Sam Gendel, Superstore, Leaving ****

If you are the proud possessor of a short attention span then great you may regard Superstore as a meaty series of early-21st century symphonies perfect for the digital age. If you know saxist-producer Sam Gendel's already hefty back catalogue then …

Published: 13 Jun 2022. Updated: 23 days.

If you are the proud possessor of a short attention span then great you may regard Superstore as a meaty series of early-21st century symphonies perfect for the digital age. If you know saxist-producer Sam Gendel's already hefty back catalogue then the story so far flagged up includes in pride of place Satin Doll, an album that is even more jazz-baiting because Gendel just baffles the hell out of the purists by making the familiar seem eerily unfamiliar and yet does not alienate them quite as much as they fear he is trying to do.

2020's Satin Doll - 'Glide Mode' drawn from it is a mini-masterpiece that Gendel made earlier

Insanely prolific, sure the jazzer who is in his mid-thirties puts too many records out (actually that isn't anyone's worst fault) and we on this side of the Atlantic are only catching up on him. We probably, sadly, never will be as quick as his wit. The saxist is certainly an original. That's the point!

Defiantly lo-fi, the tracks have a skit-like quality and there is a lot of admirable pitch-level tinkering-under-the-hood that allows the voltage to spring a back flip every so often. Gendel is more John Lurie than Lee Konitz should you be in a chin-stroking mood. A future album when he is more Konitz than Lounge Lizard: what would that be like?

'Alors' as a Euro hipster piss take made us chuckle. And under 'Cans' if you were to re-score a Jim Jarmusch movie and place these sounds alongside the Mulatu Astatke on Broken Flowers then these would work harmlessly enough.

Souped up surrogate incidental music overall is one reading. There's method in the loitering with intent mayhem as the bit player mentality seizes the main acting role and the main actors are all given elaborately sulk-laden parts instead. And that's not to disparage collaborators on the record who include, but fairly anonymously it's true, percussionist Philippe Melanson on a few tracks, bass guitarist Gabe Noel (both familiar from Satin Doll), guitarist Blake Mills and drummer Kevin Yokota on a single number each. Dichotomy dilemma of the day: sounds that are tailor-unmade for purists or tailor-made for unpurists? Preposterously both can and should apply. The Gendel legend grows still more. Stephen Graham

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Tags: reviews

The week ahead: live jazz gig and festival shows previewed - 13-19 June

Ian Shaw, Iain Ballamy, Jamie Safir, The Yard, Manchester Monday 13 June Dave Okumu, Pull Up To The Bumper, QEH, London Tuesday 14 June Camilla George, Hawk's Well theatre, Sligo Wednesday 15 June PICK OF THE WEEK Alto saxophonist Camilla George …

Published: 12 Jun 2022. Updated: 24 days.

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Dave Okumu by Morgan Sinclair

Ian Shaw, Iain Ballamy, Jamie Safir, The Yard, Manchester Monday 13 June

Dave Okumu, Pull Up To The Bumper, QEH, London Tuesday 14 June

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Camilla George, Hawk's Well theatre, Sligo Wednesday 15 June

PICK OF THE WEEK Alto saxophonist Camilla George playing at the Jazz Cafe last year was one of the best gigs we witnessed during that 12-month run. Spiritual Sligo is the best spot possible to kick off Camilla's extensive Irish tour that runs until the 26th. Even before Camilla's 2017 debut album Isang when the saxist was playing with Jazz Jamaica and follow-up The People Could Fly, the jazzer distinguished herself in a specific space, a little Tia Fuller-like with her distinctive timbral dexterity but more to the point feeding her own Nigerian Eket heritage into the mix. Renato Paris on Nord keys and a fine Stevie-esque singer who can also vocalise like he's a horn player will be playing Sligo in Camilla's band and the combination is completed by ace bassist Jihad Darwish and Jazz Jamaica drummer, the great, Rod Youngs.

Buster Williams quartet, Ryan Quigley, Georgia Cécile and many more, Glasgow Jazz Festival, Thursday 16 June - Sunday 19 June

Young Pilgrims, The Crossing, Birmingham Friday 17 June

Young Pilgrims made a splash last year on the Birmingham label Stoney Lane, a brass fantasy of an affair and fresh with it including a cracking Kieran McLeod arrangement of Gene McDaniels classic 'Feel Like Making Love'.

Simon Purcell's Red Circle, Vortex, London Saturday 18 June

2014's Red Circle was a beautifully gathered studio recording illuminated by ‘Ithaca’.

George Benson, St David's Hall, Cardiff Sunday 19 June

Dave Okumu, top, plays Grace Jones' Meltdown on Tuesday. Photo: Morgan Sinclair

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