Just playing some old records this morning. Actually not that old. From 2013. Also looking forward to Ballades, soon. “All my inspiration comes from Ahmad Jamal” — Miles Davis.

I like this story, run on a local website in Madison, Wisconsin, about the naming of “Richard Davis Lane” after the great Out to Lunch and Astral Weeks bassist. The latter album would not conjure the same spell if Davis had happened not to be on it. He contributes to some of its most intimate moments, seemingly getting on a deep level what Van is singing. As for Out to Lunch, well Dolphy is a God and this was his best album. Hugely demanding in terms of its beat and ever shifting feel, again impossible to appreciate without Davis, it continues to inspire great bands like Empirical and fans old and new the world over. SG 

 

An extract from the story:

“The community is invited to a ribbon-cutting on Saturday, July 20, noon, at the corner of Darbo Drive and brand-new Richard Davis Lane on Madison’s east side.  Richard Davis [top], a Madison jazz legend and Professor Emeritus of Bass at the University of Wisconsin where he taught from 1977 until his retirement in 2016, will officially be honored with a street in his name.”

Full story

Not so much a candidate more a shoo-in, I’ll do an updatable list soon, for inclusion in the best UK jazz albums of the year state of play.

Why so good? Well, the composition puts shreds of a whole bag of styles in the mixer and finds texture and passion. There is quite a lot of free form experimentation, there is also a good deal of trad jazz, exotic easternisms, Americana even thrown in. The shape of the tunes is really clever: you cannot guess what is coming next. Above all Jurd is original. I would hesitate to compare her in terms of sound to anyone. By the way she does not sound in terms of tone or timbre like Kenny Wheeler, which a lot of great Britjazz trumpeters do through love as much as anything else. I am sure she could play a homage to him if she wanted to and it would be thought-provoking but might upset people who would want an impersonation. (People also make the comparisons with Miles Davis, or did earlier in her career. Forget that because it is completely not apt.) 

What I do hear in her playing, just impulsive thoughts but hey as valid as anything, include some sort of distant brass band retooled in an avant laboratory. Read Richard Williams’ blog on Jurd. Above all listen and pick up a copy of Stepping Back, Jumping in (on the Edition label and out now) [**** RECOMMENDED]. SG

Have a listen to the moving lead-off track from Hypermetros, out in late-September. Cult status suits Oddarrang well. Looks like the legend will grow that bit bigger, listening to this. SG 

From In Need of Love which will be released by Elektra/Warners in September. 

Laura Mvula

Birmingham City University has awarded singer Laura Mvula an honorary doctorate.

An alumna of the university where she studied composition, she will receive the honour from the university’s Chancellor actor Sir Lenny Henry on 23 July. 

“I'm humbled and delighted to be receiving such an immense honour. From primary school through to Conservatoire studies, Birmingham — with its richness and diversity — was the soil in which the seeds of my formative years of music were sown. The Conservatoire gave me the tools and confidence to experiment and express myself. It’s incredible to think that from this wonderfully inspiring place, so many amazing opportunities have been mine and I have developed into the artist I am today — and am still growing. I’m so grateful,” she said in response to the news. 

In the autumn Laura’s song ‘Sing to the Moon’ will feature in the 2019 Last Night of the Proms live TV broadcast concert, with Sakari Oramo conducting the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Chorus, at the Royal Albert Hall. 

Barb Jungr, big on the cabaret circuit and who has a strong jazz element to her work particularly evident, above, has a new album Bob, Brel & Me to be released on 6 September via Kristalyn/Absolute. From it the cracking single ‘Rise and Shine’, she has co-written with Level 42’s Mike Lindup and boisterously arranged with brassy support, has just come out. Yep: it flies.  

Edition Records are to release five Julian Argüelles back catalogue albums next week, amounting to one of the most significant UK jazz reissue projects this year, most of these are unavailable right now and include his classic Babel period. The albums are: 

Phaedrus (Ah Um 1990) Personnel: Julian Argüelles - tenor/soprano, John Taylor - piano, Mick Hutton - bass, Martin France - drums.  

Home Truths  (Babel label 1995) Personnel: Julian Argüelles - tenor/soprano, Mike Walker - guitar, Martin France - drums, Steve Swallow - electric bass. 

Scapes (Babel label 1996) Personnel: Julian Argüelles - saxes, clarinets, recorders, keyboards and handclaps Steve Argüelles - percussion and drums.

Skull View (Babel label 1997) Personnel: Django Bates - tenor horn, Ian Dixon - bass clarinet, tenor sax, Mark Bassey - trombone, Mario Laginha - piano, Mike Walker - electric, acoustic guitars, Steve Watts - double bass, Martin France - drums.

Inner Voices (TOAP 2009) Personnel:  Julian Argüelles soprano, tenor, baritone and contrabass saxophones; clarinet and bass clarinet; piccolo, flute and alto flute; mouth harp, saxophone percussion, prepared piano and voice. 

Check out a sunny lead off track from the accessible soul-funk-jazz outfit Souljazz Orchestra who return with a new studio album Chaos Theories to be issued by Strut on 13 September before playing Jazz Cafe, London on 16 October and Sugar Club, Dublin on 17 October. If you like Was (Not Was) this might make your day. 

  

One of the big highlights of the Sligo Jazz Project this year is the appearance by the Jaco Pastorius-inspired bass guitarist Michael Pipoquinha and his quartet.

Pipoquinha emerged as a teenage prodigy. His technique and natural flair, which stun, it is no exaggeration to say, bassists and general listeners the world over, uses in part a thumb-plus-three-finger technique as a part of his style.  

“We strive to present brilliant young and emerging jazz talent in Sligo each year,” says Sligo Jazz Festival director Eddie Lee, “and always have an eye on the Internet for great music. For example we have hosted Christian Scott, Avishai Cohen and Andreas Varady in past years and many young UK jazz artists like Trish Clowes and Laura Jurd.

 

Michael Pipoquinha

Michael Pipoquinha, above, photo: Celso Volfe, will be appearing at the Hawk’s Well theatre in Sligo with Pedro Martins, guitar, Leonardo Montana, piano, and Adriano DD, drums/percussion.  

“Michael Pipoquinha, despite his youth, seems to have been around for a good number of years, appearing in several astonishing videos since his early teens with a great variety of Brazilian instrumentalists. Michael has really only started to travel internationally in the past couple of years, and has recently become even more of an Internet sensation after his Jaco Pastorius tribute with the Latvian Big Band, so when his agent contacted us early this year we grabbed the chance to get his group here. The other musicians in his quartet are equally gifted and all perform with internationally renowned artists, so the Sligo gig on 25 July will be a rare treat for everyone. We are proud to host the very best of Brazilian jazz talent in the west of Ireland. The Sligo performance is exclusive to Ireland and the UK.” Tickets. 

John Coltrane: 23 September 1926 – 17 July 1967 

More Arriving is far more populist, and less ascetic, than when Sarathy Korwar first emerged. First time I saw him was when he was an at that time unknown guest with Binker and Moses back in 2016. A fine tabla player, Zakir Hussain he told me chatting briefly in the dressing room during the interval at a theatre show in Victoria, was an influence on him, the record though puts tabla in the background more as the MCs and vocalists sprinkled liberally throughout take over. The lyrics on the album often interpolate buzzy phrases that you might hear on any British street and there is a joyous, dancey hubbub about the whole thing and the writing is good. Out on Leaf ****. Dates coming up include Moth Club, LONDON E9 on 25 September.

This is pretty classy imaginative big band playing, compositions by reedist/arranger Christina Fuchs, appearing on the Big Band Records label. If you are into Maria Schneider then you will land happily enough here. By the way you may like to know that two of the WDR Big Band stalwarts, superb bassist John Goldsby and equally talented trombonist Shannon Barnett, appear at the Sligo Jazz Project in Ireland next week, playing during a busy week for instance in the perfect intimate surroundings of classic pub Hargadons on 25 July. Details

Melt Yourself Down newly signed to Decca have just shared punky new single ‘Boot and Spleen’ and are playing The Lexington in London tonight. 

Melt Yourself Down

The label glosses the single as “Inspired by the dark history of British colonialism in India, it asks the question: “What is it to be British? What's that identity now, in 2019? What sort of behaviours are allowed towards minorities, or from minorities towards the majority?” 

The London 6-piece was set up by former Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear saxophonist, the James Chance and the Contortions-loving Pete Wareham, and is fronted by lead singer Kush Gaya.  

OKeh

Things change. Since the last time I looked around which was a while back now many labels have become either dormant or fairly inactive.

One thing is for sure, however, is that online tactics are more important than ever. Offline is nowhere, just like print magazines are now overshadowed by their online counterparts.

If a label does not put up a promo track and just lists tracks then it will not get written about as much as those albums which are listenable, at least in part. We like to try before we buy now more than ever and the technology enables this better than ever.

Some labels put the whole album up for a short time beforehand for a limited period and I can see the merit of this particularly if the release is avant garde and hard to sell. After all tracks can be made unavailable again when sales kick in. 

A few thoughts: 
Babel: very quiet at the moment. The new Emilia Mårtensson record coming up should re-ignite interest in the label.
Basho: not much output now, just a few records per year. The latest Trish Clowes album was excellent. However, the label could do with a better online presence, maybe using YouTube and Bandcamp more. 
Blue Note: most of the interest this year has been on the heritage of the label. The signing of Joel Ross however has picked up a lot of attention. Don Was and co also love their veterans at the label and I would love it if they could bring back Herbie Hancock and release his next album, especially as he turns 80 next year. Universal have the big bucks to do this. 
Brownswood: at the heart of all the hype about UK jazz dominated by Gilles Peterson’s DJ-centric beats laden taste. 
Cleanfeed: could do with more public-facing promo tracks. Otherwise a reliable avant garde label.
Concord: far more active recently on the jazz side and excellent at getting the word out. Can be too stodgily mainstream at times however. New albums coming up by Hiromi and Jazzmeia Horn.
Criss Cross Jazz: pretty invisible online in terms of buzz. Not always that interesting a label because it tends to stick to the same sort of thing all the time but Noah Preminger’s After Life was a revelation recently.
ECM: Not a great year so far although the Touchstones reissues have delighted fans of the label. Many releases however fall into a nebulous folk or chamber no man’s land and this has been more to the fore in recent batches. However, on safer ground albums by Giovanni Guidi and Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan were superb. The label has also become far better at using YouTube to its advantage.
Edition: lots of new signings including a foray into US jazz this year with albums by Chris Potter, Jeff Ballard, Dave Holland and Zakir Hussain etc. Also interesting to note that the label is reissuing Julian Argüelles’ superb album Home Truths, originally out on Babel, soon.
Gearbox: It gets better all the time. Albums by Dwight Trible, Theon Cross and Abdullah Ibrahim have all succeeded. The label probably has the best sound of any UK indie, has a firm graphic identity and is web savvy.
Gondwana: Quiet at the moment. Could do with some new signings. However, I really enjoyed their release by the unknown Hania Rani this year.
Impulse! Well, this is as much part of internal big record label branding (as part of Universal) and how they deal with the classic past as anything. However, bringing some of the various groups of Shabaka Hutchings on board (Sons of Kemet, The Comet is Coming) was a masterstroke. Contrast that with how Verve is still not branded correctly to align with its heritage.
Jazz Re-freshed: Fashionable UK label which has made giant strides this year. Loves EPs.
Jellymould Jazz: gone dormant this year, which is a pity.
Lyte: inactive mainly this year.
Mack Avenue: Could do with better online promo, I do forget about this leading US label a little too often. Good to see Herlin Riley on the label recently.
Motéma: Hasn’t been the same since Gregory Porter left! However, Melissa Aldana has done the label proud this year.
OKeh: what’s happened there, then? Sony seem to have lost interest. 
Sunnyside: could do with some videos [even audio tracks put on YouTube at a basic level] to promote their output. I did enjoy their Lucian Ban record earlier in the year.
Ubuntu: Signing loads of new artists, taste chops seem to be improving, and their strike rate is getting better. Very good at promo via social media and online but could make better use of Bandcamp.
Whirlwind: lots of activity. One of the best at promoting their wares via news items on their website. I am surprised how few labels do just that. However, their output is quite variable in terms of quality at the moment with the exception of the recent Partisans album Nit de Nit, which was a blast. Stephen Graham

Harriet Tubman

Near you? Well if you can make it along Harriet Tubman promise an access all areas listen.

Completely not absolute beginners guitarist Brandon Ross, bassist Melvin Gibbs and drummer JT Lewis have been together as a band some 20 years and know where they want to be more than most and maybe they have just achieved what they have been searching for all along on The Terror End of Beauty which was released last year.

The absorbing track above according to the label “refers to The Negro Motorist’s Green Book, which informed black auto travellers of locations that would and would not be accepting of their presence.” A version of Bob Marley’s ‘Redemption Song’ also on the album has never seemed so relevant as right now as the trio decode its inner workings and strip off all the cosy layers the mindless branch of Marley music tourism cloaked usually inappropriately as advertising has coated it with over the decades.

Raw, ballsy, and vital, are you ready to listen? If so dates coming up include Band on the Wall, Manchester on 9 August and the Kilkenny Arts Festival, Ireland on 14 August.

Eagle Vision will be releasing the much praised Sophie Huber-directed Blue Note Records: Beyond the Notes on DVD, Blu-ray and digitally on 6 September, Universal have announced. Blue Note celebrates its 80th anniversary in 2019.

Seb Rochford has released details of fascinating experimental album NDYA by Kutcha Butcha.

The Pulled by Magnets drummer-composer has written, played, produced and mixed everything on the album and it is the first of four limited edition releases this year. Listen to tracks above. Kutcha Butcha, or “half baked bread,” is a phrase sometimes used in India for mixed race children.   

Music Declares Emergency

Music Declares Emergency, a new group of artists and music companies, has been launched to highlight the climate emergency and work collectively towards a greener industry. Over 1,000 artists, music companies and organisations, and industry workers, have already signed up to the group’s aim of a carbon neutral music scene. Artists are encouraged to take steps such as having a “Green Rider” and greening their merchandise. Festivals, promoters and labels are asked to nominate someone responsible for greening their activity and put in place an environmental policy and action plan, including ditching plastic and cutting waste. EFG London Jazz Festival, Universal Music UK, Kings Place, the Galway Jazz Festival and  Nitin Sawhney are among those signing up. For more on Music Declares Emergency, and to sign up, visit www.musicdeclares.net.

A RIFF THAT NILE RODGERS WOULD BE PROUD OF (OR COULD NOT EXIST WITHOUT HIM) from funky guitarist Cory Wong’s Motivational Music for The Syncopated Soul out on 2 August. The album features guitarist Charlie Hunter, pianist Jon Batiste, guitarist Tom Misch, singer-songwriter Caleb Hawley, singer Emily Browning Birdman on screen drummer Nate Smith and Antwaun Stanley. Be warned, you will be playing ‘Cosmic Sans’ all day.

LOOKING AHEAD TO HIS DEBUT Only 18, pianist Matthew Whitaker is something special. He releases the Brian Bacchus-produced Now Hear This via the Resilience Music Alliance label in August. First thing I thought when listening to him was a proximity to the Ahmad Jamal sound in his bright voicings and percussive touch (Jamal’s ‘Tranquility’ is on the album) but he has been compared to other players notably McCoy Tyner and Herbie Hancock. The point in all this is he sounds a major player already. In the live version above listen to ‘Emotions,’ one of the pieces featured on the album.

Whitaker, who also plays Hammond organ and Moog on the record, is the first blind undergraduate student to join Julliard's jazz programme, becoming a student at the famous New York conservatoire this autumn, appears with guitarist Dave Stryker, bassist Yunior Terry, drummer Ulysses Owens Jr., and percussionist Sammy Figueroa + guest slots from keyboardist Marc Cary and flautist Gabrielle Garo are slotted in. Tracks on the album include originals, the Barry Mann/Cynthia Weil song ‘Black Butterfly’ and Eddie Harris’ ‘Freedom Jazz Dance.’ 

 

A big deal in Germany with his trio Martin Tingvall switches to solo piano once again with The Rocket. Pretty easy listening to be fair, too much so. Tingvall and his accessible compositional touch draws on space themes in the titling of many of the tracks, the lilt of Swedish folk traditions and the language of contemporary Eurojazz and have a certain inescapable charisma as well as tunefulness. Personally I prefer his trio, still too underknown in the UK, which has a lot more drama to it than the Ludovico Einaudi-like easy going trajectories here. The surprising thing is how little jazz vocabulary Tingvall chooses to use here. Disappointing.

Binker Golding has a new quartet album out in September. Titled gnomically Abstractions of Reality Past & Incredible Feathers it was recorded at Abbey Road studios in London and alongside tenorist Golding features Daniel Casimir on double bass, Joe Armon-Jones on piano and Sam Jones on drums. Compositions are by Golding and the release is on Gearbox. Check out ‘Exquisite She-Green’ from the album, above.

 

Check the live version above of the opening track of upcoming Leo Richardson album Move to be released in August by Ubuntu. With eight original compositions included on the release Richardson has Rick Simpson on piano, Tim Thornton on bass, and Ed Richardson on drums + a guesting Alex Garnett. Richardson launches the album at the Pizza Express Jazz Club on 6 August. Tickets.

 

Called Spectrum and only the charismatic jazz-rock Japanese pianist Hiromi’s second solo piano release after Place to Be a decade ago this will be out in October on Telarc and tracks include ‘Mr. C.C.,’ an imaginary score for a Charlie Chaplin film.

Hiromi will be in the UK in November playing Bridgewater Hall, Manchester on 1 November and Southwark Cathedral, London on 2 November. 

Boisterous and free spirited the clunky title is a homage to Ornette Coleman album To Whom Who Keeps A Record

Pretty pared down throughout, drummer Gard Nilssen with bassist Petter Eldh and saxophonist André Roligheten have been playing together for years. The spirit of Albert Ayler is firmly to the fore as well but to be honest this is nothing as hardcore as the full Ayler experience.

Actually it is pretty accessible in a heritage free-jazz spirit and the three have real rapport ripping along merrily to chunky scraps of melody chased down by a throaty dose of the blues in a syncopated dash through a bunch of tunes unencumbered by keyboards or a guitar. 

In a word: Enjoyable! 

Prepare for a big change in the super talented bass guitarist here. Maybe it is John Patitucci producing, maybe it is a new much more mature sound but for whatever reason there is a lot less bombast, a lot more expressiveness and some great tunes all factored in.

Gwizdala has gathered a fine band around him on The Union [****] (issued on his own label Gwizmon Productions) with Clarence Penn on drums, Philip Dizack on trumpet, and Ruslan Sirota (who appeared with Gwizdala on the excellent Bob Reynolds album Quartet) on pianoOn ‘The End of the Story’ there is a pared back almost-Steve Rodby Metheny-esque feel to the tender ballad and this track is at the heart of the album which relies for a lot of its best effects on a thoughtful, more meditative and less-is-more mentality. In a sea of music this is the kind of message in a bottle we all need that defies the odds to reach out and communicate. SG

Alice Zawadzki

Alice Zawadzki will have a new album called Within You Is A World Of Spring released this autumn, it has been announced. Five years since her debut China Lane, this new album according to issuing label Whirlwind “is about the tiny seed within every person that promises realisation, change, and rebirth.” Her band is completely different this time around, with Fred Thomas – piano, drums, Hammond, percussion, cello, double bass; Rob Luft – guitar; Misha Mullov-Abbado – double bass; Hyelim Kim – taegum; Simmy Singh – violin; Laura Senior – violin; Lucy Nolan – viola; and Peggy Nolan – cello joining the vocalist/violinist. Look for the album in October.

It is not often hip-hop spills into the pages of marlbank but hey this is just great, superstar rapper Nas on his previously unreleased track, ‘Jarreau of Rap (Skatt Attack),’ featuring Al Jarreau and trumpeter Keyon Harrold, best known for his work with Robert Glasper, which will be on Nas’ upcoming compilation, The Lost Tapes 2, to be released on 19 July via Mass Appeal and Def Jam. Jarreau’s treatment of Dave Brubeck’s ‘(Round, Round, Round) Blue Rondo à la Turk’ is the core sample on the song. 

More from Nérija on the promo trail. 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) release Blume on 2 August, having signed to Domino. Check out the hard blowing ‘Last Straw’, above. 

Poncho Sanchez

A September release is on the cards for conga great Poncho Sánchez returning with his first new album in seven years, a tribute to John Coltrane.

The album features trombonist and musical director Francisco Torres, trumpet and flugelhorn master Ron Blake, saxophonist Robert Hardt, pianist Andy Langham, bassists Rene Camacho and Ross Schodek, and percussionists Joey DeLeon and Giancarlo Anderson.

Trane’s Delight features ‘Liberia,’ from 1964’s Coltrane’s Sound; ‘Blue Train’ done as a cha-cha-chá; and according to the issuing label Concord Picante “a rumba twist” on ‘Giant Steps’. The album also includes a version of ‘Soul Bourgeoisie,’ a Hubert Laws composition originally recorded by the Jazz Crusaders on their 1965 album Chile Con Soul. Photo: Estevan Oriol/Concord

This is what issuing label Ropeadope say about the release, which will be released in August:

Tim Ries has held down the saxophone and keyboard chairs with The Rolling Stones for the past 21 years, all the while espousing his love of Jazz on his own projects and shows. In 2005 he hit the studio with a cast of greats - Jack DeJohnette, Bill Frisell, Larry Goldings, Grégoire Maret, James Genus and Scott Colley - and recorded a master work. Tim waited to release it as his mother was very ill during the recording, and sadly passed soon after its completion. And now, fourteen years later, Life Changes from Tim Ries is ready for release. The title speaks to the events that brought him to this point, with reference to his daughters Bella, Eliana, and Jasia (who performs on the album), and the dedication to his mother Edith Ries. The story is unique, and we all get a glimpse into the past with some of the best players on the planet. And yet the story quickly moves away as you listen; Life Changes could well have been recorded yesterday in its adventurous and grand style. 

Everything seems like an ad these days... this is from a YouTube ad and yet it is also news, well certainly striking anyway, because who puts out a 24-disc box set any more anyway? Bill Bruford led in Earthworks one of the best small jazz groups by a famous rocker ever. Earthworks Complete released by Cherry Red surely is the fullest story conceivable of a great group and by the look of it was put together with a lot of love and attention to detail. The entire back catalogue across the band’s 20-year career is chronicled. Earthworks featured Bill Bruford with Iain Ballamy, Django Bates, Patrick Clahar, Laurence Cottle, Tim Garland, Steve Hamilton, Tim Harries, Mark Hodgson, Mick Hutton and Gwilym Simcock among its cast members over the years. Its style was far from the bombast of prog rock and managed to harness that bittersweet Englishness lurking within Bruford’s compositional ideas while at the same time providing a relatively high profile platform for a range of up and coming jazz musicians many of whom are now very well known as leaders in their own right. Bruford always showed great taste in putting together his bands and the records are the hard and fast evidence. Oh, the artwork still looks a treat and Bruford remains a magnet for drummers everywhere.