That rare thing: a new trio and UK tour from 1990s UK jazz legend the singularly gifted saxophonist and composer Steve Williamson.

The trio, it’s Williamson with newcomers Hamish Moore on bass and Zoe Pascal on drums are touring with StringTing. The project features original new music by Williamson commissioned by Tomorrow’s Warriors with support from the PRS Foundation Open Fund.

Dates are Wed 1 May 2019, 7.45pm Purcell Room, South Bank Centre, London; Fri 10 May 2019, 8pm, Turner Sims, Southampton; Sat 18 May 2019, 8pm CBSO Centre, Birmingham; Sun 19 May 2019, 7pm, Hallé St Michael’s, Manchester; Thurs 23 May 2019, 8pm St George’s, Bristol; Fri 24 May 2019, 7.30pm Gulbenkian Theatre, Canterbury; Sat 20 July 2019, 9pm Hull Jazz Festival.  

This baritone sax/piano duo recording with its woozy undertow and great atmosphere sounds special and stands out trawling among the pre-releases auguring well for the rest of the album.

To be released on 17 May the issuing label Sunnyside describe pianist Lucian Ban’s ‘Dark Blue’, aptly as “a sombrely moving example of the various shades and contrasts of the blues.” 

Of the three jazz festivals coming up in Ireland soon, the Bray Jazz festival while not the biggest festival in the world, certainly has the best line-up with John Scofield, Fred Hersch and Anja Lechner among the artists heading to Bray, a seaside town in county Wicklow.

Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year the festival runs from 3-5 May. Full details at https://www.brayjazz.com

A sharp, short shock of an album, plenty of spare almost punkish energy from the sax-bass-drums trio to it, not to forget an array of little surprises coming along the way, with some artful electronics and the tinkle of glockenspiel dubbing in.

Far from a conventional jazz group, yet the overall concept factors in the space and virtuosity of contemporary jazz and even detours for a spot of ingenious konnakol on ‘Jazz Masala’. 

Their second album — the band reminds me a little of the kind of group Pete Wareham finds himself in post-Polar Bear, or Roller trio — follows on from the award-winning Another Raindrop released two years ago. 

Kuba Więcek is a subtle soloist and on a track like ‘Me and My Present Reason’ shows plenty of variety and his consummate ease as a leader.

Polish star pianist Marcin Masecki crops up as a guest on the puckish ‘Jazz Robots,’ another reason, along with the Django Bates-like whistling, to check out this most intriguing and lively of albums.

Hear the trio at the Pizza Express Jazz Club, London on 5 May. 

A beautifully arranged optimistic and highly energetic sound from Jonny Mansfield, introducing Elftet due for a release in late-June. Chris Potter, Gareth Lockrane and Kit Downes are among the guests.

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Atlas

In what is one of their highest profile signings to date London jazz indie label Whirlwind have signed singer Natacha Atlas and will release her album Strange Days in the autumn.   

Atlas over the years has worked with Transglobal Underground, Peter Gabriel, Nitin Sawhney, Nigel Kennedy, Indigo Girls, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Ibrahim Maalouf. Strange Days Whirlwind describe as “A darkly dystopian Arabic-infused jazz fantasy.”

It is a departure for Whirlwind whose releases tend to gravitate towards acoustic hard bop, jazz-rock, Cool School and mainstream flavours and a sign of the growing reach of the label which is run by bassist Michael Janisch beyond its core constituency.

Atlas on her Facebook page provides more details, crediting violinist, composer, arranger Samy Bishai as her producer, co-composer and arranger on the album and indicating that her personnel on it includes pianist Alcyona Mick, Andy Hamill, Asaf Sirkis, Hayden Powell, Robinson Khoury, Laurie Lowe and Idris Rahman among others.

Singer Claudia Campagnol releases her debut album I’m Strong later this month, a gutsy soulful affair which features an A-list of guests including musicians Jimmy Haslip, Vinnie Colaiuta and Gerard Presencer. The Dane, one of Denmark’s rising stars, plays the Danish Club Night at this year’s Jazzahead! in Bremen on Saturday 27 April.