He’s one of the biggest draws on the UK jazz club circuit and yet virtuoso guitarist Antonio Forcione lacks the profile that many musicians of his stature achieve. Not that he’s complaining, and those very much in the know are surely relishing next month’s three-week residency at the Edinburgh fringe.

The fringe is almost a home from home for the popular Italian London-based guitarist whose signature style encompasses contemporary jazz, world music and the strains of flamenco guitar.

Forcione has been performing in Edinburgh for some 20 years, but this year he unveils material from his latest album Sketches of Africa for the first time which to my ears on early listens sounds like one of his most effortlessly accomplished recording sessions in a long recording career.

Forcione is joined on the album by his core group of Adriano Adewale, Jenny Adejayan and Nathan Thompson, while musicians from Senegal, Zimbabwe, Gambia, South Africa among other countries make the release in typical Forcione style music without national boundaries or forced genre constraints.

In Edinburgh Forcione is appearing with Senegalese kora player Seckou Keita and drummer Dado Pasqualini from 2-11 August at Venue No 3, and later in the run by Salvador’s Anselmo Netto and folk-latin bassist Matheus Nova from 12-27 August.

Antonio has been based in London since 1983 and hails from southern Italy, born in a village on the Adriatic coast. His musical journey began as a busker in the tourist heavy streets of Covent Garden, but he soon began to tour widely forming a regular quartet and releasing albums. In the 1990s he also was part of a musical comedy group Olé and in Edinburgh has won awards such as Best Spirit of the Fringe as well as awards in his native Italy.

Sketches of Africa, Forcione says on his website, was inspired by his many travels on the Continent and is his first release for five years. Opening track ‘Madiba’s Jive’ was composed as a tribute to Nelson Mandela who just this week celebrated his 94th birthday. Other tracks are ‘Song for Zimbabwe’, ‘Stay Forever’, ‘Africa’, ‘Tarifa’, ‘Tar’, ‘Clear Day’ and ‘Sun Groove’. All tracks are composed, arranged and produced by Forcione and the album’s co-producer is Chris Kimsey. More dates follow the fringe season with Pizza Express Jazz Club dates in London prominent among them from 13-16 September.

Stephen Graham

Pictured above: Antonio Forcione

John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension are scheduled to release their latest album, the title of which is now confirmed as Now Here This, in the autumn.

Details are still sketchy at this stage, although the release date is set for 16 October, according to UK distributor Proper Note.

Now Here This is to be released by Souvik Dutta’s AbstractLogix label, the US record and publishing company that first signed a distribution and retail agreement to promote John McLaughlin’s guitar instruction DVD This is the Way I Do It following a merchandising connection with McLaughlin’s Indo-fusion band Remember Shakti.

AbstractLogix also released 4th Dimension’s A Love Supreme-inspired Grammy-nominated album To the One in 2010.

Complete personnel details have not been confirmed so far for the new album, but tracks are: ‘Trancefusion’, ‘Riff Raff’, ‘Echoes From Then’, ‘Wonderfall’, ‘Call and Answer’, ‘Not Here Not There’,’ Guitar Love’ and ‘Take It or Leave It’.

Stephen Graham

John McLaughlin 4th Dimension, pictured above, play the London Jazz Festival on 11 November. For more go to: http://www.londonjazzfestival.org.uk/event/john-mclaughlin-the-4th-dimension-1

Here’s an extract of my review of Neneh Cherry and The Thing, who slayed the devoted in Shoreditch’s Village Undeground last night.

The frequently riotous, and defiantly non-conformist collaboration between Neneh Cherry and The Thing hit London’s Village Underground with some thump last night, as part of its fast wheeling European tour. Their album The Cherry Thing was “born here in Acton,” Cherry told the all-standing audience who jostled for position in this cavernous, old industrial building near the train tracks in Shoreditch. It has caused quite a stir, and producer Robert Harder was also on hand here manning the sound desk, something Cherry was obviously pleased about.

The place was packed to the gills with a mix of old punks, free jazz nuts and gaggles of women who had earlier danced around to the dub reggae blasting out like a furnace from the venue’s sound system before Cherry and The Thing came on around 10pm.

– Stephen Graham

Read more at jazzwisemagazine.com

Neneh Cherry, pictured above. Photo: Kristoffer Juel Poulsen