Outstanding gigs this week - Judith Owen, Yellowjackets & the Sultan Stevenson trio

Judith Owen and her Gentlemen Callers Jazz Cafe, London, tonight. Come On & Get It was a breakthrough release by singer Judith Owen and hearing it took us back to a first exposure to Owen owning it at Soho club Crazy Coqs when the singer came …

Published: 24 Jul 2023. Updated: 9 months.

Judith Owen and her Gentlemen Callers Jazz Cafe, London, tonight.

Come On & Get It was a breakthrough release by singer Judith Owen and hearing it took us back to a first exposure to Owen owning it at Soho club Crazy Coqs when the singer came on unannounced as a guest with the erstwhile Jimmy Scott pianist Jon Regen, oh, around 7 years ago. On the album with a 1950s vibe it's luxe all the way. Certainly camp - meaning everything is sung as if in double quote marks or at least with a wink and mucho gusto - fun is not a banned word. Mannered in a period sense, full of joie de vivre and mischief the album was recorded in a New Orleans studio. Highlights there are many: Go for the exuberant Welsh woman's take counterintuitively perhaps so slowly captured navigating the Sonny Burke, Peggy Lee song 'He's A Tramp' also covered by Melody Gardot and Janelle Monáe in recent years. Feelgood all the way - few albums romp along as merrily as Come On & Get It. You might just think looking at the label's name Twanky Records that the pantomime season has arrived especially early this year. It probably has.

Yellowjackets Ronnie Scott's, London Wednesday 26th

An event gig for jazz-rock fans we thought it was Bob's your uncle once again rustled up from Yellowjackets last year on Parallel Motion a new high water mark in their illustrious discography. Jazz-rock fusion has changed over the years and one of the agents of change is certainly Yellowjackets. If you subscribe to the view that the genre was made coherent most by Weather Report and then developed in myriad ways to eventually change into something far more funky in the hands of the greatest exponents of the form these days, Snarky Puppy, the evolution of jazz-rock was later ushered in by bands like Yellowjackets who still act as a bridge back to the original heyday of the genre and face forward through the rugged strength of the ensemble sound and their quality compositions. Parallel Motion reviewed in these pages last August proved not at all blood and guts fusion or overly smooth tat. Yellowjackets are about neither. The form has developed away from stunt machismo in its least successful guise or extensive noodling in, yes, its more interesting incarnation. 'Challenging Times' on the album would not be out of place for instance on an Andy Sheppard record and Bob Mintzer is closer to the sound of players such as UK jazz titan Sheppard (particularly circa Movements in Colour sans Indojazz input) than you might think. The supremely elegant Russell Ferrante's keyboards sound underpins everything on this excellent record. If you like someone like that fine UK player Tom Cawley newbies may well appreciate coming to Ferrante for the first time if still unfamiliar with him or indeed jazz-rock fusion. Bass guitarist Dane Alderson is very much in the Stanley Clarke mould, again a link to the first significant flowering of jazz-rock fusion as it settled into its history-changing phase. Jean Baylor's vocals on 'If You Believe' are like an 80s throwback - a less extravagant Jennifer Warnes perhaps without being flippant - and the melody is very strong. Naturals all, born to play, there is no plan B in Yellowjacketsiana and that stubborn focus and belief is partly what make their incredible body of work so special and this Ronnie's gig is a magnet for fans and curious newcomers who have still to hear the venerable band live alike. Check the new look very smart redesigned Ronnie's website for details.

Sultan Stevenson trio The Bear, Luton Friday 28th

Faithful One is among the very top UK and Ireland releases of the year - see our list and read a review of the Parliamentary Jazz Award winning Sultan of swing whose original sound riffs off a McCoy Tyner and Mulgrew Miller-type base language last year at the East Side. Judith Owen, above. Photo: via Yamaha All Access

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Around About Dusk, Live at the Jamboree ***1/2

''Get your confession ready 1, 2, 3, I'm going to give you the third degree:'' Trad jazz beyond all faddery that caught us first here with a shanty-like motion scooped up and served impressively on 'Orchard Fruits' the west countryness of the …

Published: 24 Jul 2023. Updated: 9 months.

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''Get your confession ready 1, 2, 3, I'm going to give you the third degree:'' Trad jazz beyond all faddery that caught us first here with a shanty-like motion scooped up and served impressively on 'Orchard Fruits' the west countryness of the Bristol band Around About Dusk part of the blend. Rachel Lawrence's cooing, neatly understated, vocal and deft accordion playing - and she writes some of the engaging originals on the album in addition - including a neat pen picture on 'The Mouse' the little creature ''surviving off a thimbleful of gin'' leading us into an antique sound that can go florid on clarinet and thumps along thanks to firm bass, guitar, drums and celebratory trumpet. Recorded live (the vocals are a bit too underamplified in the balance) last year at King's Cross London trad jazz redoubt the Jamboree on St Chad's Place, the band against the odds of the opening find a fetching foxtrot-like teeter sway to leap around on Lawrence original 'The Moon' and cover Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton's 'Wildman Blues' in a very English 1950s style sporting a trumpet line (from Joss Murray) that even gentleman of trad Kenny Ball could have delivered. Lawrence's voice works well on the love lorn trot-a-long 'Falling' and the band do a fabulous version of 'Who Walks In When I Walk Out?' introduced by Elsie Carlisle in the 1930s and covered later by Ella Fitzgerald the absolute highlight. Small caveat 30s novelty song 'I Like Bananas Because They Have No Bones' might get on your nerves after a few plays. But got your penance ready as the adultery confrontation song 'Who Walks In' lyrics have it? Clearly fess up. But mainly for the relief of japes and the gas rather than self-flagellation. Lawrence proves a characterful life force and moves the band along in buoyantly shipshape and Bristol fashion at all times. Imagine how Around About Dusk, photo: press, would sound with pukka studio sound and the right kind of ears in a producer steering the boat who doesn't iron out all the things here that make the band so appealing and ungeneric. Bearing in mind their obvious early jazz style preferences Lawrence's unique sound is just inching to emerge that bit more dialling in from such a classic Giles Gilbert Scott kiosk of a gem of an album to greet a whole new irony-loving generation that would make the joke at their own expense even if they were pulled up yet again by some bluff older geezer in a blazer indicting all of youthdom for not knowing what a red phone box let alone a phonograph looks like or even that Right Said Fred isn't their idea at all of Fred Astaire. Piled high with vim and full of fun filled moments the time travel imaginings of Around About Dusk do not come over at all hokey even when such a game crew are pelting along at full chug.

Live at the Jamboree is available here

  • Playing The Canteen in Bristol this coming Wednesday to launch the recording