On A Night Like This,
The Story Is Told ...
Although he liked the feel of New York and sensed it was the place to be, Charlie could only pick up the most demeaning of musical jobs on this trip. Anyway, family called. He received a telegram from his mother telling him to return to Kansas City for the funeral of his father. Charles Parker senior had been knifed in a street fight and had bled to death. The funeral was a dismal occasion, but in a musical sense, Charlie's return was well timed. At the very moment when the Reno and the Sunset clubs were being boarded up, the last of the great Kansas City bands was being put together. The moving force was Jay McShann, a boogie-woogie pianist. He and Charlie Parker had met previously, and discovering Bird was in town, McShann offered him a job as lead alto-saxophonist ...
... During a tour of the south-west in 1940, McShann was invited by Radio KFBI to make a series of transcriptions. Charlie Parker's first recorded notes date from this session and show just how well developed a musician he had become. On Honeysuckle Rose he combines Lester Young's flow with Art Tatum's attack, and throws in some of the odd tricks with scales that fascinated him. His breathing was already outstandingly well controlled and he stood out as the most promising instrumentalist in McShann's talented band. He was twenty years old.
From Jazz Greats by David Perry.
Click the picture to listen to Honeysuckle Rose.
Name That Tune!
(Click on the picture for the answers)
O Holy Night
For all who celebrate Christmas, we wish you peace, happy times and hope with this video from The Big Shake Up band playing O Holy Night (click here or on the picture). Their new album The Big Shake Up is included in our reviews below (O Holy Night is not included on the album).
For those celebrating Hanukkah we hope that light shines on you and yours - click here for a video of the Cleveland Jazz Orchestra with a collection of Hanukkah melodies.
From Jazz DJ to Speaking Clock
Scotland journalist Rob Adams reports that Alan Steadman has been named the winner of a competition to be the new voice on the Speaking Clock. He is only the fifth person to hold the job, but it is unlikely that we shall be hearing any jazz numbers if you want to check your watch, not even Miles Davis playing the beautiful Time After Time (click here).
Alan is now retired, but people might remember him from Radio Tay and from a weekly jazz show on Dundee’s Wave 102 FM where he was DJ for something like 33 years. He has also been promoting gigs at the Hospitalfield Arts Centre in Arbroath for 26 years. Rob Adams says: 'Alan just celebrated the anniversary. I can’t think of all the musicians he’s booked but he puts on around 9/10 gigs a year and off the top of my head Tina May and Nikki Iles, Warren Vache, Liane Carroll, Brian Kellock, and Jim Mullen have been there in recent memory.'
Alan said that recording the voiceover for the Speaking Clock was "an interesting experience": ‘I found that your eyes begin to blur a bit because of all the numbers that you’re reading, but I think it went OK.’
Around 12 million calls a year are made to the Speaking Clock, run by BT and by dialling 123. Even Big Ben is set by the Speaking Clock, which is accurate to within 30 microseconds.
The competition to find the new voice has raised £50,000 for the BBC Children in Need appeal and Alan’s appointment was announced on BBC’s The One Show as the BT Tower in London was lit up in Alan’s honour with the top of the Tower displaying his name in lights.
Click here to listen to Alan telling the time. Click here for the excerpt from The One Show where the winner was announced.
£300m For Practical Music Teaching Over The Next Four Years
In November, the government announced that practical music teaching in England, delivered by a network of 121 hubs, is secure for another four years. The hubs were first set up in 2012 to support children in playing instruments, singing in choirs or playing in bands, but continued funding had been uncertain.
The Musicians Union said the cash would be a welcome relief to music teachers "struggling" in insecure jobs, but the NASUWT teachers' union called it "a sticking plaster to cover a gaping wound". The government spent £271m over the past four years, so ministers say the latest injection of cash represents an increase and will allow the hubs to reach even more pupils. "Music and the arts can transform lives and introduce young people to a huge range of opportunities," said School Standards Minister, Nick Gibb.
But campaigners fear that arts subjects are being squeezed off the timetable because they are not included in the EBacc school league table measure. EBacc rates schools on how many pupils achieve grades (A* to C) in English, Maths, the Sciences, a language and a humanity. The measure was introduced in 2010 and goverment figures apparently show thatthe number of pupils entering GCSE music has fallen from 43,200 in 2011 to 37,400 in 2016. NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates said that where schools focus on subjects that would affect their league table rankings meant creative subjects were being "relentlessly driven out. Access to music lessons across the country is now largely based on parents' ability to pay."
Deborah Annetts, chief executive of the Incorporated Society of Musicians, said she hoped "this recognition of the importance of music education leads to a reconsideration of the proposed EBacc which has been so detrimental to music and the arts.
Click here for the full BBC report.
All over the place, kids are returning home wanting to go on social media but are expected to do their homework. This month we come out in sympathy with them and set you fifteen homework questions. Don't forget to check your score.
Zoology: What was the nickname of the pianist whose autobiography was titled Music on My Mind, The Memoirs Of An American Pianist? When he was a child, his stepfather, John Smith, worked for C.M. Bailey, Pork Packers, and would leave the house around midnight to pick up the freshly killed pigs and bring them to the packing house. He was supposed to be home by 4 am, but would usually go to bars.
Eventually, the boy's mother wanted him to accompany his stepfather to work to hopefully ensure that John would come straight home and not go drinking. He once wrote about the sounds at the slaughterhouse: 'It was another weird but musical sound that I can still hear in my head.'
You can check how well you have done on the Answers page where you will also find some interesting videos - and don't forget to check your score.
Click here for the Jazz Quiz.
The Sounds Of Jazz In Europe
Peter Slavid hosts a local radio show, available on the internet, that gives us a taste of what is going on with jazz in Europe. From 2017, the show will become a 2 hour monthly feature. Peter will also be introducing a European band to us each month in What's New. Peter explains:
It's never been easier to listen to jazz. You can stream the music through Spotify or YouTube or you can tune in to Jazz FM or to any of the dozens of internet radio stations. And there is still some jazz on the BBC. They all broadcast jazz, but I've always felt that what people really want is to be introduced to new bands, new musicians and new music and to hear the latest releases from people they like. The internet is great if you know who you want to hear, and it's great if you just want some jazz in the background – but it isn't good at introducing the new.
My radio show on www.mixcloud.com/ukjazz has a very specific purpose. First of all the show is entirely European and entirely modern. There is so much American (and American style) jazz around that European jazz doesn't get a fair shout. And yet I think European jazz is now more creative and more exciting than most of the stuff from America. All the tracks come from recent releases. I particularly try to play music from the young unknown bands who never get played anywhere else, or bands from Europe that never get to the UK. My taste is definitely for the quirky – for jazz influenced by folk music, rock, world music.
Make a start by listening to Emile Parisien's Quintet; or some fierce rock-influenced jazz from Scandinavian groups Bushman's Revenge or Fire!; African and Middle Eastern influenced jazz from Aly Keita and Basel Rajoub; quirky rhythms from Piero Bittolo Bon and Michiel Braam's solo piano. I don't expect people to like everything I play – but I hope there will always be something to surprise and excite you.
And after all – that's what jazz should be for!
Jazz Photographic Memories
In the past, readers have sent in photographs of times they remember and
what they recall of those occasions. I have now collected many of these on a page on this website named, well - Photographic Memories.
Take a trip down Memory Lane, scroll down the page and see what others remember - click here - and if you have a photograph and a memory, you would like to send in, then please get in touch. Contact details are here.
Help With Musical Definitions No 30.
A vocal work free in form and inspiration, often an expression of national temperament, as performed by M&M, Snoop Moggy, Cuper-T, etc.
Click here for our page of 'Alternative Definitions'. Send us yours ...
Jazz London Live
Since the passing of the Jazz In London printed magazine that gave regular details of gigs in the London area, the website (and app) Jazz London Live has become the key reference place for who is playing where in the London area.
We shall carry a link to the site each month in the venue listing at the bottom of this page, but do make a note of their website address here, and you can download their app to your phone etc. from a page on their website.
Jazz London Live is a well designed site that gives valuable, current information and is well worth noting.
I Could Write A Book
[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here. This will take you to the article on another page on our website where some computers might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].
If they asked me, I could write a book
About the way you walk and whisper and look
I could write a preface on how we met
So the world would never forget
Rodgers and Hart's song might make us think of Sinatra's recording and of the film Pal Joey, but the story doesn't actually start there. Yes, the song was written for Pal Joey, but it was a stage show before the film, and a series of stories before the stage show. We all see Sinatra as Joey, hat pushed back, jacket over shoulder ... and here is the clip from the film where Joey Evans sings the song to Kim Novak's Linda English click here. Frank Sinatra in his prime and seen as charismatic, handsome and a bit of a rascal. Hollywood. Hollywould.
Joey asks about Linda who is dancing in the chorus line: 'Hey, who's the mouse with the built?'Today, some of the dialogue and action might be challenged as disrespectful, but my guess is that in 1957 when the film came out, it was not a major concern. The reaction to the stage show was a different story. Which takes us to the origins of Pal Joey, a series of stories by John O'Hara in The New Yorker about a worthless 'heel' and his wealthy mistress. It was O'Hara that suggested to Richard Rodgers that the stories might be turned into a musical and it was agreed that Rodgers and Hart would write the songs if O'Hara wrote the book. Pal Joey was first staged in 1940.
It was here that the true nature of Joey Evans was written. He was depicted as a totally immoral, ambitious song and dance man who dumps his girlfriend for a wealthy widow, Vera Simpson. Vera is happy to spend a great deal of money on Joey, buys him expensive clothes, a posh apartment and sets him up in a night club. But Joey is Joey, and in time he gets restless and looks for new conquests. Eventually, Vera leaves him and Joey runs into trouble with blackmailers. At the end of the play he is left alone and broke. No happy ending here.
The production ran for 374 performances and received varying reviews. In his book Broadway's Greatest Musicals, Abe Laufe writes: 'The combination of sex, blackmail, frank lyrics, and an unromantic plot made for "adult theatre", as some critics called it, praising the production because it differed radically from standard musical fare. Pal Joey, however, was too far ahead for its time. Audiences were not yet ready to accept an unpleasant story that contained not a hint of romance, and in which the only wholesome character, Linda, was also the least colourful .... Since the story dealt with shoddy affairs, Rodgers and Hart restricted any semblance of a love song to one number, I Could Write A Book. Even this could not be interpreted as a true love song, for Joey's fickleness negated any belief audiences might have had in his sincerity.'
Despite being 'ahead of its time' the stage show starred Gene Kelly as Joey and it brought him stardom as it did for another character, Van Johnson who was in the chorus and Gene Kelly's understudy. As for the songs, I Could Write A Book and Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered became popular classics.
The stage show was revived in 1952 and times had changed. 'The innuendos and frank lyrics that had shocked audiences and critics in the 1940s show now seemed more acceptable and more palatable.' The two popular songs were also now well known and a draw for audiences. The play was named 'Best Musical Of The Year' by the Critics Circle. Harold Lang played Joey and Vivienne Segal was again Vera, the part she had played 12 years earlier.
What were these 'frank lyrics'? If we look at two songs we can see that they are hardly 'frank' compared with some lyrics today. Click here to listen to What Is A Man? sung by Vera and which contains the lines: 'What is this thing called man?
Hello Jack can't keep the appointment,
have an awful cold [sneeze].
have to meet my husband.
So long, please don't scold.
What is a man?
is he an ornament?
Useless by day
and dear by night.
Nature's mistake since the world begun.
All have one trick
one that is slick.
What is this thing called man?'
Click here to listen to Our Little Den Of Iniquity sung by Vera and Joey with 'We're very proper folks you know, We've separate bedrooms comme il faut. There's one for play and one for show'.
Perhaps it was inevitable that Pal Joey became a movie, but many changes were made. Sinatra, a singer rather than a dancer, was cast as Joey and this time the happy ending saw him become a nice guy - (Sinatra won a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor). Rita Hayworth played Vera, now a wealthy widow hiding a past as a stripper and in the movie it is she who performs the 'strip' number Zip (although Jo Ann Greer sang for Hayworth, and Kim Novak, now playing Linda, had Trudy Erwin singing her part). Rather than being Vera's 'toy boy', Sinatra was actually older than Rita Hayworth and there were 'new' Rodgers and Hart songs - The Lady Is A Tramp (originally from Babes In Arms) and There's A Small Hotel (originally written for Billy Rose's Jumbo and On Your Toes). Nevertheless, as we have seen, I Could Write A Book stayed firmly in place.
And the simple secret of the plot
Is just to tell them that I love you a lot
Then the world discovers, as my book ends
How to make two lovers of friends.
Since then it has become a 'Standard'. One of the classic jazz interpretations comes from 1956 and the Miles Davis Quintet's album Relaxin' : Miles Davis (trumpet); John Coltrane (tenor sax); Red Garland (piano); Paul Chambers (bass); Philly Joe Jones (drums) - (click here to listen).
In the summer of 1955, Miles had played at the Newport Jazz Festival and was offered a contract by Columbia Records if he could form a regular band, so he put together his first regular quintet for a gig at the Café Bohemia in July. It had Sonny Rollins on tenor saxophone, Red Garland, piano, Paul Chambers, bass, and Philly Joe Jones on drums, but by the autumn, Rollins had left because of his heroin addiction. Miles replaced Sonny with John Coltrane - a partnership that lasted for five years and resulted in one of the legendary jazz combinations.
On the website Cafe Songbook, it is argued that Lorenz Hart was known for his acerbic wit and irony, so what was he doing writing a lyric for I Could Write a Book that is imbued with simplicity, directness and innocence, especially for a show sporting a cynical point-of-view like Pal Joey? His partner Richard Rodgers explained:
'Throughout our score for Pal Joey, Larry and I were scrupulous in making every song adhere to the hard-edged nature of the story. Taken by itself, "I Could Write a Book" is perfectly straightforward and sincere in the context of the plot, however, Joey, who had probably never read a book in his life, sang it for no other reason than to impress a naive girl he had just picked up on the street.'
Rodgers and Hart (Lorenz Hart on the right)
Cafe Songbook says: 'One cannot be certain that Hart would completely agree with his partner's assessment. Seemingly ironic, Hart himself is on record as stating that "I Could Write a Book" is his favorite song from the show. One can be sure he doesn't like it so much for its romantic sentiment but much more likely for its irony, which not everyone, apparently including Rodgers, picks up on. It comes in Hart's line, "And the simple secret of the plot / Is just to tell you that I love you a lot." Joey is referring to the "plot" of the book he could supposedly write about his feelings for Linda, whereas Hart is referring to the plot of Pal Joey, which is not simple at all, but complex just as Joey (and Hart himself) is'.
And the simple secret of the plot
Is just to tell them that I love you a lot
Then the world discovers, as my book ends
How to make two lovers of friends.
Ella Fitzgerald, Dinah Washington, Sarah Vaughan and many others have sung the lyrics. Ella's version (click here) includes lyrics from the stage show we don't always hear. To explain these verses, Cafe Songbook again, describes the setting for the original stage show:
'The scene is set in front of a large picture window looking in on a pet shop. Joey is admiring a puppy in the window when he spies Linda who is doing the same thing. Joey doesn't lose a beat before he is regaling Linda with how he had a puppy just like this one when he was a little boy and how it was killed when the family chauffeur, Chadwick, backed the car over it. Joey continues with the tale seeking to extract every ounce of pity he can from Linda. The audience is intended to see what Linda doesn't, that this is a line and an effective one. It is so effective that Linda is immediately taken with Joey, which leads to them singing, as a duet, the only love ballad in the show."I Could Write a Book."
'The premise of the song is that although neither of them did well in school, presumably at least with regard to writing, each now could "write a book / About the way you walk and whisper and look," not to mention "a preface on how we met / So the world would never forget." The romantic innocence expressed in the lyric is a good match for Linda's character but stands in powerfully ironic contrast to Joey's machiavellian approach to love and life.'
I never learned to spell
at least not well.
I never learned to count
a great amount.
But my busy mind is burning
to use what learning I've got.
I won't waste any time,
I'll strike while the iron is hot.
Use to hate to go to schoolI never craked a book;
I pleyed the hook
Never answered any mail;
to write I used to think was wasting ink.
It was never my endeavor
to be too clever and smart.
how I suddenly feel
a longing to write in my heart.
Dinah Washington's version from 1955 is quite different. She sounds more confident than an uneducated Linda might and the track carries some nice solos. Arranged and conducted by Quincy Jones it had
Clark Terry (trumpet); Jimmy Cleveland (trombone);
Paul Quinichette (tenor sax); Cecil Payne (baritone sax);
Wynton Kelly (piano); Barry Galbraith (guitar); Keter Betts (bass) and Jimmy Cobb (drums). (click here).
There is an amusing, alternative angle on the idea of writing a book that was recorded by country singers Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson in their track I Could Write A Book About You from their album Heroes - click here. 'But you don't have to worry; I ain't goin' to do it!' Perhaps, but there again, they also recorded Old Age And Treachery (click here), so who knows .....
Artie Shaw's big band recorded a 'hot' version of I Could Write A Book - click here. The recording was made around 1945 and it must have been off the back of the stage show rather than the film as Artie Shaw retired from music in 1954. Artie's band had been at the height of its success during the 1930s and 1940s. When war came, Artie served in the US Navy during which time he led a band that toured the South Pacific. Following his discharge in 1944, he returned to lead a band through 1945 but then, when the band broke up, he began to focus on other interests and gradually withdrew from the world of being a professional musician. He put it down to his expectations of himself, saying to a reporter: "In the world we live in, compulsive perfectionists finish last. You have to be Lawrence Welk or, on another level, Irving Berlin, and write the same kind of music over and over again. I'm not able to do that, and I have taken the clarinet as far as anyone can possibly go. To continue playing would be a disservice." Nevertheless, in 1984 he did put together another band with clarinettist Dick Johnson as bandleader. Artie appeared with the band for a year before handing everything over to Johnson.
In 1952, Artie wrote a book - The Trouble With Cinderella. It was subtitled 'An Outline Of Identity' and could be said to have been 'about the way you walk and whisper and look'. One reviewer sums it up: 'Shaw points out that people who were uneducated about music and about art and about literature were satisfied with the slickness that was part of entertainment. When an entertainer developed something people liked, he couldn’t move beyond it. People paid for their expectations. As an entertainer, he couldn’t develop as a musician. This is part of the trouble with Cinderella. Once you attain the prince, you can’t go any further.'
Harry Connick Jr. recorded a big band version of I Could Write A Book for the score of the 1989 movie When Harry Met Sally - click here -people tend not to reme mber the soundtrack as much as they remember the scene in Katz's Delicatessen with Meg Ryan and Billy Crystal - (click here).
We leave this unwrapping with two more up-to-date videos of I Could Write A Book. The first is with pianist Francesca Tandoi at her Master's recital in 2015 (click here) with
Frans Van Geest (double bass) and
Frits Landesbergen (drums).
The other is from 2004. Unfotunately, it has a couple of brief spots of interference but I think it is worth seeing. It is the Kelly Craig Sextet playing the number (click here). Kelly Craig (trumpet and band Leader), Brian Asselin (tenor sax), Nathan Cepelinski (alto sax), Brian Browne(piano), Don Johnson (dums) and Norm Glaude (upright bass).
My page was too white
My ink was too thin
The day wouldn't write
What the night pencilled in
I know she is coming
I know she will look
And that is the longing
And this is the book
Leonard Cohen from The Book Of Longing
[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here. This will take you to the article on another page on our website where some computers might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].
I first came across reeds player Alec Harper in 2012 playing with Barney Lowe's outstanding London City Big Band. Alec was just completing his music degree at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London where he graduated with a First Class BMus (Hons) in Jazz Performance. He had already received the Young Performer' Award from UK Jazz Radio and after graduating, he was awarded a Concert Recital Diploma and won a prestigious Yamaha Jazz scholarship. The scholarship was awarded at an event at Westminster hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG). The scholarships were presented to a graduate from each of the major Jazz Conservatoires in the UK and after the presentation itself, the musicians played a set for the audience - Members of Parliament and key people in the Jazz industry. I found Alec suffering from the 'flu and looking pretty rough, but somehow the adrenolin kicked in and he showed just how justified that scholarship award was.
That was four years ago. Alec decided to go to America for his Master's degree, and studied at Boston's New England Conservatory. He had established contacts in New York and spent time working with New England Conservatory graduate, composer, electronic musician and recording engineer, Tyler Gilmore to put together a project called ‘Beaker’. In 2014, Alec shared some of that experimental improvisation work with us (click here).
Alec completed his Master's degree and has now moved to New York. I caught up with him for a Tea Break:
Hi Alec, tea or coffee? Or do they only drink coffee over there?
Hey there. Wow that’s an opening question right there. Well right now I would have to say coffee has become more of a feature in my life and I think it helps to keep up with the pace in New York, but I will never tire of a good old cup of tea. Coffee is for now, tea is for life.
Milk and sugar?
Milk no, milk is for baby cows isn't it? In all seriousness though I have less dairy these days but can't cut out sugar, always had a sweet tooth.
If you could ask two past jazz musicians to join us for the tea break, who would you invite?
That's a great question (as they say over here). I would have to ask Eric Dolphy for sure and probably Thelonius Monk as well.
What would you ask them?
I think I would ask Dolphy what led him to approach the saxophone in the way he did. In the past few years I have been very inspired by his fearless approach and his staggering technical prowess, there really was nobody who played like Dolphy, nor is there someone who can play like him now.
I would ask Monk if he had periods of low motivation towards composing (unlikely it would seem) and how he got through those times and came out the other side. I would also love to know what Monk was passionate about outside of music, I’m sure he would share some cool things.
Hob Nob, Bourbon, Garibaldi or Custard Cream biscuit?
They have different purposes for me. Hob Nobs and Garibaldis are unquestionably dipping biscuits, both on a par I’d say. Bourbon is my binge biscuit and I’ve shared many a late night with them having come home from gigs and other such shenanigans in London. Custard Creams will always remind me of school trip lunch boxes from my earlier years, they make me feel young. I told you I have a sweet tooth - this is probably the longest answer yet! You can’t buy these over here in the U.S so I will have to add them to my list for the next English visitors.
Are you finding the music scene different in America? and is Boston different to New York?
The music scene is different over here for sure, mind you I'm mainly comparing it to my time in London as my Europe experience is limited thus far. I would say the main factor is the history. Jazz began here as we know and the country is very proud of that, keen to nurture it. Kids in school are pushed from a young age to play in bands. I would say most jazz musicians here have had a connection with the tradition from a younger age. There is also the church scene of course that hugely influences a lot of the musicians over here.
Then there is the sheer scale of America with all its cities and scenes. I have only lived in two cities, Boston and now New York. Boston to New York is no comparison in my opinion. Boston is a great place to study but New York is truly a Mecca and it's not just for jazz, it's at the forefront of so many arts with people from all over America and the rest of the world. That's not to say there are better players here than the best players anywhere else, it's just that there are a lot more of them, and if you want to succeed, my oh my, you have to up your game! That being said, New York is by no means for everyone and I'm realising now having studied Jazz for 6 years that there is so much more to life than music, so it's important to be somewhere you can do as many of the things you enjoy and need as possible. Would I recommend it? Hell yes!!!
What gigs have you played recently?
I had a couple of gigs last month with a very interesting new collaboration I'm a part of. It's with fellow alumni of the New England Conservatory where I did my Masters: Eliot Cardinaux on piano and spoken word and Aaron Edgcomb on percussion. Eliot is a fantastic poet and we have all had a lot of fun working together to sculpt our improvising around the poetry. The group is called ‘The Gown of Entry’ and is great fun, I'm very excited to see where it goes in the future.
[Click here for a video of Alec and Tyler Gilmore with Song 2 from the Beaker project]
What have you got coming up in in the next few months?
The next few months is all about immersing myself in the music scene here, meeting lots of musicians and seeing where it takes me. I will be releasing a record with the trio I mentioned in the previous answer, ‘The Gown of Entry’. I also have some exciting improv gigs early next year and aim to get to writing to put to life some new ideas I have. There is of course the dreaded Visa application to look forward to.
[Click here to listen to 'The Gown Of Entry' (Alec Harper, Eliot Cardinaux and Aaron Edgecomb) playing Public Alley].
Who else have you heard recently that we should listen out for?
I think Cory Smythe is one of the most interesting pianists to be surfacing. I have heard him recently in a few contexts and was blown away. I am really enjoying hearing Ned Gould (tenor sax) play with his group on Wednesday nights at Fat Cat in the Village. He is a fantastic musician with a very interesting approach to changes. Keep your ears peeled for a debut album from bassist and composer Andrew Schiller (I may be on that one). I am also really digging Anderson Paak right now, getting my hip hop on.
[Click here for Anderson Paak and the Free Nationals with Come Down].
Another biscuit, or should I go out for Cookies or Coney Island Classics Butter Me Up Popcorn?
Did you know that a biscuit in America is actually similar to the scones we are used to but they are a lot fluffier in texture. Well worth trying if you get the chance. Popcorn is great but it gets stuck in the teeth, plus Coney Island would be FREEZING now. Winter has come sadly...
The Gown Of Entry
Click here for more Tea Breaks
Vinyl and Celluloid
In November, Jazz on Film records released a deluxe set of vinyl records Jazz In Italian Cinema: Spreading New Sounds from the Big Screen 1958-1962. This is the third in a series of releases curated by Jazzwise writer Selwyn Harris, the previous issues being Jazz In Polish Cinema (Out of the Underground 1958-1967) and French New Wave (Original Jazz on Film Recordings 1957-1962).
It is an area of Italian jazz that has had far less in-depth coverage compared to another ‘golden era’ in Italian soundtracks - the later period of the 1960-70s, nevertheless, it is one that’s highly significant to jazz in Italy. It ranges from swing to the cool/hard bop of the late 1950s (Piero Umiliani’s pioneering comedy scores for I soliti ignoti and its sequel featuring Chet Baker’s exquisite trumpet solos) through to the expanded possibilities for jazz in the early 1960s in both modal and ‘third stream’ settings. It includes pianist Giorgio Gaslini’s Blues L’allalba from Antonioni’s La Notte and a piece from MJQ pianist John Lewis’ rarely heard chamber jazz score for A Milanese Story.
Liner notes to the set are by Selwyn Harris and Italian archivist and author Francesco Martinelli.
You can watch the movie I soliti ignoti on YouTube if you click here and from the beginning sample the jazz score over the opening credits (it is in Italian with Italian subtitles so you might only want a taste unless you picked up enough Italian from Montalbano!). Click here too for Piero Umiliani and Chet Baker Brano Tratto Da "Audace Colpo Dei Soliti Ignoti" Alone In A Crowd.
Click here for more information and the track list for the vinyl collection.
Do You Have A Birthday In December?
for December Birthdays
SAGITTARIUS (The Archer)
23rd November - 20th December
Last month on the 22nd the planetary power began to shift to the lower half of your Horoscope. Your career is on track, so it is time to focus on home, the family and your emotional wellness. Your busy outer life could have been pulling you away from your point of emotional harmony. Now its time to get back to it.
When the lower half of the Horoscope is dominant we are in the night time of our year. We don't ignore career or outer objectives but we approach them in a different way - we dream, vizualise, develop a feeling of where we are heading.
Jupiter, the ruler of your Horoscope, opposes Uranus from the 19th onwards, so try to be more patient and avoid arguments. Much more can be gained from a calm, rational approach.
Sagittarians can think big - they can think they want it all, but remember if you want to attain status this is not conferred to enhance your ego but as a reward for the service you perform. When you understand how to serve better, a Sagittarian can rise to the top.
For you, click here for a video of Betty Carter singing All Or Nothing At All with
Jack DeJohnette (drums),
Geri Allen (piano) and
Dave Holland (bass).
CAPRICORN (The Goat)
21st December - 19th January
The planetary power is now at its maximum Eastern position and this will be the case next month as well. Now is the time to use this power to change things that displease you.
It looks as though you could have a happy month ahead, so make the most of it. It can also be a month of spiritual breakthroughs and one spiritual breakthrough could be significant for your life. This might come about as the result of a synchronicity, be open to recognising it and making the connection.
Until the 21st your growth is interior - unseen and perhaps unnoticed, but on the 21st, as the Sun enters your sign, your growth becomes noticeable and with Mercury in your sign there could be happy job opportunities. Use them to help your career grow.
Uranus, your financial planet is still retrograde so there might be some glitches and delays concerning money and after the 21st, finances might seem more stressful - but hang on, this could be less serious than you think, after all, with Venus moving into your money house on the 7th, things could be working out in the background.
For you, click here for a video of the Sant Andreu Jazz Band playing Benny Carter's Easy Money at the Barcelona Festival in 2011. The trumpet soloist is Andrea Motis).
Video Juke Box
Click on the Picture for the Video
Michael Wollny and Vincent Peirani - Hunter from their October 2016 album Tandem.
Jay Phelps Angel with Jay Phelps (trumpet/vocals),
Rick Simpson (piano),
Mark Lewandowski: (bass) and
Shane Forbes (drums) from his forthcoming 2017 album.
This is actually an audio link to Like A Doll's Eyes from Blind Monk Trio's new EP In Search Of The Uncanny Valley - now available for FREE download. Blind Monk Trio - Bob Whittaker (tenor saxophone), Hugo Harrison (double bass), Johnny Hunter (drums) - have the EP available on Bandcamp (click here).
Solstice - whose album Alimentation will be released on 12th December 2016. Tori Freestone (saxes/flutes),
Brigitte Beraha (voice),
Jez Franks (guitars),
John Turville (piano),
Dave Manington (double bass),
George Hart (d).rums
[You are able to listen to the music at the same time as reading this article and without leaving the page if you click here. This will take you to the article on another page on our website where some computers might ask you to allow the music to play on the page. Alternatively there are links to the music on YouTube etc. in the article below].
In our Profile of Steve Lane (click here), John Wurr looks back at the story of the cornet player and bandleader. As people read the page, memories came back of Steve's Famous Southern Stompers and the vocalists who worked with the band at various times - Pam White, Pam Heagren, Michelle Castell - and the 'Sophie Tucker style of Rusty Taylor.' So who was Rusty Taylor? Sadly, Rusty died in 1993, but her husband, Kevin, helps us look back at the life of a singer who was very much part of the UK jazz scene:
Rusty Taylor was born Ethyle Morris on 20th January 1941. Her roots were in the English Music Hall where both her father, Gus Morris, and his brother Dave were well known on the variety circuits in the '30s and '40s. Gus was lead comic in the travelling show Soldiers In Skirts, and Rusty's Uncle Dave had his own shows on TV and Radio. Her Aunt Ethyle was also stand-in for Mistinguett the famous French singer and dancer who was once married to Maurice Chevalier.
Rusty herself made her first public appearance in show business at the age of three months when she was carried on stage in a domestic scene by her father. By the age of two and a half years she was appearing in sketches in costume and make-up. She even appeared in Cabaret at the age of six and recalled her first encounter with jazz material at this time in the number Ballin’ The Jack.
Ethyle Cruden, as she was then known, worked regularly between 1955-1970 as a singer in the Working Men's Clubs and Cabaret in the North East of England. There she met Kevin Taylor, having previously separated from her first husband, John Cruden, in the summer of 1970. They married and subsequently moved to Windsor in the south of England, where Kevin was serving with the Household Cavalry.
Rusty’s first love was singing jazz and blues and she admired Bessie Smith, Sophie Tucker and many of the old Blues singers. She started singing with jazz bands in the south of England in 1971, with a local Windsor band called 'The 1066', and it was at this time, because of her red hair, she decided to call herself 'Rusty' Taylor. She worked with this band for a short time before being invited to join Steve Lane’s Southern Stompers in 1972 and during this period she had an album released on the Azure label called I‘ve Got What It Takes.
However in 1975 her husband’s job took her to Europe, and at the suggestion of clarinettist Monty Sunshine, she joined a band in Hanover called Happy Jazz, working with them for a successful five years before returning to England in 1980. On her return, Rusty re-joined Steve Lane and her second solo album with Steve called Good Old Bad Old Days was released on an American jazz label, Stomp Off (SOS 1028).
In 1983 Rusty decided to go solo and form her own Band which she called 'Jazz Review' and had a second solo album released on Stomp Off (SOS 1186 VOL 2) called Give Me A Call with Keith Nicols and Rusty Taylor’s Jazz Makers. This album included lots of blues and had sleeve notes by Humphrey Lyttelton, in which he remarked “I have no difficulty in saying that Rusty Taylor’s work was good. What I will say off my own back is that this album is the best I have heard from her, and I have no doubt that, like me, you will listen to this album as one should listen to good jazz with a tapping foot, a deeply contented smile, a warm heart, and, from time to time, a moist eye.”
During this period, and at the same time as working with her own band who regularly played at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, Rusty also worked as guest singer with such names as Nat Gonella, Kenny Ball, Acker Bilk and Alan Elsdon. She also sang regularly with Kenny Baker in a Show called 'An Evening With Bix And Bessie'. She was also starring in a show by John Petters called 'Queens of the Blues' with Beryl Bryden and Helen Gould, a show that was taken to Cork and other Jazz Festivals.
A 1985 American Jazzology Poll in America saw Rusty voted a tie in 36th place with such names as Cleo Laine, Blossom Dearie and Lena Horne. This resulted in Rusty being booked to sing with the Buck Creek Jazz Band in Baltimore where she blew the audience away with her singing in an event that received rave reviews. On a previous visit to New York the year before, Rusty stayed with Cynthia Sayer and sat in with the local band in Greenwich Village, with included Kenny Daverne, Howard Alden, Eddy Davis and Cynthia - to name but a few.
In 1987 Rusty decided to organise a Tribute to her friend Nat Gonella at the 100 Club in Oxford Street recognising his many years of contribution to British Jazz. This tribute turned into a wildly successful gig with many musicians and singers giving their services free. Many were household names including, Lonnie Donegan, the Tommy Burton Trio, Adelaide Hall, Beryl Brydon, the George Webb Band, the Alan Elson Band, Harry Gold, and many more. Roger Horton the owner of the 100 Club at the time was overwhelmed.
Rusty continued to tour Europe with her band over the next few years and had another album released on Stomp Off (SOS 1186 VOL 2) called simply Let’s Misbehave. The album, a selection of very old, not generally known songs, combined her considerable talent with jazz pianist Keith Nichols and included such numbers as Cryin’ for the Carolines. Sleeve notes were by Chris Ellis who worked for EMI and who had a lot of praise for Rusty’s interpretation of the unusual songs on the album.
In the early 90’s Rusty, apart from singing with her own band, joined up with Harry Strutter’s Hot Rhythm Orchestra with Mike Cotton (trumpet), Bob Hunt (trombone), Tony Jack (clarinet), Bill Boston (saxophone), Martin Litton (piano), Maurice Denham (banjo & guitar), Jim Heath (sousa & bass and Eddie Maslow (drums). This was an extremely successful combination and was probably in competition with the Pasadena Roof Orchestra. All the gigs performed by this band proved popular and had wild appreciation with audiences. After Rusty's death a recording was made from a performance at The Quay Theatre in Sudbury, Suffolk and called simply Red Hot ‘N’ Rusty, the most notable number being Am I Blue with a terrific arrangement by Bob Hunt. Some of Rusty’s favourite composers were Dorothy Fields and Jimmy McHugh who wrote such songs as I Must Have That Man, Big Spender, I Can’t Give You Anything But Love and many more.
Rusty was also a regular visitor with her Band at the South Bank, and frequently at these gigs the Jiving Lindy Hoppers, who regularly worked with Harry Strutters Hot Rhythm Orchestra, would turn up and entertain the audience.
In 1992, Rusty’s friend and member of Humphrey Lyttelton's Band, Bruce Turner, became seriously ill. As Rusty was living in the same town as Bruce she was able to visit him daily in Milton Keynes Hospital. A Benefit event for him was arranged by Roger Horton at the 100 Club in Oxford Street, for Wednesday 17th November 1993. Rusty was booked to work with Acker Bilk for this gig. However in the early hours of Friday 12th November 1993, Rusty suffered a serious asthma attack and sadly died in Milton Keynes Hospital in the early hours of that morning.
Rusty was a rising star, who was taken before she reached her full potential. She is sorely missed by the British and international jazz scene and their audiences today. Rusty left us a legacy in her music, which audiences still enjoy today. The key to Rusty’s success as a jazz and blues singer was not only in the material that she sang, but when singing, every word could be understood and her timing was perfect. All the musicians she used were true professionals, “sympathetic” in timing and volume. Rusty also encouraged audience participation, especially in her well known rendition of Cake Walkin’ Babies. She has been sadly missed since her death in 1993 and the like of her will rarely be seen again on the British Jazz scene.
We hope to add music by Rusty to this article in the near future - look out for updates.
Two Ears Three Eyes
The Andrew Bain Project
Photographer Brian O'connor took these pictures at the Watermill Jazz Club, Betchworth Park Golf Club in Dorking, Surrey, on
Tuesday 8th November featuring Andrew Bain (drums),
George Colligan (piano),
Jon Irabagon (sax) and
Michael Janisch (bass).
Brian says: 'What can I say about this group? They played from their latest album - a suite of music. Very long slabs of music embracing many genres. In the first half they played only ‘3’ numbers. The first 15/20 minutes was quite avant garde and a bit beyond me, but they then got into a more mid-stream boppish mode that was absolutely excellent.'
Andrew Bain is a graduate of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London and winner of the BBC Big Band Drummer award. He has played with a long list of musicians, was a member of vocalist Jacqui Dankworth’s band between 2007-8, and recorded with the late Sir John Dankworth in 2008. He has performed at many prestigious venues in the UK, Europe and the US, including the BBC Proms and the Montreux Jazz Festival.
Previously based in New York and at the Manhattan School of Music, Andrew performed extensively with Thelonious Monk Competition winner Jon Irabagon, who joined him on this tour.
Andrew co-leads the New York-based group Confluence whose second record will be released later this year. He launched a new project Player Piano with Mike Walker, Gwilym Simcock, Iain Dixon and Steve Watts to great reviews in October 2015, and this tour during November 2016 has been with his Embodied Hope Quartet featuring pianist George Colligan, saxophonist Jon Irabagon and bassist Michael Janisch.
Andrew is Senior Lecturer in Jazz at the Birmingham Conservatoire and Artistic Director of Jazz for the National Youth Orchestras of Scotland. He is also a member of the National Youth Jazz Collective with Artistic Director Dave Holland. He is currently studying for his PhD in jazz improvisation at Birmingham City University.
The other musicians in this Project have an impressive pedigree: George Colligan has worked with Jack DeJohnette and Christian McBride, Thelonious Monk Competition winner Jon Irabagon has played saxophone with Dave Douglas and Barry Altschul; and bassist Michael Janisch with Lee Konitz, Joe Lovano and many others as well as running the excellent Whirlwind Recordings label.
This trans-Atlantic project has aimed to capture the excitement and energy of New York City - where all the musicians have lived at one time or another.
All pictures © Brian O'Connor, Images Of Jazz
Brian O'Connor's hard back book, packed with hundreds of photographs is now available. ‘Images of Jazz’ by Riverside Publishing Solutions can be obtained from Brian at: Brian O’Connor, 48 Sarel Way, Horley, Surrey RH6 8EW. Tel: 01293 774171. Email: email@example.com. The book is priced at £25 plus £4.95 post and packing (UK), but as we say, the price for orders placed before 24th December 2016 is £20 plus p&p. Click here for our review.
Mike Rose from the National Jazz Archive in Loughton, Essex writes: ' I’m convinced that listening to the Sid Phillips band as a toddler contributed to my enthusiasm for jazz. ‘Hors D'oeuvres’ will definite feature in my 8 discs (if I am invited as a guest on Desert Island Discs). It would also be useful should I get peckish'.
Click here to listen to Sid and his band playing Hors D'oevres and Is It True What They Say About Dixie?
Mike Rose has another contact with Sid and his younger brother, Woolf. When some years ago Mike began his involvement with the National Jazz Archive, he met NJA Patron, John Altman. John enjoys an international reputation as a saxophone player, composer, arranger and orchestrator. In conversation, he discovered that John was the nephew of Sid and Woolf Phillips.
In an interview with John in 2015, John said: “My mother loved music, and her four brothers were all band leaders. One of her brothers was Sid Phillips, who wrote all the arrangements for The Ambrose Band and later became the top jazz clarinettist in England. Her younger brother was Woolf Phillips, who when I was born was the conductor at the London Palladium. He was also the musical director for Sinatra, Judy Garland, Danny Kaye, The Marx Brothers, Nat King Cole, Hoagy Carmichael, and you name it really”.
Clarinettist Sid Phillips was born Isador Simon Phillips into a Jewish family in London in 1907. As a child he started out on violin and piano, changing to reeds in his teens. Apparently he and his elder brothers Harry (trumpet), Ralph (banjo) and Woolf, all self-taught musicians, used to practise their instruments at the end of their garden because their mother chased them out of the house when they made 'all that noise.' One of the brothers had a European band for which Sid played.
Starting out in a band they called 'The Riviera Five' augmented in 1923 by Sid Kreeger (piano) and Joe Badis (drums), we read that Sid first toured on the continent and by 1927, now renamed 'The Melodians' they were favourites in most fashionable European cities.
Click here to listen to The Melodians playing It's Great To Be In Love in 1931.
Getting work as a publisher and director for the Edison-Bell Gramophone Company, Sid began writing arrangements for Bert Ambrose in 1930. He joined Ambrose’s band three years later and stayed with the band until 1937. We can listen to a programme from The Golden Age of British Dance Bands compiled and introduced by Alan Dell in 1972 in which he presents just under 45 minutes of Ambrose at the Mayfair Hotel. In the programme ther are interviews with Sid Phillips as well as information about Sid working with the band (click here).
When World War II came, Sid served in the Royal Air Force and played in the United States on radio and freelance in clubs. After the War, in 1946, he put together his own quartet, but it was in 1949 that he started to lead the Dixieland band that would feature at various times musicians that would go on to be ‘famous names’ such as such George Shearing, Tommy Whittle and Kenny Ball.
We don't have much in the way of film footage of Sid, but here he is playing I Found A New Baby (click here). His HMV single I Found A New Baby was released in November 1954 - and this video imagining them in front of a train is from a television appearance in May 1955. Kenny Ball is the featured trumpet player.
Some while ago. Sandy Pringle sent us this picture of Sid Phillips playing at Aberdeen's Beach Ballroom in the 1950s. At the time we discussed the video saying: 'Kenny Ball is the trumpet player on the video but who are the others?' Dave Keir, Norman Simpson and Su Oliver (whose aunt Kay McKinley sang with the band) confirmed that the trombonist was Norman Cave and the two sax players were Cyril Glover (alto sax) and George Bayton (tenor).
Sid Phillips band at the Aberdeen Ballroom
Photograph © Sandy Pringle
Gerry Salisbury agreed: 'The trombone player in the video clip with Kenny is Norman Cave. He played with Freddy Randall and there was an argument with the result that every member of the band left en masse and Norman formed a band with myself playing Freddy's part. I did two weeks at the Theatre Royal, Dublin with that band. The other picture at the Beach Ballroom has another old mate of mine on trumpet, Alan Whickham.
Click here to listen to Sid Phillips and his Band playing The Darktown Strutters Ball.
Sid Phillips's recordings were prolific and popular. His first recordings under his own name were made in 1928, and he continued to record as a leader into the 1970s.
In 2013 in Sydney, Australia, Mark Walton (clarinet) and David Miller (piano) paid this tribute with Sid's 1949 composition Clarinet Cadenza (click here).
Sid Phillips died in Chertsey in 1973.
Click here for our page of 'Jazz Remembered'
Jazzwise Chooses Its Top Twenty
The December / January issue of Jazzwise magazine not only carries a free CD by the 2016 Yamaha Jazz Scholars that we reported on last month (highly recommended), but they have also selected their Top Twenty New Releases and Reissues for the past year. Their New Release choices are:
1. Tim Garland - One (Edition)
2. Branford Marsalis Quartet
with Kurt Elling - Upward Spiral (OKeh)
3. Dinosaur - Together, As One (Edition)
4. Donny McCaslin - Beyond Now (Montema)
5= Brad Mehldau - Ballads And Blues (Nonesuch)
5= Charles Lloyd and the Marvels - I Long To See You (Blue Note)
7. EST Symphony - EST Symphony (ACT)
8= Impossible Gentlemen - Let's Get Deluxe (Basho)
8= Aziza - Aziza (Dare2)
10. Phronesis - Parallex (Edition)
11. Kit Downes and Tom Challenger - Vyamanikal (Slip)
12. Jazz At Lincoln Centre - Live In Cuba (Blue Engine)
13. Joshua Redman and Brad Mehldau - Nearness (Nonesuch)
14= John Scofield - Country For Old Men (Impulse)
14=Jeremy Pelt - Jive Culture (High Note)
14= Bill Frisell - When You Wish Upon A Star (OKeh)
17= Dhafer Youssef - Diwan Of Beauty and Odd (OKeh)
17= Barnes / O'Higgins and the Sax Section - Oh Gee! (Woodville)
17= Jack DeJohnette / Ravi Coltrane / Matthew Garrison - In Movement (ECM)
20. Michael Wollny Trio - Klangspuren (ACT)
We'll share their top twenty re-releases next month.
How do you choose? These albums are well worth checking out, but we would have added others - next month we shall also offer our other choices for the past year. At the end of the day it comes down to the 'ear of the beholder', but what is encouraging is the amount of great jazz that is being released month by month.
Riff Raff On The Road
Bassist and composer Dave Manington is one of the mainstays of the London jazz scene, a founder member of the Loop Collective. He is also in demand for a broad range of different ensembles, playing with musicians from everywhere from South America to the Balkans, but the musicians he is most passionate about playing with are his contemporaries, many of whom he has worked with since moving to London to study at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. Many collaborations and projects have been spawned from these connections. It was with the most like-minded of these people that he founded the Loop Collective ten years ago, in order to pool creative resources and promote their music more effectively.
His debut quartet album Headrush was released on Loop Records in 2008 and he followed this up with the 2013 Riff Raff album release Hullabaloo. Dave unwrapped one of the tracks, Agile, for us in one of our Full Focus series (click here). Dave continues to develop the Riff Raff project. This ensemble of young musicians has grown organically over the last decade and features vocalist Brigitte Beraha, pianist Ivo Neame, saxophonist Tomas Challenger, guitarist Rob Updegraff and drummer Tim Giles.
Dave says: 'The starting point for the music is collective improvisation but compositionally it draws on as wide a range of styles as possible. Folk, electronic music and contemporary classical influences are added to the mix with complex jazz harmonies and rhythms and the music has been developed through countless gigs and rehearsals giving Riff Raff a genuinely unified sound. The band also benefits from the fact that Rob, Tim and I have been playing together as a rhythm section for over 20 years since starting out in school bands together and have developed a telepathic understanding. Several of the compositions from Hullabaloo feature fantastic lyrics from Brigitte Beraha and on other tracks she sings wordless vocals, often harmonizing with the sax line to great effect.'
Riff Raff are going out on a UK tour again this Spring funded by Arts Council England. The tour will be documented with live video, and a new album will be recorded afterwards featuring all new material. The longer term plan is to promote the group in Europe with the new album later in 2017 and aim for European festivals in 2018. The tour dates are on Dave's website (click here), but look out for the early gigs in January and February at:
04/01/17 Jazz at the Lescar, Sheffield. http://www.jazzatthelescar.com
06/01/17 Jazz at the Priestley Bradford http://jatpjazz.blogspot.co.uk/
07/01/17 Zeffirellis, Ambleside http://www.zeffirellis.com/livemusic/listing/live-jazz
08/01/17 (afternoon) Seven Arts Leeds http://www.sevenleeds.co.uk/
10/01/17 Jazz at the Spotted Dog, Birmingham https://www.facebook.com/spotteddogjazz/
12/01/17 Vortex Jazz Club, London, http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk/
20/01/17 Derby Jazz, http://www.derby-jazz.co.uk/
17/02/17 The Crypt, Camberwell, http://www.jazzlive.co.uk/
20/02/17 Ashburton Live, http://www.ashburtonlive.co.uk/
21/02/17 St Ives Jazz Club, http://www.stivesjazzclub.com/
22/02/17 Restormel Arts, St Austell, http://www.restormelarts.co.uk/index.php/events8/jazz-at-the-brewery
24/02/17 Calstock Arts Centre, http://calstockarts.org/
Clarinettist Alvin Roy writes: Hi Ian, you should start a new category entitled “Embarrassing Photos”. I’ll start the ball rolling with this photo, taken in 1963 as a publicity photo for Butlin’s Holiday camps. My band was resident at Filey, Skegness and Clacton during that Summer and this photo was the result of the brainchild of their publicity department.......yuk and more yuk.....but you have to laugh, in a sort of self-deprecating way. God Bless Queen Victoria!
[Ed: I'd love to include more embarrassing photos if you are brave enough to send them in].
I don't know if he intended to send it as an embarrassing photo or just a bit of fun, but here's another sent to me by another clarinettist, Alex Revell, from a gig in Bude.
A British Jazz Bibliography
Richard Baker is currently seeking to compile a working bibliography of British Jazz from 1940 onwards focussing particularly (but not exclusively) on all aspects of traditional jazz and concentrating at present on published written material.
He is particularly seeking material about developments in the regions outside London in the period 1940 – 1970. Please send full details to him - by email only at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Richard says: 'This is meant to be a working bibliography for others to share and use. I am not considering publishing it. It would be shared with contributors and via for example the National Jazz Archive at Loughton with whom I am in touch.'
All contributions are very welcome and will be acknowledged.
Last month, Roy Headland wrote about reeds player Ron Hockett. Roy said: 'We have been fortunate in Norwich to have the superb reed player, Ron Hockett, living in the area for the past few years. It was with sadness that we bade farewell to Ron and his wife Michelle who returned to the States in early September. He was given a good send off at one of the local golf clubs where Ron was indeed a member for a while but found fitting a busy schedule around golf too difficult.
He played regularly at several venues including a memorable session at the now defunct Norwich Jazz Party in a front line with Dan Barrett and Jon-Erik Kelso. Apart from playing at the said golf club many times - sometimes in a trio, other times in a quartet with Ray Simmons (trumpet and flugelhorn), Ron was in demand wherever tasteful but swinging clarinet and sax was called for.
Prior to coming to the UK Ron played clarinet with Jim Cullum's band and before that in the White House Band for many years.' Click here for a video of Ron playing Clarinet Marmalade with the Jim Cullum Jazz Band in 2009.
'His favourite story concerned Bill Clinton at the time of the Lewinsky affair. Clinton, who was learning to play tenor sax at the time, was passing the band on the way to a presidential function. He tapped Ron on the arm and said: "If I could play the saxophone as well as you, I wouldn't be President of the United States."
We hope Ron and Michelle enjoy their new life in Charlotte, but if things get too hot, we would always welcome them back'. Click here for an informal video of Ron playing Willie The Weeper with the Sole Bay Jazz Band.
This sparked off memories for clarinettist Pete Neighbour who writes: 'Here's one of those 'small world' moments....in your latest missive there's an article referring to the American clarinet/sax player Ron Hockett who had been resident in Norfolk for a few years and is now moving back to the US. By a strange coincidence, I played with Ron on one of his last gigs in the US before he moved to the U.K. Obviously we had a fair bit to chat about as I'd (relatively) recently moved to the US at that time and he was moving to Britain. Now, I read that he is moving to Charlotte - which is only about an 80 minute drive from my home in the US.'
Raymond Root wrote on our Facebook page: ' Very sad to hear that Mike Daniels passed away recently. Back in 1957 I was frog marched into the smoke filled back room of the Star Hotel West Croydon by two friends. Mike Daniels and the Delta band were playing 'Hiawatha Rag' - the Watney's 'Red Barrell' beer flowed steadily, duffle-coated blokes and black-stockinged girls were leaping about in frenzied jiving styles and from then on I became totally hooked on Jazz clubs and the Classic jazz style that Mike and the Delta band performed with such passion! Thank you Mike! RIP'
Keith Wicks has also sent us an obituary link for Mike - click here. Keith adds: 'I quote from the obituary: "The Big Band’s debut, at the 100 Club in London, was widely reported in the music press and the band remained in being for several decades, latterly under other leadership, with its original purpose gradually fading." 'Actually, the Big Band still plays at the Lord Napier, Thornton Heath. A few years ago, it was led by Trevor Swales, who was not keen on Ellington, so that important component was lost. Trevor continued leading the band, in spite of serious illness, until his death. Since Trevor's death, Don Reeve has been the leader. Don has wide experience in the music business, having been arranger for Lena Horne, Shirley Bassey, Tom Jones and Cyril Stapleton. And so, in spite of the band still using the word Delta in its name, it does not include much of the implied jazz in its repertoire. With jazz fans and interest in the music declining, steering the band towards more middle-of-the-road material may have been a sensible commercial decision. But this is no longer a band for jazz enthusiasts to bother with.'
Eddie Sammons has shared more pictures from his Eric Delaney collection of material: to add to our Profile of singer Marion Williams (click here).
Marion had been singing with Vic Lewis's band until on June 1st 1952, she joined Oscar Rabin's band when vocalist Marjery Daw went on a working holiday to her native South Africa. In December 1954, Marion started singing with Eric Delaney's band. The Melody Maker reported that she would continue broadcasting with the Rabin band until the end of the year.
The booking with Delaney was as a result of the prolonged illness of Eric's singer, Dawn Page, who had been suffering with glandular problems since two weeks after the debut of the Delaney band that September. Melody Maker said that Marion 'who is 24, first sang with Leslie 'Jiver' Hutchinson's band seven years ago. She has worked for Stephane Grappell(y), Paul Fenoulhet, Johnny Dankworth, Vic Lewis, Don Smith and Oscar Rabin'.
For the picture on the right, Eddie Sammons says: 'I place this as 1955 as both Albert Hall and Bert Courtley are in the trumpet section of the band. Jimmy Skidmore is unmistakable on tenor sax and Derrick Francis is singing.'
By August 1959, times had changed for Eric Delaney's band and this time the Melody Maker reported that 'Drummer-leader Eric Delaney is through with pops. "They ruined my other band," said Eric when he made an introductory appearance with his new seven-piece at Brighton's Regent Ballroom, "We shall specialise in jazz, plenty of ad lib stuff. There's so much freedom in it."
The Melody Maker report continued: 'Eric opened with his re-formed group at Ramstein USAF Base last week for two months. While in Germany the group will appear on radio and television. The line-up is Colin Bradfield (alto),Tony Fisher (tpt), Kenny Salmon (organ), Tony White (gtr), Peter Houchin (bass) and Gene Williams (vcl). Singer Sheila Southern has gone to Germany with Eric as featured soloist, but when the band returns, Marion Williams will rejoin, after spells with Oscar Rabin and Don Smith.'
Eddie adds: 'I’ve heard from Gene Williams, singer with the Eric Delaney during the late 50s /early 60s when he succeeded Cab Kaye, and thus a contemporary of Marion’s. He writes: "She was a very private and introverted person but the best singer I knew in Britain at the
time. We always sang those duos of Sarah Vaughan and Billy Eckstein together.” Gene, now in his eighties, has retired after a long singing career.'
Continuing our correspondence and Profile of Eric Silk, Eric Jackson says: Hi Ian I have been following the Eric Silk items as I
used to see the the band at Wood Green and the Cooks Ferry. Harry Lock and
Alan Littlejohn have been mentioned and knowing them well I can say that
they were not totally commited to the cause as their real love was the style
of music played by the Condon crowd, Butterfield and Hucko etc. Both Harry
and Alan were regulars at the Sunday jam session at the Tally Ho in Kentish
Town where the fare included such as C Jam, Watermelon Man and Carribean
Clipper. Another member of the Silk band who sat in from time to time was
clarinet player Harry Purdy who then played Tenor.
John Westwood has found these brief clips of Eric Silk recorded lived at the BBC in 1951 - click here. As John says: 'Dreadful quality, but interesting' - as is the announcer's voice in 'proper' BBC pronunciation of the time. John says that there are also some tracks by the band on Spotify - just search for 'Eric Silk Jazz'.
Kenny Ball Arrangements
After reading the article on Kenny Ball's Midnight In Moscow (click here), Jon Critchley from the Original Panama Jazz Band wrote: 'Who did the Kenny Ball band arrangement for that and others, such as The Green Leaves of Summer, SukiYaki, etc?' A few days later, Jon tells us he heard the answer in a Claire Teal BBC jazz broadcast: Apparently, Kenny did the arrangements, drawn on his experience with the Sid Phillips’ band. Very clever and simple. Jon adds: 'We (The Original Panama Jazzband) do some of his stuff, like Midnight, Green Leaves, Samantha, but it’s easy to forget, without listening again, just how good that band was, especially with Dave Jones'.
Peter Maguire adds to the various memories of Banjo George (click here):
'During my early days in London I would see George dropping in with banjo at various Soho hangouts.
One particular favourite performance space - for George every appearance was a potential performance -
was The Gyre and Gimble Coffee House, a basement in Adams Street. This was a well known place for musicians
various to meet, perform, and jam in a range of styles. Folk guitarist Davey Graham, Long John Baldry, Rod Stewart,
Tommy Steele, Wiz Jones, and many more.'
'George had a well developed sense of his own importance and expected and received rapt attention. He would commence with a tune or two
and then having set an atmosphere, would perform his rendition of the rhapsodic movement of George Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue. One might tend to disbelieve this - the instrument being a banjo - but he produced a sensitive - even plaintive - rendering of this well known melody. Having had his moment and due acclamation he would pack up the banjo and depart off into the night.'
'I did, in fact, try to see on Google if there was any mention of - presumably long since departed - Banjo George. Nothing so far as
I could see - George Formby Banjo - displaying endless pages of links and information.
Sometimes I do wonder if the sense - London in the Sixties - of living in a village community has its contemporary equivalent.'
[Click here for our page about Banjo George which will in the future appear on Google - if anyone can add information, please get in contact].
Uncle Bonny's Chinese Jazz Club In Bristol
Uncle Bonny's Jazz Clubs have been mentioned to us a few times.
Gerald Creed has sent in a picture of this poster saying:
'For about 50 years I have managed to hang on to this poster despite many moves etc. Does this bring back any memories for anyone?'
'I used to go to The Corn Exchange in Bristol for the Tuesday Night Uncle Bonny’s Jazz Club with some of my mates but I don’t remember how I came to have the poster.'
Contact us if you have any ideas about when this poster might be dated. It is interesting how few posters from past times included the year.
Click here for the section on our 'Forum' page where we have other correspondence regarding the 'Chinese Jazz Clubs'.
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Thank you to those people who have liked our Sandy Brown Jazz Facebook page and who have commented on posts. I hope that you have found the items there of interest. Using Facebook gives us a chance to share information that arrives between issues of What's New Magazine. If you do visit our Facebook page, please Like us and Share us with your friends. (If you are not on Facebook, please tell your friends about us anyway!).
Information has arrived about the following musicians or people connected to jazz who have passed through the 'Departure Lounge' since our last update. Click on their names to read their obituaries where we have them:
Kay Starr - American vocalist born Katherine Starks in Oklahoma. When the family moved to Memphis she broadcast on WREC where she was noticed by Joe Venuti who booked her as a singer and recommended her to Bob Crosby. She worked with Glenn Miller and made her first recordings with him and then moved back to work with Venuti, then Wingy Manone before signing up with Charlie Barnet and recording with names like Coleman Hawkins, Nat Cole and Benny Carter. Eventually she moved into recording pop and jazz-influenced pop albums. Click here to listen to Kay Starr singing If I Could Be With You One Hour Tonight.
Terry Knight - Mark Bukowski on 11th November on Facebook says: 'I have just heard that Terry Knight, bass player, passed away last Sunday at home. I know so little about him. He played at my Birthday Bash at The Morden Arms in Greenwich on the 29th September, 2016, with The Charles Morris Jazzmen. His funeral is next Thursday 17th at Beckenham Crematorium at 3.45 pm and after that, The Graces Bar and Grill. I am still looking at the email I received, with sadness in my heart'. Mark has put this video of Terry's video on YouTube - click here.
[We have not seen an obituary for Terry and other videos on YouTube of the Charles Morris Jazzmen feature a tuba rather than a bass - if anyone is able to supply more information about Terry, please get in contact].
Mose Allison - American jazz / blues pianist, singer and songwriter from Mississippi who in the 1950s worked with Al Cohn, Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan. His work became more popular in style but he never forgot his jazz influences. Click here for a video from the 1970s of Mose Allison playing and singing I Don't Worry About A Thing.
Bob Cranshaw - Bass player from Chicago who worked and recorded for many years with Sonny Rollins and played on many classic albums such as Lee Morgan's The Sidewinder and Joe Henderson's Inner Urge. He went on to work regularly as a session musician and on various television programmes such as with the band for Saturday Night Live. Click here for a video of Bob talking about Lee Morgan and The Sidewinder.
Pinise Saul - South African singer from Eastern Cape. In 1975 she toured with the show Ipi Tombi and remained in the UK. In the 1980s, she worked regularly with Dudu Pukwana’s groups Assegai, Spear and Zila, and with the guitarist Lucky Madumetja Ranku in the groups Township Express and the African Jazz Allstars. In the 1990s, Saul and Ranku jointly ran the ensemble Township Express (a rare album credited to Saul’s leadership, Fishbone, was released in 1998), and in 2009 Saul, with others, formed the exhilarating Township Comets. Pinise Saul’s last UK gig was at The Ivy House, Peckham, in 2015, as part of the SA-UK season of London concerts. Click here for a video of Pinise Saul singing at a Leytonstone Festival.
Lucky Ranku - Eric has also informed us by email that Pinise Saul's colleague, guitarist Lucky Ranku has also passed through the Departure Lounge. Although we cannot link to a specific obituary for Luck Ranku at the moment, our link to the dailysun website gives some details and according to Lucky’s Facebook page the renowned guitarist died peacefully at St Anne’s Hospice in Manchester, UK. Madumetja Lucky Ranku was born in Pretoria and like Pinise Saul, Lucky was one who transformed the jazz scene in London and worked with many jazz legends like Hugh Masekela, Mara Louw and many others including the late Miriam Makeba. Click here for a video of Lucky playing at the Vortex in 2014.
Not all jazz musicians who pass through the Departure Lounge are reported in the national press, so if you know of anyone's passing that we should mention, please contact us with a few words about them, or a local obituary if one is available.
Album Released: 14th October 2016 - Label: Whirlwind Recordings
The Darkening Blue
Robin Kidson reviews this album for us:
The trumpeter, Andre Canniere is one of a small but growing group of American jazz musicians who have chosen to base themselves in the UK. The Darkening Blue is his third album for the excellent Whirlwind label which is putting out some of the most interesting contemporary music around just now. The label is owned by another American expat, the bassist, Michael Janisch.
Canniere is joined on the album by Brigitte Beraha (voice), Tori Freestone (tenor saxophone), Ivo Neame (piano, keyboards and accordion), Janisch (electric and double bass) and Ted Poor (drums).
At the heart of the album is a series of settings by Canniere of poems by Rainer Maria Rilke. Whilst one may have reservations about the fit between words and music in some of these settings, the spirit of experimentation at work here cannot be denied nor the skill with which the disparate elements of text, music, arrangement and performance have been brought together. The dominant presence on the four tracks featuring the settings is Brigitte Beraha who has a lovely, very "English" voice reminiscent of Norma Winstone. The words of the settings are printed on the album sleeve but such is the crystal clarity of Beraha's enunciation that reference to the printed text is often not necessary.
The most interesting of the Rilke pieces is Evening which has a sequence where all instruments, including Beraha’s voice, join in a thrilling collective improvisation. Beraha, Canniere and Tori Freestone, in particular, exchange a series of whoops and squeaks and various other noises which could be an embarrassing dog’s breakfast but is, in actuality, wholly successful and very enjoyable.
Click here for a video of the band playing one of the Rilke pieces, Going Blind.
There is one more vocal track on the album - Bluebird - which has words by Canniere's sister, Monique, inspired by a poem by Charles Bukowski. Brigitte Beraha again impresses and there are absorbing solos from Freestone and Canniere. The piece has a complex rhythm but swings along in an interesting way.
The remaining five tracks are all straight instrumentals composed by Andre Canniere. Splash is an upbeat piece with a note-filled, virtuosic solo from Canniere, and some edgy sax work from Freestone. Area of Pause begins with a slower rhythm and a dreamy but memorable theme. Canniere takes a gentle languid solo, beautifully toned and melodic. The beat picks up in the second half of the track and Ivo Neame plays electric piano with panache and imagination, full of quirky little runs.
Click here to listen to Area Of Pause.
Concession is notable for some absorbing bass playing from Janisch, and an exhilarating sequence of collective improvisation, while Hug the Dark is an exuberant piece of jazz rock which would not have been out of place on Bitches Brew. Canniere gets to channel his inner Miles and takes a brilliant solo. Freestone also stretches out with some fine free playing. The whole is backed by a driving, foot-tapping rock beat from Neame on keyboards, Janisch on electric bass and Poor with some excellent drumming.
The final track is Sunflower (for Emelie) which has a slow but quite complex rock beat driven along by more great drumming from Ted Poor. Canniere takes a well judged solo, again showing off his musicality and beautiful tone.
The Darkening Blue is an absorbing album. The Rilke settings in particular are intriguing. Whilst not unknown, the setting of poetry to jazz - particularly the sort of poetry written by the likes of Rilke - is still a rare beast and Andre Canniere is to be saluted for trying something different here. We should always be grateful for the experimenters in art.
Andre Canniere and his band are currently on tour. They are performing at the Future Inn in Bristol on 1st December, and at JATP Jazz in Bradford on 16th December. Click here for further details on Canniere’s website.
Click here for further details of the album and to listen to the tracks.
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Album Released: 30th October 2016 - Label: New Jazz Records
Jamil Sheriff Trio
Places Like This
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Jamil Sheriff (piano); Dave Walsh (drums); Pete Turner (double bass).
The classic piano trio – some people might say the traditional piano trio, is an extremely close knit unit. In my view, almost by definition, piano, bass and drums is such a tight unity of instruments it is unlike any other line-up in jazz. For larger ensembles the piano-bass-drum triad is the foundation, the ‘rhythm’ section, other stuff happens on top of it. A true piano trio, and that’s what the Jamil Sheriff Trio represents, is as close as we get to three being one. There is nowhere to hide, each component part is a necessity.
Listen carefully to the second track on Places Like This, a spring loading piece called Blueish; the first thing you actually hear if you wig your ears tight is a whispered count-in from drummer Dave Walsh running in parallel to tapped drum sticks. So what, you might say, it happens all the time in bands. True, but it is an indicator. In a piano trio it points to a triangle of music making, the drummer holds time in his hands, the bass stirs the scale and the piano flows like a river when a dam is broken. The Jamil Sheriff Trio remind me so much of the piano trio that Charlie Haden and Paul Motian had with Geri Allen. And that recall is as much about Dave Walsh’s relationship to his drum kit as Jamil Sheriff himself – who is consummate throughout. But Dave Walsh has that Motian thing, where time is circulated not just by the beat you beat but by the space that is kept empty around it.
Click here for a video of a live performance of Blueish.
Miss Mae which follows Blueish, opens with such a precise piano drawing it is almost pointillist in its portraiture. Again, they are on a three-way curve; brushed emphatic snare drum storytelling and the double bass, playing to an alternative side of Miss Mae than the one we heard from the keyboard. Everything is so fully formed, a beguiling performance.
If I double back to the beginning, the opening track is called The Contortionist. The title is an accurate description. All three instruments ‘contort’, shape and redesign the theme – there is a double bass passage here which is tantamount to a total redrawing of the boundaries of the music, complete with a piano and percussive accompaniment. To my knowledge this is the first time I’ve heard Pete Turner and this brief-encounter-solo put me on a playback session, I simply wanted to hear more.
Probably the standout tracks on this album are The New One and Matchstick Man. If the title, The New One, literally means this is the most current composition, it is encouraging because, though the whole collection is an extremely strong portfolio, The New One is the track that to my ears is the most open ended. It feels like a mature statement, there’s a confidence present; Sheriff, Walsh and Turner are able to play to a shared intention – they maintain a lyricism but each one of them cuts into melody, harmony and pulse so they are held in a lock; the piece twists and curves, falls and rises yet hangs as one. I even wondered if it was totally improvised, it isn’t. You can grasp some advanced planning in the construction. I think it’s a gift, with probably a different facet each time it is performed. Watch the YouTube clip and you’ll see Mr Sheriff gettting his fingers inside the upturned harp, his compatriots are also on the edge of their instruments; none of this stops the bigger picture being unified. More where this came from, please.
Click here for the video of a live performance of The New One.
Matchstick Man, the final track, shares some of The New One’s radical exploration. Matchstick Man is a miniature, all over inside two minutes. The short length should not detract from what is on offer. If anything, the compression adds to the intensity. Sheriff, Walsh and Turner are all in from the start, with Jamil Sheriff’s limpid phraseology just pulling at the motif. Dave Walsh again, easing his brushes onto the skin before switching sticks and hitting the whole epilogue on the head. Pete Turner’s contribution cannot be underestimated, the double bass bends low, like a highwire on which the main event is balanced. But there would be no main event without the wire; and for literally a few seconds, Mr Sheriff hangs there like that thin man in the sky. Then it is all over. Did he jump or was he pushed?
To all intents and purposes the packaging of Places Like This makes it look like a modest album. For sure the cover picture has a delightful fantasy forest with a keyboard road running through it, but for instance, the sleeve carries no instrument credits. Strangely strange, yet, put the music onto your system and you are in no doubt, this is serious trianglular music in the business of creation. Jamil Sheriff is the Curriculum Leader of the Jazz course at Leeds College of Music. So, hear this, we have the evidence of what they get up to at Leeds College of Music. To my mind what I have just listened to is exactly the kind of Places a piano jazz trio should be inhabiting right now. We haven’t heard the last of Jamil Sheriff, or Dave Walsh/Pete Turner come to that.
Click here for details and to sample the album. Click here for the Trio's tour dates on Jamil's website.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Album Released: 18th November 2016 - Label: Lake Records
Ken Colyer (trumpet / vocals), Sammy Rimington (clarinet), Geoff Cole (trombone), Johnny Bastable (banjo), Ron Ward (double bass), Pete Ridge (drums).
Years ago, I was told that Ken Colyer was a 'purist', that he only wanted to play New Orleans jazz. To me at the time, that translated as just ensemble playing of classic tunes with no room for extended solos. In Paul Adams's liner notes to this album, it is described how when the album was originally released in 1962 as a budget label, 'Society', at 10/-, Charles Fox wrote the liner notes and quoted Ken Colyer as saying: 'Just say we're trying to capture the sound of New Orleans music. We're not setting out to reproduce classic records or anything like that .... Some soloists are good, but most of them can't sustain, they can't keep things moving inside. And you've got to leave room for spontaneity, you've got to leave chinks. It's not exactly improvisation, it's extemporisation, a kind of embellishment. You never know what's going to happen.
Despite these comments, there are solos on this recording. Johnny Bastable is given time for a nice banjo solo and Sammy Rimmington's clarinet is a major feature on the album. Within the 16 tracks (10 recorded in 1962 and 6 from 1963) there are well known tunes such as Dardanella, Honeysuckle Rose and Mahogany Hall Stomp but many others that I did not know like Highway Blues, La Harpe Street Blues and I'm Travelling.
Paul Adams notes that this was a fairly new line-up for Ken and represented his break from the major record companies (Decca, Columbia). John Bastable and Ron Ward were the only members of the band who had been with Ken since the 1950s. Geoff Cole remembers this studio session taking place at a pub near Finsbury Park. Sammy had just has his clarinet stolen which meant that he had to get hold of a second hand one which needed some attention during the recording, although you wouldn't realise that from his contribution.
The album kicks off with a happy version of That Teasin' Rag and sets the scene for what is to come with Colyer's confident trumpet, Sammy Rimington's inventive clarinet and Geoff Cole's fine trombone underwriting everything. The rhythm section is firmly together as your feet will let you know. After You've Gone has a catchy introduction before the tune comes in. The trick is to listen to what the clarinet and trombone are doing behind the tune, and Ken plays with bags of feeling on this track. Highway Blues has Ken singing the classic blues vocal first line 'When I woke up this morning ...' and Johnny Bastable's banjo solo. It is followed by Dardanella - the liner notes telling us that it smacks a little of what Jelly Roll Morton called 'the Spanish Tinge' and You Can't Escape From Me, a tune I had not heard before, picks up the pace again nicely with the rhythm section driving it along. You Always Hurt The One You Love on the other hand is a good old favourite as are Creole Bo-Bo and Honeysuckle Rose.
Barefoot Boy, sung by Ken, apparently first became known to British listeners through a war-time recording by the Chicago 'Harlem Hamfats'. It slows things down again to tell how 'I'd like to have been a barefoot boy in a little old country town who'd never see the lights of old Broadway ...' - given Ken's travels, that is not very likely! Mahogany Hall Stomp with its whinnying, muted trumpet solo and languorous trombone is followed by Gettysburg March that speeds up the march to a quick step in the middle and the catchy La Harpe Street Blues, the latter a Colyer composition, a re-working of We Sure Do Need Him Now and renamed in honour of the street where clarinettist Emile Barnes lived in New Orleans.
The tripping Thriller Rag, the tender I'm Travelling and the danceable Virginia Strut (like you used to dance to in those smokey jazz clubs) also come from the later 1963 recording session and take us to a second version of Creole Bo-Bo to wrap things up.
Ken Colyer and Sammy Rimington devotees will know what to expect from this album but there is always something to hear that you might not have heard before. For me, that is Geoff Cole's trombone which I think does a great job on this album, and that solid rhythm section is indispensible. Good stuff.
Click here for details and to sample the album.
Click here for our Profile of Johnny Bastable. Sammy Rimington's book A Life In Pictures is available here.
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Album Released: 4th October 2016 - Label: Bandcamp USQ1CD1601.
Howard Lawes reviews this album for us:
The American business magazine Forbes annually publishes portraits of thirty of the brightest young entrepreneurs to enter the world of business, the recent Glasgow Jazz Festival recently did a similar thing with 30 under-30 jazz musicians; what Gary Crosby has done in London, Tommy Smith is also doing in Glasgow at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, perhaps his graduates should be called "Màireach Curaidhean" (Tomorrows Warriors in Gaelic).
All four members of the band, Square One, featured in the '30 under 30' and are Joe Williamson (guitar), Peter Johnstone (piano), David Bowden (bass) and Stephen Henderson (drums and percussion). Their glittering CVs include graduating with first class honours from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland; Johnstone won the 2012 BBC Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the year; Bowden won the prestigious Yamaha Jazz Scholarship and the band as a whole won the Peter Whittingham Jazz Award, administered by Help Musicians UK, which has enabled them to finance the production of their first album, In Motion.
It happens that young jazz musicians meet at university, form a band and release an album but despite individual virtuoso performances the music seems to lack polish, coherence or some quality that is hard to define. If the band is good, missing components come in the due course of time, these include great composition and arrangements, musical empathy between band members and attention to detail, in essence the band matures and the musical quality improves hugely. Listening to track 1 of the album, called Square One, it is apparent that this band already have most of those components that come with age and experience and yet this is their first album. The listener may even be reminded of bands such as The Impossible Gentlemen or the Esbjorn Svensson Trio with Pat Metheny, there is individual virtuosity but it comes as part of a whole that has been put together with great care.
The next track, Full Circle, begins with a series of chime-like chords followed by guitar and piano swapping alternate melodic themes, while the slow rhythm of Eastern Ballad immediately conveys an air of mystery but also calm - piano and guitar converse in soothing fashion, perhaps suggesting the sights and sounds of a Japanese garden. The next two tracks are called Quicksand and Quicksand - Part 2 and set a quite different mood. The first section provides lively solos, first for guitar and then piano which are both excellent, the second is a slow, melodic piece signifying that something has ended.
The next track, 12, composed by drummer, Stephen Henderson, features the bass of David Bowden with a nice little solo, continues with a swinging, melody and ends with an increasingly frenetic drumming finale. Crawler commences with heavy rock guitar while the rest of the band beat out a strong pulse - suddenly it stops and there is temporary relief before more crazy guitar, another pause, some percussion and accelerating, syncopated piano until the guitar gets the last word. This is the longest track on the album and a complex piece. The next two tracks are Light Up The Sky - Prelude and Light Up The Sky, the first section introducing a touch of folk guitar before a very pretty piano theme in the second section gives way to some mournful bass, however any sadness is soon forgotten with jaunty rhythms and cheerful melody.
The last track, called Ending Song, so it has to be last, features what must be a lullaby with the bass seemingly taking on the role of vocalist and leaving the listener totally relaxed.
A first class album from four first class graduates of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Square One is certainly a band to watch out for. Click here for further information about the band including their gig dates.
Click here for an introductory video.
Click here for details and to sample.
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Album Released: 18th November 2016 - Label: Bad Ass Records
The Big Shake Up
The Big Shake Up
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Jon Stokes (trombone); Jean-Paul Gervasoni, Paul Munday, Gavin Broom (trumpet, flugelhorn); Sam Bullard (soprano, alto and tenor saxophones); Gemma Moore (baritone saxophone, flute); Mike Poyser (sousaphone); Jimmy Norden (drums and percussion); featuring Sharleen Linton (vocals).
Trombone, three trumpets, a couple of sax, a sousaphone instead of double bass and a funky drummer; some may think a trio of trumpets excessive but in my view it counts as a lean machine line-up. Add a quality quest vocalist to one number and there’s an extra treat in store. I like the whole notion of a portable little big band – no worrying about dodgy pianos, no humping a stack of amplifiers, if the others help Mr Norden with the drum cases, this crew can tour by train.
The Big Shake-Up used to call themselves 'Bad Ass Brass' but made the wise decision to change the name. This album, that does not carry an additional title, is a smart, unfussy, classy introduction to a very professional band already balancing art and entertainment and other people’s perceptions. The recording is a little short on time, it only clocks in around 30 minutes. Hell, I don’t know why they didn’t add a couple of additional tracks, I for one would like to hear more. Nevertheless, in the spirit of 'small is beautiful' I too will try to write a straight unfussy review.
Don’t Block The Box (4.28) is a shortish no-messing opening, written by Russell Bennett who scored three of the five tracks on the album. Mr Bennett is a trumpet player but doesn’t play in The Shake-Up, though he has a production credit along with trombonist, Jon Stokes. Don’t Block The Box builds on Jimmy Norden’s smack-a-four funk-beat timing, cushioned by a punching brass refrain – it introduces three of the key soloists who your ears are going to get to know a little if you stick around for the full half hour of the album. (You most definitely should.) Gavin Broom offers a low slung glimpse of trumpet texture, Mr Stokes pokes his trombone into the mix, and Sam Bullard gets us briefly acquainted with his alto saxophone, rather like an hors d’euvre before we reach his main meal tenor outing on the next track. Crack goes the ending as crisp as a thin chip.
Big Shake-Up (6.27) is a gathering storm, with terrific light and shade coming off the brass voicings which surround Mr Bullard’s tenor break. Dave O’Higgins, another significant UK tenor man, wrote the tune and it has all the hallmarks of his no nonsense approach. There’s a nice Norton drum dialogue with the saxophone, which Poyser pumps into toward the end. I bet this stuff beats the heat at a sweaty club gig.
God Bless The Child (3.56), is a deep classic Billie Holiday song any contemporary singer should not take on likely. When I saw it on the list I wondered whether this was a wise move. The way I hear it, Sharleen Linton handles the lyric and the sentiment with all the dexterity and honesty both demand. At the crux of the Billie Holiday phenomena is that she was a diamond diva and a Black Renaissance woman who had nothing come easy to her. In her heyday she had the voice and the humanity to turn words blue. Even later when she became frail, that artistry and truthfulness was always present. Sharleen Linton cannot help but come from a different place and The Big Shake-Up provide her with a current context. This is a contemporary yet classic reading of an important song in the jazz canon. For sure, there are a tight number of present day iconic female singer/composers for whom a 2016 ensemble could draw on with success. Giant writers and vocalists like Joni Mitchell and Cassandra Wilson, through to new singers on the block such as Becca Stevens. Linton and The Shake-Up’s God Bless The Child is brave; damn good too, but I wonder what they would have created with Cassandra Wilson’s Solomon Sang or Mitchell’s great narrative groove, The Dry Cleaner From Des Moines from the Mingus album? Come on everybody, we’ve got to keep up.
On The Move (10.31) begins with a stately brass motif which feels as if it is going to take us somewhere, and that proves to be the case. The shimmering arrangement takes The Shake-Up ensemble on a route through a touch-&-go score until Jean-Paul Gervasoni lets rip a trumpet passage leading straight into the horn of Gavin Broom and the band caress around the two of them. Sure, this is classic brass ensemble stuff but it’s done with flair and attention to detail, so that when Sam Bullard gets back on alto sax and takes his time to pull out the stops, he gives us a long note into Johnny Hodges territory. It feels like an intense case of the blues. A word too for Mike Poyer’s sousaphone, pumping air at the bottom of the piece. It's true, string bass is a more flexible instrument, but in a brass context, with all that air-through-metal sousaphone sound, the deep bottom draw (sic) is adding a colour that any band would want to have. Poyer is a dark undertone throughout; inside On The Move he broods, really complimenting the texture.
Click here for a video of On The Move.
Bhangra And Mash (7.21) is not so much Bollywood as Buckingham-wood. Jimmy Nordon’s drums knock about the bhangra beat as if it is close to home. It’s not pastiche, the title itself might be a fond throwaway-takeaway, the central melody a variant of a Punjab bazaar soundtrack, but the end result is rather like the idea behind Duke Ellington’s Caravan; an evocative nod to another nation’s traditions and influence. The Big Shake-Up create a clear dynamic into the composition; they roll with it. The first solo is from Jon Stokes’ trombone, unfortunately he doesn’t hang around too long. There could be something of the Jimmy Knepper about him if he gave himself a little more groove space. Trombone is an underestimated instrument, Mr Stokes pumps good on Bhangra, but what he’s really doing is setting up Sam Bullard for another star solo, this time on the straight horn soprano. I know, this band is all about the brass density of the ensemble, it’s certainly strong – but for sure, for me personally, I’d have liked have heard them stretch these cameo parts. There’s no escaping Bullard, or Stokes, Broom and Gervasoni for that matter, but it’s like speed dating solos, they’re finished before they’ve really begun.
Click here for a video of Bhangra And Mash.
Okay, what do I think of The Big Shake-Up? I enjoyed the album; it is as the title implies a real snazzy blast. I’d certainly pick up on them live. I just hope next time in the studio they give themselves some more length. There’s a lot more to be shaken out of this line-up. I look forward to catching what comes next.
Click here for details and to sample the album. Click here for the band's website.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Album Released: 14th October 2016 - Label: Favored Nations
Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us:
Nicolas Meier is a Swiss born UK-based guitarist who has a love of jazz and heavy metal. His latest jazz album, Infinity, consists of 11 tracks, all composed by Meier.
The trio consists of Meier playing a lot of stringed instruments (acoustic fretless and fretted nylon string, steel string guitar, glissentar, baglama, synth and electric guitar), Vinnie Colaiuta (drums) and Jimmy Haslip (bass). We have other strings as well, Richard Jones, Sally Jo, and Lizzie Ball on violin, and Gregor Carle also on guitar guesting on various tracks.
As well as composing and playing jazz and heavy metal (his band is called Seven7) he has written books on both. His education in music was at Switzerland’s Conservatoire de Fribourg and Boston’s notable Berklee College of Music. He has produced ten albums as a solo artist, in various group formats and also in duo format with noted UK jazz guitarist, Pete Oxley. He has been part of Jeff Beck’s band accompanying him on two world tours. Meier is now based in London, where he feels it is the perfect place for combining the energy of the US with the latest European music scene. In 2009, he founded his own record label, MGP Records.
Of the 11 tracks on this CD, the longest is just under 7 minutes and the shortest just over 4. These seemingly simple tracks are multi-layered and multi-dimensional which take you from the UK and Spain to the Middle East and back again. Instruments familiar and otherwise (I had to look up some of the instruments being played) blend beautifully as do the styles of guitar playing whether with or without other instruments.
Track 1, The Eye Of Horus, starts with a good bass melody with Meier’s playing providing contrasting higher notes that give the track a real eastern feel. Still Beautiful, has a slow percussion start with restrained complex playing by Meier and with the bass providing this track’s highlights. The title says it all. Riversides, has a Indian influence, so much so you would think it is being played on a sitar and does provide a sense of a journey.
Click here to listen to Nicolas Meier playing Riversides.
The track called Yemin I thought would be another eastern influenced one, but I found we were now in Spain with its flamenco start, and the violin providing punctuation with haunting guitar and drums. In Tales we have a gentle European sounding track with very intricate guitar work throughout, while Serene, has a lovely melody and a soft touch on the guitar and is a great track to relax to.
With Kismet we are transported to the Orient, a fast melody with changes of pace in the middle of the track before we are back to faster playing and an abrupt end. So we come to the final track JB Top, which is dedicated to Billy Gibbons from ZZ Top. As I like ZZ Top this was fine for me, but it might not sit with other tracks for some people. However, this was a brilliant track with superb guitar and very clear notes. It made me want to hear what Meier’s heavy metal band sounds like.
Click here for a video of Nicolas Meier talking about how he came to write and record the album.
Click here for details and to sample the album.
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Album Released: 4th November 2016 - Label: Moonjune Records (Double CD)
Steve Day reviews this album for us:
Dwiki Dharawan (piano); Yaron Stavi (double bass, bass guitar); Asaf Sirkis (drums, shaker, voice); Mark Wingfield (electric guitar); Nicolas Meier (glissentar, acoustic guitar); Gilad Atzmon (clarinet, soprano sax); Boris Savoldelli and Peni Candra Rini (vocals); Aris Daryono (voice, gamelan and kendang percussion, rebab); Gamelan Jess Jegog gamelan orchestra (Note: Dharmawan, Stavi and Sirkis play on all tracks, the other musicians, on selected tracks).
The cover of Paswar Klewer has a delicate drawing by Daniel Indro W, so different to his superhero illustrations; hold the cardboard sleeve and pause. Opening up the content needs to be done as if unwrapping a present, entering a pocket book introduction to another world. But this is not a fantasy of superheroes but a place inhabited by both the familiar and the truly exotic.
Paswar Klewer is an album packed full of ideas that spread forth from the audio like the literature of the greater Persian tradition seeping into The West. Paswar Klewer is both beautiful and brash, stunning and lyrical, difficult tricks followed by simple motifs, 16 beat raga constructions which pile up under gamelan orchestrations vs modal improv. Indonesia’s prime keyboard maestro, Dwiki Dharmawan, has created a true fusion of music that has roots in ‘jazz’ for sure, but the tap-root, the central life-line, is found in his transformation of the power and performance possibilities in his mother-country’s heritage. This is an album you cannot take lightly. It is heavy with the weight of the epic. Having listened to the recording over and over again I am also struck by the fact that no one can really fail to miss an outstandingly brilliant quintet which is just waiting to be formed from this mass of music.
If Dharmawan, bassist Yaron Stavi, drummer Asaf Sirkis, acoustic guitarist Nicolas Meier and reeds-master, Gilad Atzmon were to combine as a regular unit, hit the global-road for a year and record the results as a tight ‘five’, we would all be in for a rich treat of earthly delights. The four tracks that feature Atzmon on the new album, Spirit of Peace, Tjampuhan, Bubuyu Bulan and Frog Dance, are jewels. Mr Atzmon has been running his own Orient House Ensemble (in which Sirkis and Stavi have both participated) for well over a decade. Here, up against Dharmawan’s visioning piano and the clever constructions picked from Meier’s guitar, as on Frog Dance, it is not difficult to declare them as a partnership that is special. These guys preen melody lines, playing them like gigantic anthems and then crushing the edges so the music has to spill out, extemporising beyond the written notes. Frog Dance has terrific tension and release over its 10 minute duration. It starts off mimicking pond life, gets close to AOP (adult orientated pop), drives into improv and ends like a contemporary ballet score.
Spirit of Peace begins with Gilad Atzmon soloing on clarinet before breaking into a stellar recital, moving between klezmer and Sufi dance. He’s given a run of beats from Sirkis’s clay hand-drums and Meier’s glissentar (an 11 string fretless guitar with similar sound properties to a Moroccan oud). Everybody who reads the Sandy Brown Jazz website should be familiar with the clarinet (though there’s no law that says you have to be). Like the saxophone, the clarinet is a reed instrument, unlike the bigger horn, it’s tube is made of wood not metal and there lies the rub. I don’t know the details of Atzmon’s instrument, but wood it certainly is. A wood that sounds intensely woody. Tonally, Mr Atzmon’s wood is truly a thick stick savouring the grain of sound, even when pushed high and yielding to the top of the range. Gilad Atzmon is so relaxed with his instrument. Spirit of Peace simply stretches the lacquer to liquid.
Click here for a video introduction to the album.
On Tjampuhan Gilad Atzmon switches to soprano saxophone, Dwiki Dharmawan’s piano takes him on a switchback ride of styles, things become a lot wilder and complicated. There is a full gamelan orchestra joining up with Dharmawan as if it were ‘prepared’ piano. Once Atzmon soars above them the Tower of Babel is toppled into the air. At this moment at least, it is the track I keep coming back to because it contains such a wealth of razor sharp moments. Stunning piano breaks, percussion counts which would freak a maths class, and yes, Gilad Atzmon so utterly convincing as the new benchmark for soprano saxophone. It’s not about being best though, it surely never was, it can only be that the true musician reaches out and is able to touch the exact spot of our common emotion. Atzmon is a true musician. On Bubuy Bulan he and Dwiki Dharmawan close on each other within the same inner space. Music turned to literature.
I spend time on the above tracks because they are so remarkable, however Paswar Klewer has other material which should not be overlooked. Robert Wyatt is rightly a British icon. His solo albums (and I think I’ve got them all) are definitely his; his and her’s really, it’s the Wyatt & Alfreda Benge partnership. Of course other musicians are involved but the result is distinctly and irrefutably Wyatt. Which means it is rare that they ever get ‘covered’. Forest comes from 2003’s Cuckooland album. Yaron Stavi played bass on most of the album and Gilad Atzmon on selected tracks, though not on Forest. On the Paswar Klewer version there is no Atzmon but Mr Stavi is definitely insitu. The waltz time is retained but in other respects Dwiki Dharmawan takes the song to a different place.
The Italian singer Boris Savoldelli on this album comes on like Tom Waits when he’s going right down, down to sing in his boots, whereas Robert Wyatt’s voice on the original version has a much more ethereal quality. As I say, I’ve always been into Wyatt - I don’t deny it, always better to be truthful about these things. When I first heard Mr Savoldelli it unsettled me. I carry all that rubbish people get into about, “It’s not like the original”, “Why have they done that?” when really I know the only good reason to ‘cover’ a song is to bring something different to the proceedings. Imitation is not useful. Well, that doesn’t happen here. Mark Wingfield plays fast fretboard guitar (David Gilmour played with Wyatt, but he was Gilmour-good and modestly medium paced) and Dharmawan’s piano solo has more embroidery than Robert Wyatt’s own sparse keyboard. So, was it worth doing? Well, yes, I think it was. This Forest is in the middle of a crossover East-to-West album which signposts back to Western music without any Americana cliché, but instead tips a wink to quirky English pop music, hinting at prog-rock with a jazz heart. Yes, I ended up admiring the cover version of Forest, a five star track.
I respect musicians who step outside the norm, who don’t simply reproduce a repertoire to an agreed genre. My reading of the best of how it’s always been is that the real maestros act to a rationale which is their own. Sure, they’ve listened and marvelled but what they haven’t done is boxed up the results and labelled the contents for restoration. I like to think such disparate icons as Duke Ellington, Don Cherry, Wayne Shorter and Chris Barber would listen to what Dwiki Dharmawan has achieved here and find it magnificent. There is so much cross fertilisation from a cultural whirlpool of music, some would say it pleases nobody, but if you have an open mind I would urge you to listen, it’s the deal. And then maybe, Mr Dharmawan and Mr Atazon might form that band in the wake of our listening. Now, that would be a craic.
Click here for details. Click here for the Dwiki Dharmawan website.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Album Released: 14th October 2016 - Label: Cuneiform Records
Wadada Leo Smith
America's National Parks
Filipe Freitas reviews this album for us:
Wadada Leo Smith, born Ishmael Leo Smith in 1941 in Leland, Mississippi, is a gritty and lyrically stunning trumpeter/composer who has been strictly connected to the avant-garde jazz and free improvisation genres since the early 70s. During this period, Wadada’s career had an important boost after he became an active member of The Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians (AACM), a non-profit organization whose goal was nurturing, performing, and recording serious, original music.
Having studied a variety of music cultures, he has developed a new music theory associated with a graphic notation system he baptized as 'Ankhrasmation'.
Remaining faithful to his form of expression for more than four decades, Wadada collaborated with other notable leaders and composers such as Anthony Braxton and Leroy Jenkins (partners in his trio Creative Construction Company), Charlie Haden, Lester Bowie, Henry Kaiser (co-leader of the electric Yo Miles! project), Jack DeJohnette, Anthony Davis, Oliver Lake and Henry Threadgill.
Recently, the list of collaborators was extended with younger associates like Angelica Sanchez, Joe Morris, Jamie Saft, and the cerebral pianist Vijay Iyer, with whom he recorded a memorable duo album this year entitled A Cosmic Rhythm with Each Stroke (ECM, 2016).
Click here for a video introduction to that album.
Wadada shows an enviable adaptability to different formats and musicians, never sounding the same way twice. Besides the many critical accolades he gets from the specialized press, his visionary work was amply in focus in 2013, when he was one of the three finalists in the competition for the Pulitzer prize in music with Ten Freedom Summers (Cuneiform Records, 2012), a four-disc tribute to the Civil Rights Movement.
On October 14th 2016, Wadada’s new double CD, an admirable body of work, stuffed with highly-articulated sonorities and envisioning to provide historic insight and social-political conscience about the America’s National Parks, was released on Cuneiform Records.
Click here to find more about Wadada’s work on this label.
Similar to what had happened in The Great Lake Suites (TUM Records, 2014), each disc of America’s National Parks comprises three movements. However, the band Wadada enlisted for this project was an expansion of his dream-team of veterans known as 'The Golden Quartet' (Anthony Davis on piano, John Lindberg on bass, and Pheeroan akLaff on drums) with the acquisition of the young cellist Ashley Walters, who adds a chamberesque texture and diversified colors to the organic divagations.
New Orleans - The National Culture Park USA 1718 is an incredible 20-minute piece that advances like an enigmatic dark dance, hypnotizing us with its quasi-theatrical inflections of deep dramatic weight. Lindberg and AkLaff do a superb collective job, transforming the tune into a sort of ritual that gains a lofty expressiveness through Davis’s uncanny chords and Wadada’s emphatic attacks. Later on, the cello transfigures this prior nature into a hearty moan.
Click here to listen to the album’s opening track, New Orleans - The National Culture Park USA 1718.
In Eileen Jackson Southern - 1920-2002: A Literary National Park, the levels of abstraction and introspection are considerably raised. Wadada’s trumpet, frequently hitting long, high-pitched notes, opposes the cello-piano mosaics that occur in a lower register. The intro. to Yellowstone: The First National Park and the Spirit of America - The Mountains, Super-Volcano Caldera and Its Ecosystem 1872’s is configured by trumpet, piano, and then cello, takes its time to engage in a fantastic 4/4 groove laid down by Lindberg, a stupendous bassist who boasts a ravishing sound. Davis also deserves an ovation for his fast-moving right-hand approach while the bandleader’s bravura comes from the soul, not from the head.
The second CD opens with the volatile 31-minute movement The Mississippi River: Dark and Deep Dreams Flow the River - a National Memorial Park c. 5000 BC, which takes us on a dark and mournful trip to a past of awes. After a while, it brings us lusty protests delivered in the form of cyclic harmonic episodes.
The shortest tune of the record, Sequoia/Kings Canyon National Parks: The Giant Forest, Great Canyon, Cliffs, Peaks, Waterfalls and Cave Systems 1890, features Wadada in great interactions with his peers, especially akLaff during the final improvised section. The brilliant suite culminates with the sparse Yosemite: The Glaciers, the Falls, the Wells and the Valley of Goodwill 1890, an exercise in contemporary chamber music.
Cerebrally structured and emotionally haunting, this is a literate masterpiece that will marvel not only the trumpeter’s followers but also the avant-gardists in general.
The record, a powerful addition to Wadada Leo Smith’s extensive discography, is charged with a vital sociopolitical consciousness.
Click here for details and to sample the album.
Filipe Freitas jazztrail.net
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Album Released: 30th September 2016 - Label: Troubadour Jass Records
Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra
Make America Great Again!
When this CD arrived through my letterbox the day after America voted Republican Donald Trump to be their next President, I wondered. The Republicans had used 'Make America Great Again' as their 'catch phrase'. However, this album turns out to be political rather than Political; and it is worth voting for.
The publicity notes that came with the album say: 'In the midst of one of the most bizarre presidential elections the country has ever seen, Delfeayo Marsalis and the Uptown Jazz Orchestra do their part to Make America Great Again! On their debut recording, the trombonist / composer and his rollicking big band take back that tarnished slogan and run it up the flagpole of great American music, tracing its sounds from its African roots through the streets of New Orleans to the country as a whole.'
Marsalis says: 'That's New Orleans, that's jazz, that's the story of the African descendant in America ... If we can live up to the ideals of what the Founding Fathers suggested that America is supposed to be, it will always be the greatest country in the world. America is great because of the inclusive nature of our original doctrines. ... The identity of the band has been shaped into something that is completely unique and very much New Orleans. It's very important that we maintain that joy and exuberance that people equate with the city, but also maintain a direct connection to Africa. When I played with Elvin Jones and Max Roach and Art Blakey and Clark Terry, that was what those guys told me: You've got to keep this sound going.'
And he does. The names of the musicians in the band are many. Included are actor Wendell Pierce who takes on narration; rapper Dee-1 and a guest appearance by Delfeayo's brother Branford on tenor sax. A leaflet with the CD gives background details to the musicians and notes of soloists on each of the 14 tracks.
Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the album kicks off with a version of Star Spangled Banner played straight and slow before it moves to into the funky Snowball and now the big band is laying down its credentials with Roger Lewis taking the first solo on baritone sax. Second Line is another swinging number opening with a Goodman-reminiscent clarinet before the band moves into Ellingtonia with Andrew Baham taking the trumpet solos, and a re-visit from Gregory Agid's clarinet.
Back To Africa starts with bass, brass and vocals: 'Here you are away from the Motherland Trying to get by any way you can Living in a country without a plan Go back where you came from and call it home!' and then Dee-1 comes in with his rap: 'Africa's not a state, Africa's not a word. Africa's a state of mind .....' When the tenor sax comes in for its solo it is Branford Marsalis bridging the rap. Let me also name Joseph Dyson Jr and Alexey Marti who help drive this along on drums and percussion. Wendell Pierce narrates an introduction to Make America Great Again, the title track - 'We may not agree with what you have to say, but we let you voice your opinion anyway ... ' The solos from Andrew Baham's trumpet and Khari Allen Lee's alto sax stamp jazz on the narration. Dream On Robben, has a sweet, full sound, a vocal from Cynthia Liggins Thomas and Delfeayo's trombone paying tribute to Nelson Mandela.
Symphony In Riffs is the toe-tapping Benny Carter / Ellington style number you know with a nice arrangement and Andrew Baham's trumpet, Khari Allen Lee's alto, and Meghan Swartz's piano solos that work just right with the big band. I love the funky intro to Put Your Right Foot Forward, a Rebirth Brass Band's classic that swings big-band style with Dr Brice Miller's vocals and a bari intro to the groovy (can I still say 'groovy'?) trombone 'conversation' between Charles Williams and Jeffery Miller. All Of Me follows quietly and gently and is initially a trio of bass, drums and Kyle Roussel's piano, later picked up by Basie-influenced statements from the big band. Living Free And Running Wild has another nice introduction with bass, drums, the Uptown Music Theatre Choir and occasional piano breaks before another rap by Dee-1 and more tenor sax from brother Branford.
I am always a pushover for Skylark and this version features Delfeayo's trombone with some very sensitive, lyrical, touches. Nice. And then we are into a short, jolly, twenties strut with Allen Toussaint's Java led by Roderick 'Reverend' Paulin's tenor sax before Fanfare For The Common Man bookends the set and the brass emerging from the big band arrangement. The CD carries a bonus track, an instrumental version of the earlier Dream On Robben tribute to Nelson Mandela. Bonus tracks are sometimes uneccessary afterthoughts, but this works well with a haunting soprano sax solo from Khari Allen Lee.
Delfeayo Marsalis says: 'People have told me, "You play feel-good music," and I say, 'Why would we play anything else?' Don't come check out the Uptown Jazz Orchestra if you feel like being depressed. We're all about having a spiritual connection and understanding that we're here to make the world a better place.' This album makes the world a better place. Check it out.
Click here to listen. For a taste of the Uptown Jazz Orchestra click here for video extracts from a live performance.
Click here for details and to sample the album.
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Albums Released: September 2016 - Label: Leo Records
The Art Of The Improv Trio Volumes 1-6
Steve Day reviews a series of releases:
Ivo Perelman, tenor saxophone + (Vol 1); Karl Berger, piano (Vol 1, 3-6); Gerald Cleaver, drums (Vol 2); Mat Maneri, viola, Whit Dickey, drums (Vol 3); Matthew Shipp, piano (Vol 4); William Parker, double bass (Vol 5); Joe Morris, electric guitar (Vol 6); Joe Morris, double bass.
We decided to treat this new release on Leo Records slightly differently. After all, it is not every month that an independent record label decides to bring out six albums by the same musician at exactly the same time, all recorded within a year of each other. The tenor saxophonist, Ivo Perelman is one of those individuals who has never done things in quite the same way as others. He’s got little in common with Frank Sinatra except for the fact that “doing it my way” could be his hash tag. The Brazilian musician, now based in New York, first came to everybody’s attention when he brought out Children Of Ibeji (Enja Records) in 1991, since then he’s been a positive dynamo, literally releasing hundreds of albums on a variety of labels, among them, Leo Records who have nurtured his muse. Almost all his work is exclusively improvised yet contains an inner warmth which welcomes the listener into his portfolio. An established painter who has exhibited internationally, Ivo Perelman is a giant in a small habitat. Where exactly is that? Listening to his music might provide the answer.
Six disks make up the complete package of the The Art Of The Improv Trio series. They are not a box-set, but can be purchased as individual albums. I’m going to attempt to give an overview of all six within the usual space restrictions of one of our normal (sic) reviews. Ivo Perelman is currently among the great improvising tenor players in the world and has a huge discography. Quantity and quality are not the same thing but, for this unique saxophonist at least it seems they have become so.
As a kind of follow-up to his Art Of The Duo recordings this new 'Art of ...' series brings together most of the main protagonists who have worked with Mr Perelman in recent years. The fact that each album is based on the trio format is actually helpful, firstly because Ivo Perelman is particularly suited to the three-piece dynamic. He is a very strong player, he can dominate proceedings because there is always just that little bit more that he can squeeze out of a situation. A trio gives him the space to operate, whilst at the same time putting him up against at least one other very decisive player who will make him earn his space – Mat Maneri and Matthew Shipp are both game-changers who can move an improvisation forward seemingly on a ‘turn of phrase’.
The second advantage of this trio series is that it gives the listener the opportunity to make some comparisons. Perelman and the drummer, Gerald Cleaver play with pianist Karl Berger on Vol 1 and the pianist Matthew Shipp on Vol 3, perhaps it is no surprise that it results in two very different angles on the tenor sax/piano/drums format. Berger is a more passive player than Shipp who can call down a surprise seemingly from nowhere. For example take the last track, Part 9, from Vol 3, Perelman is leading a tricky improvised line across a closely tangled web of piano and drums when, just at the point of departure, Shipp’s piano closes on him not by playing more but by playing less, single notes like a row of full-stops. It’s an audacious move given the great swirls of density that inhabit their session. Whereas Berger is a colourist who, on Part 2 of Vol 1, seemingly very willingly, produces instant counter melodies which almost lap against the tenor sax as if encouraging the instrument to find a less frenetic place. Which is often what happens; Perelman adapts to Berger.
The compare and contrast scenario is a little harder to critique for the sax/bass/drums albums. Both ‘bass’ trios are centred around single forty minute extemporisations (plus a couple of miniatures) whereas the four other albums are all built on a wide range of comparatively short tracks. So, both albums share a common structure. Although the one with William Parker is a studio album, and the Joe Morris session is recorded at a live gig at The Manhattan Inn in Brooklyn, the two are tight companion pieces. Both bass players have very distinct personalities, yet here I would initially be hard pressed to differentiate between them apart from their arco passages. On the live album Joe Morris is slightly further down in the mix, Parker has a more rubbery sound, especially when he’s plucking scales.
Gerald Cleaver’s role throughout most of Art Of cannot be underestimated, he’s a drummer who gathers himself around other musicians tightly, yet gives them room to expand. He’s worked a lot with both Morris and Parker outside of the Perelman connection. Vol 4 & 6 are both terrific set pieces for saxophone; how the tenor sax can plunge deep and high when bedded into an intuitive rhythm team. William Parker described playing with Perelman as a “mountain lifting itself over a mountain”. It is a fantastical image of where great jazz improvisation can take us.
Click here to listen to Ivo Perelman (tenor sax), Joe Morris (double bass) and Gerald Cleaver (drums) playing on the album Mystery In Sao Christovao.
Joe Morris appears twice in this series, whilst his double bass outing (Vol 6) is live, the return to his original first instrument, the electric guitar (Vol 5) is a studio date. Joe Morris’s electric roots were strongly aligned to the influential microtonal saxophone/reeds player Joe Maneri. Throughout Vol 5 he draws heavily on this approach. This might come as a bit of a surprise to recent followers of Mr Morris because over the last few years he has been working in bands like Slobber Pup and Shock Axis containing big-volume-heavy-guitar which could be interpreted as the antithesis of microtonal music. I don’t think that’s necessarily true, however such a debate will have to be saved for another time. Perhaps the most interesting aspect of The Art Of The Improv Trio Vol 5 is how far Ivo Perelman accommodates the Joe Morris low volume single line pick approach used on this session. The two men have recorded before many times but I can’t recall Joe Morris getting the kind of space afforded him on Vol 5. On Part 4 & Part 5 the guitarist is given extended solo territory; on Part 6 the trio work a unison repetition riff after the style of Ornette Coleman’s classic Dancing In Your Head. The really welcoming aspect of all this is that it brings out another side to Ivo Perelman’s own playing; the coda making up the final Part 9 is a short, yet startling microtonal performance from the tenor player. I’ll make myself clear, Vol 6 is an ace improv album.
And so to the trio with Mat Maneri playing his wonderful viola, plus Whit Dickey on drums rather than Gerald Cleaver. Vol 2 is not like any of the other albums in the series. How could it be? Maneri The Viola has developed into such a towering virtuosi in his own right that when placed alongside Perelman it cannot be anything else other than an equal sun and moon. Vol 2 has thirteen tracks, the longest, just over five minutes, the shortest, just shy of a minute. Each one is a cut diamond. If your bag is interactive dual improvisations involving acute attention to detail and a percussionist who can stroke the wind and capture sound, this session was recorded for you. I’ll make myself clear again, Vol 2 is an ace improv album.
I don’t know where Ivo Perelman will travel from here. The man has already done more than most of us. The Art Of The Improv Trio series may will feel like a lengthy ask, all I can tell you is that I so enjoyed the journey. I hope some people who read this will feel likewise.
Click here and scroll down for details the 6 Volumes and click on each reference to open the page for details.
Click here for an introductory interview with Ivo Perelman. Click here for Ivo Perelman's website.
Steve Day www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
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Choice Cuts / Slim Pickings
I am eternally grateful to Robin Kidson, Howard Lawes, Steve Day, Tim Rolfe and occasionally others for their album reviews on this website. Each has a different style, but each person enjoys listening to the music and is good at writing about it. We aim to look in detail at a selection of new albums we think you will find interesting, to give you some background to the recording and a description of what you are likely to hear so that you can decide whether you would like to investigate the albums further. This month we also welcome reviewer Filipe Freitas in New York and look forward to his contributions.
Clearly we are only able to review a limited number of albums in detail, so I have previously used this space to list a selection of ten other new or re-released albums. As from next month I hope to expand this section of brief 'short cuts / slim pickings' ..... check it out in January.
Help Me Information
Long distance Information
Give me mention, then we'll see
Help me find a party ...
with apologies to Chuck Berry (click here)
Can you help?
We regularly receive requests for information about musicians, music, etc. Responses sometimes come months after we have featured the request so we have started a separate page. Please click here to see if you can help ...
It is impossible for me to include a list of all the gigs taking place during a month. I have decided to take an approach where I will list venues geographically and give you their website links so you can check what is going on in a particular area. If you would like me to include links to other venue listings, please let me know.
Dublin: JJ Smyth's, 2, Aungier Street, Dublin 2. www.jjsmyths.com
Dublin: Sugar Club, 8, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. www.thesugarclub.com
Dublin: National Concert Hall, Dublin 2. www.nch.ie
Dublin: Flanagan's (Basement) Piano Bar, 61 Upper O'Connell Street, Dublin 1. www.flanagansdublin.com
Dublin: Whelan's, Wexford Street, Dublin 2. www.whelanslive.com.
Wicklow: The Hot Spot Music Club, Harbour Lodge, Bayswater Terrace, Cliff Rd, Greystones, Co. Wicklow. www.thehotspot.ie
For other regular jazz sessions in Dublin contact Ollie Dowling from Quality Music Tel: 00 353 87 2878755 or email:email@example.com
Scotland: The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, 121 Gallowgate, Aberdeen, AB25 1BU. www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Scotland: Fife Jazz Club, The Woodside Hotel, Aberdour. email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Scotland: The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, 1a, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1HR. www.thejazzbar.co.uk
Wales: Dempsey's, Cardiff, 15, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS. www.jazzatdempseys.org.uk
Newcastle-upon-Tyne: The Jazz Cafe, 25 - 27 Pink Lane, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, NE1 5DW. www.jazzcafe-newcastle.co.uk
Cumbria: Kendal Jazz Club, The River Bar, Hawkshead Brewery, Stavely Mill Yard, Back Lane, Kendal, Cumbria, LA8 9LR. www.kendaljazzclub.co.uk.
Lancashire: Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, The Grand Theatre, 18 York St. Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 2DL. www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk
Liverpool: The Capstone Theatre, Shaw Street, Liverpool, L6 1HP. www.thecapstonetheatre.com
Yorkshire: Seven Jazz, Leeds, Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds, or Inkwell Arts, 31 Potternewton Lane Chapel Allerton, Leeds. www.sevenjazz.co.uk
(Includes: Seven Jazz Improvisation Group, Seven Jazz instrumental workshops and Seven Jazz Voices Choir).
Yorkshire: Wakefield Jazz, Wakefield (College Grove) Sports Club,
WF1 3RR. www.wakefieldjazz.org
Yorkshire: Jazz In The Spa, Boston Spa, Village Hall, High Street, Boston Spa. www.jazzinthespa.co.uk
South Yorkshire: Sheffield Jazz, Various venues in Sheffield. www.sheffieldjazz.org.uk
Manchester: Matt and Phred's, 64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LW. www.mattandphreds.com
East Staffordshire: Jazz On Tap, The Worthington Room, The National Brewery Centre,
Burton upon Trent,
DE14 1NG www.jazzontap.wordpress.com
Birmingham: Birmingham Jazz Listings www.jazzinbirmingham.co.uk
Hertfordshire: Herts Jazz Club, Welwyn Garden City, Screen2, Hawthorne Theatre, The Campus, Welwyn Garden City, AL8 6BX. www.hertsjazz.co.uk
Essex: The Electric Palace, Harwich, King's Quay. Harwich. www.electricpalace.com
Essex: North Weald, North Weald Village Hall, CM16 6BU Essex
Third Saturday of every month - 12.30 pm to 3.00 pm.
Jack Free's All Star Band with Jack Free (trombone), Peter Rudeforth (trumpet), John Crocker (clarinet), Tim Huskisson (piano), Murray Salmon (bass), Martin Guy (drums).
Buckinghamshire: Amersham Jazz Club, Beaconsfield SYCOB FC HP9 2SE. www.amershamjazzclub.co.uk
Oxford: The Oxford Wine Cafe, 38 South Parade,
OX2 7JN www.oxfordwinecafe.co.uk/jazz/
Oxford: The Bullingdon, 162 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1UE www.thebullingdon.co.uk
Oxford: The White Hart, 162 Cowley Road, Oxford, OX4 1UE
From 28th September 2016: Last Wednesday of each month, 8,30 to 11.00 pm, Volunatry donations - Oxford Kitchen Jam Session
Oxford: James Street Tavern, 47-48 James St, Oxford OX4 1EU.
First Wednesday of each month, 8.45 to 11.00 pm, Free entry - The Trish Elphinstone Quintet.
Oxfordshire: Witney Jazz, Burwell Hall, Thorney Leys, Witney OX28 5NP. www.witneyjazz.co.uk
Jazz London Live has become the key reference place for who is playing where in the London area - click here, and you can download their app to your phone etc. from a page on their website.
London: Jazz London Live, Listings website for London and South East. www.jazzinlondon.live
London: King's Place, 90 York Way, London, N1 9AG. www.kingsplace.co.uk
London: LUME, www.lumemusic.co.uk
London: Pizza Express, Soho, 10, Dean Street, London W1. www.pizzaexpresslive.com
London: The Spice Of Life, Soho, 6, Moor Street, London W1. www.spicejazz.co.uk
London: Ronnie Scott's Club, Soho, 47 Frith Street, London W1. www.ronniescotts.co.uk
London: The 100 Club, 100 Oxford Street, London W1D 1LL. www.the100club.co.uk (The 100 Club only occasionally stages jazz gigs these days)
London: The Forge, Camden, 3-7 Delancey Street, Camden, London NW1 7NL. www.theforgevenue.org
London: Chickenshed Theatre Jazz Bar, Southgate, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PE. www.chickenshed.org.uk
London: The Vortex, 11, Gillett Street, N16 8AZ. www.vortexjazz.co.uk
London: Club Inégales, 180 North Gower Street (corner of Euston Street). www.clubinegales.com
London: Southampton Arms, Highgate Road, North London
Wednesdays, 8.00 - 10.00 pm: Dave Burman (piano) and Dave Eastham (alto / clarinet)
London: Jazz In The Round, The Cockpit, Marylebone, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH. www.thecockpit.org.uk
London: Omnibus, Old Clapham Library, 1 Clapham Common Northside, London, SW4 0QW. www.omnibus-clapham.org
London: 606 Club, 90 Lots Road, Chelsea, London SW10 0QD. www.606club.co.uk
London: The Bull's Head, Barnes, 373 Lonsdale Road,
SW13 9PY. www.thebullshead.com
London: Putney, The Half Moon, Putney , 93 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1EU.
Dick Laurie's Elastic Band. The band now plays the first Sunday and third Sunday of every month.
Sunday, 4th December and Sunday, 18th December - 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm
London: The Hideaway, Streatham, 25 Streatham High Rd, London SW16 6EN. www.hideawaylive.co.uk
London: e17 Jazz, Walthamstow, Gnome House, 7 Blackhorse Lane, Walthamstow, E17 6DS. www.e17jazz.com
London: The Jazz Nursery, St Mary Overies Dock, Cathedral Street, London SE1. www.jazznursery.com
Surrey: Harri's Jazz, Shepperton, Bagster House, Walton Lane, Shepperton, TW17 8LP. www.harrisjazz.com
Surrey: Thames Ditton, The George and Dragon, High Street, Thames Ditton, KT7 0RY.
Every Tuesday - Alan Berry (piano), Mike Durrell (bass), Don Cook (drums) plus weekly guests - 8.30 pm
Surrey: Guildford Jazz, 2 venues - Guildford and Godalming Rugby Club, Guildford Road, Godalming GU7 3DH (second Wednesday in month); Guildford Electric Theatre, Onslow Street. Guildford GU1 4SZ (Tuesday nights). www.guildfordjazz.wordpress.com
Surrey: Watermill Jazz, Dorking, Betchworth Park Golf Club, Reigate Road, Dorking RH4 1NZ. www.watermilljazz.co.uk
Surrey: The Grey Horse, Kingston-Upon-Thames, 46 Richmond Road,
KT2 5EE. www.grey-horse.co.uk
Surrey: The Barley Mow, Shepperton, 67 Watersplash Road, Shepperton, TW17 0EE. www.themow.co.uk
Kent: The Roffen, New Road Rochester, ME1 1DX. www.144club.co.uk
Sussex: Splash Point Jazz Club, Seaford, Splash Point Jazz Club Seaford at The View, Seaford Head Golf Club, Southdown Road, Seaford. www.splashpointmusic.com
Sussex: Brighton Jazz Club, www.brightonjazzclub.co.uk
Sussex: Splash Point Jazz Club, Brighton Marina, Splash Point Jazz Club at The Master Mariner, Inner Lagoon, Brighton Marina. www.splashpointmusic.com
Sussex: Chichester Jazz Club, Pallant Suite, 7 South Pallant, Chichester, PO19 1SY. www.chichesterjazzclub.co.uk
Gloucestershire: Cirencester, Kings Head Hotel, 24 Market Place, Cirencester GL7 2NR. www.kingshead-hotel.co.uk
Bath: Widcombe Social Club, Widcombe Hill, Bath, BA2 6AA
Jazz Times Three. 5th October; 2nd November 2016 then every 2 weeks. www.widcombesocialclub.co.uk.
Bristol: The Be-Bop Club, The Bear, Hotwell Road, Bristol, BS8 4SF. www.thebebopclub.co.uk
Somerset: Ilminster Arts Centre, The Meeting House, East Street, Ilminster, Somerset, TA19 0AN. www.themeetinghouse.org,uk
Dorset: Blandford Forum, The King's Arms, Whitecliff Mill St, Blandford Forum DT11 7BE. Facebook
Dorset: Bridport Arts Centre, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR. www.bridport-arts.com
Dorset: Sound Cellar, Poole, The Blue Boar, 29 Market Close, Poole, Dorset, BH15 1NE, www.soundcellar.moonfruit.com
Cornwall: St. Ives Jazz Club, Western Hotel, Gabriel Street, St. Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LU. www.stivesjazzclub.com
Jazz Talks: Buckinghamshire and Norwich Areas
Dr Bob Moore has contacted us saying:'I am a member of the U3A (University of the
Third Age) Jazz appreciation section. I now have given four talks to
them on each of the following: Louis Armstrong, US swing bands of the
40's, Modern Jazz Quartet and Stan Kenton. I should say that I am not a
profession speaker but I have reasonable knowledge of the subject. Now
that I have given the talks, it is most probable that they will
gather dust in a cupboard but if anyone local to me in High Wycombe is
interested, I would be prepared to repeat the talk for free with
possible expenses for petrol if far away.'' The talks mainly simply require a good audio system plus
someone to put on the CD's but the Kenton talk does included some
excerpts from Youtube on the internet but these could be edited out. If
I use the Internet it would require screen plus associated equipment.
The talks take about 90 min and the usual format is general background
on the artist or group followed by tracks from CD's.'If anyone would like to take up Bob's offer, you can email him at email@example.com
Similarly, Roy Headland who gives occasional talks to Norwich Jazz and Blues Record Club is offering to give talks with music to other groups in the Norwich area. A recent talk 'A Jazz Tour of Norwich and Norfolk' to an audience of 60 had the organiser saying: "Thank you for giving us such an informative and enjoyable evening,full of musical stars.The feedback was good and we hope to see you back with part 2." Other talks Roy has given include: Condon Jam Sessions;
Clarinet Kings of Swing;
Tommy Ladnier -"Mandeville to New York "; and a talk to Rotary on "The Winter Solstice" (their request) on Dec 21st which I managed to link in with Artie Shaw and called "The Shawtest Day"!
Roy's email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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