Under half an hour in length yet pretty vital listening for anyone into drums, in other words and not only but also anyone into jazz at a deep level. Never mind the width feel the quality: if you think that an album ought to be 70 minutes long you will not be short changed it is worth adding.

Dave Smith, well known on the jazz scene, for instance marlbank caught him back in 2014 with Strobes, Dan Nicholls’ group that also featured the guitar and electronics of Matt Calvert plus the pin sharp visuals of Screwgun label graphic artist Stephen Byram on the big screen behind them. The rapport between all three that time was immediate and Smith came into his own all guns blazing. 

Beyond the jazz world and, maximum kudos among rockers, Dave Smith is also known for touring with Led Zeppelin singer Robert Plant’s acclaimed Americana-loving globetrotters. 

Live at The Vortex Solo Drums + Electronics 11.11.17 recorded during the London Jazz Festival is a different kettle of fish entirely. A solo drums album labour of love it is on one level a specialist thing but a wider audience ought to get it too. N.B the electronics do not get in the way too much, they really just act as a kind of sonic ceremonial incense or put another way the radar screen on which the rhythms can be viewed spanning an ocean of sound. Antonio Sánchez in his score for Birdman which was solo drums entirely changed things in recent years because he made it plain to a non-specialist movie audience (if not the Oscar rulers who chin stroked the superb music out of contention in the end) the notion that a drum solo or number of such thereof are valid as composition.

Live at the Vortex... similarly tells a story; there is a certain arc to the abstraction of percussion; and a thought process at play which is most significant. Shut your eyes and listen. You will get something out of this that you have never heard before. And yet you may not be able to put that feeling into words but the feeling will exist and release vivid impressions that will remain with you, pulsing. Just released. Available via Bandcamp. ****  

Rico and Lol Coxhill

Rico Rodriguez above left with Lol Coxhill (photo: Cordelia Weedon)

Guitarist Cris Gill recalls and pays tribute to Rico, the great Specials and Jazz Jamaica trombonist who Cris played together with in Rico & His Band

“I met Rico about thirty years ago in London in the late 1980s when Rico made a surprise guest appearance with the band I was playing guitar in at the time — a ska band called The Trojans (formed by Gaz Mayall, son of blues musician John Mayall). The Trojans were performing in the Tabernacle in Notting Hill, west London, and we had a large band room to prepare for the gig. When I arrived for the gig I was shocked to find Rico there warming up and doubly shocked to hear Charlie Parker lines.

“Apart from the joy of playing with Rico I was delighted to have the chance to talk with him about music and his interest in jazz, the first of many illuminating conversations during our friendship over the years. I discovered that Rico and I had a shared interest and admiration for many of the same great jazz artists from Count Basie with Lester Young and Freddie Green to Charles Mingus, John Coltrane and many great artists from the early to mid twentieth century.

“I had been born into a jazz and blues filled household in 1960; my father was a band leader (Mick Gills Imperial Jazz Band) and part of the late 1940s post-war Trad Jazz revival in England. From as early as I can remember there was usually music playing in the house, either from my parents’ collection of jazz and blues records or from jam sessions in the living room. I had discovered Ricos music when his LP Man From Wareika (1977) was first released and arrived in the record shop I was working in, my stepfathers jazz specialist music store Peter Russells Hot Record Store in Plymouth.

“When Rico decided to form his own new band, around 1990 (his first since the 1970s), and he wanted me to be a part of it playing guitar — I was honoured. This band performed and recorded over five years or so under the name Rico & His Band. Later during this period Rico was also a member of Jazz Jamaica but Rico often said to me that his band was more like a family to him and that some of the happiest times for him were when playing with his own band, with the rare musical freedom it provided. The set included many jazz songs/tunes, as well as Ricos own originals. Rico loved to keep it realduring gigs and would often quickly brief the bass player before starting into a tune which most of the band had never played or heard before; these spontaneous arrangements are some of my most memorable and enjoyable musical highlights.

“Ricos recognisable sound attracted the attention of many successful artists and his magical sound can be heard on many commercial recordings over several decades. One rare crossing of musical paths was when the great British jazz saxophonist Lol Coxhill sought out Rico and sat in on several gigs. Once whilst sound checking, Rico and Lol were playing a medley of Caribbean tunes together, some of which I recognised. After the sound check I asked Lol how he knew so many of the tunes he was playing with Rico, Lol replied ‘Ive never heard them before…’ The gigs with Lol were always remarkable.

“During that time Rico appeared many times with The Trojans, including a tour of Japan, and on several recordings. Ricos deep understanding of rhythm and his finesse with melodic timing added a unique majesty to the sound of the band with his inspirational solos always being the high point.

“By way of my personal tribute to Rico I feel very fortunate indeed to have been a part of Ricos music for a few years and to have enjoyed a friendship from which I learned so much about music, wisdom and life.”

The funeral took place yesterday in Brighton in the North Chapel of Woodvale Crematorium of Tony Hall. Proceedings were conducted by celebrant Tora Colwill. Tony, a lovely, lucky, man, a music business legend, died on 26 June aged 91. 

The congregation entered to ‘Golden Years’ performed over the PA by Loose Ends, then saxophonist Dave Angol played ‘Lush Life’ by Billy Strayhorn beautifully on the tenor. 

After an introduction by Ms Colwill and ‘Friends’ by Arrival was played on the PA, Chris and Crecia Carr from Tony and his late wife Billie’s family spoke with feeling and emotion. 

The Real Thing’s ‘Children of the Ghetto’ was then played and Chris Amoo from the number one hit Liverpool band spoke explaining how Tony had managed the band for 45 years and that he and his bandmates owed him everything. The next choice of music was perfect in context and captured the mood as it was the soaring Anita Baker rendition of ‘Giving You the Best That I Got’. Frank Collins of Arrival in a rich, warm, Scouse accent spoke again movingly of Tony. He said in a heartfelt way towards the end of his tribute his voice choked with emotion that he was in awe of Tony and spoke of how encouraging Tony was to him and his fellow Motown-loving musicians. Neighbours and friends Abe and Theano Marrache, Jazzwise editor in chief Jon Newey and accountant Simon Nixon who organised the funeral and filled a bus load of a travelling portion of the congregation at Brighton train station beforehand also spoke. Tony was a champion of the long time New York-based trumpeter Dizzy Reece who Tony produced for Blue Note records, the first British producer of the storied label and it was fitting that Monk classic rendered as ‘Round about Midnight’ included on the highly cherished album Blues For Trinity which was recently toured among other Reece repertoire by bandleader-pianist Trevor Watkis who was present at the service and who had only a short time beforehand spoken to Dizzy on the phone was heard as Tony’s coffin was committed. Dave Angol switched to soprano saxophone and played the moving Gordon Jenkins elegy ‘Goodbye’ complete with extensive improvisation. Tony’s spirit and huge influence lives on. Stephen Graham

Image result for ronnie scotts marlbank late spot

Returning next year to tour in quartet mode once again with Pat Metheny, according to pianist Gwilym Simcock’s manager Christine Allen, and with a landmark solo piano album already out this year, the pianist sold out Ronnie’s last night for this first gig by his longstanding trio in several years. Simcock marked the occasion by writing some material for the festival and opened with ‘All Along’ a scampering tour de force. Next number ‘Victorville’ he told us was dedicated to bassist Yuri Goloubev’s interest in old aeroplanes. Later drummer Asaf Sirkis contributed the ballad ‘Portrait of a Woman’ and the second set encore was ‘How Deep is the Ocean’ Simcock prefacing the set after the intermission by telling us he had somehow ‘scalded’ his hand during the break which was a bit worrying but did not alter the quality of his formidable playing one tad. Looking tanned and speaking in a Steve Coogan-esque lightly traced Mancunian accent he bowed enthusiastically with the other two at the end having thanked the audience for listening. 

Overall this was a dazzling display of effortless mastery. The trio’s take on Buster Williams’ ‘Christina’ was the runaway highlight of an engrossing evening that was full of skill and conversational insight.

Earlier the thumping techno LBT trio that Ronnie’s booker Paul Pace had talent spotted at Jazzahead this year rocked the room as the support act, the drummer even wearing ear protectors and necessarily so. The bar tender danced along like a sentry marking time contentedly to the metronomic beat.

Stephen Graham

The international piano trio festival continues tonight. This year’s headliner Kenny Barron, a giant of the music, also sold out at the weekend.


Nérija — Nubya Garcia (tenor saxophone), Sheila Maurice-Grey (trumpet), Cassie Kinoshi (alto saxophone), Rosie Turton (trombone), Shirley Tetteh (guitar), Lizy Exell (drums) and Rio Kai (bass) — released Blume on 2 August, having signed to Domino. Check out the woozy hard bop and Afrobeat-flavoured ‘Riverfest’ from the album, above. 

Other acts in addition to saxophonist Soweto Kinch in the Rye jazz and blues festival line-up include Rumer, Lucky Peterson, Liane Carroll, JTQ, Earl Okin and Theon Cross. Dates are 22-26 August. Website. (corrected 7 Aug 2019)

Happy birthday. Read pagesix.com for the latest. Listen to classic Tony Bennett, with Bill Evans.

James Carter

To be released soon.

Works like a charm. From Gris Gris by Shake Stew to be released by Traumton Records in November. Great groove. One to wig out to. Initial impressions: sort of surfy guitar... later changing when the blissed out horns take up the response. Hipster flute then moves the whole thing into cruise control and a mighty vamp ensues. Kicks in completely when the flautist starts sort of simultaneously vocalising and deliberately overblowing. The jam feel is then really on and then steps back effortlessly by the end. 

Jam Music Lab Uni logo

Interested in participating in the International Artistic Jazz Research Symposium this autumn in Vienna?

To be held in partnership with the Institute for Jazz Research at the University of Music and Performing Arts Graz and the Jam Music Lab Private University for Jazz and Popular Music Vienna you have until 19 August to submit your ideas. 

Inaugurating a network and according to its website looking at a range of academic interests including specifics of artistic jazz research and best practice models, proposals for contributions should include: title, name, institutional affiliation, country, type of contribution, abstract and a short CV.  Speakers/panelists for the October event include Andrew Bain and Mike Fletcher from the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. Full details via the symposium website. 

Anthony Braxton

The great composer, saxophonist, professor, innovator Anthony Braxton appears with in his band in Dalston, east London at Oto: the acclaimed Sun Ra-inspired Alexander Hawkins on piano; Neil Charles, a member of Seb Rochford’s new band Pulled By Magnets, who also plays with Hawkins in his own acclaimed trio, on double bass; and, completing the line-up, the influential multi-directional Bourne-Davis-Kane player Stephen Davis on drums featured on each of the three nights. Dates are 19-21 January 2020. A series pass for all three nights is available. Anthony Braxton, above (Photo: Wikipedia). Tickets and full details.  

As previously noted in these pages back in 2015, Ríoghnach Connolly let the music do the talking on Matt Owens’ The Aviators’ Ball with her spine-tingling version of the Appadlachian folk song ‘Black is the Colour (of My True Love’s Hair)’ covered famously by Nina Simone and Joan Baez in the 1960s, Cara Dillon and Christy Moore more recently. Ríoghnach [pronounced “ReeOna”] and The Breath (her duo with Stuart McCallum) have picked up BBC Folk Awards nominations. From County Armagh, and for some years since part of the Manchester music scene, she entered the spotlight for real as part of a duo on Carry Your Kin, which was her highest profile release and appeared on jazz-friendly world music label Real World and on which she teamed up with one of the north of England’s most creative jazz-into-electronica guitar stars Stuart McCallum who is pictured with Connolly, above.  

Full list of nominations, below. (The awards ceremony will be held at The Bridgewater Hall in Manchester on Wednesday 16 October during the Manchester Folk Festival.)

Folk Singer of the Year

•              Gwilym Bowen Rhys

•              Lisa O’Neill

•              Olivia Chaney

•              Ríoghnach Connolly

Best Duo or Group

•              Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita

•              Stick in the Wheel

•              The Breath

•              The Rheingans Sisters

The Horizon Award

•              Brìghde Chaimbeul

•              Kinnaris Quintet

•              Kitty Macfarlane

•              The Trials Of Cato

Best Traditional Track 

•              Factory Girl by Lisa O'Neill ft. Radie Peat

•              Ffoles Llantrisant by VRï

•              The Foggy Dew by Ye Vagabonds

•              The Reedcutter’s Daughter by Jimmy Aldridge & Sid Goldsmith

Best Original Track

•              Blackbird by Lisa O'Neill

•              I Burn But I Am Not Consumed by Karine Polwart

•              Spells Out by Kathryn Tickell & The Darkening

•              Scapa Flow 1919 by Kris Drever

Best Album 

•              Ancora by Flook

•              Heard a Long Gone Song by Lisa O’Neill

•              Hide and Hair by The Trials of Cato

•              Soar by Catrin Finch & Seckou Keita 

Musician of the Year

•              Jenn Butterworth

•              Mohsen Amini

•              Sam Sweeney

•              Seckou Keita

Worth getting on LP. Great interview, above, which ECM have put up to chime with the release of the 1998 album Khmer now reissued on vinyl.

Khmer is a bona fide classic it goes without saying but there it is anyway: said. Now on vinyl a format that does lend itself to the style and will enhance its organic characteristics given the format’s tactile and kinetic abilities. Khmer spawned the term “futurejazz”.

Once again the future is present tense given the way technology allows us to an extent certainly with reissues and format changes to imagine better and better.

TS Eliot sums up such thinking without making too much of a leap yet altering the context, place and era in Four Quartets, a classic of literary modernism, and it is worth quoting the first three lines: “Time present and time past/Are both perhaps present in time future,/And time future contained in time past.” A great work of art has that ability to hang in the air in a state of timelessness and Khmer certainly does exactly that and makes the listener alert in this instance to its, yes post-modern, world of sound and silence as a unity and enables a vanishing of the self to fully grasp its impact.  

• Also perhaps of interest, this Nils Petter Molvær feature ‘Legends of the Fall’ published in 2013 when marlbank visited western Norway and Ålesund near the island of Sula (where NPM is from) ahead of the release of 1/1 and Switch and we went into the Ocean Sound Recordings studio at Giske, also met the great painter Ørnulf Opdahl, visited the Opdahl studio, and looked at some of Ørnulf’s paintings. 

The Hang is a new podcast series hosted by Gregory Porter.

Kamasi Washington, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Don Was, Amma Asante, Gilles Peterson, Annie Lennox and more are some of the guests coming up. Begins on 8 August. Check out, in the audio, which big film star will appear on the first podcast.


Just enough essential parts. Listen. Alex Hahn...? See his Official biog

The time. The space. The maturity. All are evident in these little clips and sample tracks. Interesting to see how New Flight will do. 

Stream in late-August to do yourself a favour. Marlbank got lucky today finding these sounds that, chiefly in terms of timbre and facility, relate to the Derek Nash soundsphere a little yet stylistically is very different. The word may well spread that bit more after all the awards, touring, and early career work that provided the platform to spring from channelling the reedist-flautist’s natural talent in a rising trajectory if people listen in numbers. Let’s hope so. In brief: Accessible. New Melodic. Full of improvisational flair. Credible. 

Saoirse, unveiling a collaboration between singer Lauren Kinsella, saxophonist Tom Challenger, violist Benedict Taylor and pianist Kit Downes, is to feature in this autumn’s Galway Jazz Festival. Exploring Irish traditional music and in part celebrating Connemara Sean-nós song, improvisation and original composition the work will be performed at An Taibhdhearc in Galway on 3 October. More

• Watch this space for more festival programme details. 

Blue Note 80 logo web optimised 740

It is looking like saxophonist James Carter’s debut as a bandleader for Blue Note will be released at the end of August. A number of incomplete reports on the Internet suggest that it is titled Live from Newport Jazz and there is a suggestion that we should expect gypsy jazz and the African American heritage of the organ under the microscope plus six compositions by or in the repertoire of Django Reinhardt. Hammond B-3 virtuoso Gerard Gibbs and drummer Alexander White are in the trio with JC. No artwork or tracks seem to be available at the time of writing.

• This is a developing story. Marlbank has reached out to the label for more solid information.   

Constellation are releasing the latest from sax great Matana Roberts. Powerful. Epic. Listen for a flavour.