taylor, a long time resident in Scotland, is always worth hearing live and of course played the insanely catchy theme known as 'Johnny and Mary' written by rocker Robert Palmer. Guitar players, pick your jaws up off the floor. He's on very good form recently too on Jerome Kern/Oscar Hammerstein II classic 'The Folks Who Live on the Hill' with the Peggy Lee loving singer, Alison Burns - drawn from 5 June release, Nature Boy.

Take art dear hearts for a rare sighting of US guitarist Randy Johnson best known for his work with Lou Donaldson, Houston Person and the late Joey DeFrancesco with whom he chopped up the beat to the manner born on the seriously roogalating version of monster Lalo Schifrin tune 'The Cat' on late 1990s classic Jimmy Smith homage The Champ. Johnston is with Hammond organist Jeremy Platt and drummer Dave Lee,

Features Jeff Beck Blow by Blow drum icon Richard Bailey

Manfred Mann legend Paul Jones with the UK's top jazz guitarist, John Etheridge

  • Kim Cypher, the Simon Spillett Big Band, Marvin Muoneké, Alex Merritt, Guido Spannocchi, Alex Goodyear Trio, Roger Beaujolais Band, Jonathan Mayer, Fleur Stevenson, Mid-West Swing Band and Marco Marconi Highworth Jazz Festival, HIghworth, Wilts Sat 1 June all-dayer

Band members are pianist Coen Molenaar, double bassist David de Marez Oyens and drummer Enrique Firpi.

  • Orchestre National de Jazz feat. Steve Lehman Vortex, London Sat 1 June.

Playing avant alto saxophone icon Steve Lehman's Ex Machina - it's the rare chance to hear crack French big band the ONJ up close and personal in a tiny east London jazz club.

Bag of Bones - pictured - play Birmingham on Friday night