Christian McBride trio album set for 29 July release
With his second new album in only a matter of months Christian McBride is to release Out Here, the stellar bassist’s fifth album for Detroit label Mack Avenue later this month. It's his eleventh as a leader. A trio album, McBride is joined by pianist Christian Sands and drummer Ulysses Owens, Jr. who have been with the Philly jazz legend for three years. Owens Jr is also the drummer in McBride’s big band, while McBride heard Sands on the radio first off, his a sound that made the bassist make a mental note about a future hiring. Out Here follows People Music released in May, a "Golden Age" record made in the present day, with vibes and alto sax to the fore in the arranging. McBride sees the new album as “hardcore swingin,’ blues, and the American songbook”, and is as surprised as anyone that he’s fronting a piano trio. Tunes include down home blues ‘Ham Hocks and Cabbage’, Oscar Peterson’s ‘Hallelujah Time’, a new take on the Ahmad Jamal trio arrangement of ‘Cherokee’, McBride’s own ‘I Guess I’ll Have To Forget’, and Dr Billy Taylor’s ‘Easy Walker’. Look out for a review in these pages, soon.
Photo: Chi Modu / Mack Avenue

Christian Sands above left, Christian McBride, and Ulysses Owens, Jr

Phil Meadows Group
Engines of Creation
Boom Better ***
Bolton saxophonist Phil Meadows once part of the Leeds LIMA scene and now based in London is probably best known from his days as a lead alto in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra over the past few years. He favours a hard blowing post-bop style in the main, while Laura Jurd has a growing and deserved reputation based mainly on her stylish debut Landing Ground. Meadows on alto and soprano saxes here is joined on his debut besides Jurd by pianist/keyboardist Elliot Galvin of the Chaos Collective, bassist Conor Chaplin, and drummer Simon Roth. Beginning with ‘Fin’, named for Beats & Pieces drummer Finlay Panter, the album develops a folk-like vibe on ‘Moving On’ but the quintet changes tack quite quickly heading on into ‘Runner’ moving more into the jazz-rock domain yet at a fairly low level of intensity although Galvin revs up the Rhodes impressively enough. There’s a free improv feel on the title track before the hard bop theme of the best of Meadows’ tunes on the album, the ballad ‘Flamingos’, creates its own moments to savour. After that the car chase-like momentum of ‘The Dragon of George’ charges on, and finally the winsomely melodic bass-led ballad ‘Captain Kirk' rounds off a promising record. Meadows and Jurd have a good rapport in the front line while the rhythm section chugs away very capably throughout.


Sussex-based Splash Point Music has signed Brazilian jazz musician Ricardo Herz for a representation, distribution, and publishing deal, and plan to release Aqui é o meu lá, the violinist’s first album for the label, his fourth in all, on 5 August. This album marks Herz’s return to Brazil after a long spell living in Paris where he studied with the great Didier Lockwood. Herz is joined on the album by Pedro Ito on drums and Michi Ruzitschka, seven-string guitar, in a set that encompasses the north-east Brazilian folk dance style forrós, ballads, and chamamés, a southern Brazilian style also heard in Argentina. Splashpoint, best known for its albums by singers Ian Shaw and Liane Carroll, make the move after label head Neal Richardson heard Herz at the JazzAhead expo in Germany in the spring. Richardson enthuses: “When I saw Ricardo’s trio light up the hall at Bremen, I felt he was the perfect ambassador to take Brazil's priceless musical culture and fuse it with a modern jazz approach.”
Ricardo Herz above. Photo: Alê Gonçalves


The Jazz and Cinema conference, to be held at Cardiff university on 1-2 November, has unveiled details of its programme. Hosted by the Centre for Interdisciplinary Film and Visual Culture Research there are six panels in all with three papers presented at each session. Subjects include Japan, jazz and cinema; The Fabulous Baker Boys soundtrack; The Nat King Cole Show; biopics; jazz and animation; 1930s and 40s Chinese cinema; jazz in fiction in the 80s and 90s; and the film music of John Dankworth. The key note address on filming improvisation is by Dr Nicolas Pillai from Warwick University, a researcher in British film and television history who also teaches on music and visual culture. 
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Dexter Gordon playing Dale Turner above centre in a promotional still from 1986 film Round Midnight. Herbie Hancock, playing piano in the photo, won an Oscar for best original score


Ronnie’s to live stream Wynton

Last week I was speculating about whether any more jazz clubs would begin to stream live gigs after the example shown by Greenwich Village club Smalls. Here’s the story

Well someone has and not just anyone, as news emerges that Ronnie Scott’s is to live stream Wynton Marsalis. It's the first time the Frith Street jazz shrine has made such a move. The stream goes live on 23 July at 10.30pm via The club has hooked up with Panasonic to broadcast the show in HD. Club managing director Simon Cooke says in a statement: “We are keen to give those who can’t make the journey into London’s Soho, people too far away or simply those who can’t get a ticket the opportunity to enjoy the Ronnie Scott’s magic for themselves and we are delighted that an artist of Wynton’s stature, arguably the most influential jazz musician of the last forty years, has agreed to feature in our very first broadcast from the club.” Wynton’s in town for three nights. 

Late spot at Scott's: Ronnie Scott's above photo: Ronnie Scott's


Moved to the bigger Royal Festival Hall for this show on Saturday night, last autumn’s QEH show next door squeezed more than 110 people on to the stage as Jazz Jamaica All Stars, Urban Soul Orchestra and Voicelab with special guest Brinsley Forde celebrated 50 years of Jamaican independence in some style with a themed concert based on Bob Marley and the Wailers’ 1973 classic album Catch a Fire.

The bigger venue reflects the demand for Jazz Jamaica and this is an event, as few bands with jazz roots based in the UK these days play the historic hall any more.

Forde, above at the mic, who with ASWAD had significant chart success with songs such as ‘Don’t Turn Around’ going to number one in the charts in 1988, and ‘Shine’, was the front man of the QEH gig and returns once more. The band also toured at the time. He stood there, relaxed looking, wearing a leather jacket and sporting a baseball cap with a guitar loosely slung over his shoulder.

Behind him to his right were the Urban Soul Orchestra an eight piece strings section led by violinist Stephen Hussey, while immediately behind Forde at the back of the stage Jazz Jamaica’s bandleader Gary Crosby OBE was beefing up his double bass reggae style to suit the occasion. The bass lines were extra fat, extra juicy, the reggae beat of guitarist Robin Banerjee and propulsive drums of Rod Youngs lovingly honed, and percussionist Pete Eckford was clearly raring to go from the start, fine and choppy on congas.

Not all the songs performed were from Catch a Fire but they formed the main strand of the musical programme, including album opener ‘Concrete Jungle’, ‘Slave Driver’, ‘400 Years’, ‘Stop That Train’, ‘Baby We’ve Got a Date’, and ‘Stir It up’, the latter opening the second set with a great string arrangement involving the fiddling duo of violinist Miles Brett and Stephen Hussey. ‘Kinky Reggae’, and the formidable ‘No More Trouble’ were also performed from Catch a Fire (only ‘Midnight Ravers’ was absent), and other Marley classics featured included ‘Redemption Song’ and ‘One Love’ from Exodus for good measure.

Forde was uniformly excellent that night, with great stage presence and a mellifluously persuasive voice, particularly on ‘Stop That Train’, ‘400 Years’ and ‘Redemption Song’, and the South Bank Centre choir Voice Lab directed by Mark De-Lisser went down a storm in the second set with their spirited sense of involvement. The audience got on to their feet and it all felt so natural. Earlier the vocal torch was carried under their own pared down auspices by the All Stars’ backing singers who Crosby dubbed “them three”, Jazz Jamaica’s own I-Threes: MOBO-nominated Zara McFarlane, Valerie Etienne and Rasiyah Jubari, whose harmonies and occasional ensemble-stealing moments were just great. Musical director and conductor Kevin Robinson’s trumpet solo at the end was also a classy touch. Hear this very fine presentation at the supersized Festival Hall a space where you’ll lively up yourself for sure. Stephen Graham

Brinsley Forde above centre with (l-r) Jazz Jamaica’s Rod Youngs, Robin Banerjee, Pete Eckford and Denys Baptiste, plus the Voicelab choir behind