image

There’s an interview with Don Friedman, the pianist who appeared on Charles Lloyd’s 1964 debut Discovery! on Marc Myers’ website Jazz Wax about how a Scott LaFaro tune called ‘Gloria’s Step’ got its name. Seven years before the Lloyd release, Friedman in 1957 found himself living in a New York apartment he then began to share with bassist Scott LaFaro. “The guys I had roomed with,” Friedman says, “had moved out. It was on 80th St. and York Ave. Scotty was there only for a few months. He soon moved down to the Lower East Side with Gloria, his girlfriend. They never married. Gloria was a lovely girl and a dancer. She and Scotty remained together until his death in early July 1961. The song’s name originated because he knew the sound of Gloria’s footsteps when she came up the stairs to their apartment, not because she was a dancer.” The LaFaro composition, which appeared on Sunday at the Village Vanguard, Bill Evans’ classic 1961 album, now has new lyrics written by songwriter Theo Jackson the copyright holders of the tune Orpheum Music, a division of Concord Music Group, have approved and published as ‘Gloria’s Step – vocal version’. Jackson performed the song at the 606 jazz club in London back in the spring: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8rjQvUOewck

Theo Jackson top

image

Reuben Fowler
Between Shadows
Edition **** RECOMMENDED
Well this is quite brilliant: there’s no other way of putting it. Fowler may well be seen as the most exciting and accomplished jazz trumpeter to emerge on the British jazz scene since Guy Barker first dazzled in the 1990s with Into the Blue. And it’s somehow appropriate that Barker is on hand to conduct Fowler’s band,a big band that somehow has an intimate subtlety, power, and warmth that is quite staggering with its modal facility, improvisational flair and believable swinging approach. Already with some acclaim under his belt as winner of the Kenny Wheeler Music Prize and the Peter Whittingham Award, Fowler is here with a band that includes highly influential saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, the alert and inventive vibes player Jim Hart, and even features a rare appearance by cult US trumpeter Tom Harrell, a big hero of Fowler’s, as well as many up-and-coming student contemporaries of the young trumpeter’s. Recorded in January at Angel studios in north London Fowler composed and arranged much of the music on Between Shadows as well as playing trumpet and flugelhorn. A new landmark in big band jazz it’s easy to state with some confidence Fowler’s rekindling of the flame of Gil Evans and Kenny Wheeler is utterly convincing, but that’s not the whole story here by any means. The inclusion of a Richard Turner composition, ‘Too Minor’, is a reminder of the much missed Round Trip trumpeter, and the nuanced reading of ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ as well as the pleasurably unfussy arrangements throughout show just how in sync with the classic jazz tradition Fowler’s approach is. Yet somehow, and that’s a clue to its success, Between Shadows is never stuck in the past but embraces the present with gusto. Stephen Graham

Released on 1 July. The album is launched at the Forge in London on 25 July. Tickets: http://www.forgevenue.org/whats-on/eventdetails/25-jul-13-between-shadows-album-launch-the-forge

 

image

First ever Empirical double album due in the late-summer
Empirical recorded their fourth album Tabula Rasa earlier this year during a five-day recording session at Assault and Battery 2 studio in Willesden, north west London. The new work, the award-winning post-bop band’s first double album, is to be released by Naim jazz on 26 August. String quartet the Benyounes Quartet join Empirical on Tabula Rasa, and their association stems from first working together as part of Empirical’s tenure as Golubovich Jazz Scholars at Trinity Laban conservatoire of music and dance.

image

The band say: “The music is ambitious, risky, epic and full of stories – everything you’ve come to expect from Empirical.” Tracks are: ‘The Simple Light Shines Brightest’, ‘Bellsonian Scales’, ‘The Prophet’, ‘Ascent’, ‘Descent’, ‘Empiricism’, ‘Studies In Time (The Healer)’, ‘Where Wisdom Is Found’, ‘One for ‘Bones’ Jones’, ‘The World In His Mind’, ‘Scoffie (The Moody One)’, ‘Repentance’, ‘Studies In Time (Relative)’, and ‘Conflict In Our Time’.
Lewis Wright top left Shaney Forbes, Nathaniel Facey, and Tom Farmer; with the album cover above

image

Somi: new songs herald a sense of renewed momentum

There’s quite a buzz about Somi at the moment, and it’s not just because she’s brand new. With at least one major label expressing serious interest in signing the Illinois-born singer of Rwandan and Ugandan origin after a recent jazz club show in Paris it’s not as if Somi has not already paid her dues. Take If The Rains Come First on ObliqSound, the label that put out some of Lionel Loueke’s early work. If The Rains… followed Eternal Motive a decade ago and the World Village release Red Soil in My Eyes. But her most recent album was the 2011 live album recorded in New York, Live at Jazz Standard that really got people talking. And more recently the singer has come up with several new songs written in Lagos over the past year that has upped the ante. Somi sings in English and several African languages and it’s a multicultural cosmopolitan approach that joins the dots between Nina Simone and Miriam Makeba. Somi has been championed in the past by no less a figure than Hugh Masekela who guested on If The Rains Come First, and the singer/songwriter has also worked with John Legend, Cassandra Wilson, Mos Def and Paul Simon. The title track of ‘If The Rains Come First’ is here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PaO1rp8yf5o

image

Tomorrow’s Warriors this weekend take part in a Nucleo weekend series of events featuring performances, workshops, discussions and open rehearsals inspired by the renowned grassroots youth music movement the Nucleos of El Sistema in Venezuela, a programme that has transformed contemporary approaches to music making internationally. The weekend of free entry activities includes: Friday 4.30pm Tomorrow’s Warriors Legacy panel (Purcell Room) artistic director Gary Crosby with a panel of past and present members of Tomorrow’s Warriors to discuss 22 years of Tomorrow’s Warriors music making; 5.30pm Tomorrow’s Warriors Small Bands (Front Room) Nérija, Charlie Stacey quintet, and Ezra; 8pm Tomorrow’s Warriors Plus (Clore Ballroom) featuring Tomorrow’s Warriors Alumni, including Jason Yarde and Peter Edwards. Saturday 10am Tomorrow’s Warriors Youth Jazz Orchestra open rehearsal (Queen Elizabeth Hall); also at 10am Tomorrow’s Warriors Junior Warriors Development Session (Violet Room, Royal Festival Hall); noon Tomorrow’s Warriors Youth Warriors Development Session (Violet Room, RFH); 2pm Tomorrow’s Warriors Youth Warriors Jam Session (Violet Room, RFH); 4pm Tomorrow’s Warriors Youth Jazz Orchestra Groove Connection world premiere (Clore Ballroom). Sunday 11.30am Tomorrow’s Warriors Trombone Masterclass (Violet Room, RFH); 2pm Tomorrow’s Warriors TWYJO Sharing Session Led by Peter Edwards ((Violet Room, RFH) and 2.30pm Tomorrow’s Warriors Junior Band (RFH Central Bar Stage).

image

Saxophonist’s hard driving quintet tour debut album

Surely Phil Meadows’ debut Engines of Creation should feature the smallest band in existence as it shares its title with a celebrated book that imagines a world where the contents of the biggest library on earth can fit on to the tiniest of computer chips? Instead of some cyber dream of fibre optic-jamming in the ether, Meadows, however, is joined in a quintet by actual people: trumpeter Laura Jurd, pianist Elliot Galvin, also on Rhodes; bassist Conor Chaplin (from WorldService Project); and drummer Simon Roth on their debut album released today by Boom Better records. You can listen to the album here: http://philmeadows.bandcamp.com
Seven tracks in all (‘Fin’, ‘Moving on’, ‘Runner’, ‘Engines of Creation’, ‘Flamingos’, ‘The Dragon of George’, and ‘Captain Kirk’) the tour begins on Thursday in west London at Jazz Re:Freshed in the Mau Mau bar followed by The Met, Bury (29); Seven Arts, Leeds (30); Cinnamon Club, Altrincham (1 July); Parr Jazz, Liverpool (2); Matt and Phred’s, Manchester (3); Davenham Players Theatre, Northwich (4); and the Spotted Dog, Birmingham (9). The London-based Meadows is probably best known from his days as a lead alto in the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, and he favours a hard blowing post-bop style, while Laura Jurd has a growing reputation based mainly on her stylish debut Landing Ground.  

Phil Meadows group above