Shift towards a better profile for straightahead jazz is a welcome development

There's a lot of solid, very attractive, mainstream middle-of-the-road ''straightahead'' style jazz around at the moment. Labels like Cellar Live, Posi-Tone, Savant and Criss Cross (the latter two labels hard boiled veterans of the style for many …

Published: 4 Feb 2022. Updated: 2 years.

There's a lot of solid, very attractive, mainstream middle-of-the-road ''straightahead'' style jazz around at the moment. Labels like Cellar Live, Posi-Tone, Savant and Criss Cross (the latter two labels hard boiled veterans of the style for many years) regularly feeding a hearty retro jazz appetite for bop and beyond jazz that if you like has a beginnning, a middle and an end, clear delineation for instrumentalists and a liking for strong melody and tonality.

With even Blue Note often signing young revivalists of hard bop (Immanuel Wilkins, Joel Ross) and other leading labels hitting the green-for-go button on retro jazz Michael Weiss' upcoming album Persistence is another in the trend timely recording a bunch of originals and standards where else but at Van Gelder's, the studio still most identified with classic Golden Age jazz.

Some jazz fans won't like this development given that no-one is trying to reinvent the wheel or move into deep experimental space. But others will disagree and yell ''about time''. It struck me hearing altoist Greg Abate for instance live last year at a small pick-up date in London's Soho how straighatahead players still have a lot to contribute but rarely get much exposure any more.

Or take hearing another formidable saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi a few years ago again in Soho for another masterclass in bop serendipity and prowess but yet another player who grabs few headlines these days for some unfathomable reason given the huge skill he habitually displays.

But you never know as the wheel of the stylistic cycle turns in their favour once again and the efforts of all the fine labels above to draw it to our attention all over again their time may come once again. It's like rediscovering why we all loved jazz in the first place but somehow have taken far too much for granted distracted by more recent fads and slick marketing. Persistence is out on 18 February. Michael Weiss, above

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SFJAZZ Collective 'Throw It Away' ****

A stunning double bass solo from Matt Brewer opens this take on Abbey Lincoln classic 'Throw It Away' with Gretchen Parlato delivering the vocal line so precisely and effectively, the maelstrom of the all-star ensemble giving a lot of life to the …

Published: 4 Feb 2022. Updated: 2 years.

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A stunning double bass solo from Matt Brewer opens this take on Abbey Lincoln classic 'Throw It Away' with Gretchen Parlato delivering the vocal line so precisely and effectively, the maelstrom of the all-star ensemble giving a lot of life to the backdrop. This is from New Works Reflecting the Moment: Live from the SFJAZZ Center 2021 to be released in March the piece also featuring a winning trumpet solo from Etienne Charles. Looking further ahead the SFJazz Collective play the Barbican in London on 25 June