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July 2014


 

Pearls for July

Well, in those days - and I'm speaking now primarily of when I came on the scene, the latter part of the '40s, into the '50s and so on, there was less money to be made. Therefore, the guys sort of stuck together. It was more about the music than about becoming a household name - especially the type of music that was making the break from swing; the guys that were doing that felt marginalized anyway, so they had a community and it was a very close-knit community.

There were the usual problems between human beings, but the jazz community, the guys that were playing, they were naturally brought closer together because there weren't that many places to play. There were just clubs, and clubs were small, and not that much money to be made, not as many records sold.

 

Sonny Rollins

 

The musicians were beginning to get a social consciousness, which is one of the reasons I always used to like Charlie Parker, the way he presented himself when he played, his persona. He was really serious as opposed to some of the guys were a little more jovial on stage. That attitude pervaded a lot of us guys who were coming up under him.

In those days, guys had to do what they did because they were often vilified by the larger community, and they just felt they had to stick together, fight together, create music together and never mind tomorrow. I don't want to overpreach, but that was just the way things were more so then. I'm not saying that there are not people that don't feel like that now.

Sonny Rollins in a Jazz Times interview with Joshua Redman in 2005.

 


Who's This?

Who's This?

Born to a middle-class Creole family in New Orleans in 1897, this saxophone and clarinet player started joining in with his brother's band at a family birthday party. He performed with Bunk Johnson, King Oliver, Louis Armstrong and Freddie Keppard and moved to New York in 1919.

On a tour to London, he started playing the soprano saxophone. In London in 1922, he was convicted for assaulting a woman and was deported back to the United States after fourteen days in prison.

Recordings followed with Clarence Williams, Tommy Ladnier and others. It is said that he liked to have his sound dominate in a performance, and trumpeters found it very difficult to play alongside him.

Who's This?

He moved to France in 1950 where, initially, he became very popular, signing a recording contract with the Vogue label that saw some of his well-known recordings of tunes such as Les Oignons and the hit Petite Fleur. He also composed a classical ballet score called La Nuit est Sorcière (The Night Is a Witch).

He died on his sixty-second birthday in 1959. His autobiography is entitled Treat It Gentle.

Not sure? Click here to listen to him playing Squeeze Me with Jonah Jones.

 

Jazz Services Rural Touring Support Scheme

Applications for support from the Jazz Services Rural Touring Support Scheme opened on Monday 30th June, with applications accepted untilJazz Services logo Sunday 27th July.  

The scheme works with the National Rural Touring Forum to offer funding support for artists wishing to tour in areas less well served by a regular arts scene, and is a fantastic opportunity to engage new audiences.

Previous tours by the likes of pianist Philip Clouts, vocalist Christine Tobin and bassist Mike Janisch have yielded amazing results and great feedback from the local crowds.

Click here for more information.

 



Kenny Wheeler Prize 2014

Congratulations to bass player, composer and arranger Misha Mullov-Abbado who has been awarded this year's Kenny Wheeler Music Prize. The prize is awarded each year to a young artist who demonstrates excellence in both performance and composition, and who is selected from all Misha Mullov-Abbadograduating jazz musicians at the Royal Academy of Music. The prize includes release of the artist’s proposed recording on the Edition record label: Misha, the fourth recipient of this major award will release his album in 2015.

The judging panel ­ Edition Records boss Dave Stapleton, the Academy's Head of Jazz, Nick Smart, together with Evan Parker, saxophonist and lifelong collaborator of Kenny Wheeler ­ met on 18th June to decide the winner. Evan Parker said: “We’re now in the fourth year of this wonderful prize in Kenny’s name, I have to say the talent these young musicians are displaying is as remarkable as ever and choosing between them is not getting any easier! In the end, Misha’s writing and playing, along with his sense of overall form meant that there was a maturity that communicated very powerfully. His range of musical reference points means that he can go anywhere from here and it will be exciting to follow what is clearly the beginning of a journey of an outstanding individual.”

Misha is based in London and has directed and performed with bands at various venues across London, as well as various jazz clubs in Europe. He recently finished studying on the Masters jazz course at the Royal Academy of Music. He previously studied music at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge University, where he directed the University Jazz Orchestra, having performed in venues across Europe such as Casa del Jazz in Rome, the Budapest Jazz Club, Jazz Dock in Prague and the Montreux Jazz Festival.

Click here for a video of Real Eyes Realise Real Lies played by the Misha Mullov-Abbado Quintet with Matthew Herd (alto sax), Tom Green (trombone), Jacob Collier (piano), Misha Mullov-Abbado (bass) and Scott Chapman (drums).

 

 

Satchel Mouth

Interviewed by The Guardian in June, flambouyant character Molly Parkin is now eighty-two. From art school in the 1950s, she carved a reputation as a painter, poet, writer, designer for Biba and editor of the Sunday Times fashion section. Molly Parkin


In the interview, she tells Clive Martin: 'My first carnal kiss was with Louis Armstrong, over at Earls Court. It was another moment like watching L'Age d'Or when everything changed. I was 22, wearing a cotton frock and he drew me and shut me up with this kiss. And when Louis Armstrong kisses you, he takes in your nose and mouth, too!'

Apparently, Molly is still painting and working on an album with a number of jazz musicians: 'I don't pay them, I give them my paintings. It's a lovely exchange and it keeps me from getting in trouble with money again.'

Molly Parkin appeared on Radio 4's Desert Island Discs in 2011 (you can listen if you click here) where her eight record choices were: (1) Bette Midler, Accentuate The Positive; (2) Liane Carroll, Three Sheets To The Wind; (3) Louis Armstrong, A Kiss To Build A Dream On; (4) Ian Shaw, Somewhere Towards Love; (5) George Melly, Rockin' Chair; (6) Michael Jackson, Billy Jean; (7) Sarah Jane Morris, Never Forget How To Dance; (8) Little Richard, Good Golly Miss Molly.

 

 

 

Jazz Quiz

Showtime!

John Coltrane

Question MarkMusicals – shows and films – have always provided inspiration for jazz musicians. This month we set you fifteen questions about music from musicals. How many questions can you answer? For example:

 

John Coltrane recorded a version of My Favorite Things.
Which musical / film does the song come from?

 


If you think you know the answer, go to our quiz page and try to answer the other fourteen quiz questions and then check out the 'Answers' page where you will also find some interesting videos.

Click here for the Jazz Quiz.

 

 

 

2014 Queen's Birthday Honours

John CummingAs far aswe can see, not many jazz people were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours this year, but one person who received an OBE for 'Services To Jazz' was John Cumming.

John is one of the three directors of the organisation Serious and he was the person who started thePaul Grabowski Bracknell Jazz Festival. He has been a member of a number of Arts Council and Regional Arts panels and committees, and until recently was a long-standing board member of Europe Jazz Network.

He has also received Services to Jazz Awards at the 2005 BBC Jazz Awards, and in 2012 from the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group. Click here for more about John on the Serious webpage.

John Cumming

Pianist and Composer Paul Grabowski received the Officer of the Order of Australia Award. Paul has experimented with different types of music and collaborated with several artists, blending contemporary jazz and traditional aboriginal music. Click here for more about Paul.

Paul Grabowski

Click here to sample Paul Grabowski’s Sextet album The Bitter Suite.

 

 

 

Saving The BBC Big Band

Last October, we reported on a petition that was being organised to oppose financial cuts that might potentially threaten the BBC Big Band. Ewan Mains sends this update:

BBC Big Band'I just thought I would update you all on the petition and some fresh news on the BBC Big Band. Once again, huge thanks to you all for signing the petition - we made our voices heard. I'm very pleased to announce that in no indirect way, the BBC Big Band now have their very own official website and Twitter. I personally think this is a huge step forward for the band and it's followers as well as a sign of faith in the band from the BBC. The site will launch at 9am (GMT) on Wednesday 18th June and will be be a 'hub' where you can catch up with news on the band as well as any dates they are playing live concerts and broadcasts.'

'Click here for the new website. You can also follow them now on Twitter @BBCBigBand. Hopefully this is a huge positive step forward in increasing the public profile of the band. Once again, thank you for all your signatures, messages and efforts in helping to keep music live.'

 

 

 

A Case Of Vinyl

Last month we discussed whether there might be any evidence for the suggestion that there is a resurgence of interest in vinyl recordings. Although we are still short of hard empirical evidence, we have come across one or two other things over the past four weeks that suggest that there might be sound foundation to the claim:

  • Saxophonist Frank Griffith writes: 'Really enjoyed the June issue of the mag and was particularly interested in your questions about the alleged return of Vinyl. If so, it certainly has its work cut out for it as companies generally only print 500 copies max so can that be a worth investment? Also, how do ya ship the damned things? They are also quite expensive, I gather, and certainly more than a CD. It makes good press though but methinks its no more than a bit of hype to fill mag columns. Mind you, I’m a huge fan and still play and dub my LPsSimon Spillett Square One to CD, not to mention will continue to buy them as long as its not over the top, pricewise. You must know about Gearbox Records who recently issued a Simon Spillett LP?

  • We contacted Adam Sieff at Gearbox Records and asked him about the decision to issue the Simon Spillett album on vinyl. Adam says: 'It was an easy decision to make.....we're a vinyl record label! Response has been great, with Japan's well developed audiophile jazz market showing good sales in particular. We believe that vinyl sounds better and carries a greater emotional impact. And anyway, we just really like vinyl. That's not to say there's no place for digital. Files are perfect for the gym and the beach. And CDs make the perfect gig merch/souvenirs. We see the near future with streaming and vinyl the main formats. But some of those old cassette mixtapes still have the magic, so who knows?

  • The large Head record shop in the centre of Bristol is carrying a good selection of new jazz LPs, both classic recordings and new recordings priced at around £10 to £15. They are also stocking Lenco truntables. Surprisingly, they do not appear to have their own website, although they do have a Facebook page.

  • We have noticed several market stalls in various places selling used LPs priced £8 to £10 +. Replicated across the country, this makes a substantial outlet.

  • Speaking to Tomasz Olszewski at Cloud shop, Tomasz talked about their trade in used vinyl and some new Indie LPs (Tomasz's personal interest). Their vinyl stock is now taking over part of the shop previously selling craft work, but Tomasz says most of their sales are online through their two outlets in the UK and Poland. They say that they sell hundreds of LPs each month in a wide price range. Although it is difficult to know for sure, they have the impression that buyers are mainly in the 35 to 55 years age range, with a lot of sales across Europe, mainly of Rock, Jazz and Funk albums. Tomasz maintains that the success of his business is down to selling albums inNeil Cowley Trio good condition and providing an efficient service. He believes that many of the original pressings on used albums are better quality than some of the more recent 'classic repressings' taken from questionable sources.
  • Interviewed in Jazzwise magazine in June, pianist Neil Cowley told Selwyn Harris: 'I'm just vinyl crazy at the moment. I think ultimately I'd like to go straight to vinyl as many people are doing now ... The more I'm listening to jazz on vinyl the more I realise it loses something digitally ... There is a resurgence in vinyl and I understand why, I think it's a reaction to this digital, this incredible access we have to Cannonball Adderley Somethin' Elseeverything at a moment's notice ... I think there's great value in these 180gram reissues. I'm collecting those. I feel like because of vinyl, I'm just going to start on a jazz journey. Bit late eh? Only five albums in.' (Neil Cowley's latest album Touch And Flee is featured in our 'One From Ten' item below).

  • Jazzwise magazine also runs a monthly two-thirds page spread 'What's New In Vinyl'. In June, editor Jon Newey wrote: 'At last Blue Note do the right thing and begin a concerted vinyl reissue programme of their formidable back catalogue for the first time since the mid-1980s. Rather than a choice between the high-price, superb sounding, all-analogue audiophile pressings licensed by specialist labels such as Music Matters and Analogue Productions, the respectable French-based Heavenly Sweetness reissues or the cheaply-priced, grim-sounding Scorpio reissues, cut from questionable digital sources, punters can now buy Blue Note's own product, with five rare and classic titles released each month ...'

Do contact us and let us know what your experience is on this topic.   

 

 

Album First Released: March 2014 - Label: Babel

 

Dominic Lash Quartet

Opabina

Steve Day reviews this album for us:

Dominic Lash (contrabass, compositions); Alexander Hawkins (piano); Ricardo Tejero (tenor saxophone and clarinet); Javier Carmona (percussion).

Back in 2008 I came across three of this quartet playing in Roland Ramanan’s Tentet; a couple of years later they released a CD, London, on Leo Records. That was then, this is now, Opabina is a new quartet recording and Dominic Lash is a mind at work and although there are dedications on the sleeve to some of the great British Masters of free jazz, I’m very aware that Opabina is full of tight composition amid its ‘freedom’.  The credits emphasise the fact: Dominic Lash, contrabass and compositions  – okay let’s say this is a man serious aboutDominic Lash Quartet album writing for improvisation.  I’ve never met Mr Lash, but despite being a bass player I bet he composes on piano.  And it is obvious either he or Alexander Hawkins know their way around Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk.  You don’t play through a rhythm, you rhyme with it, accent the rhythm until you make it into melody.

Click here for a video of the Dominic Lash Quartet playing Opabina at the London Jazz Festival.

Alexander Hawkins is playing piano in this quartet.  He was the one who wasn’t with Ramanan’s band.  I have been listening to Mr Hawkins a lot recently.  He occupies the same place as my good friend, the maestro Keith Tippett – right up close to the tight snapping snare drum of Louis Moholo-Moholo.  There’s always a deep bass-drum drop, with cymbals like waves coming in off the sea.  Hawkins knows this stuff.  He isn’t going to leave my ears.  In Dominic Lash’s Quartet, Alexander Hawkins makes for the centre of gravity.  Percussionist Javier Carmona is continually cooking up ‘found sound’ percussion behind him.  Carmona like Moholo stirs the mix and makes for almost counter-composition.

Listen out too for Ricardo Tejero’s tenor sax, he covers composition whilst retaining a horn full of solos.  When he and Carmona crash through the end of Waiting For Javier/Luzern it is like someone has just upset the furniture.  Prior to the eruption Hawkins had been leaning on Monk’s legacy, with Lash’s bass folding out a complex line beneath him.  Tejero and Carmona storm in and thunder their grab for the ears, but (there is always a ‘but’) the pianist doesn’t let go.  Alexander Hawkins gives the guys a shaft of space then places a beautiful piano figure in under the rough stuff happening above him.  It is a really neat interaction.  I like it very much.

Ricardo Tejero also plays Bb clarinet.  On Double File, piano and clarinet conceive a fragile introduction which is the stuff of spells.  As bass and drums join them improvisation and composition are blurred around the edges so it becomes literally a double file of written dots and spontaneous music.  Slightly irritating for me is that they stop just at the point where continuation could have taken them somewhere even more expansive.

Opabinia is Dominica Lash’s mind at work.  There are a couple of tracks that are only seconds short, they come and go, an idea, then no more.  Other pieces extend into fascinating studies that track the art of the impossible.  Personally, I’d have given the whole band a little more time with this material but, it’s their show.  I recommend it.  There’s something going on here.      

Click here to sample the album.

Steve Day

stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk

 

 

 

 

Tony Milliner - My Favourite Things

Tony Milliner

Gerry Mulligan - Grand Tour

Tony’s favourite choice this month comes from the Gerry Mulligan album, The Age Of Steam. Tony says: ‘For some reason this track has always brought tears to my eyes. It is quite short, but a lovely arrangement. The whole album isGerry Mulligan The Age of Steam album worth listening to.’

Click here to listen to Grand Tour.

The Age Of Steam is a specific album in the Gerry Mulligan canon, distinctive, reflective, atmospheric and illustrating the saxophonist’s interest in trains. A commentator on the YouTube page goes as far as to say: ‘Age of Steam is one of my very favourite albums made by anyone. I’ve always thought of it as Gerry’s “Pet Sounds”, “Physical Graffiti”, “Kind Of Blue”, or something. His very own personal masterpiece.’

There are many enjoyable tracks on this album, most of which you can now listen to on YouTube. Click here for the more upbeat title track The Age Of Steam.

Gerry MulliganThe album was recorded in 1971 (and released on A&M Records in 1972) as Gerry Mulligan continued hiswork with orchestral arrangements started the year before with a performance of Dave Brubeck’s A Light In The Wilderness. Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, he worked to build and promote a repertoire of baritone saxophone music for orchestra.

The band includes Tom Scott (tenor and soprano), Bud Shank (alto and flute), Bob Brookmeyer (trombone) and Harry ‘Sweets’ Edison (trumpet).

Perhaps the best known of the tunes from the album is K4 Pacificclick here.

The album seems to be currently unavailable as a CD (except used) but is available as a download (click here). You can also watch an interview with saxophonist Tom Scott if you click here.

 


And Then I Rang Clark Terry ...

Pianist David Stevens, now retired and living in Australia, tells us about his encounters with a list of jazz musicians that most people only get to hear:

It all began when my then wife and I met a young photographer at a party somewhere in London, who we found out was the son of the  legendary Mezz Mezzrow (his real name was Milton Mesirow).

When he heard we were planning a trip to Paris he said "You must look up my Dad", and gave us his phone number. In Paris, we duly contacted Mezz, and he proved to be a delightful  fellow, telling us stories about his life, showing us round and introducing us to local musicians, who (unlike Eddie Condon)  revered him.  All went beautifully until one day, at a restaurant, I unwisely mentioned that I liked Charlie Parker. That did it.  Mezz was on his feet, shouting abuse at me - much to the amusement of my wife and the other customers.  He stalked out, and we didn't see him again.

Trummy Young and Louis ArmstrongBack in London, we met Milton junior once more.  Of course he laughed at the Charlie Parker incident, saying "That's the way he is".  He invited us to his 21st birthday at a flat in Hampstead, which we happily accepted.  He said his godfather would be there.  We looked blank.  "You'll be glad to meet him" said Milton, "his name's Louis Armstrong".  So that's how we met Louis, and the Allstars, who also came along to the party.  It was at the end of a series of concerts they'd been doing in London.

I was chatting with Trummy Young, and asked how they were enjoying London when they weren't playing.  Lots of parties and outings, no doubt?  "Well, no", said Trummy, "We just hang around the hotel, play cards and watch TV."

Trummy Young and Louis Armstrong

 I was amazed.  Here were these famous guys, being cheered by huge audiences every night, but when they weren't playing there was no-one to talk to them.  I resolved to do something about it when the next American jazz group was in town.

The next group was the Duke Ellington Orchestra. At their first concert, I looked at the faces.  Johnny Hodges?  No, he has his usual "I'll bite ya" expression.  Lawrence Brown and Harry Carney looked pretty serious, too.  But one guy was grinning most of the time, having a ball - Clark Terry, a trumpet player I much admired.

So next morning about 11 a.m., and with some trepidation, I phoned their hotel and asked to speak to Clark.  Not a good move - obviously I'dDavid Stevens woken him up and he sounded pretty pissed off.  I stammered out an invitation for him to come round for a meal, and got a gruff "Gimme your number.  I'll call you".

That's it, I thought.  I've blown it.  But a couple of hours later, I got a call from Clark, cheerful and friendly.  "Yeah, love to meet you guys.  Gimme your address".  After that, for the rest of the Ellington band's stay, he was round at our house nearly every day, always cheerful and chatty, treating us like old friends.

David says: 'At least Buck, Roy and Clark are easily recognisable, even if the inscriptions aren't!'

A month or two later, the phone rang, and a deep voice said "Is this Dave Stevens?  This is Buck Clayton".  One of my friends, trying to trick me, I thought.  "You can't fool me", I said, "Come on, who is it?".  An uncertain voice said "Pardon me?" "Oh my God, I'm sorry", I said, "It really is Buck Clayton?"  "Yeah", he said, "Clark Terry gave me your number".

So we got to meet Buck, and the members of his band visiting London, which included Buddy Tate, Dickie Wells, and drummer Herb Lovelle, all of whom we got to know and spent time with during 
their tour.

While chatting with Buddy Tate he asked me if I'd ever been to New York.  "No", I said, "I hadn't really thought of it.  I guess it would be pretty expensive staying there?"  "Well", said Buddy, "I live with my family in Amityville, some way out of town, but I have an apartment in Harlem where I stay when I'm working (he'd had a long residency with his band at the Celebrity Club in Harlem). You could stay there".

Me, living in Harlem?  I could have floated to New York on the clouds, no need for a plane.

Of course it was a marvellous week.  Buddy introduced me to his friends, and people in the local bar, as "my friend Dave from London", so I was made welcome by them all.  Quite apart from the musical side, I explored during the daytime, and, on one day, took a train to Greenwich Roy EldridgeVillage and walked all the way back to Harlem.

The next visitor was Roy Eldridge.  He was in a quintet accompanying Ella Fitzgerald in a series of concerts, which also included guitarist Les Spann and pianist Tommy Flanagan. We got to know Les Spann quite well, too.

Roy is a musician I've always admired.  He was a lovely man, very warm-hearted and outgoing, though with no time for small talk.  I learned not to make careless or casual remarks, or Roy would jump on me!  He was often round at our house, and one day he said "I'm always eatin' your food, about time I cooked for you".

The inscription on the photograph reads: '"Best wishes to Lady Trixie and Lord David from your friend Roy Eldridge"

So he did.  I wish I'd had the camera to hand when Roy, wearing a kitchen apron was cooking us what he called Hot Tamale Pie.

Sadly, they're all gone now, all except Clark, blind and without his legs. Poor Les Spann died at only 57, a derelict in the Bowery.  But I still have some mementos, including a picture frame with autographed photos of Roy, Clark and Buck, and an LP by Clark and Buddy Tate, on which one track is called "20 Ladbroke Square', our London address (click here to sample the tune from the album Tate-A-Tate - Buddy Tate with Clark Terry).

[Dave Stevens hosts a jazz radio show in Australia Midday Jazz which you can listen to online at www.2rrr.org.au. The show goes out on Wednesdays from midday to 2.00 pm, currently that is around 3.00 am to 5.00 am in the UK, or at other times depending where you live and the time difference].

 

 

Jazz Services/PRS for Music Foundation Jazz Promoter Awards

Jazz Services report that, run in conjunction with the PRS for Music Foundation, the Jazz Promoter Awards support established grass-roots promoters as well as those in their first year of putting on live jazz.  They have announced that the following organisations have received funding through the scheme in 2014:

The Arena Theatre 
Bath Spa Live*
Brighton Jazz Club logoBeat City*
Black Top*
Blow The Fuse
Bridge Music
Brighton Jazz Club

E17 Jazz 
Freedom Principle*
Fleece Jazz*
Fleece Jazz logo

Hackensack
Jazz-at-Heart*
Jazz at The Lescar
Jazz North-East
Jazz Nursery*
Jazz re:Freshed
Lauderdale House

 

Lume logo
Lume
OxjaMS (Oxford Jazz Masters Series)
Playtime* (Fledgling Award)

St Ives Jazz Club logo


Restormel Arts
Seven Jazz
St Ives Jazz Club
Way Out West
Sheffield Jazz
Splinter Jazz*
Watermill Jazz

 
* First time applicants
 
Click hear to read more!

 

 

Album Released: 2 June 2014 - Label: Gondwana Records

 

Matthew Halsall & The Gondwana Orchestra

When The World Was One

Matthew Halsall (trumpet), Nat Birchall (saxophone), Lisa Mallett (flute), Keiko Kitamura (koto), Rachael Gladwin (harp), Taz Modi (piano), Gavin Barras (bass), Luke Flowers (drums).

Let me start by saying how much I like Matthew Halsall’s trumpet playing. Based in Manchester, he is establishing a following and has beenMatthew Halsall When The World Was One album featured on national jazz radio programmes. His last album, Fletcher Moss Park, is a joy. This latest recording, When The World Was One, introduces a larger ensemble and is an atmospheric, contemplative album reflecting in Matthew’s composition his spiritual and Eastern influences, hence the harp, koto and bansuri flute. This would be a good album to have if you are into relaxation therapy.

Click here for a video introduction and a good sampling of the album. You can get a fair impression here of what the album is about.

For me, there are a number of issues here. The album might just as well be called the 'Gondwana Orchestra with Matthew Halsall' as the impression I come away with is that there is a predominance of saxophone Matthew Halsall(particularly soprano sax) and flute here. That is not to say the trumpet and piano do not play an impressive part, they do, nor that the harp is not used effectively, it is. The mood of the album is pretty consistent, and I personally could have done with more variation. For some reason, the liner notes are virtually non-existent.

Nevertheless, these are talented musicians playing an enjoyable set. John Fordham, reviewing the album in The Guardian allocates a valid three stars saying: ‘From the McCoy Tyneresque piano vamp, soprano-sax theme and streaming harp counterpoint of the title track, to the spreading-ripples harp intro and quivering flute of Far Away Place, or the harp embracing Birchall's bell-clear soprano tone on the soft-swinging Falling Water, it all bears Halsall's personal stamp - while pianist Taz Modi and Cinematic Orchestra drummer Luke Flowers also crisply catch his contrasting fascination with the gospelly 1960s hard-bop sound.’

Despite my reservations, I still like Matthew Halsall’s playing and his music, and with this album he continues to build a reputation and a collection of notable recordings.

Click here to sample the tracks.

Ian Maund

 

 

Jimmy's Hall

Try as I might, I have not been able to find details of the jazz soundtrack of this latest film by Ken Loach that was released in May and that is still running in some independent cinemas. If, like me, you have missed it, the video is now available. You can see the trailer for the film if you click here.Jimmy's Hall Movie poster

Ken Loach’s film tells the true story of political activist Jimmy Gralton who was deported after building a tin dance hall at a cross roads in rural Ireland in the 1930s. Click here and scroll down the page for a summary and review of the film which describes the conflicts of the time both politically and with the local church.

‘In 1932, Jimmy Gralton returns from recession-ridden New York to care for his widowed mother after his brother's death but it soon becomes clear that he has in fact ended an exile resulting from his construction of a community hall seen as a threat by the Catholic church, since it provided education and encouraged working class people to think for themselves. A legendary local hero, he is mobbed on his return by the youngsters who wish him to revive the hall, and the lure proves too great to resist … Soon, the hall is restored to its former glory, with the added novelty of a wind-up gramophone and the jazz records brought back by Jimmy. The free and joyous dancing to this music is of course the last straw for the priest.'

Jimmy's HallAnother review by The Irish Story begins: Jimmy’s Hall is the new film from Ken Loach about the deportation of Leitrim communist James Gralton in 1933.  The Irish Story has previously covered the Anti – Jazz Campaign in Leitrim in 1934 , and while there are similarities, the Gralton case is ultimately a far sadder and depressing reflection on Irish society at the time.  The film is based on Donal O’Kelly’s play Jimmy Gralton’s Dancehall and O’Kelly has a small role as a Roscommon IRA activist involved in resisting evictions.  The screenplay was written by Loach’s regular collaborator Paul Laverty, who also wrote the screenplay for The Wind That Shakes the Barley.'

'Gralton was eventually caught and deported to the United States.  The money he had in his pocket was taken to pay his fare.  His elderly mother was prevented from seeing him before he left.  He became the first and only Irish man to be deported from the country after independence……Gralton died in New York in 1945, never having been allowed to return to his native land…. Jimmy’s Hall is an interesting and thought provoking film.' (Click here for the full article).

 

 

 

Taster

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 Tastermonth, we spend time with ......

The Mound City Blue Blowers

Reel back the years to the 1920s. It is almost unbelievable that video footage of the Mound City Blue Blowers exists and that we are able to witness the sense of fun and exuberance that is so evident in this footage.

This video of them in 1929 playing I Ain’t Got Nobody and My Gal Sal is a good place to start (click here).

Red McKenzie sings and plays comb and paper, Jack Bland is on banjo, Carl Kress, guitar, and the wonderful Josh Billings plays suitcase drumming, humming and dancing. Some things to note – Josh has a lit cigarette behind his ear and around 1:21 in the video it gets a little too Mound City Blue Blowersclose and he has to shake it off. I think he also has sandpaper strapped to the suitcase that he plays with his ‘brushes’ (yes, I mean brushes!).

The Mound City Blue Blowers were formed in 1923 by Red McKenzie and Jack Bland with Red on comb and tissue paper, Jack on banjo and Dick Slevin playing the kazoo. Their first recording, released in 1924, was Arkansas Blues and Blue Blues (click here to listen).

They went on to record twelve tunes in 1924 and 1925 with saxophonist Frankie Trumbauer and guitarist Eddie Lang joining them on occasion.

The videos we have seen come from two short performance films: The Opry House (1929) and Nine O'Clock Folks (1931), which included I Ain’t Got Nobody, Let Me Call You Sweetheart, My Gal Sal and St. Louis Blues.

Click here for the clip of St Louis Blues. In this one we have Red playing kazoo, Eddie Condon Josh Billings and the Mound City Blue Blowersand Jack Bland on Banjo and vega and good old Josh on suitcase again. I seem to remember reading that Josh isn’t missing his teeth as you might think, but has blacked them for the performance!

Frank 'Josh' Billings was born in Chicago in 1905 and he was called Josh after the pseudonym of the American humourist, Henry Wheeler Shaw. Josh was a showman. Gerry Paton tells how Josh would play tricks during his playing such as flicking a tip off the suitcase and catching it under his armpit. It is thought that he was at Austin High School, the base of many of the young jazz musicians of the time, and he certainly hung out with the Austin High School Gang. It is said that it was Josh who first designed the 'Zoot Suit'. In 1928, many of the High School gang went to New York and eventually Josh joined them. A good friend of Bix Beiderbecke, visiting Bix during the cornet player's last years, Josh returned to Chicago after Bix died in 1931. By 1941, he was working as a lithographer in Chicago, but he would still play from time to time. He died after a short illness in 1957. There is a very informative and highly amusing biography of Josh Billings by Gerry Paton - Frank 'Josh' Billings - A Suitable Case For Treatment, that is well worth reading to learn more not just about Josh, but about the High Red McKenzieSchool Gang and their time (click here).

Red McKenzie circa 1946

From 1925, Red McKenzie went on to record under his own name as a vocalist. With Eddie Condon, he also fronted the McKenzie and Condon’s Chicagoans for a while recording for the Okeh label. Until I read it recently, I hadn't realised that Red also worked as a talent scout and set up the first Okeh Recording date for Bix Beiderbecke, Eddie Lang and Frankie Trumbauer which featured the famous Singing The Blues. In 1929, he returned to re-form the Mound City Blue Blowers for several sessions that included Jack Teagarden and Pee-Wee Russell. Muggsy Spanier and Jimmy Dorsey recorded with them in 1931. Other recordings took place under the name 'Red McKenzie and the Celestial Beings' - who thought up a name like that?! Click here to listen to them playing Georgia On My Mind in 1931. The recordings at that time were issued under a number of aliases including McKenzie's Candy Kids and the Mound City Blue Blowers.

The final Mound City Blue Blowers recordings were made in 1935-1936 with Nappy Lamare, Bunny Berigan, Yank Lawson and Eddie Miller taking part.

Red retired in 1939 and moved back to St Louis where he worked in a brewery – not a good move as he had a reputation as a heavy drinker. Mound City Blue Blowers album In 1944 he returned to sing with Eddie Condon’s band until 1947. He died of cirrhosis of the liver the following year.

Here is a short Buster Keaton film (The Paleface) with the Mound City Blue Blowers providing Tailspin Blues as a background track (click here). Red McKenzie (comb, vocal), Jack Teagarden (trombone), Eddie Condon (banjo, vocals), Jack Bland (guitar, vocals), Pops Foster (bass), Josh Billings (drums).

On my shelf is a broken 78 rpm shellac record of One Hour by the Mound City Blue Blowers. I can remember it breaking; a large cake-slice chunk came out. I kept it because if you put the needle on the part that is still left intact, you can hear the trombone solo. For a long time, the beginning of the record faded in my memory, but of course the time came when it appeared online. You can listen to it if you click here. Red McKenzie is on kazoo, Coleman Hawkins plays a lovely tenor solo, Pee-Wee Russell is also great on clarinet, Glenn Miller is the trombone player, Jack Bland plays guitar, Eddie Condon, banjo, Pops Foster, bass and Gene Krupa, drums. Now you know why I couldn’t throw the record out.

Let’s leave them with this 1929 video where Ethel Perkins sings Let Me Call You Sweetheart (click here).

Click here to sample the Mound City Blue Blowers album Hot Comb and Tin-Can pictured above.

 


Scottish Young Jazz Musician 2014

Congratulations to drummer Jonathan Silk for his Scottish Young Jazz Musician of 2014 award. The final took place at The Old Fruitmarket inJonathan Silk Glasgow on June 25th. Click here to listen to some of Jonathan's playing.

The finalists for the award were:

Fergus McCreadie (piano); Helena Kay (alto saxophone); John Lowrie (drums); Sean Gibbs (trumpet) and Jonathan Silk (drums).

Click here for more information about each of them and to listen to each of them play.

Jonathan is from Dollar in Scotland. He is a first-class honours graduate of Birmingham Conservatoire and a BBC Jazzlines Music Fellow. At the awards he played his own composition, TBC, and George Shearing’s Conception.

The awards, which were broadcast live on BBC Radio Scotland, were organised by the Scottish Jazz Federation and sponsored for the first time by Birnam CD who are offering the winner a pressing of 1000 CDs along with graphic design and a few associated add-ons. Click here for Rob Adam's report of the event in The Herald Scotland newspaper.

 

 

Album First Released: April 2014 - Label: Cuneiform Records

 

Led Bib

The People In Your Neighbourhood

Carew Reynell reviews this album for us:

Led Bib came together at Middlesex University ten years ago, and they have performing and recording together ever since. This album takes its name from the Sesame Street feature, and reflects the crowd-funding of the recording. The professions of contributors are Led Bib albumincorporated into the plastic faux-gold album cover (house husband and philosopher? mergers and acquisitions manager!). The album itself appears at first sight to be made out of wood-effect laminate, but the project is far from B&Q, having been overseen by Grammy award winning engineer Richard Woodcraft - perhaps that is where the wood comes from.

The band is led by drummer Mark Holub, with Liran Donin on bass (double bass and electric bass guitar), Toby McLaren on piano and keyboards and twin altos, Pete Grogan and Chris Williams.

The album opens with New Teles, a blistering statement of intent with declamatory alto theme, very Shape of Jazz to Come, over pounding tom toms and an extraordinary swirl of bleeps and oscilloscopic wails. Complementary alto themes eventually coalesce into the anthemic principal theme. Solos spin off and McLaren sustains his remarkably extensive sound-palette.

Click here for a video of New Teles.

The second track, Giant Bean, starts with a lumbering Kraken of a tune, before taking off at a heck of a pace. Grogan and Williams are masters of bringing order out of chaos in the transition from wild wig out mode to compelling anthem. The third track, Angry Waters, starts introspectively, but with an underlying, unsettling rumble, and tension and intensity build.

Led Bib LineupSo far, so good. In fact, so very good. Pace, texture and intensity vary. The band can do tight and urgent, the band can do loose and effortless, the band can do big band swagger and they can do semi-improvised squalls. Reminiscent of The Soft Machine in their heyday, with added twenty-first century funk.

Click here to listen to other tracks from the album.

Unfortunately, for me, this quality is not sustained throughout the entire album. For example, there is an element of the Duke of York to The Roofus, as we are marched up to the top of the hill only to be marched back down again. Despite fine moments, there is a bit of a lack of direction, and by the half-way point, the band’s tropes are becoming over-familiar.

So not an unqualified success, which is a shame, but at their best, the band can hold their own in any company. As they press onwards, they deserve our admiration and support.

Click here to sample the album.

Carew Reynell

 

 

 

A Street Called Miles

In July, Jazztimes reported that 77th Street in New York City had been re-named 'Miles Davis Way'. 'An official block party kicked off the Miles Davis Wayceremony (complete with street closure), which was attended by hundreds of fans of the late trumpet icon as well as members of Davis’ family, who were on hand to host the event. Those included son Erin, daughter Cheryl and nephew Vince Wilburn Jr., as well as actress Cicely Tyson (previously married to Miles) and Rep Charles B. Rangel. Easy Mo Bee DJ’d.'

Spin.com said: 'The unveiling came on what would've been Miles Davis' 88th birthday, on May 26. He died in 1991. Davis' ex-wife Cicely Tyson was among the dignitaries on hand for a block party celebrating the new sign. Davis lived in an apartment building at 312 West 77th Street for 25 years, through the mid-'80s. Shirley Zafirau, a local resident and former Davis neighbor who led the push for the street name, told The New York Times last year the music great really enjoyed being part of the community there. In December, then-Mayor Michael Bloomberg approved a bill for the street renaming.'

CBS News reported the event adding an interview with Miles from 1989. In the 60 Minutes segment, Reasoner describes Davis as "anti-social," but Shirley Zafirau, Davis' former neighbor on West 77th Street, told 60 Minutes Overtime that wasn't the case. Zafirau describes Davis as a "one-on-one" kind of man-- someone who always took the time to chat with his neighbors and ask, "Hey, how's it going?" One day in the late 1960s, while she was walking down the street on her way to work, Zifirau recalls that Davis pulled up alongside her in his sports car. "Where's work?" she remembers him asking in his raspy voice. "The Garment District," she told him and with that, he offered her a ride.

Click here for the CBS News article and interview with Miles Davis.

 

 

That Track

Bourbon Street Parade

 

Let’s fly down or drive down
To New Orleans

In a world where so much is uncertain, one thing you can be sure of – go to a Chris Barber gig / concert and you will hear Bourbon Street Chris BarberParade. It has been Chris’s signature tune for a year or three now. Congratulations, in passing, to Chris Barber for his Special Award at this year’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards.

So, Chris Barber’s band seems a good place to start, not with a recent video, but let’s go back to 1956 to hear it and the energy from the band at that time (click here).You are listening to Pat Halcox (trumpet); Chris Barber (trombone); Monty Sunshine (clarinet); Eddie Smith (banjo); Dick Smith (bass); Ron Bowden (drums). Ottilie Patterson was, of course, the band's vocalist back then. I like it that there is a comment on YouTube from a W. Duckets who says: ‘That’s my great grandfather on drums … Oh Lord….Fresh!’

Bourbon Street Parade was written by New Orleans drummer Paul Barbarin. Although Adolphe Paul Barbarin refused in interviews to confirm the year he was born, it is often given as 1901, but his brother who was born in 1902 disputes this. Paul was probably born in 1899. Generally considered as one of the best early jazz drummers, he played with King Oliver, Luis Russell, Louis Armstrong and Henry Red Allen. From the 1950s he mostly led his own band and with Louis Cottrell Jr. re-established the Onward Brass Band. Paul Barbarin died in 1969. There is very little video footage of Paul Barbarin, but click here for just over a minute of clips.


That city has pretty
Historic scenes

 

So, what is the Bourbon Street Parade? Why Bourbon Street? I have never been a beer drinker. I wouldn’t have made a football fanatic or leader of UKIP and probably wouldn’t at one time have survived as a jazz musician. But I did like the odd shot of good whisky. In my cups, I Bourbon Streetcould have imagined a picture of people walking down Bourbon Street in New Orleans with glasses of good ol’ Bourbon whisky following a brass band.

Bourbon Street runs for thirteen blocks through the French Quarter in the oldest part of the Big Easy. Apparently, it is now known for its bars and strip clubs. For a little atmosphere, here is a clip from the television series Boardwalk Empire where they used the tune as a background - click here.Bourbon Street name tile

The French colonised Louisiana in the 1690s, and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville founded New Orleans in 1718. In 1721, Adrien de Pauger designed the city's street layout. He named the streets after French royal houses and Catholic saints. Bourbon Street was named, not after the whisky, but France's ruling family, the House of Bourbon The royal Bourbons in France had been around since the mid-thirteenth century when one of the heiresses married the son of King Louis IX.

There is also a county called ‘Bourbon’ in Kentucky that was established in 1785, also named after the French House of Bourbon. The area later became known as ‘Old Bourbon’.

 

I’ll take you parade you
Down Bourbon Street

 

We’ll break into the story here to bring you a video of Louis Armstrong playing Bourbon Street Parade - click here. This video is interesting inLouis Armstrong that the footage ismade up of historic clips of Louis set against an audio of Louis performing the song.

Bourbon WhoskeyThe history of naming a whiskey (note the 'e') ‘Bourbon’ is disputed. One story says that it was a Baptist minister and distiller, Elijah Craig, who was the first to age the distillation in charred oak casks, "a process that gives the bourbon its reddish color and unique taste". But over the county line in Bourbon County, an early distiller named Jacob Spears is said to have been the first to label his product as "Bourbon whiskey".

Despite these stories, others argue that it is likely that there was no single "inventor" of bourbon, which developed into its present form only in the late 19th century. Wikipedia says: ‘ Essentially any type of grain can be used to make whiskey, and the practice of aging whiskey (and charring the barrels) for better flavor had also been known in Europe for centuries. The use of the local American corn for the ‘mash’ and oak for the barrels was making use of local materials by European-Wynton Marsalis albumAmerican settlers. The late date of the Bourbon County etymology has led historian Michael Veach to dispute its authenticity. He proposes that the whiskey was named after Bourbon Street in New Orleans which was the major port where the Tarascon brothers' shipments of Kentucky whiskey sold well as a cheaper alternative to French cognac.’

As a variation on what we have heard so far, we move to a video of Wynton Marsalis playing Bourbon Street Parade (click here). There is some nice video footage here. The tune comes from the Wynton Marsalis album Intimacy Calling – Standard Time Vol. 2 (click here).

During Mardi Gras in New Orleans there are many street parades, especially in the French Quarter. Bourbon Street is one of them. Perhaps it is down to the strip joints that there is apparently a rumour that women bare their breasts to the crowds for beads during the Bourbon Street Parade. 'Mardi Gras Throws' are strings of beads, doubloons, cups, and other trinkets passed out or thrown from the floats.

You can read about the ‘rumour’ or ‘tradition’ on the Mardi Gras website (click here), but I know there are readers who have visited New Orleans who might be able to testify to this, if their spectacles didn't steam up.

One commentator on the Mardi Gras website writes: ‘As a fifth-generation New Orleanian, let me say this was never and is still not a tradition. Saying it is "tradition" is like saying that people who get drunk and pass out on Bourbon Street are following tradition as well. Thankfully, this does not occur everywhere in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but just in the Bourbon Street area of the French Quarter. That's also an area New Orleans Mardi Grasknown for its strip joints, where those interested in this sort of thing can see it year-round. Let me explain why you may have heard this rumor. Within the last 10 or so years, a few spring break-aged tourists visiting our city have started getting drunk after the parades on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, causing them to lose their inhibitions. This has drawn a lot of onlookers. The end result is that certain types of individuals are now attracted to the French Quarter in the evenings after the parades.'

'Throughout the year, the beautiful balconies in the French Quarter are noted for being a wonderful place to enjoy the history, atmosphere, and culture of the city as the sounds of jazz drift by after a fantastic meal. During Mardi Gras, many think of them as a place to get away from the crowd surges below. (Bourbon Street balconies during Mardi Gras are now sold to news media, large corporations, or long-term customers up to five years in advance.). Sadly, many bystanders caught in this crowd will never return to Mardi Gras, because they don't realize they did not experience the "real" Mardi Gras. The flashing for beads and related behavior does not occur in other areas of the city. The Mardi Gras that locals grew up with, enjoyed and love is occurring in every other part of New Orleans and the surrounding suburbs - not in the French Quarter.'

We’ll leave you with evidence that the tune is still alive and well. Click here for a video of the young Detroit Civic Jazz Band playing Bourbon Street Parade in December last year. The Civic Jazz Orchestra provides Michigan's premiere young jazz musicians with pre-professional training that builds upon the strong tradition of jazz in Detroit. Not perhaps the best performance, but interesting from the point of view of the contributions as musicians are called and to compare their interpretations of a jazz classic in today’s environment. I’d like to know whether there is any other current, contemporary versions of the tune.


There's a lot of hot spots, you'll see lots of big shots,
Down on Bourbon Street.


 

What If Chopin Were A Jazz Pianist?

Pianist / composer Tom Donald writes about a project that he is undertaking with his trio:

Tom DonaldChopin improvised piano at salon bars, Bach grooved on bass lines to create chords and Miles Davis played a Spanish Guitar Concerto on his trumpet. Similarly African music uses the same rhythmic complexity the revolutionary Stravinsky 'discovered' in the early 20th Century. The Tom Donald Trio is on a mission to break down the false barriers between jazz, classical and improvisation, challenging the corporate genre myth.

When we recorded  In Transito with Spanish drummer Gorka Diez I wanted to make a record that was blind to genre and instead telling a story of life and living that stretches beyond the jazz norms. In Haider Rashid's groundbreaking culture documentary 'Silence, All Roads Lead to Music' that premiered at the Dubai film festival, I deviated from the urban jazz cliché introducing a spacious, tranquil sound that draws upon eclectic influences in a deeply personal way. I think musicians in cities make a big mistake by living too fast, you have to slow down to have anything to say.
 
Click here for a video from the Gulf Film Channel about the concept.

In our forthcoming album In Transito, accepted notions of musical genre are challenged. Beginning with Herbie Hancock, the trio makes a transition through to Chopin before moving on to a traditional American spiritual, just an example of the captivating musical journey the audience is taken on reminding us of the power of music beyond category. Tom Donald

 

* * * * * *

 

Tom Donald is an award winning film composer and pianist often performing complete concert cycles of improvisation. Recently his compositions for film have won acclaim throughout Europe and The Middle East, including Haider Rashid's "The Deep” which recently won 2nd place at the Italian Globe Awards and Koutiba Al-Janabi's "Leaving Baghdad”. Tom has performed internationally at prestigious venues including Abbey Road Studios, National Opera Studio, BBC, Ronnie Scott’s, Sicily’s Horcynus Festival and the Dubai Film Festival.

The film ‘Silence’ documenting Tom’s tour of Italy has also been screened internationally, most notably at the Seattle Film Festival. Running his piano studio in Mayfair, Tom’s seminars are attended worldwide with students from Kuwait, Portugal, Italy, India, Germany, Australia, Canada, Dubai, Paris and London.

'In Transito' is being released on iTunes and Amazon and other music retailers in UK and Spain this September. We shall be reviewing the album next month, but in the meanwhile, click here to sample it on Tom's website.

 

 

Album Released: 10 June 2014 - Label: Whirlwind Recordings

 

Lee Konitz, Dan Tepfer, Michael Janisch, Jeff Williams

First Meeting: Live In London Volume

 

Lee Konitz (alto and soprano saxophones), Dan Tepfer (piano), Michael Janisch (bass), Jeff Williams (drums).

This is embarrassing. No, not the album, me. I looked at the cover, saw Lee Konitz, thought ‘Cool West Coast’. I looked at the track list: Billie’s Bounce, All The Things You Are, Stella By Starlight, Body And Soul …. and thought ‘Cool West Coast.’ If I had been on top of myFirst Meeting album game, I should have known better.

Lee Konitz and Cool West Coast are a long time ago. Water has passed. Lee was 82 when this recording was made over two nights in May 2010. This album is a different kettle of fish – and good. After the second listening, I began to appreciate the music that is played here.

Click here for the promotional video for the album with all members of the band talking about the sessions

This was a first appearance on the same stage for the four musicians, and the tunes are just a jumping-off point for their improvisation. Stella By Starlight is hardly recognisable. There was no rehearsal, plan or preconceived idea of the music’s end result. Lee Konitz put down the ‘rules’ of the game saying that anyone could start playing a melody and the rest of the band could join in, or not.

Lee Konitz First MeetingOther more ‘free’ renderings were made during those sets and they will eventually be released as Volume 2 by bassist Michael Janisch who is the boss at Whirlwind Recordings. It was Janisch who set up these sessions. He got to know Lee Konitz at the 2008 Glasgow Jazz Festival. He says: ‘Lee said to us before the show, “I don’t want to talk a set list through, and make sure you don’t play the way you normally play, just keep those ears open to anything.” When I listen to the music we recorded I hear a lot of peaks and valleys. At times we were very connected and it’s really buzzing. Other times we’re checking each other out, sitting back and allowing the music to simmer a little, to see what happens, and sometimes I can tell we didn’t even know what was next. And it is in those moments where Lee tends to be decisive, to shine. The songs were just vehicles for on the spot improvisation.’

To quote Louis Armstrong and Bing Crosby: ‘Now you has jazz.’

Click here to sample the album.

Reviewing the album in The Guardian and allocating four stars to it, John Fordham says: ‘John Zorn has described 86-year-old saxophonist Lee Konitz as a "brilliant, adventurous and original" jazz improviser, and there's plenty of proof in this often spellbinding improv set recorded in London in 2010.’ (Click here for review).

Click here for more information.

Ian Maund

 

 

 

Banjoking Asides

Last month we ran an article about the banjo (see below). Tony Augarde has written to remind us of the playing of Bela Fleck: Tony says: In your feature on the banjo, you ask where today's banjo players are. One answer is Bela Fleck, a really virtuosic banjo player. My review of oneBela Fleck of his albums is here'. Click here for a video of Bela Fleck and the Flecktones with Branford Marsalis playing Sunset Road.

Bela Fleck

Alan Bond also takes a stand:

I'd like also to add my two penn'orth as regards the banjo, a much maligned instrument. I think a lot of it stems from the recording producers, promoters and engineers of the 'trad' boom, most of whom seem to have not had much rapport with jazz musicians. How I hate the term 'trad' - there is nothing traditional about any kind of jazz and I much prefer the generic term 'dixieland'.

In most live performances at the time I never found the banjo to be obtrusive and I think a lot of the remarks came from the 'modernists' (and I don't use the term in a derogatory way as I had a foot in both camps) who seemed to resent the popularity of the 'trad' bands, short lived though it was. In a way, I was glad that the lads in these bands showed their independence by not knuckling under to the tin pan alley gang, who tried to manipulate them in the name of profit. That, as much as anything else, led to the later shift away from jazz to the likes of the Beatles etc.

Most of the real jazz fans that I know of have never been seduced by the propaganda of the 'pop' world and the fast track to fame and fortune philosophy that it engenders. I have always been firmly of the opinion that jazz is truly a small venue, intimate music and not generally suited to large venues such as concerts though I would allow that their are exceptions. It would be ridiculous for any jazz band to play in a venue with upwards of 50,000 people when most of them will only see the band on a massive TV screen and hear them though the amplification system. Shotgun Jazz BandWhy pay colossal sums of money for that when the effect is exactly the same as sitting at home listening to a CD ?

Popularity has its price and it seems to be that as long as jazz can rub along I see a much healthier future than to be manipulated by those in the recording industry who have their eye on a fast buck, which is where the banjo came/comes into the equation. Thankfully, these days we don't have the rigid divide that separated the two camps to the point where, in my experience for example, you never told anyone at the Marquee that you were going on to Ken Colyer's for the all night session and you never told anyone at Colyer's that you had come from the Marquee. We just liked jazz and weren't prepared to accept a divide.

Shotgun Jazz Band

As regards the 'New Orleans' genre I think the following link will reveal that the jazz scene in the USA is not as dead as some would like to think. The Shotgun Jazz Band is very like some of the better Ken Colyer bands and what the trumpet player lacks in technique she makes up for in enthusiasm - well worth a look as the band has a rhythm section that knows the price of corn - rock steady and driving (click here).

Finally, on the subject of banjos, I am a bit of a blue grass fan and there is plenty of excellent banjo picking to be found on You Tube from some of the many great practitioners, not the least of whom is the actor Steve Martin, who can hold his own with the best of them. There are too, some excellent banjo players around and about on the jazz scene here, most of whom put to shame the majority of the guitar strummers of the 'pop' world.

 

Bring Back The Banjo!

Last month's article: I have received so many jokes about the banjo and banjo players like the ones below that it must be time for a banjo Champion to arise and Ban Jo cartoonlead a revolution to save the jazz banjo before it becomes extinct. Who will stand againstBanjo Mute cartoon what, in any other setting, would be classed as Discrimination! Who will speak for the banjo? Where is Jo Strummer when you need him?

I had hoped that a review of the California Feetwarmers album (reviewed in June) might do the trick until I heard two tracks that especially feature the banjo. Sadly, for me they let the album down and do not help my rallying call against the banjophobes. Where are today's great banjo players?

The banjo had a place in early jazz and in America there is a Jazz Banjo website ‘For the four string banjo enthusiast’ (click here) and a radio station - Jazz Banjo Radio.

Click here to remember Johnny St Cyr playing Jelly Roll Blues.


 

Album Released: 25 March 2014 - Label: Araminta Music

 

Tyrone Birkett / Emancipation

Postmodern Spirituals: The Promised Land

 

Tim Rolfe reviews this album for us:

This album consists of 8 tracks and they are all composed by Tyrone Birkett who plays saxophone and keyboards. His wife, Paula Ralph Birkett provides vocals and the backing musicians are Gregory Royals (piano, organ), Reggie Young (electric bass) and Jason PattersonTyrone Birkett album (drums). On two of the tracks, Pablo Vergara is on electric keyboards and Camille Gainer Jones is on drums.  Guitar on track 4 is provided by Benny Martinez and on the last track John Benitez is on acoustic bass and is particularly good.

Saxophonist/Composer Tyrone Birkett has synthesized his mentorship by Jazz greats Frank Foster and Budd Johnson and his years toiling in black church sanctuaries and 70s soul-jazz into a distinctive fusion. An “outsider” artist to the jazz scene, he has nonetheless developed a powerful lyrical sound with shades of post-Coltraneisms and an idiosyncratic but melodic sense.

The album has three pages of extensive notes by Tyrone who describes it as "a modern day rendering of the freedom song." As music, "it is re-imagining and reviving the Negro spiritual by incorporating jazz sensibilities with soul and gospel music along with new compositions likened to its predecessors. The term “postmodern” is applied to many ideas both old and new so it can mean many things to lots of people. But I found that the more I listened to the songs there is something that the term can be applied to with this album. The tracks are called:

1. The Departure
2. The Struggle
3. The Postmodern Spiritual
4. Motherless Child (Revisited)
5. Strength
6. Deep River
7. Freedom Dreaming
8. The Promise

The album consists of a mix of original work and re-working of older material and with track 4 standing out with a “hook” that can remain with you for some time afterwards.  Tracks 1, 2, 7 are part of a larger work called The Seven Star Suite planned for later release.  Track 3 (Postmodern Spiritual) uses some of the ideas mentioned in the extensive liner notes for a spoken word manifesto delivered by Paula Ralph Birkett.  I’m not so sure about the spoken spiritual on track 3 overlaid on modern jazz sounds but it did deliver a powerful message.

Click here to listen to Strength from the album.

Tyrone BirkettThe album told a very strong story through tracks 1 to 5 with much melodic weaving of instruments and voice throughout with the later tracks becoming more reflective and quieter. There is a big opening on the sax at the start of track 1 which is echoed on closure with Paula Birkett’s vocal complemented by Tyrone’s playing.
  
On track 4 (Motherless Child), Paula Birkett’s vocals really “own” the track with the other musicians providing the counterpoint highlights.

Click here for a video of a live performance of Motherless Child.

The keyboards on track 6 (Deep River) are very soothing with restrained playing by Tyrone on his saxophone and percussion highlights but all musicians blending well.  For me, this was possibly my favourite track on the album.  On track 7 (Freedom Dreaming), Paula Birkett’s vocal gets across that dreamy feel with the lyrics inspiring.  Track 8 (The Promise) again has more reflective playing and seems to end on a hopeful note.  Worth listening and re-listening to.

Tim Rolfe

Click here to sample the album. Click here for samples on Tyrone Birkett's website.

 

 

 

Help With Musical Definitions No 1.

Metronome

Vertically challenged busker on the Paris underground

with thanks to Ron Rubin

 

 

American Jazz Journalists Association Awards

Pianist Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus, vibraphonist Gary Burton and singer Dee Dee Bridgewater were given top honours -- along with veteran Jane Ira Bloomauthor, editor, educator and radio show host W. Royal Stokes, freelance writer Nate Chinen, Spanish photographer Antonio Porcar Cano and videographer John Moultrie -- at the 18th annual Jazz Journalists Association's New York City Jazz Awards party on June 11, 2014.

Roswell Rudd, Terence Blanchard, Lee Konitz, Gregory Porter and Wayne Shorter all feature in the awards, and we are delighted to see that soprano saxophonist Jane Ira Bloom received an award this year. Click here for the awards list.
 
Jane Ira Bloom

Awards were also announced to JazzTimes magazine and AllAboutJazz.com. Iverson, Burton and Bridgewater were celebrated not for music but for their work in media. Members of the JJA, a non-profit professional organization with some 300 members, voted Iverson's Do The Math the Best Blog of theGary Bartz Year and Gary Burton's autobiography Learning To Listen: The Jazz Journey of Gary Burton (Berklee Press) Best Book of the Year. Dee Dee Bridgewater, on-air host of the NPR series Jazz Set, received the JJA's Willis Conover-Marian McPartland Award for Broadcasting.
 
Royal Stokes, who has retired to West Virginia after a 60-year-career in and around Washington, D.C., was presented with the Lifetime in Jazz Journalism Award. Nate Chinen, contributor to the New York Times and JazzTimes, won the Helen Oakley Dance-Robert Palmer Award for Writing in 2013. Antonio Porcar Cano depicted tenor saxophonist Benny Golson blowing in front of a huge image of Billie Holiday for Photo of the Year (click here). John Moultrie's Best Short Form Jazz News Video clip is the very candid "Gary Bartz Talks About Drug Use Among Jazz Greats" (Click here to watch this 6 minute video).

Gary Bartz

The JJA's Jazz Awards are the only comprehensive honors for excellence in jazz and jazz journalism presented publicly in the U.S.

 

Remembering Frank Wilson

Dave Burman sends us his recollections of trumpeter Frank Wilson:

I first met Frank at the Castle Pub on the Finchley Road around the mid 1970s. He was playing there with a band of mainstream/dixielanders. I Frank Wilsonsat in there on piano and trumpet and we became a good pals. He always welcomed me at his gigs when he would take a long break leaving me to cover him on trumpet. He admired piano players and their "comping" which he dearly would have liked to have been able to do and regularly told me off because I preferred to play trumpet and not piano. I would then tell him what a great trumpet player he was and to forget about playing the piano. He was a great player with a sweet tone and immaculate phrasing, quite versatile from early styles to early bop.

Whenever Frank booked me to play piano he always gave me a blow on trumpet while he fiddled on the piano, a swap that was probably a nerve-racking experience for both of us. 

Frank had a long standing gig at the Load Of Hay in Hampstead, Thursday nights. I believe that the  pianist there, Claus, a German guy - and Frank, ran the gig between them. The Load of Hay was just across the road from The Steeles  where I played on Monday Nights.

Frank would come to the Steeles on Mondays and sit in with us and I would go to him at The Load Of Hay on Thursdays when he got me on to the piano. He would usually then slope off after a while, leaving me on trumpet while he fraternised with the punters, then he would return and we'd do two trumpets  with chase choruses. Then Frank would do his double trumpet act where he played two trumpets at the same time, in harmony!!

Frank had a big party in 2009 on his eightieth birthday and I presented him with a poem (see below) and a little bit of Chopin on the piano. I also gave him a short piece that I wrote for him - "Frank's Blues". The piece ended up on the web David Burman.Org  and with my various pieces on "Score Exchange" and it has had a lot of hits! A pastor, who downloaded the piece, mailed me from the USA saying  this Frank must be a great guy and that he'd arranged the piece for his church choir. I was supposed to play the piece at Frank's memorial service but sadly, bad weather and flu kept me away.

Frankly Frankly speaking
We know your bones are creaking
But the muscles in your chops
Are frankly still the tops
Like those Masters of the past
You blow away the years
And bring magic to our ears
Well Frank although you’re eighty
You’re still very very matey
A perfect gentle knight
Who sallies forth at night
With stomp and rag and blues
And ballads and good news
For those who dig your riffing
You’re still absolutely spiffing

In his last years Frank conscripted me into his ventures at various pubs where he tried to get a scene going. He finally gave up on these swan songs and retired to Tenerife where he died just a few years back. He would phone me occasionally to report on his activities in Tenerife . He had a keyboard there which he played around with and he met somene there who he could jam with after a fashion. Frank Wilson and Band

I do have some recordings of his trumpet playing on a video from the Steeles at a Christmas party rave with various guests. I've extracted what I can but the audience noise is loud and intrusive.

I attach a couple of photos of Frank at the Steeles Christmas party, circa 1980s. The one here shows from left to right - Jim Shepherd trombone, Ken Blakemore trombone, Frank on trumpet, Dave Burman on trumpet, Richard Williams (the film animator) on trumpet, Bob Flag actor and sax player (Big Brother in the film 1984), Colin Bray "the coat" on piano, also on the session but out of view, Brian Chadwick drums and John Fergus double bass. Also present on the session was Andy Thunderclap Newman piano and vocals. He, Bob Flag and myself did a few party pieces as the "Balloonatics"  which Frank joined in on, providing a fourth harmony part on the vocals. The one above shows Frank doing a solo spot at the gig.

He was really a great guy, generous and thoughtful. The music was what he cared about and he was unselfish and welcoming if you turned up on one of his gigs and of course, he was a fine trumpet player. My lasting memory is of Frank, standing, with two of his trumpets (he had many!) playing them in harmony.

[The Frank Wilson Dave remembers is not to be confused with the Frank Wilson who played trumpet with Jack Payne in the 1930s. Ed]

 

 

Album released: 14 July 2014 – Label: Babel

 

BlackTop

# One

Writer and musician Steve Day reviews this album for us:

Orphy Robinson (Marimba); Pat Thomas (piano, keyboards, computer beats); special guest: Steve Williamson (tenor and soprano saxophone).

In the 1980’s, before any of us really understood what we would be in for, he used to play piano fairly regularly at the Avon Gorge Hotel inBlack Top album Bristol.  I saw him there at least three times.  Pat Thomas, the only Black guy in a lean brittle band called Ghosts, they were very good.  But even then he was better ‘than very good’.  A lot later down the line I caught him up against Lol Coxhill’s soprano.  Pat Thomas, a unique pianist for sure, but by then electronics were already carving out a different kind of space for him.

As a pianist he lays his hands out as if upon a table; he’s percussive.  I don’t mean that he simply hits.  Mr Thomas is a striker of rhythm, sometimes in clouds of notes in the style of Cecil Taylor, raining rhythm into an improvisation as if he had a hot tin roof to perform on.  Other times there are clumps of chords pounding, pounding, an avalanche beatmaster exchanging a deck of vinyl for 88 keys.

Don’t take too much notice of the Cecil Taylor reference, Pat Thomas arrived back at his own name before he ever reached the new millennium.  Since then the partnership with Orphy Robinson has enabled Thomas to plant himself in a very strong place.  Here in Black Top ‘# One’, marimba and piano become a Gamelan Orchestra of colour and nuance over three extended live tracks recorded immaculately by Steve Lowe.  Robinson and Thomas are literally in tune with each other to the extent that in the substance of this music, it is like listening to a twinned sound of colour.  (Black certainly, but there are rainbows present.)  The spring in the strike of the mallets on the wood of the marimba, the hammer inside the very guts of the piano; harmonies collide, pass, grace and shimmer.

Click here to listen to There Goes The Neighbourhood.

Improvisation is built on a variety of precepts.  This particular version of Black Top does not come from opposite corners.  Pat Thomas and Steve WilliamsonOrphy Robinson are Black Top, which is as it should be and how it sounds to be. But, but, on this occasion they are joined by the saxophone player Steve Williamson.  A man who came up through the whole 1980’s Jazz Warriors new wave along with Orphy Robinson, only to step sideways into the path of.... exploration.  If the Warriors rode out of reggae into John Coltrane, in seeking to define ‘Blackness’ Mr Williamson and Mr Robinson have, via different routes, found themselves calling into question a massive amount of other material, from hard funk to Blue Note.  It has taken a while.  Now all things come back here to ‘# One’. 

Steve Williamson

On track two, the long improvisational journey named, ‘Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner?’ (name checking the iconic Sidney Poitier movie that cracked open the lid on Black and White American family relations in the 1960’s) Steve Williamson cross purposes between tenor and soprano saxophone in such a way as to make Pat Thomas’ propulsive piano fully interactive, joined hip to hip.  And Robinson’s marimba is not caught in Steve Reich-like repetition.  His Black Top instrument hangs in the air, deep and purposeful producing a solo so precise it pops each note open like aural graph architecture.  What we hear is all of a whole, at times it sounds as if piano and marimba sonically swap roles.  The marimba has a pianistic facility and vice versa.  Black Top are not boxed in, the lid is off.

Click here to sample Guess Who's Coming To Dinner.

Of course Steve Williamson’s presence on ‘# One’ alters the shape of things.  He begins the proceedings with an oh so mighty tenor and at the end is still blowing soprano cliff hangers through the final track; ‘Archaic Nubian Stepdub’, (click here), a mesmerising marimba, computer beats and techno structure.  Truly trio music of Black Top brilliance. Orphy Robinson, you must know you’re ‘Out To Lunch’!!!  I believe this is likely to be the most important UK jazz recording released this year.  ‘# One’ carries the past lightly whilst at the same time freeing up the future for all improvisers.   Undoubtedly an essential benchmark recording from here on in.

Click here for more information. Click here for a video of Orphy Robinson, Pat Thomas and Steve Williamson playing in 2012.

Steve Day

http://www.stevedaywordsandmusic.co.uk

 

 

 

Video Of The Month

André Previn Talks to Oscar Peterson

Andre PrevinBecause he followed a path to classical music, we tend to forget that André Previn played jazz piano in hisOscar Peterson early career.

Here is an interesting programme broadcast on BBC Four where he interviews, or rather talks with, Oscar Peterson, and the two illustrate the discussion with their piano playing.

The programme is in six parts. You can just watch the first part (nine and a half minutes) in which they talk about their introductions to jazz, and Oscar Peterson talks about Art Tatum, or you can watch the other parts by choosing the clips listed on the right of the screen.

Click here for Part 1.

If you want a reminder of André Previn's jazz piano, click here to listen to Like Blue from the album of the same name recorded with David Rose and orchestra in 1959/1960.

 

 

Facebook

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.Facebook


Click here

 

 

 

Photographic Memories

The Dave Keen Collage

Last month, saxophonist Dave Keen wrote from Canada recalling the first time he encountered pianist and vocalist Diana Krall. He also attached this collage, saying: 'Here is a collage I made up years ago (40 at least!) from old jazz mag photos of my heroes. The square looking, young guy with hair, in the middle of the picture playing tenor is me. You’ll note Sandy Brown strategically placed on either side of me.'

Dave Keen Collage

Dave suggests that readers might like to try and identify people pictured in the collage. The reproduction is not that good, so if you are having trouble, try this selection from the main picture:

Dave Keen Collage (part)

Click here for the answers

Do you have a photograph that triggers a jazz memory for you? Perhaps it would trigger memories for other people too? We'd like to hear from you and the photo doesn't need to be a work of art as long as you can make out the detail. You could either email a JPEG copy of the photo to us or if you would prefer, post it to us and we could copy it, and send the original back to you. (Click here for our contact details).

Have you checked out our page of Photographic Memories? There is now quite a collection that are well worth a look. Click here

 


Win A CD

Thank you for the suggestions that you have been sent in. I am surprised that some of the very basic recordings have not been put forward yet - what about Louis Armstrong? The idea is that if someone were searching for a list of albums to give them a good foundation for a jazz library, what should they include?

All we ask is for a couple of paragraphs about the album and what makes it a classic.

Some of you seem to have been suggesting your favourite albums of the moment rather than a 'foundation' collection. I shall keep these and perhaps we can move on in due course to another feature for them.

The winner for this month's suggestion is Mike Whitaker who makes a case for an unexpected album Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Sing A Song Of Basie (see below). Mike wins a copy of the CD The California Feetwarmers.

Trichotomy Fact Finding MissionWe would welcome your entries for next month. What do you have to do? Simply take a look at our Essential Albums page where we are building a list of key jazz albums and send us the name of another album and make your argument for why it should be included. Click here for the Essential Albums page where we add one album a month.

If we choose your suggestion next month, we shall send you the prize CD. If your entry is not chosen, all is not lost, we'll simply carry your entry over and include it with the entries for the following month.

The prize CD this time is Fact Finding Mission by Trichotomy. (Click here for a review of Fact Finding Mission). (Click here for a video introducing the album).

So, why not send us an email with your suggestion and your reasons for why you think it should be included. Click here for our contact details.

 

 

The Essential Album Collection

Which jazz albums make up a collection of classics? We ask you to 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.

This month's essential album is suggested by Mike Whitaker.

Lambert, Hendricks and Ross - Sing A Song Of Basie

Mike makes his case saying:
Lambert, Hendricks, Ross Sing A Song Of Basie

'First - nobody has yet nominated a Basie album. I'm sure someone will suggest The Atomic Mr Basie any day now, but I'm not going to.'

'Second - vocalese is a minor but exciting sub-genre of vocal jazz. It contains elements of the close-harmony singing of all those swing-era Sisters (Clark, Boswell, Andrews), the multi-tracking developed by Les Paul & Mrs, the clever stuff done by the Hi-Los and King Sisters (and continued by Singers Unlimited) ... and let's not forget the magnificent Manhatten Transfer. But Lambert, Hendricks and Ross did it first - the swing, the wit and the skill of the words, driven along by Nat Pierce, Eddie Jones and Sonny Payne. Come on - how can any jazz collector NOT regard it as an essential?'

Click here to listen to Everyday from the album. Click here to sample the album and to read other comments about it.

 

 

 

One From Ten

Jon Turner at Broad Street Jazz specialist record shop in Bath selects an album for special mention from his list of new and reissued recordings below.

The Neil Cowley Trio - Touch And Flee

Neil Cowley (piano), Rex Horan (bass), Evan Jenkins (drums).

I am going to cheat and instead of taking an album from Jon Turner’s current Ten Albums (below), go back to one he included last month. It would be a great shame if the Neil Cowley Trio’s Touch And Flee slipped by this page unnoticed.

I think this is an excellent album from the Trio with some entrancing piano and a symbiotic understanding between the musicians that worksNeil Cowley album throughout the recording. Add to that some very pleasing compositions by Neil Cowley and the impeccable engineering of the Naim label, and you have an album to reckon with.

Click here for a video of Kneel Down, the first track on the album.

I think that the jokey artwork for the album, (a pun of ‘touch and flea’?) might belie the quality of the music. Some of the nine tracks are extended, others quite short, but even the short tracks are self-contained gems. Notes on the music say of the Trio's recording: ‘ … they present more expansive melodies and longer elegant passages for what they describe as “our concert hall record” … Here are a collection of tunes best savoured in a darkened room at full volume.’

Click here to listen to the track Mission.Neil Cowley Trio

Reviewing the album in The Guardian, John Fordham gives it four stars, saying: ‘ … this is the Cowley album for anyone who ever wished this gifted maverick might dig deeper: the pieces are varied (gospelly slow-burners, jazzy cat-and-mouse games, systems-music churnings, Jarrett-like churchy funk) and the playing richer and more intricate.’ (Click here for the full review).

A more detailed review is available from The Quietus (click here).

The Quietus review likes the track Sparkling, almost five minutes based on a repeating motif with bass and drums rising effectively but briefly to the surface on occasion. I probably need to listen to it more. The 4 year old son of a Neil Cowley Trio follower on Twitter says after listening to Sparkling: 'It's like you're walking along and your shoes make special noises.'

Click here to sample the album. Click here for the Trio’s forthcoming gig dates. Touch And Flee is also available on vinyl (click here).

 

 

Ten Recent Releases and Re-Issues


The Ten

Jon Turner of Broad Street Jazz specialist record shop in Bath gives us his choice of ten recent releases and re-issues.

Broad Street Jazz is a specialist jazz record shop where Jon is very happy to help you with advice on jazz recordings. You can click here to email him ot visit his website at www.broadstreetjazz.co.uk

 

Joshua redman album


1. Joshua Redman -
Trios Live - (Nonesuch)

[Click here for information. Click here to sample].

 

 

Tim Garland album


2. Tim Garland 
- Songs To The North Sky - (Edition)

[Click here for review. Click here for more information and video].

 

 

Sonny Rollins album


3. Sonny Rollins 
- Road Shows Vol. 3 - (Okeh)

[Click here for review. Click here to sample].

 

 

Miles Davis album


4. Miles Davis
- At The Oriental Theatre 1966 - (Sunburn)

[Click here for details and reviews].

 

 

JD Allen album


5. J.D. Allen
-Bloom - (Savant)

[Click here to listen to Car-Car (The Blues) from the album. Click here for review. Click here for video].

 

 

Jerry Bergonzi album


6. Jerry Bergonzi
 - Intersecting Lines - (Savant)

[Click here to sample. Click here to listen to Itchy from the album. Click here for review].

 

 

Denny Zeitlin album


7. Denny Zeitlin 
- Stairway To The Stars - (Sunnyside)

[Click here for information. Click here for more details and possibly samples after release].


 

David Binney album


8. David Binney 
- Anacapa - (Criss Cross)

[Click here for information and to sample].


 

Andrew McCormack album


9. Andrew McCormack 
- First Light - (Edition)

[Click here for video. Click here to listen. Click here for information].


 

Johnny Dyani


10. Johnny Dyani 
- Rejoice & Together - (Cadillac)

[Click here for video. Click here for information following release].

 

 

Click here for Broad Street Jazz’s New Releases page

 

 

 

 

Album Released: 2013 - Label: Self Release

Paul Higgs

Pavane

We have some differences of opinion about this album. Selwyn Harris in the Short Cuts review section of Jazzwise magazine gives it 3 stars and says: ' ... here (Paul) effectively mixes together the likes of Bach, sentimental would-be film music and light entertainment jazz.'

On the other hand, while one of our regular reviewers, Steve Day, is also of the opinion that the album might constitute ‘film music’, he finds it 'shallow' and would not award it any stars within a jazz setting.

Let’s listen to the title track, Pavane (click here).

There is little question that Paul’s trumpet playing is accomplished. As a former musical director at the National Theatre and RSC his musical credentials are well-founded. We also gave him mention for his trumpet contribution to Chris Ingham’s album Hoagy a month or two ago.

The Marlbank website review also gives the album three and a half stars whilst saying: ‘You won’t however find big improvisational flights of fancy or extended solos here as that’s not the point although there is a jazz sensibility at play. ‘Shadows and Desire’ is my pick of the tunes with its Metheny-esque Secret Story-like atmosphere, and the album may well also appeal to listeners who dip in and out of light classical music as much as they do styles of jazz that have their compass set firmly from the example of the early balladic side of MilesPaul Higgs Pavane album Davis onwards.’

Click here to listen to Shadows and Desire.

I am not sure that I would go so far as to make the Pat Metheny and Miles Davis connections, although I can understand what the reviewer is alluding to. The album is melodic and accessible contains some attractive compositions by Paul, and from that point of view warrants three stars, but like Steve Day, I would hesitate to award it three stars as a jazz album.

I think there are two issues. The first is the difficult task of trying to record an album where Paul says he ‘wants to combine the freedom of jazz with the rich sonorities of classical music’. It can be that the listener is not quite sure which genre they are listening to or the piece can fall between the two.

The other issue is interesting. This is not an album where the musicians have all recorded together. It is not at all unusual for recordings to be mixed and adjusted prior to release, long gone are the days where several Charlie Parker recordings would have been issued as different ‘takes’ of the same tune. However, I have to wonder whether something is lost when musicians are not all in the same place at the same time. I know - one could equally argue that jazz played and recorded electronically / digitally can be subject to the same implications.

Paul tells me: ‘Like many albums these days I had to wear many hats while making Pavane. I was both recording engineer and musician and it was recorded in my home studio. Although it has been known for me to play both piano and trumpet simultaneously on gigs, for this recording I didn’t. Sometimes the rhythm section recorded together and I’d put the trumpet on afterwards but always the cello / string section would have been an overdub. My friend Helen Yousaf on the cello tracked up many string lines on some tracks to recreate an orchestral sound (I couldn’t afford the London Symphony this time!). The classical guitar was put on later by Andy Watson.

Click here to listen to Song Of The Siren from the album which illustrates Paul’s trumpet playing.

In Londonjazznews, saxophonist Frank Griffiths says: ‘Trumpeter, pianist, composer Paul Higgs, has produced a gently atmospheric melange of classical, jazz and new age vignettes. The eleven tracks … subtly woo the listener in, with a combination of plainsong trumpet melodies supported by an evocative wash of cello and viola countermelodies …. The trickly and wistful classical guitar broodings from Andy Watson score highly as well. The collection feels more like a forty-five minute suite rather than a variety of distinctive compositions. A remarkable effect results from delivering changing sound palettes and tempi throughout, yet unified by an overarching almost trance-like ethos.’

I would encourage you to make up your own mind about whether you like this album. The various reviewers’ reference to ‘film music’ seems consistent, and you will not find it difficult to listen to. Let us know what you think.

Click here for Paul Higgs's website.

Ian Maund

 

 

 

New Album Reviews

Would you like to join readers Steve Day, Tim Rolfe, Carew Reynell and Vic Arnold in reviewing new releases? New albums usually come with publicity information that will give you details about the band and the backgound to the recording. We should welcome people who have an open mind, listen to the tracks on the album and are willing to write a description of what you hear - not necessarily a technical description, or whether the album is 'good' or 'bad' - different people like different things, but of course, if you like it, say so and say why.

I am usually able to link reviews of new albums to samples of tracks online so that readers can then get a taste of the album when they read your review.

If you would be interested in reviewing an album, please contact me and let me know if you have a particular jazz interest.

 

Departure Lounge

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:

 

Horace Silver

Horace Silver - American pianist, saxophonist and pioneer of hard bop. His family were Portuguese emigrants to Connecticut. Horace Silver played with many jazz musicians during his career including Art Blakey and Oscar Pettiford.

His work also appeared on a number of Miles Davis' albums, including 1954's Walkin'. Click here for a video of the Horace Silver Quintet playing Song For My Father.

 

 

Jimmy Scott – American contralto vocalist born in Ohio. He was a featured singer with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra, a friend of Billie HolidayJimmy Scott and sang with Charlie Parker at Birdland.

Problems with recording companies led to his dropping out of the scene for a while, but he was re-discovered in the 1990s, and was signed to sing in a number of films as well as recording a new album that received a Grammy nomination.

Click here to listen to Jimmy singing that beautiful song Holding Back The Years.

 


Phil Mason

Phil Mason - UK trumpet player and bandleader who founded the Isle Of Bute Jazz Festival. He joined Max Collie’s Rhythm Aces in 1970 and formed his own band Phil Mason’s New Orleans All-Stars in 1992. He played regularly with friends at venues in Rothesay from the 1980s.

Click here for a video of Phil’s band playing Smiles.

 

 

 

Forum

Big Band Venues in Germany

Can anyone recommend venues in Germany suitable for a superb young big band playing music by Count Basie, Duke Ellington, Stan Kenton, Buddy Rich, Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Terry Gibbs, Bill Holman, Thad Jones, Sammy Nestico, etc.? Please contact us with any suggestions.

 

Colin Kingwell's Jazz Bandits

Our thanks to John Mumford who tells us that the clarinet player in the photo of Colin Kingwell's Jazz Bandits is Ian Mackerrow (click here for our Photographic Memories page) .

 

U.M.M.G.

Vic Arnold picks us up on our 'That Track' article last month about, Upper Manhattan Medical Group (U.M.M.G.):

'In the article you state that the first time UMMG was recorded was in 1959 with Dizzy Gillespie. However, this was not the case. It was first recorded on "Historically Speaking -The Duke", in February 1956. I used to own it on vinyl, but now I have it on "Duke Ellington, The Complete Gus Wildi Recordings".  This is a 2 CD set, the only fly in the ointment, as far as I am concerned, is that Ellington used Jimmy Grissom as a vocalist, but, fortunately, only on one track.'

 

A Young New Orleans Touch

Alan Bond draws our attention to the Shotgun Jazz Band playing at the Abita Springs Opry in Louisiana. The Abita Springs Opry is a series of music concerts held six times a year and is produced by a nonprofit organization, Abita Opry Inc. The show has the mission of preserving and presenting Louisiana "Roots" music. 'Our music is played primarily acoustically, in its original form'.

Alan says: 'As regards the 'New Orleans' genre I think the following link will reveal that the jazz scene in the USA is not as dead as some would like to think. The Shotgun Jazz Band is very like some of the better Ken Colyer bands and what the trumpet player lacks in technique she makes up for in enthusiasm - well worth a look as the band has a rhythm section that knows the price of corn - rock steady and driving. (Click here for the video).

The line up for this 30 minute video is: Marla Dixon (Trumpet & Vocals), James Evans (Saxophone & Clarinet), Barnabus Jones (Trombone), Tyler Thomson (Bass), Justin Peake (Drums), John Dixon (Banjo).

 

 

Humph and Bruce Turner At The Six Bells

Tony Abel writes:

'I came across The Six Bells online today, I remember going there often in the early 60s. I am sure I saw Humph playing there with Bruce Turner. Nobody else has mentioned this, could I have imagined this? (Click here for our page on the Six Bells in Chelsea - Tony's memory seems perfectly feasible?).'

'I can clearly remember having a row with Sandy Brown in the bar of The Star Hotel in Croydon, the Croydon Jazz Club was there every Friday night. I wanted him to play a number I liked and he got a bit angry, maybe he was having a bad day? My fault I am sure, I was a stroppy young git in those days. Wish I could do it all again, I mean experience the music, not the row.'


Tony Gibbons

Roland Ashpool wrote asking: 'I have been reading John Codd’s blog about the Dave Carey Band and the Wood Green Jazz Club with great interest. I used to buy my books, records and reeds from Dave's jazz shop in Streatham SW16. I also worked with Tony Gibbons in London in the print industry for about 10 years he then married and moved to Thames Ditton we kept in touch for many years, but then he dropped off the radar and I could not catch up with him again. I would appreciate any news of him.'

John Codd replies:

'I had an email from Tony Gibbons daughter some time ago telling me that Tony had sadly passed away, cannot remember the date unfortunately'.

 

 

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 ...



 

 

Album Released: 3rd June 2014 - Label: Cannonball Jazz

 

Code Blue!

Doc Stewart
Big Band Resuscitation

 

Vic Arnold reviews this album for us:

Chris " Doc " Stewart is a prominent emergency room doctor with the Mayo Clinic in Scottsdale, Arizona. He plays alto saxophone and heDoc Stewart album is a dedicated follower of Julian " Cannonball " Adderley.    Code Blue !, is what is called out in the emergency room when a patient has a cardiac or respiratory arrest, so its a fitting title for a recording made by a doctor who spends his working life saving lives.

This recording commences with a four part composition by Tom Kubis and Doc Stewart entitled The Code Blue Suite and covers birth to death and then on to rebirth.  

The Code Blue Suite was written by Doc Stewart with Tom Kubis. Click here for a video of a live Doc Stewartperformance of Code Pink - Born To See Blues by the Tom Kubis Big Band. Doc Stewart is on alto.

The remaining 10 tracks are a mixture of old and new compositions, two by 'Cannonball' Adderley, some by Tom Kubis and Doc Stewart, and the remainder are standards.

Click here to listen to Hal Galper's Snakin' The Grass from the album. The arrangement is by Tom Kubis and Ron Stout is on trumpet, Kevin Axt, bass.

There are 19 musicians on this recording, 6 reeds, 10 brass, and piano, bass and drums, all from the Los Angeles area. They all play well, but, to my mind, the arrangements could have had more " bounce ". If you enjoy big band music this recording may very well be for you. I particularly liked their version of Bobby Timmons's Dis Here and Oscar Pettiford's Bohemia After Dark, and the Code Blue Suite certainly has its moments.

Vic Arnold
                                              

The album can be ordered through Amazon, but cheaper imports are available (click here). The album is also available on iTunes (click here).

 

 

 

July Gig for the National Jazz Archive

Paul Jones and Friends - Friday 18th July - 7.30 pm - £20

Paul JonesChingford Assembly Hall, Station Road, Chingford, London E4 7EN

 

The National Jazz Archive continues its fundraising concerts with this special one-off concert which sees the return to the Archive of Blues man, Paul Jones, (he of Manfred Mann and his own Blues Band).

'Paul will have an A-team of British blues and jazz stars to sing blues, standards and some of his hits as well.'

Click here for more information.


 

Jazz Festivals

There are some festivals that look bigger and better this year, testament to the fact that they are popular and proving that jazz is alive and well throughout the UK.

Check which festivals are within striking distance of where you live and perhaps try out something different this year. Click here for a list of UK Jazz Festivals and for festivals further afield.

 

 

Some July Gigs

 

 

It is impossible for us to include a list of all the gigs taking place during a month. I have decided to take an approach where we will look at venues geographically and give you their website links so you can check what is going on in a particular area.

I will choose some Gig Picks that you might find interesting - but check their website for other gigs. Where a venue doesn't have a website, then some details of what is taking place are included below.

 

Dublin: JJ Smyth's, 2, Aungier Street, Dublin 2. www.jjsmyths.com
Gig Pick - Sunday 6th July - Louis Stewart Quartet.

Dublin: Sugar Club, 8, Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2. www.thesugarclub.com

Dublin: National Concert Hall (NCH), Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2. www.nch.ie

Dublin: Whelan's, 25, Wexford Street, Dublin 2. www.whelanslive.com
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 30th July - BadBadNotGood.

For other regular jazz sessions in Dublin contact Ollie Dowling from Quality Music Tel: 00 353 87 287855

Wales: Dempsey's, Cardiff , 15, Castle Street, Cardiff, CF10 1BS. www.jazzatdempseys.org.uk
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 16th July - Match & Fuse present Troyka / Pulcinella.

Lancashire: Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club, Atrium Cafe Bar, Clitheroe Castle Keep, Clitheroe, Lancashire, BB7 1BA. www.rvjazzandblues.co.uk
Gig Pick - Friday, 11th July - The Weave.

Yorkshire: SevenJazz, 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).
Gig Pick - Thursday, 3rd July - 'The Life Of Bessie Smith' - Sarah Gillespie (vcl), Kit Downes (p), Ben Bastin (b), Enzo Zirilli (d).

Yorkshire: Jazz In The Spa, Boston Spa, Village Hall, High Street, Boston Spa. www.jazzinthespa.co.uk
Gig Pick - Saturday 19th July - Potato Head Jazz Band from Spain.

South Yorkshire: Sheffield Jazz, Various venues in Sheffield. www.jazzinthespa.co.uk (Closed until the autumn season).

Manchester: Matt and Phred's, 64 Tib Street, Northern Quarter, Manchester M4 1LW. www.mattandphreds.com
Gig Pick - Thursday, 3rd July - The Jamil Sheriff Trio.

Norfolk: Norwich Jazz Jam, The Windmill, Knox Road, Norwich, NR1 4LQ. www.jazzjam.org.uk

Essex: The Electric Palace, Harwich, King's Quay. Harwich. www.electricpalace.com
Gig Pick: Thursday, 24th July - George 'Kid' Tidiman's Jazz band plus Cody Lee

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
Gig Pick: Wednesday, 16th July - Millenium Eagle Jazz Band

Oxford: The Oxford Jazz Kitchen, The Crown, Cornmarket Street, Oxford . www.oxfordjazzkitchen.com
Jam Sessions every first Wednesday of the month, 8.30 pm - 11.00 pm with Trish Elphinstone (saxophones), Peter Dixon (guitar) and Tim Richardson (drums) at
The St. James Tavern, Cowley Road, Oxford

Oxford: The Half Moon, The Half Moon, St Clements, Oxford.
Last Wednesday of each month -
The Trish Elphinstone Quintet

London: Lume, Hoxton, The Long White Cloud, 151 Hackney Road, London E2 8JL. www.lumemusic.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday, 3rd July - Vicky Tilson Quartet.

London: Pizza Express, Soho, 10, Dean Street, London W1. www.pizzaexpresslive.com
Gig Pick - Monday, 7th July - Barb Jungr Sings Nina Simone.

London: The Spice Of Life, Soho, 6, Moor Street, London W1. www.spicejazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Wednesday 16th July - Alabare CD Launch - Albare (gtr), Alex Tosca (p), Yunior Terry (b), Pablo Bencid (d), Sammy Figuero (perc).

London: Ronnie Scott's Club, Soho, 47 Frith Street, London W1. www.ronniescotts.co.uk  
Gig Pick - Monday, 21st July -
Matthew Halsall and the Gondwana Orchestra  

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
Gig Pick - Wednesday, 16th July - Future Groove featuring Helen McDonald

London: Chickenshed Theatre Jazz Bar, Southgate, Chase Side, Southgate, London N14 4PE. www.chickenshed.org.uk
Gig Pick: Friday, 4th July - Neil Angilley with special guest star Snowboy

London: The Vortex, 11, Gillett Street, N16 8AZ. www.vortexjazz.co.uk
Gig Pick:Sunday, 13th July - The Kenny Wheeler Collective

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 (tpt) and Dave Eastham (alto / clarinet)

London: Little House, 1 Queen Street, London W1
Thursdays, 8.00 - 10.00 pm: Dave Burman (tpt) with Peter Shade (acc/piano) and Dave Eastham (sax).

London: Jazz In The Round, The Cockpit, Marylebone, Gateforth Street, Marylebone, London NW8 8EH. www.thecockpit.org.uk
Gig Pick - Mondat, 28th July - Larry Bartley/Tony Kofi/Rod Youngs; Lauren Kinsella; Anton Hunter.

London: Putney, The Half Moon, 93 Lower Richmond Road, Putney, SW15 1EU.
Dick Laurie's Elastic Band. FREE Admission, good food, easy parking, children welcome and plentiful public transport.
Next gigs: Sunday, 6th July and Sunday, 27th July - 1.00 pm - 4.00 pm

Kent: 144 Club, Nr Tunbridge Wells and Rochester, Finchcock's Musical Museum, Goudhurst, TN17 1HH. www.finchcocks.co.uk

Kent: The Roffen, New Road Rochester, ME1 1DX. www.144club.co.uk

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 - The Geoff Driscoll Quartet - Geoff Driscoll (sax), Alan berry (piano), Mike Durrell (bass), Don Cook (drums) plus guests - 8.30 pm

Surrey: Watermill Jazz, Dorking, Friends Life Social Club, Pixham Lane, Dorking, RH4 1QA. www.watermilljazz.co.uk
Gig Pick - Thursday 24th July - Nikki Iles Trio with special guest Josh Arcoleo.

Wiltshire: Bradford-on-Avon, The Fat Fowl, Silver Street, Bradford on Avon, near Bath, Wiltshire BA15 1JX.
Monthly residency by two very talented musicians, pianist John Law and saxophonist Nick Sorensen. 12.30 pm to 3.30 pm and admission is free

Bristol: The Be-Bop Club, The Bear, Hotwell Road, Bristol, BS8 4SF. www.thebebopclub.co.uk (Closed until the autumn season)

Sussex: Brighton Jazz Club,. www.brightonjazzclub.co.uk


Dorset: Bridport Arts Centre, South Street, Bridport, DT6 3NR. www.bridport-arts.com
Gig Pick - Saturday, 19th July -
Frank Griffith with Jazz On A Summer's Day tribute to the 1958 film (Click here for other Frank Griffith gigs)

Cornwall: St. Ives Jazz Club, Western Hotel, Gabriel Street, St. Ives, Cornwall, TR26 2LU. www.stivesjazzclub.com
Gig Pick - Tuesday 29th July - Tori Freestone Trio with Tori Freestone (saxophone), Dave Manington (bass), Tim Giles (drums).


 

 

Items Carried Over From Last Month

The following items appeared in the last magazine but may still be of interest to readers:

 

Musicians and Hearing Problems

                            
EarIn May, Charlie Cooper, the Independent newspaper’s Health reporter, wrote an article in which he looked at a new study that suggests professional musicians are four times more likely to suffer from deafness caused by exposure to loud noise than the general population.

The study also argues that whether in rock bands or orchestras, musicians are also 57 % more likely to develop tinnitus (a ‘ringing’ or ‘whistling’ in the ear - I have had it for years). Musicians who have experienced hearing problems they attribute to loud music are the guitarist Pete Townshend; Chris Martin, the Coldplay front man, and WiLL.i.am of The Black Eyed Peas.

Speaking with one young jazz saxophonist who wears ear plugs when he plays, he told me that his college recommended that ear plugs are used. I queried whether that affected his playing and interaction with other bandHMV Nipper members? He said that it took a while to get used to it, but now he has no problem with wearing them. He also knows a drummer who is now almost completely deaf.

The study reported in the article appeared in the Occupational Health and Environmental Medicine journal and had been carried out by a group researching insurance data from seven million people in Germany. Musicians made up just 0.03 % of that population, and 0.08% of insurance claims for hearing loss came from the group. There are of course, many things other than loud music that can cause hearing problems. Even when the figures were adjusted to allow for the effects of ageing, for example, musicians were still more likely to suffer than the general population. Click here to read the Independent article.

Apparently the Musicians’ Union works with specialists at the Musicians’ Hearing Service who provide hearing tests and noise level monitors.

Do you have any views or experience on this topic?

 

Jazz Promotion Network

This network has been initiated primarily for jazz promoters, venues, tour organisers, educators and the media. It is holding its inaugral conference at the Midland Hotel, Manchester from 23rd - 24th July during the Manchester Jazz Festival. The conference will stage debates and panel discussions as well as showcasing a number of gigs.

They say: 'All individuals and organisations involved in the promotion and presentation of jazz are invited to participate in this major, agenda-setting event. The conference programme will feature keynote speeches by influential figures, presentations about international opportunities, discussions on audiences, touring, education and other pressing issues, and direct contributions from JPN members in the form of pitching sessions to propose ideas for future collective action.'

Click here for details.

 

Twelve Bar Blues

John Westwood was taken with a radio programme put out by the BBC about the Twelve Bar Blues and decided to save it. He has given us a link so that you can download if you click here to listen to the 30 minute programme. If you choose 'Open', the programme takes a few minutes (about 2 - 3 mins) to download to the player on your computer (e.g. Media Player).

Including an interview with Chris Barber, the programme pointed out that the twelve bar blues 'is the DNA of popular music. Three chords played in a set sequence over twelve bars. .... The twelve bar is an American invention. It was originally taken up by rural blues musicians. The first commercial example was W.C. Handy's 'St Louis Blues'. Then it became the staple of the New Orleans jazz repertoire, the big bands, Chicago blues. And in the fifties, just about every other pop song was written around the twelve bar chord sequence. Nick Barraclough has played a few twelve bars in his time. In this programme he talks to bluesologists, a couple of jazzers and a banjo player about why the twelve bar works so well. They illustrate what can be done with this simple sequence and how much fun it can be to mess with it.'

 

Work Experience at Jazzwise Magazine

Jazzwise magazine still ha openings for people looking for work experience as interns at its offices in St Jude's Church, Herne Hill, South London. The magazine is offering a series of monthly intern placements from January 2014 to January 2015. Interns will participate in all aspects of the magazine's preparation and production cycle and this opportunity will be of particular interest to people who want to pursue a career in journalism and jazz, have a keen interest and knowledge of the music and are currently studying or have completed a degree or educational course. Previous interns have gone on to work for music magazines, record companies, press agencies and radio production companies.

If you are interested, write to The Editor, Jazzwise, St Jude's Church, Dulwich Road, London, SE24 0PB enclosing a CV and covering letter, or email to letters@jazzwise.com.

 

 

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