Hard boppers and Blue Note heads rejoicedat the prospect of the Dizzy Reece Routes In Jazz tribute tour this year. Byron Wallen, Ralph Moore, Willie Jones III, Dezron Douglas and bandleader Trevor Watkis (above) combined to pay sincere homage to the great trumpeter whose style and taste endures down the generations. The English dates of the tour did well. Sadly Tony Hall who produced the classic Blues in Trinity — recorded in a London studio and not Paris as reckoned for years following on from its 1959 initial release — passed away recently. However, the Reece legend grows bigger by day and the tour moves this autumn to New York where Dizzy Reece lives, with an October date scheduled for Dizzy’s, as in Diz — nestled within Jazz at Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle. Tickets.
From a Patrick Zimmerli composed and arranged album performed by saxophonist Joshua Redman and Brooklyn Rider. Briefly, what you might be interested in knowing as you listen and scroll: The eight compositions are from a suite; that suite, which amounts to (in record terms) a concept album is about light; they were premiered at top chamber (and occasionally jazz) venue Wigmore Hall in London close to Cavendish Square five years ago; album personnel include bassist Scott Colley and drummer Satoshi Takeishi.
In terms of style listen to Redman album Walking Shadows to get in the zone if you have time first. If you are familiar with that direction: no worries. (If you were not it was a Brad Mehldau produced ballads-heavy album characterised by an orchestral ensemble shaped around a core jazz quartet.)
Zimmerli is from New York and also works in Paris while Brooklyn Rider are a musically curious chamber ensemble who choose repertoire from many styles and who released The Butterfly with Martin Hayes. Sun on Sand is to be released in October by Joshua Redman’s long time label, the Warners distributed major label imprint Nonesuch.
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 VortexSolo 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 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 Gill’s 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 Rico’s music when his LP Man From Wareika (1977) was first released and arrived in the record shop I was working in, my stepfather’s jazz specialist music store Peter Russell’s 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 Rico’s own originals. Rico loved to ‘keep it real’ during 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.
“Rico’s 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 ‘I’ve 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. Rico’s 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 Rico’s 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
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.
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)