Zoë Gilby, Twelve Stories, 33Jazz Records

From 2013. Singer Zoë Gilby’s first record since Looking Glass three years ago here accompanied by her quartet together for some five years now of trumpeter Noel Dennis, guitarist Mark Williams, her husband ACV double bassist Andy Champion, and …

Published: 4 Dec 2019. Updated: 3 years.

From 2013. Singer Zoë Gilby’s first record since Looking Glass three years ago here accompanied by her quartet together for some five years now of trumpeter Noel Dennis, guitarist Mark Williams, her husband ACV double bassist Andy Champion, and drummer Richard Brown.

Recorded in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, the album includes spirited songs that Gilby has co-written with Williams and Champion, as well as a fine version of Kate Bush’s ‘In The Warm Room’ from Bush’s 1978 album Lionheart, a slightly menacing take on ‘Money’ from Pink Floyd’s 1973 album The Dark Side of the Moon, a chilly version of Great American Songbook standard ‘It Never Entered My Mind’, that hugely familiar Rodgers and Hart song from 1940, plus the Ellingtonian valve trombonist Juan Tizol’s ‘Caravan’ first performed in the 1930s that Irving Mills added lyrics to, a tune that Gilby and her band swing the album out on.

With a certain gritty personality poking through Twelve Stories starts with a seque from Michel Legrand’s ‘Windmills of your Mind’ into Jobim’s ‘Waters of March' a tactic that clearly demonstrates the quality of Gilby’s voice and her technical command on testing material even if switching like this might work better towards the end of a live gig than as the opening track of an album. That aside the well crafted original song ‘Guilty Man’ could sit happily on a Barb Jungr record, and Gilby shares with Jungr, and for that matter Christine Tobin, an ambition and artistry that moves beyond a simple nostalgia for old songs. The hubbub at the beginning of ‘Red City’ is just a small pointer away from the norm in the way the songs here are shaped, as well as the obvious promise and quality of the bright new songs. SG

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Terence Blanchard, Ronnie Scott's

From 2012. If only the walls could talk: Terence Blanchard was reflecting on the many nights he has played Ronnie Scott’s over the years. Introduced to the stage minutes before by club managing director Simon Cooke who wished he could have booked …

Published: 4 Dec 2019. Updated: 2 years.

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From 2012. If only the walls could talk: Terence Blanchard was reflecting on the many nights he has played Ronnie Scott’s over the years. Introduced to the stage minutes before by club managing director Simon Cooke who wished he could have booked him for more nights adding as a cool by-the-way on the biggest night of the metropolitan jazz year: “A girl at the bar told me to say ‘it’s the first night of the London Jazz Festival’."

Blanchard was in good spirits after the first night of this short stint the previous evening and this single set was ahead of a live radio air shot later on in the evening for the BBC. In his most telling comment to the audience Terence would say that in jazz: “The tradition is to break tradition", something the set would go some way to illuminate.

Kicking off with a two-prong attack in classic Messengers tradition alongside Tuczon tenorist and fellow road warrior Brice Winston the band shot into Eddie Cleanhead Vinson’s ‘Four’ with some fleetness of foot, Cuban pianist Fabian Almazan quickly in the zone. Blanchard’s old boss Art Blakey, would you guess have appreciated Kendrick Scott at the kit although he might have had a thing or two to say! Young Julliard student Joshua, “Smiler", Blanchard has dubbed him, Crumbly, is a worthy successor to Ben Williams now sky diving admirably with the Unity Band. The walking blues towards the end, trumpet against bass, had the bounce and wit of Jimmy Blanton.

Quick and agile at the kit H-Town man Kendrick Scott has taste to burn. On Twitter before the gig he said he was “stoked" for action and so it proved. Displaying great mallet touch as the set developed, and he found the sweet part of the cymbal time and again. Blanchard standing back from the action sometimes impassive at the back of the stand coming forward to pick up shakers later for extra percussion and to throw in some finger snaps upped the ante in some style but it was balladry rather than high octane blasting a feature here. He had a Friday feeling as he cracked jokes after the second number, introducing the band and talking a bit of politics but not much he promised although not forgetting to mention that he turned down an invitation to the Bush White House, to applause.

Blanchard is a tender player and one of the finest jazz composers alive, but here was generous with his bandstand and Winston’s tune the band is to record called ‘Time To Spare’ has a sinewy charm, while former band guitarist Lionel Loueke’s ‘Benny’s Tune’ at the end was a joy as ever. SG