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NYJO Recruiting New Members for 2015
The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) has announced that it is recruiting members for 2015. For the fourth year running, NYJO is inviting young musicians under the age of 25 with experience of playing big band jazz to apply for a chair in the band. Auditions will be held in Leeds and London in January 2015 and successful applicants would normally hold that position in the band for at least one year. If you are interested, you should be considering or beginning a career as a professional jazz musician.
You will work with Musical Director Mark Armstrong on some great music and give inspiring concerts (2014 highlights included a performance at Ronnie Scotts, the EFG London Jazz Festival and a tour to Germany). NYJO says: 'NYJO will help give you the training and skills for the world of professional music-making, if this is the path you choose. We will also be taking the music to a younger generation through school concerts and workshops.'
Click here for more information.
Parliamentary Jazz Awards
It is that time of the year when you have a chance to let your favourite musicians know you appreciate them by nominating / voting for them. Brought forward because of next May's General Election, your nominations under the diffrent categories can be put forward until 12th December.
The awards will be made at the House of Commons on March 10th, 2015. This is the 11th year of the awards which have become a key event in the jazz calendar. Nominations are put before a panel of people from the jazz 'industry' which shortlists nominations for the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) to select the final winners. The awards are sponsored by PPL.
Arun Ghosh receiving his award for Instrumentalist of the Year in 2014.
We think that it is important to nominate your choices as, whether they win or not, this is a way of letting your nominees know you appreciate their work. Click here to make your nominations. The categories are:
Jazz Album of the Year; Jazz Vocalist of the Year; Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year; Jazz Ensemble of the Year; Jazz Venue of the Year; Jazz Media Award (magazines, journalists, websites); Jazz Education Award (to an educator or project); Jazz Newcomer of the Year; Services to Jazz Award.
Tony Milliner - My Favourite Things
Thad Jones - Mel Lewis Orchestra: Tow Away Zone
This month trombonist Tony Milliner chooses a Thad Jones / Mel Lewis track as one of his favourites. Tow Away Zone comes from the 1969 album Central Park North.
This was a progressive big band for the 1960s. Besides Thad (flugelhorn) and Mel (drums), the album features Benny Powell and Jimmy Knepper on trombones, Jerome Richardson, Jerry Dodgion and Joe Temperley (saxes) and Roland Hanna (piano). Listen out too for Richard Davis's electric bass.
The horns are strong on this track with flying saxophone solos. Thad Jones's arrangement as usual stands out and Mel's drumming drives the piece along.
Trombonist Jimmy Knepper was a good friend of Charles Mingus and worked with Mingus in the late 1950s and early 1960s on arrangements and transcriptions. Knepper developed Parkinson's Disease and died in 2003.
Central Park North was nominated for a 1969 Grammy award in the "Best Instrumental Jazz Performance - Large Group..." category.
Click here to sample the Central Park North album.
Jazz Services - A New Plan and The Passing of JazzUK Magazine
The organisation Jazz Services has announced it is about to embark on a comprehensive restructuring process. One aspect of this process is that its long-running magazine JazzUK has had to cease publication in its current form. Following the withdrawal of its Arts Council England (ACE) funding from 2015, Jazz Services has been consulting with the wider public, ACE and and other related parties and undertaking an organisational review.
To coincide with its 30th anniversary in 2015, Jazz Services will introduce a new business model with greater emphasis on artist and audience development, working in partnership with related organisations and groups to offer a more rounded support network to artists throughout their careers as well as contributing towards a healthy live scene for both artists and audiences. It’s core delivery programmes – such as its funding schemes and preparation for April’s JazzAhead event - will continue as normal until the end of the current funding period, but as part of the immediate streamlining process, the current incarnation of JazzUK has now ceased publication.
However, for the past few years, JazzUK has enjoyed an extremely productive partnership with Jazzwise magazine to produce monthly live jazz listings, available on the Jazz Services website as the digital guide Gigs. As part of the more collaborative model proposed for Jazz Services in the future, discussions are currently in place to expand and develop this partnership further, with more details to be announced as they are available.
Click here for the full press announcement.
John Westwood has sent us details of this early recording of Trouble In Mind from the late Acker Bilk. The recording is a classic from the studios of Doug Dobell for his '77' label featuring the talents of the Storyville Allstars. Recorded in London on 13th July 1957, it features Acker on clarinet and vocal, with Bob Wallis on trumpet, John R T Davies on trombone, Pete Gresham at the piano, Hugh Rainey on banjo, John Macey on string bass and the soon to be 'Cream' drummer, Ginger Baker.
This video is particularly poignant as it includes historic pictures and videos of Mississippi Delta Sharecroppers during the 1930s, both black and white, showing their harsh and destitute lifestyle.
Click here for Trouble In Mind.
Take Five Edition X
The Jerwood Charitable Foundation, PRS for Music Foundation and Serious are delighted to announce the latest creative jazz musicians to be selected for the professional development programme Take Five. The Take Five scheme aims to grow the artistic talent and business understanding of some of the UK’s most creative emerging jazz musicians. Now in its tenth edition, Take Five provides each artist with the special chance to discuss, explore and strengthen all aspects of their future careers. The musicians selected for the scheme this year are:
Take Five Edition X will run from autumn 2014 to the summer 2015 and provides participants with one-to-one mentoring sessions to address their particular areas of need, as well a residential period exploring areas such as composition, performance, communications, business infrastructure and strategic direction.
“Take Five has provided me with a unique opportunity to spend a prolonged period of time refining my artistic vision and planning its future trajectory, guided by supportive mentors with high-level expertise in a variety of immediately relevant fields….I feel exceptionally privileged to have been on the receiving end… its real value lies in the relationships that are formed – with Serious itself, with other musicians and with members of other organisations that support and facilitate vitally important artistic initiatives. I am confident that over the coming years these relationships will help me to expand the horizons of my work, opening doors to opportunities throughout Europe and providing me with well-rounded artistic and professional advice along the way.” (Alex Roth, Edition IX)
The Alison Rayner Quintet Launches New Album In Brighton.
Alison Rayner, double bass.
Deidre Cartwright, guitar.
The new ARQ album August was recorded live at The Vortex in London in 2013 and was released in October this year on Fuse Records. Click here to sample the album.
Steve Lodder, piano.
Diane McLoughlin, saxophone.
Photographer Brian O'Connor says: 'Despite being actively involved in the business for 40 years or more this, believe it or not, is the first recording to be issued under Alison's own name. An excellent mix of self-penned compositions, plus one by the Beatles, it is, after listening to it, a shame she has waited so long. The entire quintet is a tightly knit group of musicians who have worked together many times. It shows in the finished result'.
Buster Birch, drums.
Brian O'Connor says: ''The launch of the CD at the Verdict was a resounding success, and bodes well for the tour that follows. As the saying goes, ‘catch them if you can’.
The Alison Rayner Quintet
You will be able to hear ARQ playing in December at:
December 3rd - Vortex, London
All pictures by Brian O'Connor, Images Of Jazz
The Yamaha Jazz Scholars - Free Download
In the past, a free CD has been attached to the cover of the December/January edition of Jazzwise Magazine. This year it is available as a download. Each year, seven of the colleges and conservatoires of music in the UK nominate one of their final year jazz scholars for this award which is celebrated at the Houses Of Parliament in an event supported by Yamaha, Jazzwise, PPL and the 606 Club and hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group.
The bursaries give financial help to the scholarship winners who are able to record some of their music with producer Andy Ross at Astar Studios near Manchester. The Yamaha New Jazz Sessions recording this year also features tracks by guest musicians Ryan Quigley, Geoff Warren and Riley Stone-Lonergan. The award winners you will hear are Scott Chapman, Tom Dennis, Ashley Henry, Utsav Lal, Dan Smith, Mark Lewandowski and Ed Haine.
The download is available exclusively from Jazzwise magazine - click here.
Preachin' The Blues
GVC (Great Voices of the Century) has released Preachin' The Blues, a memorial album to jazz harmonica player Cyril Davies. The 2 CD set includes five tracks recorded in 1963 with the Rhythm and Blues All Stars. The collection has been compiled by Roger Dopson and remastered by Peter J. Reynolds.
GVC say: 'Cyril Davies was perhaps the pivotal figure in the development of UK Blues and R&B, his pioneering work with Alexis Korner between the mid ‘50s and early ‘60s laying down the roots for a scene from which bands like The Stones later emerged. Sadly, his own life and career were cut tragically short in January 1964 when he died, suddenly and unexpectedly, of endocarditis.'
'This is the first anthology of Cyril’s work, it features virtually every track that Cyril is known to have played and/or sung on, ranging from a 1954 home recording to a clutch of tracks with The R&B All-Stars, cut in 1963 at the height of the British R&B/Beat Boom that, had tragedy not intervened, threatened to make him into a household name. Along the way, we encounter such important career milestones as his first official recording session, his genuinely ground-breaking partnership with Alexis Korner, and a veritable host of impossibly rare vinyl releases. It comes as a considerable shock to discover that one of the founding fathers of modern British Blues/R&B has yet to have his rather more vital career similarly anthologised. But that’s the way it is with Cyril Davies, whose incalculable influence on the scene hasn’t stopped many of his pioneering recordings languishing in the obscurity in which they were made, some fifty years ago. Finally, though, his seminal body of work is now assembled on this definitive collection.'
Did you know that everyone’s favourite pop singer of the moment, Ed Sheeran, has recorded a tune called Autumn Leaves? (click here), but it is not the song we are talking about.
Then along came Johnny Mercer who wrote the English lyrics in 1947. Jo Stafford, who was contracted to Capitol Records, founded by Mercer, was the first to sing the song in English and in accorde amicale, Autumn Leaves became a standard in French and English, both as an instrumental and a vocal number.
Did you know that there is also a Japanese version called Kareha (枯葉) sung by Nat King Cole in his Japanese album version and 高英男 (Hideo Kou) – click here for a video of Nat Cole singing it in Japanese.
The song first appeared in the 1946 film Les Portes De La Nuit (Gates Of The Night) starring Yves Montand. The movie was set in liberated Paris during the winter following the war. Jean Diego meets up with his friend Raymond Lecuyer and then a tramp foretells that Jean will meet the most beautiful girl in the world. (They knew how to disguise fairy godmothers in those days). The same evening, lo and behold, Jean meets the beautiful Malou (one up to the tramp) but eventually discovers that Malou’s brother Guy was the one that gave Raymond away to the Gestapo. Click here for the scene where the tramp plays Les Feuilles Mortes on his harmonica.
C'est une chanson
Nous vivions tous
Let’s take a moment out to watch this video of Chet Baker and Paul Desmond playing Autumn Leaves (click here). Chet Baker (flugelhorn/trumpet), Paul Desmond (alto sax), Bob James (keyboards), Ron Carter (double bass), Steve Gadd (drums). It is suggested that this video is a composite of video and audio, but enjoyable and interesting none the less.
Mais la vie sépare
That Columbia Pictures movie starred Joan Crawford and Cliff Robertson and told the story of Millicent Wetherby ‘…a middle-aged woman whose life is devoid of love and affection. Millicent's solitary existence changes when she encounters Burt Hansen a charismatic younger man. As Burt successfully woos her and wins her hand in marriage, rumours begin to surface that Millicent's new-found beau is in fact a deranged maniac. Things grow even more complicated for Millicent when a woman claiming to be Hansen's first wife shows up.’ It seems that Burt’s mental health problems are the result of discovering his ex-wife is having an affair with his father!
Duke Ellington recorded Autumn Leaves in 1957 featuring Ray Nance on violin. IMDB writes: ‘Nance’s violin playing represented almost the total opposite of his trumpet playing, and he’s at his soulful best on Autumn Leaves where he plays an exquisite, emotional solo; he then fills along with vocalist Ozzie Bailey.' Click here to listen to the Ellington version with Ray Nance (a little crackly this version taken from the album Mood Indigo, but worth it for the pictures of Ray Nance and the Ellington orchestra).
The tune also appeared on the classic 1958 Cannonball Adderley album Somethin’ Else with Miles Davis, Hank Jones, Sam Jones and Art Blakey - click here.
The falling leaves drift by the window
Click here for a video of the amazing guitarist Stanley Jordan playing Autumn Leaves at the Montreal Jazz Festival in 1990 with Charnett Moffett on bass. As most of you will know, Stanley Jordan has developed a distinct guitar style. It is well explained by Wikipedia:
‘Normally, a guitarist uses two hands to play each note. One hand presses down a guitar string behind a chosen fret to prepare the note, and the other hand either plucks or strums the string to play that note. Jordan's touch technique is an advanced form of two-handed tapping. The guitarist produces a note using only one finger by quickly tapping (or hammering) his finger down behind the appropriate fret. The force of impact causes the string to vibrate enough to immediately sound the note, the volume can be controlled by varying the force of impact. Jordan executes tapping with both hands, and more legato than is normally associated with guitar tapping.’
‘A helpful analogy to visualize this technique is the distinction between a harpsichord and a piano. A harpsichord produces sound by plucking its strings, and a piano produces sound by striking its strings with tiny hammers. However, while notes produced on a harpsichord or piano sustain after the pick has plucked or hammer has struck, fingers must remain on a tapped note for the sound to continue. This similarity is what led Jordan to attempt such a technique in the first place; he was a classically trained pianist before playing guitar and wanted greater freedom in voicing chords on his guitar. Jordan's touch technique allows the guitarist to play melody and chords simultaneously. It is also possible, as Jordan has demonstrated, to play simultaneously on two different guitars, as well as guitar and piano.’
Since you went away the days grow long
Beaker - Tyler Gilmore (electronics) and Alec Harper (saxophones).
Tyler Gilmore is a composer, electronic musician, and recording engineer from Wyoming now based in Brooklyn, New York. He has worked with many musicians, recorded two albums with his ensemble Ninth and Lincoln and composed for various projects. He won the 2009 ASCAP/Columbia College Commission in Honour of Hank Jones and won the ASCAP Young Jazz Composer’s Award in 2008, 2009, and 2010. His music has been performed internationally by groups including Jon Faddis’s Chicago Jazz Ensemble, the New England Conservatory Jazz Composer’s Orchestra, The Henry Mancini Institute Overture Orchestra, and others. His work is published by UNC Jazz Press and Minor Ninth Music. Tyler attended the University of Northern Colorado and the New England Conservatory, and is now based in Brooklyn, NY.
Alec Harper plays regularly with the London City Big Band. He graduated in 2012 with a First Class BMus (Hons) in Jazz Performance from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama (London). In 2010 he received the Young Performers Award from UK Jazz Radio. Upon Graduation from Guildhall Alec was awarded a Concert Recital Diploma and won the prestigious Yamaha Jazz scholarship in 2012. Alec has been involved in the London jazz scene for some years now, performing with his own quartet and as a sideman at many venues including The Vortex, The Spice Of Life, Charlie Wrights and Oliver’s Jazz Bar. He recently travelled to Boston USA where he spent a year studying at New England Conservatory, and spent spending time in New York where he worked on the Beaker project with Tyler Gilmore.
The Beaker project is experimental improvisation. One of our reviewers, Steve Day, and Alec Harper consider the EP that has emerged from the Beaker project.
Alec Harper: Tyler and I formed a strong connection whilst playing together at New England Conservatory in Boston where we were both studying for a Masters degree. We are both influenced by experimental improvised music both acoustic and electric. We are also very interested in electronic groups like Sigur Ross that write songs with an often long feel with rich lush harmony and a soundscape feel.
Steve Day: I only listened to this through twice. The first time just listening, the second time writing these words and giving it another hearing. This sounds similar to Precision Electro-Acoustics by David Novak and James Fei (Maestros) who were coming out of Brooklyn, New York way back in 2001. Perhaps it’s in the water in that part of the world. Beaker, a cupful. I wonder whether Alec Harper wants us to review the process or the result? What we’ve got is some interesting white noise masking reeds blowing an approximation, maybe melody, certainly music. But it is not straightforward in any sense at all. The process is computerised cut-up. In the 1960’s The Beat poets cut up paper, this is cut up sound. John Cage cut up both.
Alec Harper: In terms of a concept there wasn't really one. Not a concrete one at least. The process of improvisation is what brought us together. Myself on saxophone with all sorts of extended techniques (including playing the horn with no mouthpiece like a trumpet as featured on a lot of the EP). Tyler had sounds patched into a midi keyboard and also used many effects to manipulate or add to my sound, reverb, loops, harmonisers and other techniques and he also works with feedback loops to add layers to the improvisation. We certainly didn't have a vision to create anything completely original or unique and don't believe we have done that, but we want to be true to who we are and feel we had a strong sound together with very similar intentions of direction. It never felt hard to work together!
Steve Day: Beaker is all improvisation despite the tracks being numbered and divided between Song and Improv. It’s built on layers. We relate to the horn because it has pitch and key. There are beats produced by electronic oscillation and we are asked to relate to harmony which is dissonance. Track four, Improv 3 is treated saxophone manipulation with all the current accoutrements of the electro playground; there’s a keyboard, distorted and frayed. What is the difference in the naming of ‘Song’ and ‘Improv’ here? I can’t hear any change in the process. I don’t think it matters. The result is momentarily experimental. ‘Song’ assumes melodic elements, but here most of it is abstracted by noise. Of course, noise can be worth listening to......
Alec Harper: We started the recording process by simply recording long improvisations together. These tended to be quite long! We then went about choosing sections that we liked, passages that leapt out at us. Some of these sections appear on the record exactly as we recorded them and are labeled Improv 1/2/3 etc. We also took some short sections of improv and deconstructed them, sometimes created loops and added beats and then recorded more saxophone over the top in the form of melodies (like on Song 1). These tracks were all labelled 'Song' as they weren't purely improvised.
Steve Day: Track six, Improv 4 is rhythm via controlled static. Track seven, Song 1.5 one long stretched note with interference. Track eight, Improv 5 A bent multi-note final with more electronic dissonant ‘harmonies’.
Alec Harper: Putting the EP together was very interesting. We wanted to create one long piece and thought an EP would be a good place to start. We tried to put the different tracks together so the EP would flow and could be listened to in one go but there are a couple of tracks, like Song 2 for instance, which could perhaps be singled out and listened to on their own.
Click here for Song 2 with its video from Beaker.
Steve Day: Look, I listened to this recording in a safe warm place. I was not under pressure nor was I tense. Had I been in a less positive environment my reaction would probably have been quite different. As it was, I heard an experiment but not what I would call a breakthrough. Beaker, better than no Beaker but others have drunk from this cup before. No reason for Gilmore and Harper not to crackle and pop. So what now? You can’t really do it again, or can you?
Alec Harper: We recently performed an EP launch in Brooklyn NY which was great fun and reflected on the EP sound and process with some 'Songs' from the EP performed live (not playing along with the tracks but building them live and playing the melodies with them) and then improvisations that were done there and then. This EP has a mixture of improvisations and beat based songs and we would like to explore both of those ideas more now perhaps creating an album of just songs or just a long improvisation. Who knows but this was our starting point.
Alec Harper: With regards to listeners for this album we would like anyone to be able to hear it. I feel the fact there are a few tracks (labelled 'Song' with a more beat orientated approach) mean that it could potentially appeal to people who aren't so used to hearing dense textural improvisations but it is probably an experimental album and not something that would feature at Ronnie Scott's for instance. I think it needs to be listened to with open ears and an open mind and not put in any genre but just received so not trying to latch on to melodies too much or thinking about what is happening but just trying to experience it in a sort of meditative way. It perhaps isn't the best train music but then some people have said they listen to it on the way to work so everyone is different.
Steve Day and Alec Harper recommend listening to the EP as a whole and you can click here to sample / download the EP from itunes for £3.99 or the individual tracks separately.
Click here for Steve Day's website: www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk
We continue our look at the banjo in jazz and the shameful discrimination against the instrument with so many jokes searching for a cheap laugh. For example: 'Saint Peter, wanting the new arrivals to feel at home, promised to spend some quality time with each one. He asked his first arrival of the day, "Hi! What's your IQ?" "150," he said."Great," said Peter, as he showed the man in, "we should get together tomorrow and discuss the Theory of Relativity for a while." He asked the next person, "What's your IQ?" "120," she said."Fine, fine," said Peter, "I'd love to take some time with you Wednesday to discuss current world politics." To the third person, he asked, "What's your IQ?" "42," drawled the fellow."Fantastic!" cried Peter, "I've been looking for years for somebody who could help me perform a banjo duet!" The message in this story? Banjo players go to heaven.
Trombonist Jackie Free points out that there is a new wave of banjo players coming through, even though Jackie's recommended, jaw-dropping, video is folk rather than jazz music.
The Sleepy Man Bano Boys video is of a bedroom practice of Earl Scruggs's Flint Hill Special with brothers Jonny Mizzone age 8 on banjo, Robbie Mizzone age 12 on fiddle, and Tommy Mizzone age 13 on guitar. Click here.
Not convinced yet? OK, try this video of Gregg Garrett on guitar and Will Tate on banjo playing Scrapple From The Apple. Garrett and Tate are part of the band 6 Mile Express, a group of four youths who have been playing since they were children. They were being featured at the Townsend Old Timers and Heritage Festival in 2011 - click here.
The idea behind this item is to offer a 'taste' of a musician, singer or band that you might not have come across before. This month, we spend time with ......
A Focus On France
In the UK we tend to be less aware of jazz coming out of neighbouring countries. That is not surprising as albums from the UK are probably more easily available, promoted more and bands easier to hear playing live.
As the title suggests, there have been two previous albums from Babel that showcased the Americas, the Caribbean, the Middle East and Europe. This third album ‘places a loudspeaker on the improvised music of a single territory, France.’
Jazz has been around in France for a long time. These extracts from Kevin Le Gendre’s introduction to the album set the scene: ‘... Ragtime resonated in French cities in the ‘20s, the surrealist magazine Documents lauded the genius of Duke Ellington and American players, of which Miles Davis was the most iconic, later sojourned in the land with no prohibition on le bon vin. Eventually France produced its own hot club and from the founding fathers Grappelli and Reinhardt came such prodigies as Urtreger, Michelot, Tousques, Portal, Texier, Lourau and Mezzadri …'
Kevin Le Gendre
'The strength of this collection lies, as was the case with previous editions, in its stylistic diversity. Sonically, it is really a case of access all areas. Hence, to the putative question of what is French jazz, there is no quick and easy answer, for the differences rather than similarities in approach to improvised music are a defining feature of our play list.’
‘The album starts with a big band, the Orchestre National De Jazz, and ends with a duo, Marc Demuth and Sophia Ribeiro, and this movement from expansive, multi-layered, richly hued textures to spare, intimate, enticing tones is as good a leitmotiv as any for the range of music on Now’s The Time III. In between these two pieces are duos, trios, quartets, quintets, etc. The ensembles come in all shapes and sizes.’
Click here for a brief sample of the Orchestre National de Jazz playing Tongs Of Joy.
We shall try to give you a taster of one or two other examples of the music featured on the album.
‘Beyond its cosmopolitan character, French jazz has a wily imagination, and, as our selection makes abundantly clear, a certain way of conjoining intellect, emotion and provocation. On the one hand, there is the puckish metric intricacy of pianist Benjamin Moussay’s Hopalong and Lionel Belmondo’s 3+2+3, both of which explore approaches to time outside of 4/4.’ writes Le Gendre.
Click here to listen to Lionel Belmondo’s 3+2+3 from the album Clair Obscur.
‘On the other hand, there is the pounding, ominous backbeat of Stéphane Kerecki’s Palabre or the stark, stuttering snap of Metal-o-phone’s Karter, two pieces bolstered by hard, rugged tonalities that serve as a timely reminder that improvised music can rival rock or electronic in terms of the ‘heaviness’ of its groove.’
Click here to listen to A L'air Libre also from the Stéphane Kerecki Houria album. The tune featured on the Focus On France album is Palabre. 'Houria bears the most obvious stamp of Kerecki's North African influences—it's an immediately engaging tune, with Kerecki and drummer Thomas Grimmonprez setting up a powerful, almost funky rhythm, over which Malaby's soprano and Matthieu Donarier's tenor weave around each other. Malaby's soprano sound resembles, at times, the late British saxophonist Elton Dean as it slips and slides around the melody. Palabre has a similar sound, but this time both Malaby and Donarier are on sopranos—Malaby's warm sound contrasting well with Donarier's brighter tone.' (YouTube).
Click here for a video of Metal-o-phone playing Karter. 'Distortion, feedback, delay. All once the exclusive property of guitarists but no more, and their usage has opened up intriguing possibilities across the instrumental spectrum. In applying them to the vibraphone, Benjamin Flament has found sound something wild in the heart of an instrument so often typecast as polite and mannered. The bright colours have given way to darker matter, buzzing with overtones and ambiguous pitches, and spiritually connecting the vibes back to its distant relatives like the Javanese gamelan, Tibetan singing bowls and African thumb pianos.' (YouTube).
In all there are 13 tracks on the album from different bands / musicians. Now’s The Time III: A Focus On France was released on the Babel label on 24th November. Click here for more details.
British Jazz Awards 2014
You might have voted a month or two ago for the British Jazz Awards categories. Despite being one of the oldest awards in the UK (this is their 28th year), they seem to receive less publicity than others. Organised by Big Bear Music in Birmingham, a list of nominees is put forward, but voters are able to include other names when they vote. The awards have no financial sponsor and perhaps that is one reason they receive less full-on publicity. This year, the award winners are:
Trumpet - Steve Waterman
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The Essential Album Collection
Which jazz albums make up a collection of classics? We suggest an album each month so that we can gradually build up a list - in no particular order. Do you have these? Click here for our Essential Albums page where you will find the suggestions that have been put forward so far.
Charlie Parker - The Best Of The Complete Savoy and Dial Recordings
There are many recordings of alto saxophonist Charlie 'Bird' Parker's music but this is a compilation that could be a good place to start as it covers some of his masterworks on the Savoy and Dial labels. An alternative might be the album Bird and Diz which pairs Charlie Parker with Dizzy Gillespie. Alto saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker (1920–1955), one of the greatest of all jazz soloists, was also one of the founders of bebop. Miles Davis once said, "You can tell the history of jazz in four words: Louis Armstrong. Charlie Parker."
One commentator says of the Savoy / Dial compilation: 'These are unquestionably the recordings upon which the Charlie Parker genius and musical legacy must primarily rest, and the listener will not have to wade through dozens of alternate takes and false starts to discover the real Bird. The sound mastering, while distorted on a few tracks (the price of introducing more "presence" into the alto saxophone's sound), is the best I've encountered ... My disappointment at the omission of Donna Lee is compensated for by the inclusion of both Embraceable You (the celebrated version) and Night in Tunisia (but not the concert version with Diz containing the famous 4-bar break).'
Click here to sample the album (These appear to be well-reviewed albums through Amazon, but ask your local record store about alternatives).
A Little Light Music
Was it back in the 1970s that people started melting down old 78rpm records to make bowls from them, and in the 1980s that place mats were being made from 45 rpm vinyl? I know I thought the melting of 78s was akin to burning books.
At least Alan Austin is keeping old musical instruments intact as he turns them into table lamps. Alan says: 'These beautiful handmade lamps give a new life to used musical instruments. Some of our instruments look as good as new while others have years of wear and tear giving them a lovely vintage appeal.'
As you might imagine, the price of the lamps is not cheap. I guess there might be divided opinions about the idea - I'd be interested to know what you think. You would, at least, be able to see what you were playing with the lamp on .....
Alan Austin's website is themusicallampcompany.co.uk.
Remembering Mick Clift
Chris Watford remembers trombonist Mick Clift whose profile you can read on the site if you click here.
‘I first met Mick Clift under strange circumstances. Travelling down from Lincolnshire to Swindon to do some railway research, I stopped for a sandwich in a pub, and spotted a copy of Jazz Guide on the bar counter. I saw there was a local band playing at a village pub, so on my way back that evening, I dropped in to listen. In the interval, I went up to the musicians, and as I had only just started playing clarinet again after a 20-year layoff through a serious illness, I asked who each was, in case I hadn't recognised someone who had once played with me. None of them would tell me, fearing that as I was wearing a suit, I might be from the Inland Revenue, or the Performing Rights people. The bald headed trombonist said to me "I don't mind telling you who I am - I'm Mick Clift, and I'm up here for the launch at the 100 Club of Ben Cohen's Hot Five ". That would be in the summer of 1995, and a few months later Mick phoned me up from Cornwall, and asked me to send him copies of local newspapers as he was thinking of moving up to the Kettering area.’
Mick Clift at the first public performance of the Augmented
Dallas Dandies, in Swaffham, Norfolk, prior to an 8-session tour to
commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the classic recordings by King
Oliver's Creole Jazzband in 1923.
‘The first time we played together was at the Oxfam Stomp in Birmingham, the following January (1996). I'd forgotten what he looked like, and when I saw this bald headed old man, I though "He can't be any good, he's so old!" How wrong I was! We got on well together, and having moved to the Kettering area, he was looking for a band to play with, so he joined my newly-formed Dallas Dandies, and stayed with me until he moved half way to Denmark - Skegness to be precise - at the end of 2000, which effectively forced him to leave my band.'
'During that time, we travelled together in my car to the various gigs all over the country, notching up over 100,000 miles together, so I got to know Mick pretty well. Quite early on, he annoyed me on one of our journeys, and I said to him "You're a miserable old bastard, aren't you?", and he replied "That's what they called me at work before I retired!" We got on really well after that, and he became my right-hand-man in the band for the next four years. His musical knowledge was substantial, and he was particularly good at the recorded work of Honoré Dutrey, which helped me when I decided to augment the Dallas Dandies with Mike Daniels on trumpet to do a fortnight's tour of the jazz clubs in a Tribute to mark the 75th anniversary of the recorded sessions by King Oliver's Creole Jazzband in 1998. Margaret, the wife of my other trumpeter, Brian Craig, recorded some 8 hours on video of most of the sessions, and I am currently working on editing and transferring them to DVD.’
Mick Clift with Chris Watford's Dallas Dandies in the
middle of Poole Bay, during the Swanage Jazz Festival, late 1990s.
Left to Right :- John Arthy (bass); Mick Clift (trombone); Arthur Fryatt
‘We kept in touch after he had retired to Skegness, and having joined a local brass band, he got my band a booking at the local Butlins camp in 2003. This was the last time I played with Mick, and the first time I played with trumpeter Bill Dickens, who had left the remnants of the Chris Blount band the previous summer after his old bandleading friend had passed away. After the session, Mick and I agreed that Bill's playing was as if we were standing next to Elmer Talbert! I retired from playing in 2004, but visited Mick occasionally when he was kind enough to copy tapes and CDs for me. A few months before he died, I phoned Mick up, but he was not his usual confident self, so I knew he wasn't well. I went to his funeral, and was glad to see pianist Jon Penn had come over all the way from North Wales to represent the Ben Cohen Hot Five.’
‘Mick was a real character, and a tremendous help with running my band. Wherever we played, it seemed that someone in the audience knew him. On our way back from a gig, we would chat away to keep me awake at the steering wheel, but he would wait until I had forgotten to turn off the motorway, and then say to me "Weren't you supposed to turn off back there?", which usually meant a long detour - at 2 a.m. in the morning! His great schoolboy friend, Tony Parker, who also took up the trombone at the same time as Mick, once told me that Mick turned up one day with
Click here for a video of Mick Clift, Jon Penn, Geoff Over, Ben Cohen and Alex Revell playing The Georgia Grind at the Keswick Jazz Festival in 1998. We look forward to seeing / hearing the music Chris is editing of the Dallas Dandies.
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:
Acker Bilk - UK clarinettist and bandleader Bernard 'Acker' Bilk M.B.E. was born in Somerset and apart from a period in London, lived there for much of his life. He was a key figure in the British Traditional jazz revival and continued to play and tour with his Paramount Jazz Band until a year before his death. Many well-known UK jazz musicians passed through his band including Stan Greig, Al Fairweather, Mike Cotton, Bruce Turner, Johnny Mortimer and Ron McKay. His composition and recording Stranger On The Shore was a lasting popular music hit but his contribution to jazz will be remembered.
Click here for a video of Acker playing Corine Corinna with George Lewis in 1965 with a really nice piano solo from Stan Greig.
David Redfern - Born in Derbyshire, David Redfern's photographs have, for a long time, been displayed on the walls of Ronnie Scott's Club. Not only was he a respected music photographer, he counted a number of famous jazz musicians as his friends. He was an early explorer of taking jazz pictures in colour and began taking pictures of jazz musicians in the 1950s. Although he was diagnosed with cancer in 2011, he was still taking photographs until June this year. Click here to see some of David's photographs.
One From Ten
We spend time with an album from our list of new and reissued recordings below.
The Sirkis / Bialas International Quartet
Come To Me
Drummer and bandleader Asaf Sirkis is a busy and much sought after man. He has just finished his latest tour of the UK showcasing his latest album featuring vocalist Sylwia Białas with Frank Harrison on piano and keyboards and Patrick Harrison playing bass and chromatic harmonica.
Born in 1969 in Petah-Tikva, Israel, Asaf came to London in 1999 and has continued to establish a reputation in the UK jazz scene as a respected drummer and composer. A wide variety of collaborations has led to an impressive back catalogue of recordings (which you can sample if you click here), the last being the enjoyable Shepherd's Stories in 2013.
This latest collaboration with Polish singer Sylwia Białas adds to the variety. Sylwia sings in Polish on the album but the English lyrics are supplied in the leaflet insert with the CD. Asaf and Sylwia share the credits for the music and lyrics. Born in Poland, Sylwia first sang with a band when she was just seven. She says: 'My main aim during studying music, was the ability to compose and transcribe my sound-imagination on the paper. I started to analize the way musicians play their instruments. To think as a drummer, bass player, horn player or another instrumentalist. To hear always the complete band playing a tune. My voice was the nearest and very direct instrument for me to use. That's why I like so much singing without the lyrics. I was always fascinated by the sound-range and rhythmical possibilities of different instruments and tried to learn to project their flexibility on my voice, that means to sing as an instrumentalist would do.'
The title track, Come To Me, is a love song ‘Knot of bodies, Heat of the lips …’ starting out slowly with some beautiful piano following Sylwia’s vocal, and the gentle pace continues with Dreams Dreams, as dreamy as the title, with solos from bass and piano ‘Lost for words you linger Warm and snuggled In the scent of dreams …’
Click here to taste Come To Me.
With Vortex, the tempo picks up a little for a lyric-less vocal by Sylwia and well-integrated playing by the band, Patrick Bettison’s bass laying a solid foundation leading to an well-judged fast-paced solo from Frank Harrison and ending with Asaf’s drum solo which I recommend you listen to through headphones for full effect.
Ismael is another slow track with Sylwia’s poetic lyrics ‘On the verge of the day Wearing grey shadows An exhausted angel sat Patching his broken dreams …’ As Harrison’s piano solo starts you are beginning to appreciate how well this band is working together, and here the harmonica comes with reminders of how Sting used the instrument in Ten Summoner’s Tales.
Click here for a taste of Ismael.
A Hymn opens with a repeating piano phrase behind the voice. I found this a track with some beautiful touches and a well-structured solo from Harrison and multi-tracking of Sylwia’s voice. Mandragora continues the slow pace, this time with a piano and harmonica beginning and a wordless voice that takes us into nice solos from Bettison’s bass and Harrison’s piano tied together neatly with Asaf Sirkis’s drums. The One : ‘Jeden świat Jeden cel Jeden myśl I wizja / One World One Goal One Thought And Vision’, this time with lyrics and a track where the quality of Sylwia Białas’s voice is on show. Magnolia gives us more harmonica and another very effective percussion contribution from Asaf Sirkis.
Orbs has music by Asaf and lyrics by Sylwia. ‘Love continues Strangled with banality Lacking the right words ..’ but words that are savoured as is the piano solo over Asaf’s brush strokes. The album closes with Orgon another track where I appreciated the bass playing of Patrick Bettison and on this number, Frank Harrison’s keyboard, and the conclusion with Sylwia’s strange vocal notes leaves us wondering.
Overall, this is a gentle, sometimes dreamy, poetic album where the empathetic relationship between the players is a critical and a very evident factor in its success. The fact that Sylwia Białas sings in Polish is irrelevant to a non-Polish speaking audience as the essence is the voice; Sirkis and Bettison expressively tie the process together whilst making their own individual contributions and Frank Harrison shows us just how engaging his solos can be.
Click here for a video of the Quartet playing in Brighton in March this year. The picture quality is not good, but the sense of the album is captured.
Click here to sample the album.
Ten Recent Releases and Re-Issues
Alan Jones from Woy Woy in Australia writes: 'I was very interested in the piece about Kenny Clare in your November edition (part of an article about the National Jazz Archive working with Waltham Forest Borough to erect Blue Plaques for musicians who had lived there). I well remember him playing with the Rabin band at the Strand Lyceum and always went to hear it when I was on leave in London in the early fifties. The story was that, whilst doing his National Service, Kenny also had a regular gig at the Samson and Hercules Ballroom in Norwich with the band led by the singer Dennis Hale. Later, Dennis Hale joined Oscar Rabin and when the band needed a drummer recommended Kenny Clare. He was signed to a three year contract.That’s how I heard it at the time but, of course, I can’t vouch for it personally.'
'I saw Kenny many times after that and got to know him reasonably well. I was doing a summer season at the Palace Ballroom Blackpool when the Dankworth Big Band was at the Winter Gardens for about a month. I was always a great admirer of his work and still have video of the Clarke-Boland Band including the fabulous drum duets with Kenny Clarke.The last time I saw Kenny Clare was here in Sydney, Australia when he was on tour with Cleo Lane and John Dankworth.'
Michael Steinman is an American jazz blogger who has written to us about his 'falling under the spell' of the late trumpeter Spike Mackintosh. Spike, who played with Wally Fawkes Troglodytes, played trumpet on the Sandy Brown album Sandy's Sidemen. Michael has brought together a tremendous amount of information about Spike which you can read about if you click here. Scroll down the page for various recollections that have been sent to Michael and also to hear some of Spike's playing.
Rolling Back The Years
Phil Bird writes: 'The Fighting Cocks, Grey Horse, The Swan etc were also one of my first, underage, introductions to live Jazz. I was particularly interested in Ron Drakeford's piece (click here) especially about Lennie Williams from The Canal Street Jazzband. I saw Lennie play, top bar of The Railway, Norbiton, jamming with The Yardbirds (Metropolis Blues) and playing some blues on his trumpet/cornet with the band. It was like Trad meets Blues - maybe similar music routes anyway.'
'My card from this pub is shown elsewhere on this site (click here). It was just refreshing to read that I wasn't dreaming and that Eric and Lennie were friends. His trumpet playing really added to their sound at the time and I was always sorry he didn't play again (to my knowledge). It was also good to see The Cardinal Wolesey get a mention. Often used to go to these sessions in the hall at the back. Trad Jazz and Blues bands. In those days you could park right outside, cars and scooters.
Thank you for the memories.'
Tony and Denise Lawrence will be arranging their Jazz Weekends again in 2015. From March to November they book places in hotels around the UK with jazz entertainment provided.
As an example, in Bournemouth at the Wessex Hotel on West Cliff, three nights dinner, bed and breakfast including a five-course gala dinner will cost £209 per person with Kevin Grenfell's Jazz Giants featuring Matt Palmer, John Maddocks Jazzmen, and the Denise Lawrence Band with Ron Drake providing jazz in the ballroom during the evenings. Other weekends take place at Shrewsbury, Windsor, Dawlish, Banbury, Cheltenham, Lyndhurst and Stratford Upon Avon.
Click here for more details.
Items Carried Over From Last Month
The following items appeared in the last magazine but may still be of interest to readers:
JazzAhead! Bremen, 2015Despite their funding issues, Jazz Services will again be taking a stand at the 2015 event JazzAhead in Germany next April.
They say: 'Jazz Services is very pleased to announce that we will again be taking a stand at the annual JazzAhead! industry event, to be held in Bremen, Germany, from the 23rd-26th April 2015.'
For information about JazzAhead click here.
Jazz Talks In Buckinghamshire
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Click here for the Sandy Brown Jazz Site Directory on our Home page.
The Directory includes regular features, articles, people profiles (let us know if you would like us to add a profile) and many other items including information about clarinettist Sandy Brown after whom this site is named.
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