Jean Toussaint

Live at the Jazz Cafe

As indicated in marlbank back in August look out for a new release from Jean Toussaint.

David Lyttle of Lyte records confirmed a plan back in the summer in an email to that effect: “I will be releasing Jean Toussaint’s next album later in the year.”

Well that time has come around and later in the year is happily this Friday.  The opener taken from Brother Raymond is dedicated, Jean tells the Camden Town audience in the recording, to the great Barack Obama. This is entitled ‘Amabo’ which is ‘Obama’ backwards. When I Googled it, it means ‘I Shall Love’ in Latin. I mean how perfect can that be?”

By the Jean Toussaint Allstar 6tet Live at the Jazz Cafe marks what would have been Art Blakey’s 100th birthday – the anniversary falling on 11 October and day of release – the recording was made at the end of a Brother Raymond promotional tour.

With Jean, a former Jazz Messenger from a vintage edition of the band in the 1980s when Terence Blanchard was in the front line with him: are Byron Wallen (Mulatu Astatke Step Ahead band) on trumpet; Dennis Rollins (Maceo) playing trombone; Andrew McCormack (Kyle Eastwood band, MY Duo) on piano; Daniel Casimir (David Lyttle 3) on the double bass; and Shaney Forbes (of Empirical, Wave) at the kit in pride of place. 

Lyte Records signed Toussaint back in 2013 and released his first record as a leader since 2010’s Live in Paris and London in February 2014. 

Toussaint’s first album for Lyte was Tate Song, the title of the album took its name from Jean’s son, a Woody Guthrie and Townes Van Zandt-influenced folk-blues singer and guitarist.

The St Thomas born London based Toussaint made his name with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the 1980s appearing on such records as New York Scene and Blue Night, and as a leader Toussaint’s own albums include The Street Above the Underground, which won the prestigious best album category at the first BBC Jazz Awards. 

By Future Pilot AKA drawn from Orkestra Digitalis

Out now on Glass Modern

Victoria Geelan and Rohan Armstrong

Feeling good: Upstairs in Pat’s of the Diamond, Enniskillen – Victoria Geelan (Paul Maguire on guitar out of shot is behind the singer) and Rohan Armstrong playing at the Fermanagh Live Arts Festival. pic marlbank 

Walking through the doors ‘Social Call’, the Jon Hendricks-Gigi Gryce song were the first sounds that marlbank encountered, the trio gig already just underway.

In a long very alive not too echoey brick and wood constructed room that has a high ceiling, the trio not amped up too much the level only upped a bit later on so we could hear the bass a bit better, a congenial murmuring of conversation like overtones warmed the space just the right side of being intrusive and contributed to the ambient sound, Derry based Omagh singer Victoria Geelan, last in Enniskillen with her Nina Simone themed project, here in her band Omagh scene the Burrellian guitarist Paul Maguire returning to Enniskillen where he is becoming a regular and double bassist Rohan Armstrong, (known for his work with the very fine Hendersonian tenorist Meilana Gillard) were the players. Victoria has always reminded me of June Christy and she has a fine voice to merit such a comparison, very strong as she rises to the top of her range and yet tender.

‘Summer Wind’ among a standards strewn set was the pick of the evening. Delightfully Victoria’s baby nestled at the back of the room became a backing singer so Maguire and Armstrong had to play an unplanned instrumental while Victoria went over in response to the gurgling and then returned to the stage to follow with the next number, Ellington’s ‘Sophisticated Lady’, the Mitchell Parish lyrics painting such a vivid picture “Smoking, drinking/never thinking of tomorrow/nonchalant diamonds shining/dancing, dining/with some man in a restaurant”. The key difficult question of a song about interior desire following, “Is that all you really want?” Answer there needs to be none.

An excellent showing: the audience responded best to the Nina Simone material with the finger popping 'Love Me or Leave Me' at the end, “ba ba” in the arms of the festival chair Ann McDermott looking very content and happy. SG