Daily jazz blog, Marlbank

Mark Lewandowski, A Bouquet (for Lady Day), Ubuntu ****

Liam Noble, Heidi Vogel, Mark Lewandowski, photo: Alex Bonney. Saturday morning listen, best time of the week: Mainly a duo album, bassist Mark Lewandowski, approaching 2 years on since the release of Under One Sky, reunites with pianist Liam …

Published: 15 Jul 2023. Updated: 11 months.

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Liam Noble, Heidi Vogel, Mark Lewandowski, photo: Alex Bonney.

Saturday morning listen, best time of the week:

Mainly a duo album, bassist Mark Lewandowski, approaching 2 years on since the release of Under One Sky, reunites with pianist Liam Noble the pair resuming a recording relationship heard on Waller 6 years ago. And following that Ain't Misbehavin' connection, given the earlier homage to Fats Waller, another historic jazz figure in Waller contemporary Billie Holiday is explored.

Singer Heidi Vogel best known for her work with the Cinematic Orchestra - excellent this year in The W's Portrait - appears on a couple of tracks and if you are being literal which we wouldn't recommend the practice of at all then Heidi is cast in the Lady Day role. Her voice is her own muse and she is custodian of this great instrument. Vogel, completing this all British line-up, (Lewandowski now lives and works in the States) features here on 'Lady Sings the Blues' and 'Left Alone.'

Opening very briefly with 'Day Breaks' which acts as a scene setter your tuning fork will be adjusted. And clearly the approach is vintage when you reach 'More Than You Know' because Noble is almost in saloon pianist guise and certainly you think of Teddy Wilson in his sound.

Lewandowski has a springy, woody, natural tone and keeps the tempo back and loose. Criss cross to Lady Day's versions as you listen. And so here head to 1939 (a lot of the songs go back to Holiday's 1930s period) Lewandowski if this were Stars in their Eyes, Matthew - Milt Hinton.

No one however is doing impersonations, as Lewandowski on the cheerful Irving Berlin classic 'This Year's Kisses' shows. On this a song Billie interpreted in 1937 Noble seems to be enjoying himself as he cascades right and left leaping up and down from the black notes to the white modulating and generally letting himself go. Noble is on a lot of records released this year and a happy boon to his many fans us included - notably on Freight Train with Cathy Jordan and Paul Clarvis - released this year. But this track is where you hear his joyfulness most.

Darkness is never far away from the mood on the album although no one is wallowing in it. And the Gordon Jenkins and Johnny Mercer song 'PS I Love You' is so serious at the beginning where Noble shifts emotional register in his introduction and then when Lewandowski comes in with the melody it's melting. Turn to Holiday's version but also in terms of pianism much more recently to Bill Carrothers in the 1990s. Why, his After Hours album trio version lends insights and is good to contrast with how Noble accompanies rather than taking the lead line as Carrothers does. You also do not miss brushes.

Vogel on 'Lady Sings the Blues' quite deliciously injects almost a don't give a damn sense of Carmen McRae to her rendition. It definitely seizes the album by the scruff of the neck.

An album that may introduce you to songs in the Holiday canon you don't know so well - in our case the Franz Waxman song 'Who Wants Love?' which is one of the lighter numbers here and rarely covered (charismatic singer Mina Agossi did a version released in 2007) and where Noble has fun pounding the ivories. Vogel could have been used more on the album proves so grand and powerful on 'Left Alone' where Lewandowski's arco lines are apt beneath the piano in the introduction and ultimately the sound of city traffic blended with careening police car sirens swirling behind resonates as we leave the memory of Holiday alone inspirational on so many levels - so affectingly garlanded.

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Battlers descend for a ''something to rely on'' weekend mix headlined by Darius Brubeck, Dinosaur and Elaine Delmar

Connoisseurs of well put together human scale jazz festival line-ups held in fairly out of the ordinary places will no doubt thrill to what's in store next weekend in historic Battle where one of the world's most reliably yearning gazillion …

Published: 14 Jul 2023. Updated: 11 months.

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Connoisseurs of well put together human scale jazz festival line-ups held in fairly out of the ordinary places will no doubt thrill to what's in store next weekend in historic Battle where one of the world's most reliably yearning gazillion selling rock bands Keane hail from. As the bard-like Tom Chaplin insisted on Hopes and Fears' emotion soaked 'Somewhere Only We Know' exhaling sonorously: I'm getting old, and I need something to rely on. And rely fairly resolutely down in East Sussex dear readers by all means do. A stonkingly impressive line-up rustled up by the organisers is in the offing for the Battle Festival of Arts and Music over the weekend of 21-23 July.

With gigs at the Bull Inn, Battle Memorial Hall and Battle Abbey School battling jazzers for Sunday are in the afternoon Byron Wallen's 4 Corners, Detroit piano icon Kirk Lightsey with the ex-Billy Jenkins bassist Steve Watts in tow, the Denys Baptiste Quartet, Jason Rebello and Tim Garland and the Darius Brubeck Quartet topping the bill. The Sunday programme is no less tasty with retired orthopaedic surgeon tenorist Art Themen who knows more than most about shooting from the hip, pianist Robert Mitchell's True Think, Laura Jurd's band Dinosaur, bass don Orlando le Fleming and Romantic Funk and the Parliamentary Jazz Award winning singer Elaine Delmar with her Quintet featuring Jim Mullen in the mix. Click through for a link for Saturday tickets & for Sunday the link is here. Laura Jurd, photo: press