To what are we listening today and are we afraid of the big bad wolf? The pastoral soundscapes of Slow Burn; and caring to be a tad literal for a moment if amiably responsive – no. 

Guitarist Mike De Souza has his debut out and promising as a statement of intent and potential it is too, above click for a taster of the live experience. A trio affair, the guitarist who has written the tunes, is with Jay Davis on drums and Hon podcaster extraordinaire Huw V. Williams on bass. Gigs coming up include Camberwell, south London (Jazz at the Crypt on 18 October), and the Spotted Dog, Birmingham (22) followed by Cardiff, Newcastle, Manchester, Liverpool, Sheffield and Nottingham – with November dates to follow.

As previously noted in your preferred jazz jotter: de Souza had an EP out called Road Fork. The guitarist has a stellar academic record picking up degrees from Leeds College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. He notes referring to the title track explaining that: “The piece builds slowly over the course of 9 minutes. I was listening to a lot of Radiohead’s music around the time of writing this piece, and I was hearing the sound of Thom Yorke’s voice in my head as I composed the main melody which steered the direction of the track. Sufjan Stevens album Carrie & Lowell also inspired me with its uses of multiple layers of lush guitars playing different arpeggios which led me to write the initial figure played on acoustic guitar at the start of the track.

• Check the de Souza websiteSlow Burn is on CD and for download.



 Carmen Lundy

Carmen Lundy returns this month with new studio album Modern Ancestors. It contains self-penned and arranged tracks and a Carmen band consisting of Julius Rodriguez on piano, brother Curtis Lundy on acoustic upright bass, Kenny Davis on both electric and acoustic bass, Mayra Casales on percussion, Terreon Gully alternating with Kassa Overall on drums and Andrew Renfroe on guitar – recorded at Stagg Street Studios in Los Angeles. 

Marlbank had a listen to the album right through last night and we will bring you a full review at release time. Suffice to say it is sophisticated and excellent. Make a note to look for the album at a busy time of year just before the countdown to the end of year holiday season madness begins.

As a tiny preview in terms of a few introductory comments the stand-out songs, and happily there are quite a few, are the very impressive and meaningful love song ‘Meant for Each Other’ and by contrast the witty and amusing ‘Jazz on TV’ where lyrics and delivery align so very intuitively. Over earnestness through this inclusion is banished.

There are also some significant additional songs, one or two even greater in intensity than the aforementioned, and which we can go into in more detail later. For now Carmen glosses in a few general notes to the media about the songs and on ‘Meant for Each Other’ writes that the song “harkens back to the mid-eighties when I was just beginning to seriously consider singing original songs only. I, along with many other vocalists, songwriters and composers, was busy making gigs in and around New York City and performing our own tunes. I arranged this song based on changing harmony and chord progressions in the intro, while staying true to the original melody and lyric written by Julie Raynor and Marilyn Redfield Castilaw. Laid down with a soulful, timeless groove.”

As for ‘Jazz on TV’ she says the song is “questioning why we see little or no jazz in television programming and in multi media. Sounds funny but it’s true. I think it is time to do something about that.”

One of the world’s great jazz singers it is seven years since we last heard the singer live and that was at Ronnie Scott’s circa Changes. At that time Carmen, who began her career in Miami where she hails from, was with Anthony Wonsey on piano, Philly bassist Darryl Hall on both acoustic bass and later electric; and introducing young Floridian Jamison Ross on drums, a real find and as it turned out future Monk prize winner with a big recessed beat that made me think of Terreon “Tank” Gulley. It is interesting that “Tank” who first blew us all away when he was with the Christian McBride electric band is on the upcoming record.

That night inside number 47 Frith Street appearing from behind the dressing room door to the left of the stage, Lundy with her bare shoulders draped in a fur with her fingers and arms covered by long crimson gloves, the singer soon controlled the stage with a dizzying array of gestures, gesticulations and knowing looks. Half Betty Carter, half Grace Jones as she shoulder danced along to the trio she opened with her simmering Maya Angelou referencing ‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ frequently grimacing as she scanned the decent sized Monday first set crowd, picking out the middle distance with her extended right hand. With her cropped hair, youthfully slim appearance, and riotous sense of abandon, she showed both her power and ideas on mostly original material new and longstanding. 

Changes was her twelfth album, (Soul to Soul and Code Noir have appeared since) and during the gig Lundy was also content to reprise earlier material including the tour de force ‘You’re Not In Love’ which allowed her to reach out to long time fans and reminisce about Hoxton’s Bass Clef the club former Lennie Tristano bassist Peter Ind used to run. There were a few scenesters from that time in the audience as someone in the audience chatted back to Lundy as she recalled the jazz club scene of the time, and even Gilles Peterson could be glimpsed slipping into the main room as he emerged from backstage. Best in the first set was the political ‘Love Thy Neighbor’, a civil rights anthem all the more fitting as it was delivered on the evening of the Martin Luther King federal holiday in the States. The more sensual second set songs added yet another dimension to this strong showing with ‘(I Dream) In Living Colour’ another highlight that distant but memorable night. SG

Modern Ancestors (Afrasia) is to be released on 25 October.

The cascading cloaked serenity of ‘Reflections’ From Lune Rouge (on Foufino/Warner Music France) by Swiss trumpeter Erik Truffaz. Look for the album next week. Singer Andrina Bollinger is the additional singer alongside José James among the personnel. ‘Let it flow, the old wine-jar’ (Horace), a major voice enhances the wonderful notes and Chet-ian tones of Truffaz. It’s been a while.


Ashley Henry plays EartH at the EFG London Jazz Festival on 19 November. Beautiful Vinyl Hunter, from which ‘Lullaby (Rise & Shine)’ feat. Judi Jackson is drawn, is out now.

Golden Valley Is Now

Craig Taborn is a revelation. Again. But beautiful what he does here, all naked in some very simple melody lines. The Anderson and the King tunes are very poignant (if you desire an adjective). More to the point in terms of effect they are utterly compelling. Think Kraftwerk, think song: delete that don’t even think – once read just forget the four words in this sentence before the colon. Bask instead, rely on your gut feeling, yep pun intended, in the tunes. Nostalgia as nostalgia unravelling sums up the whole thing. SG

BATL quartet, Live, RT Jazz Records **** makes you feel you are there in the room – BATL in case you were wondering the initials of Brandon Allen on tenor saxophone and Tim Lapthorn on piano. The tunes are mainly Allen’s with Lapthorn contributing ‘Return to Life’ and ‘Cuckoo’ – the live sound at the Pizza Express Jazz Club below street level on Soho’s Dean Street recorded in March and excellently captured by Luc St Martin who also later did the mix and mastering.

Brandon dedicates his tune ‘Theodore’ to his young son just five months old at the time: and the tunes as well as being personal to him are very communicative, natural, and tender. Arnie Somogyi is on bass and Lloyd Haines is on drums. Brandon says in the notes: “I feel very optimistic about the creative potential of this quartet,” and you can understand why after oh about a couple of notes and yet there is nothing cloying in the quartet’s approach because the band sound is grounded in tough hard bop. The tenor is big and bright, the piano support nurturing, bass springy and curious – and as for Haines on drums just as well he can do spang a lang so perfectly but who can also make the switch as on ‘Lazy Day’ to do that tricky falling that bit trampling behind the beat as Brandon goes scalar. The only way is up. SG