Top quality free improv here from Shifa on Live at Cafe Oto. 

Shifa is an Arabic word meaning “healing” and the group in question features three leading UK players: Black Top pianist Pat Thomas; saxophonist Rachel Musson and drummer Mark Sanders.

The record was recorded live at Dalston club Cafe Oto in London last year and is scheduled for a July vinyl release on New York label 577 Records.

There are so many albums around at the moment that you just do not want to listen to the end.

And then there is The Long Game: you listen to the end and then you start all over again.

It is a very different Liam Noble, the electric dare I say “prog” side emerging as if for the first time. 

In the company of two ex-Polar Bear players Tom Herbert on bass and Seb Rochford on drums this is not the usual jazz trio. The tunes are Noble’s, there is plenty of mischief at play which gives the album a life and personality, and while on ‘Between You and Me’ by using piano a bit he is on more familiar territory the scenery changes quickly enough, just listen to the weird noises filtering up from the innards of the album.

‘Unmemoried Man’ is fun, the sound direction switching from left to right, a kind of a game, pin the tail on the pianist... and those odd little background hisses and fades adding peculiar seasoning.

‘Head of Marketing’ has a kind of slyly funky cod serious pisstake quality to it dressed up to sound like one of the many hundreds of Bill Frisell records that can it is rumoured even be found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench wrapped inside all those discarded plastic bags from Tesco.

‘Head First’ has a kind of heavy metal madness to it and Herbert piles in, with Noble as if kidnapped forced to keep up with Rochford’s hyperactive drums muttering as he tinkles no doubt about how much he likes Deerhoof because it would be rude not to.

‘Head Over Heels’ has a Django Bates type sense of mischief again, some crazy settings chosen on the keys to make the thing sound as if it is all under water. Some times I think of Billy Jenkins a little circa Blue Moon in a Function Room in the way Noble has fun say on the perky ‘Pink Mice’ but there is plenty to ponder too and ‘Flesh and Blood’ stops you in your tracks and ‘Matcha Mind’ has a pile of microscopic detail that succeeds in making the sound intimate and personal and probably the most significant piece of the whole thing. Definitely among the best albums that I have heard this year. Noble goes from strength to strength and pulls the rug from under us poor unsuspecting listeners yet again. SG


If anyone can keep bebop relevant and turn its twists and anarchy into a music still fit for the 21st century it is alto sax genius Zhenya Strigalev and guitarist Federico Dannemann, returning from Blues for Maggie, with a great bass and drums team in Luques Curtis and Obed Calvaire. Recorded in a studio in Russia The Change (Rainy Days) is the first since Strigalev moved back to his native Russia after a great spell in London where you could depend on him to enliven a jam session at the drop of a hat in places like the now defunct Hoxton club Charlie Wright’s where back in the day Strigalev first played with Calvaire and Curtis. Strigalev’s best album to date? Yes I think so. The tunes really stand up and the yin and yang of sax and guitar work well, Dannemann an expert at colour while Strigalev manages to inject extra tenderness to his wildly virtuosic saxophone expertise to elevate this beyond a showboating display of technique. SG

Photo of Zhenya Strigalev by Eugene Petrushanskiy. UK release 28 June.

Report: via BBC News.

A first listen to the latest from Graviton, pianist Andrew McCormack’s band, and the title track above drawn from their pulsating second album, The Calling released this week — McCormack with Noemi Nuti on vocals, Josh Arcoleo on tenor saxophone, Tom Herbert on electric bass and Josh Blackmore on drums.

You always get a spiritual frisson from listening to a Tori Freestone record and El Mar de Nubes is no different. With spare bass and drums accompanying the saxophonist, there is a stark stillness to the record and plenty of space for her striking style. Inspired by the Canary Islands’ “sea of clouds” tracks include originals, traditional material, and a version of Sam Rivers’ ‘Beatrice’. All eminently listenable, but I get a samey feeling following on from earlier albums. Time to throw caution to the wind next time around and shake things up? For sure. SG.  

Image result for albert hall marlbank

Tickets go on sale on Friday for the just announced Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club 60th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall to take place on 30 October. Van Morrison, Courtney Pine, Imelda May, Madeline Bell and Liane Carroll are among the line-up. Ronnie Scott’s managing director Simon Cooke said: “We are transporting the club, for one night only, into the slightly larger Royal Albert Hall, but have every intention of recreating the unique atmosphere we have here in Frith Street.” Royal Albert Hall, above. Photo: marlbank


Amazing stuff here on a rare Irish warts-and-all jazz speckled 1970s compilation, entering a world few from this vantage point even knew existed. Buntús Rince: Explorations in Irish Jazz, Fusion & Folk is available via All City records in Dublin, and online through Bandcamp. Pick of the set for me are the tracks by Louis Stewart, Taste, Granny’s Intentions and Joe O’Donnell and what about that great mellow opener from Noel Kelehan...?

Pretty unusual instrumentation first off, a trio of drums & electronics/trombone/guitar & electronics. And a pretty unusual start too, lots of airy intrigue giving way to a more driving sound. A studio album recorded in Italy in January last year, the tunes are mostly arrived at cooperatively among the three players, the style is more about mood and texture than ferocious flurries of notes. I am not sure if it all hangs together and certainly you need patience which is not always rewarded. However on the plus side Aarset is as compelling as ever and drummer Rabbia, whose approach reminds me of Marilyn Mazur’s a little, challenges the listener to move beyond the orthodox to embrace a wide range of new sounds. An album that poses as many questions as it provides answers for. SG  

Released on 7 June.

This dreamy sweep of a title track from the upcoming Warner Music album by Swedish pianist Jacob Karlzon has been the marlbank go-to track these last few days. Shaped around a trio and strings there is a lot of complexity in the writing and a bittersweet rather than overly lush mood hovering in the air. Augurs well for the album by a pianist who is no newcomer but whose profile certainly in the UK and Ireland deserves to be higher. Maybe this project will be a prompt in this direction.

Karlzon appears at the Edinburgh jazz festival this summer.