RETRO The heartbreaking St. John/Paul Tierney/Michael Mormecha song ‘WALK AWAY’ off the upcoming Muscle Shoals from the ridiculously soulful County Antrim singer Amanda St. John recorded at FAME, Muscle Shoals in Sheffield, Alabama. Close your eyes you’d swear for a split second that we were going into Ewan MacColl territory by the gasworks wall to begin and then a massive key change, melodic shift and in feel and mood it’s a languorous journey instead into sensuous symphonic soul via the Dusty road ever on. All superlatives are redundant because trying to describe bliss even when it palpably is always falls short. Hear Amanda St John at the Green Note in Camden Town, London NW1 on 25 September.
Van Morrison has a new album out called Three Chords & the Truth, the John Steinbeck via Rabbie Burns-referencing ‘Dark Night of the Soul’ and which is above to come out the Friday before Samhain aka Celtic New Year through Exile/Caroline International on 25 October. Three Chords And The Truth has 14 originals + ‘If We Wait for Mountains’ by Don ‘Born Free’ Black. Jay Berliner who was on Astral Weeks is among the album personnel as too is Bill Medley of The Righteous Brothers.
A never heard before concert recording by the Esbjörn Svensson Trio made in their homeland of Sweden is to be released for the first time this autumn. One of the tracks on the double album Live in Gothenburg which was recorded on 10 October 2001 called ‘Bowling’ has never been issued before on a recording. ‘Bowling’ features a superb drum solo from Magnus Öström who spoke to marlbank on the phone earlier today and who is actually back in Gothenburg which is some five or six hours’ travelling time away from Västerås where the bandleader and composer was born and grew up in. Öström is currently in the Swedish city recording with Lars Danielsson, Grégory Privat and John Parricelli whose Liberetto III band play the EFG London Jazz Festival in November. Issuing label ACT describe Live in Gothenburg, which will be released on 25 October, aptly as: “A concert for the ages’’.
Esbjörn Svensson died in 2008 and was a Magnus Öström childhood friend. In this 2001 concert, e.s.t. played tunes from the albums From Gagarin’s Point of View and Good Morning Susie Soho ahead of going into the studio a few months later to record almost the entirety of the tracks that were issued the following year as Strange Place For Snow. Magnus begins when asked by talking about playing in Gothenburg on prior occasions before with e.s.t. He says that they played in the city’s jazz club. ‘‘Nefertiti is there. It is like the Ronnie Scott’s of Gothenburg, or like Fasching in Stockholm.’’ As for the Nefertiti capacity ‘‘it has not more than 200 people,’’ he says.
The symphony hall, however, where Live in Gothenburg was captured is a bigger beast. The Gothenburg Concert Hall is home to the Gothenburg Symphony Orchestra and he says it ‘‘rarely puts on jazz: the size there is about 1,000 people.’’
Listening to Live in Gothenburg it is hard to glean how many people were there but it sounds like quite a lot that night. There is a kind of a waterfall of applause rather than a heavy trickle as you get when club recordings are the context. The sound is crammed with observers when they make their presence felt. That autumn day Magnus tells me “we did the sound check as usual in the afternoon over a couple of hours.’’ In those days he says they did not use electronics much apart from in the case of bassist Dan Berglund ‘‘so it was straight forward’’. Their engineer Åke Linton was on hand as he had been since ‘‘really early,’’ Magnus says, ‘‘from around 1994-95.’’
Magnus travelled to Gothenburg with cymbals and ‘‘maybe a snare’’ using the kit provided by the promoter. Nowadays, for instance in his own bands or with Rymden, the new trio who via Jazzland put out the superb Reflections and Odysseys this year and which has Berglund and Bugge Wesseltoft on it, he keeps the same modus operandi but adds some more pedals.
Not long after Gothenburg, just a matter of a few months, e.s.t went into the studio to record Strange Place For Snow which is one of the band’s very many classic achievements. This new live album, spoiler alert, is up there and to me is primus inter pares with the brilliant later Live in Hamburg. Magnus cannot recall if they knew at the time of the concert whether they had decided to go into the studio. “I’m not sure. Esbjörn was writing all the time.’’
All the tunes on Live in Gothenburg are jointly attributed to e.s.t as always was their way. The tunes are all Esbjörn’s, Magnus says, although the music is arranged by all three with contributions added by him and Dan. Magnus came up with the titles of the tunes in terms of naming. His best and most personal titles probably arrived later on the 2006 album Tuesday Wonderland. The trio were always a properly democratic band. ‘‘The grooves come from me!’’ he adds.
Ahead of the album release ‘The Second Page’, which is all gospelly and soulful, will be issued as a single on 4 October. Magnus explains that the naming is an oblique reference and homage to Bob Dylan in regards to the Keith Jarrett treatment of his Bobness’ ‘My Back Pages’ that Jarrett put out as opening track on the 1969 released Vortex label live album Somewhere Before. (Note, too, on Live in Gothenburg in the naming an eight-minute tune called ‘Somewhere Else Before’ because yes we are deep in Jarrettonia – true on more than one level given Svensson’s superb chops and the aura like our Keith that he created.)
Changing tack to Sweden a bit, Magnus asked about Fredrik Norén (1941-2016), the drummer, describes his fellow player as ‘‘kind of the Art Blakey of Sweden’’ and who Esbjörn played with as a young man. Magnus studied an album of Norén’s when he was at school. Later Magnus worked with a singer called Monica Borrfors. He is steeped in the Great American Songbook through this early life. Norén he agrees belonged to an older generation although all the young cats of his generation played with him, he intimates.
The drummers Magnus was into when asked about his heroes he says included such surprising figures as Mick Tucker of glam rockers (The) Sweet and on the jazz side Billy Cobham. Magnus says that he went in a ‘‘milestone’’ moment along with his older brother to a concert of John McLaughlin and Billy Cobham’s when Magnus himself was 12 years old. Now 54, he mentions also liking Roy Haynes, Tony Williams, and Bill Bruford and was thrown and surprised to bump into the Yes legend during a Pizza Express gig of e.s.t’s: ‘‘In the men’s room’’ of all places because unbeknownst to him Bruford was in the house. We chat then briefly about the upcoming what I think is very special trio album New Frontier from Steve Howe which I mention... and for which Bruford has co-written three tunes.
Turning back to Gothenburg and to ‘Bowling’ there is the ecstasy shall we call it, or ‘grunting’ non-drum sound in other words, reactions, passion if you prefer, that adds to the superb drum solo, I check in case this derives from audience noise, some enthusiastic fan invading the stage moved by it all and possibly responsible! But no this was Magnus and it certainly adds to the impact of the track and above all it seems and is real.
Since Esbjörn’s death Magnus has worked on a number of projects including with his own prog-jazz led outfit. The pick of these albums was Searching For Jupiter that followed on from Öström’s 2011 debut Thread of Life feat. Pat Metheny. Guitarist Andreas Hourdakis, pianist Daniel Karlsson, who tours this autumn with his own trio, and bassist Thobias Gabrielson all featured on Jupiter alongside Öström who clearly built on his reputation as a player who knows how to join the dots between the thrillingly uncompromising jazz-rock of Tony Williams and the demanding dance floor grooves of drum ’n’ bass.
Magnus tells me that with his own band he does not set out to be ‘‘prog’’ or anything. It is instead about displaying what he refers to as ‘‘your own vision, the sum of all your inputs.’’ As for composing he writes the patterns and rhythms first and the melodies come later. He does not, he says, intend them to be in odd metre. ‘‘But they come out like that sometimes ‘‘oh shit 7/8, 13’’. It is natural, just how I hear things.’’
His electronics now rely around 2 chains of pedals one ‘‘an old Lexicon JamMan’’ a sampler which was an early live looping tool. He adopts a DOD filter for electronic and harmonic effects, also making use of a Digitech Whammy.‘‘I love to bend notes, those floating sounds,’’ he says, and in his own projects he uses three mics and can use the technology to enable him to sing. He says that in Rymden, Dan does not use Ableton software and neither does he although Bugge is trying to convince him to do just this. Magnus says that he is old school and does not want to use a computer on stage.
Moving towards the end of the conversation he agrees that Rymden have a parallel life to EST and explains that Bugge is a different kind of player and the fans who come to hear Rymden are a mix of EST and Bugge fans. At the moment there are no live plans for e.s.t Symphony concerts but he hopes there will be more in the future. The project takes he says a long time to plan ahead for, especially in the booking of an orchestra. A carpe diem time: e.s.t above: l-r: Magnus Öström, Esbjörn Svensson, Dan Berglund. Photo: Tobias Regell/ACT.
Interview: Stephen Graham
Four Visions from which ‘Blaizza’ is drawn is a relative rarity: four saxes slicing up the sound spectrum in soprano, alto, tenor, and baritone parts. The work of three renowned masters at work plus a relative newcomer who makes a few introductions and his presence more than felt in a masterly intertwining labyrinth of exploration. From high to way down lower Dave Liebman, Dave Binney and Donny McCaslin need no introductions. However, deepest down on bari is Samuel Blais, the writer of this Eugène Bozza ‘Andante' & ‘Scherzo’-inspired piece, who will – it is obvious if you lock ears to the track – make a lot of new friends and fans given this taster. Look for the album on the Sunnyside label from 11 October when it is released.
“Amazon said that Ultra HD would deliver ‘revelatory’ experiences for listening to classic albums such as Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours and Miles Davis’ Kind Of Blue. Files that were formerly compressed for digital streaming will now reveal the nuances in the original recording.”
Full story via Music Week.
• On the subject of high end streaming also read “Why get hung up on vinyl when the hungrily audio guzzling future is geekily saying ‘MQA’?”
We played this back in August... it sounds just as good today. One of the big releases of the autumn. From True Love: A Celebration of Cole Porter by the New Orleans singer-pianist to be released by Verve on 25 October.
Described in publicity material as “reflecting the jazz/fusion side of Steve Howe’s musical personality” in other words if that is to be taken at face value presumably not prog, with the Yes guitar legend Steve Howe in his trio are Ross Stanley on organ and Steve’s son Dylan Howe on drums in a studio affair. Tracks on this Esoteric Antenna release, to come out on vinyl and CD + digital, are: ‘Hiatus’, ‘Left To Chance’, ‘Fair Weather Friend’, ‘Zodiac’, ‘Gilded Splinter’, ‘Showdown’, ‘Missing Link’, ‘Outer Limit’, ‘Western Sun’, ‘The Changing Same’. Three unspecified compositions on the album were co-written with Howe’s erstwhile Yes colleague drummer Bill Bruford.
Release date is a week from this Friday.
Best known internationally for his extensive work over many years with Anna Maria Jopek – the ex-Eurovision singer famed for Upojenie – guitarist Marek Napiórkowski has a new record called Hipokamp to be released on 27 September. ‘Brainstorm’ is a lead-off track from it. Displaying the blisteringly accomplished jazz-rock side of his artistry that he adopts on this track reminiscent a little of the influential style of Wayne Krantz: here Marek is with Jan Smoczyński on synthesizers, Paweł Dobrowolski, drums, Luis Ribeiro, percussion and Adam Pierończyk – soprano sax.
Among the Mercury nominees Seed Ensemble are nominated for Driftglass. The Cassie Kinoshi-led band launched their debut at Kings Place in February. Fact fans: no jazz act has, ridiculously, ever won the Mercury which is the UK’s most credible and high profile music prize to encompass indie rock, electronica, hip-hop, folk, soul, jazz etc spanning UK and Irish releases. Can Seed Ensemble to borrow from a Miles Davis track title run the voodoo down? Check the vibe out on Thursday from 7pm on the Tom Ravenscroft show to know.
Binker Golding has a new quartet album and it will be launched this week, the date already sold out. Mellow, deep, challenging and inhabiting a Denys Baptiste and beyond sound universe the album is titled gnomically Abstractions of Reality Past & Incredible Feathers and, the exact opposite of a pedestrian affair, it was however recorded on hallowed ground at Abbey Road studios in St John’s Wood. Alongside Dem Ones 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 King’s Cross label Gearbox. Golding will launch the album at Ronnie Scott’s on Wednesday. In Soho and about bowl up to see if there are any returns. You may strike lucky.
Speaking on the phone from Munich ahead of going on stage last night at Unterfahrt in the company of Charles Lloyd bassist Joe Sanders and the Mehldau Art of the Trio legend Jorge Rossy this snatched interview with Ethan Iverson luckily snuck in ahead of time because someone missed their interview slot, heralded after a “Hello. Great!” text began by Iverson uttering the word “genius” when quizzed. But who was he talking about and what was the context?
The indisputable genius in question is Manfred Eicher, the producer of Common Practice, a live-at-the-Village Vanguard quartet affair featuring trumpet icon, the elegant Eldrigian Tom Harrell which is to be released this coming Friday the context. There was a verb too and a back story. “He is a genius. I grew up listening to ECM”. The first ECM he says he recalls was Paul Bley with Gary Peacock, “early on”, and refers me to a list of his favourite 50 ECMs (available online).
As the conversation settles into the bouncy benevolent fuzziness of a mobile to mobile soundzzizzzsphere thanks to a trampoline signal crisscrossing the continent of Europe from east to west across Germany to the marlbank hole in the hedge in the borderlands of Ireland, Ethan says when asked about his preferred pianos that his heroes Bud Powell and Thelonious Monk could play on any piano although the New York Manhattan club the Village Vanguard where the album was recorded has “a nice Steinway” and he recalls first playing there with Kurt Rosenwinkel and many times thereafter with The Bad Plus, some “17 times playing there every year,” he pinpoints.
Grilled about the sound the pianist who is originally from the midwest of the USA says down there in the Village the sound is “very dry”. He took a decision to bring a “‘classical’” engineer, namely Andreas Meyer — a Glenn Gould and Bob Dylan reissue producer — in. We talk, it would be rude not to, about applause and how the applause of the audience has been captured. These things matter. The album thankfully does not sound like a vicar’s tea party when the audience respond.
More seriously this brings up the subject of how audiences are significant. Artists want to move us. And Ethan mentions how much on another more recent occasion in the Vanguard when they played together an audience member was so moved by Tom Harrell’s playing that “tears were flowing down her face” in the front row and seems to agree with my description of his blueness and mentions that there is “a vulnerability” in Tom’s sound.
In terms of historic Vanguard records the ones Ethan likes most were the Sonny Rollins, Wilbur Ware and Elvin Jones et al classic A Night at The Village Vanguard issued by Blue Note, released in 1958; the Coltrane “Live” at the Village Vanguard put out in 1962 and the Bobby Timmons In Person recorded (as was the Trane) in 1961 with Ron Carter and Tootie Heath the latter two living legends both players who Ethan has worked with extensively. I cheekily ask him if he has to raise his sartorial standards when playing with big Ron given how great a dresser the Second Great Miles Davis Quintet bassist is especially in terms of beautiful suits and ties. He laughs. Playing with Carter he says wisely that the important thing is not “to feel too intimidated” by his greatness.
As for standards on the album we talk about the Dorseys a little as quite a few of the standards included have well known versions by either Tommy (eg ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams’) or Jimmy (‘I Remember You’) however Ethan steers me in the direction of Thelonious Monk for his model version of ‘I’m Getting Sentimental Over You’. He shocks me a little by saying he will never make another standards album again.
Ben Street from the Billy Hart quartet that also features Iverson is on double bass in the quartet and Eric McPherson from the Fred Hersch trio is on drums and complete the quartet. Hersch who plays Ireland this autumn taught Iverson. Recorded towards the end of January in 2017 Ethan tells me Common Practice is drawn from four sets of material and selected from 4-and-a-half hours worth of music and that he is “confident” that they picked the best performances. Perhaps there will be a future clamour for more from the sessions. Let’s see. However, it is a no brainer to realise as you dear readers may well discover for yourself come release time that Common Practice is nothing less, spoiler alert, than a marvel.
Track titles on it include George Gershwin’s ‘The Man I Love’, taken very slowly, the aforementioned ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams,’ Denzil Best’s ‘Wee’ plus a brace of Iverson originals. As for the inclusion of ‘Wee’ Iverson writing on his multi-award winning blog Do the Math in 2016 noted: “When I was in high school I went every summer to the Jamey Aebersold Jazz Camp in Elmhurst, Illinois. The very first time I was placed in David Baker’s combo. “David Baker was a thrilling personality. He had hung out and played with major jazz figures, and we loved hearing him tell stories about the masters from the vantage point of being a casual friend. One day that week Baker came in and began singing Denzil Best’s ‘Wee’ to us. No chart: We had to learn it by ear, and deal. The next day he made us play Lee Morgan’s ‘Ceora’ in all twelve keys. Baker was also a serious composer. I had yet to become immersed in classical music, but Baker gave me a book that was a strong indication that I should investigate more 20th-century composition.”
Iverson too as a serious composer himself recently premiered music for Samuel Beckett’s Quad at the Happy Days festival in Enniskillen performed by the Mark Morris Dance Group. He tells me that he has written a concerto and will be looking ahead to a new record as well as touring with Billy Hart to mark the Mwandishi great’s 80th next year. SG
To the power of four – Ben Street, Tom Harrell, Ethan Iverson, Eric McPherson top. Photo: Monica Frisell.
• Ethan Iverson, Joe Sanders and Jorge Rossy play London in the Pizza Express, Holborn tonight.
Waiting Game is new from the great drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science this autumn and what a sound from the singles so far. Marlbank dropped in to the studio to play from the album ‘Bells (Ring Loudly)’ feat. Malcolm Jamal Warner and chat to trumpeter Linley Hamilton on his BBC Radio Ulster show Jazz World this week looking ahead to the very fine prospect of the TLC residency at the London Jazz Festival. Listen from 28mins 19secs.
LIVE REPORT ARDHOWEN THEATRE, ENNISKILLEN, GALLERY BAR Under a harvest moon a very special occasion this because “cosmic” Clive Culbertson was in the house and on bass guitar joining the erstwhile Waterboys drummer Peter McKinney who played superbly all night in a cracking rhythm section completed by John McCullough on organ/keys and Anthony ‘Sailortown’ Toner rhythm and occasional lead guitar and vocals with Lisburn blues legend Ronnie Greer on lead blues guitar and vocals. Marlbank grabbed a quick chat with Clive later kindly introduced by Ronnie who when asked expressed his admiration for the bass playing of David Hayes, touched briefly on Rosicrucianism, and showed us a pic of Van Morrison’s recent 74th birthday celebrations that he attended and which looked fun.
The main takeaway from the gig was that Ronnie mentioned to us all in the audience that he is about to record a live album in Lisburn to follow on from The Jazz Project and the earlier A Lifetime With the Blues.
The first set opened with a rollicking ‘No Brainer’ and highlights later included a superb ‘Cajun Moon’ – Toner elegant on this JJ Cale favourite. The take on Mingus’ ‘Nostalgia in Times Square’ was a little ragged however the Dan’s ‘Do it Again’ raised the bar to new heights and the Chicago blues got the room going. There was a great turn out in the Gallery and very nice to see Sidewalk Boogie drummer Des Campbell in the front row lapping it up – and Blakes of the Hollow owner Pat Blake where the Boogie are a house band one of the luminaries in the audience.
Anthony Toner, middle pic foreground left-to-right, Clive Culbertson, Ronnie Greer (John McCullough who excelled best of all grinding in the Jimmy Smith segment is in the background of the shot while Peter McKinney is not in shot) in the Gallery Bar. Text + pics Stephen Graham/marlbank. In the audio Clive Culbertson is on ‘High Spirits’ with Van Morrison and the Chieftains as he is on what became a peace meditational: the poetic ‘Coney Island’. Peter McKinney also in the audio with the Waterboys is on the wondrous ‘Fisherman’s Blues’.
The inspiration behind ‘Cousin Mary’ on classic John Coltrane 1960 album Giant Steps died on the last day of August. “A very earthy, folksy, swinging person,” Trane described her in the album liner notes. Mary Lyerly Alexander was 92. A first cousin of the saxophonist’s, Mary became an activist in Philadelphia and served on the board of the TraneStop Resource Institute and later the John W. Coltrane Cultural Society which was incorporated in 1985 with its hq at the Coltrane House where Mary and her husband lived and which was dedicated to inner city youth positivity, jazz, and the legacy of John William Coltrane. She suffered a stroke in 2005 which rendered her speechless and she lived in a nursing home until her death. Read The New York Times obituary.
The great Ahmad Jamal has produced the brand new From Baku to New York City just released. The Baku born Shahin Novrasli harnesses a very supple fast improvising facility and hitches it to a flexible classical technique. His poetic side is extremely strong and natural, ripples of mindfulness radiate in ever increasing circles.
With Jamal producing, the Ahmadians bassist James Cammack and drummer Herlin Riley play with Shahin on From Baku to New York City and the record arrives on the same day as the new Jamal record Ballades.
On one level one track released back in the summer ‘Cry of Gulchokhra’ ahead of the album, written by the great Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyov, is a conversation with Cammack; on another it is like a nocturne, and revels in the simplicity of modal study breaking eventually into the release of a natural bluesy display of virtuosity in the open improvisation drawn from the ingredients of what has gone before like a natural conclusion.
As for the other tracks on the album the choices journey deep into the popular jazz and songbook consciousness: ‘Both Sides Now’ has a throbbing pedal note to underpin the Joni journeying and the rhapsody; ‘52nd Street Theme’ bobs along like a cork in the bebop river nipping past stones and little sticks.
‘Night Song’ is a beautiful ballad, the layers of modal discovery showing the incredible touch that Shahin possesses and absorption of the essence of the mugham; ‘Shahin’s Day’ is exploratory the senses going deeper and deeper, Herlin Riley on drums an iridescent presence. ‘She’s Out Of My Life’ begins in epic quietude with ‘Salt Peanuts’, ‘Memories’ and ‘Stella By Starlight’ all heartening in their passion. It is a long way from Baku to New York city and Shahin journeys there and straight to the heart on his greatest album to date. You may well chuckle or grin from ear to ear in delight. SG
From Baku to New York City is on Jazz Village **** highly recommended
Kurt Elling is transporting his 1950s themed Chicago radio drama The Big Blind to London after a New York premiere earlier this year. The cast in the Terry Kinney directed production includes Elling, Dee Dee Bridgewater, Clarke Peters and Ian Shaw + the BBC Concert Orchestra conducted by Guy Barker. The Big Blind was co-written by Elling and Phil Galdston. The show will be performed at the QEH on the South Bank of the Thames on 31 January 2020.
Mary Halvorson’s Code Girl which finds in terms of the live date the guitarist-leader-composer with Amirtha Kidambi, vocals; Maria Grand, saxophone, vocals; Adam O’Farrill, trumpet; Michael Formanek, bass; Tomas Fujiwara, drums appear at the CBSO Centre in Birmingham on 5 October. Expect ideas; superb band interplay; and above all imagination.
As the latest single from Waiting Game ‘If Not Now’ is released 2019 is certainly the time for Terri Lyne Carrington who is artist in residence at the EFG London Jazz Festival. The festival director Pelin Opcin sets the scene
“We at the EFG London Jazz Festival are thrilled to feature Terri Lyne Carrington as the artist in residence this year, in partnership with Kings Place as part of their Venus Unwrapped series.
“Terri Lyne is a prominent drummer, composer and producer who has been the sought-after musical director in many projects that focused on women leaders in jazz in particular.
“In her current work, Social Science, she creates a platform for experiments and interactions with musicians sharing a common language and bringing in their differences. As a major part of the residency she will invite some of the most exciting musicians from the British jazz scene for a fresh and stimulating musical experience, including saxophonist Soweto Kinch, trumpet player Emma-Jean Thackray, rapper Truemendous.
“This residency will showcase Social Science, which ‘was born from a need to express the emotions and thoughts about where we are socially, historically, politically, and spiritually. This alternative jazz band reflects a contemporary/post-modern view on music’.”
Happy days – it only begins when you... get Lucky.
BBC Radio 3’s The Essay slot begins a new series on 14 October, running from Monday to Friday at 10.45-11pm until 1 November, and then again from 18 November until 6 December. Besides Selma composer the Bandwagon’s Jason Moran the series will also feature: Steve Martin, Richard Serra, John Waters, Steve Reich, Roxane Gay, Margaret Cho, Neri Oxman, Liz Diller, Steven Pinker, Doro Olowu, Zac Posen, Sarah Sze and Siddhartha Mukherjee, Janna Levin, Yves Behar and Michael Bierut. Jason Moran as Fats Waller: photo: Michael Nagle/Blue Note
A few duo albums this year have stirred my imagination. The first was a saxophone-piano duo which was the work of Mark Lockheart and Huw Warren and now this Avishai & Avishai piano-trumpet duet is primus inter pares. Recorded in Lugano a year ago this is I would describe an album of impressionism grounded in modality but at the freer end even when in terms of exuberance and “wildness” it mostly abstains and yet journeys to the soul of things via a kind of blueness. Cohen, above left, has a lonesome faraway quality while pianist Avishai who disappointed for me anyway on Joys and Solitudes released at the beginning of 2019 is wonderful, no two ways about it, here. I have added Playing the Room to my albums of the year list so far. Above all ... Room works because of its mastery of mood. The choice of piece whether a take on a Stevie Wonder classic or the Sasha Argov composition ‘Shir Eres’ covered in the past memorably by Noa is immaterial up to a point because as well as mood, rapport, the capturing of time and silence – and the understanding each display as the tunes navigate their passage – is all. SG Out now
now updated scroll down A new late-night jazz programme will be launched in early-November by BBC Radio 3. The programme whose title, presenter and production company if any are all closely under wraps, will focus on what is being described in press briefings with a certain opacity and well worn phraseology as “cutting-edge, adventurous jazz” replaces Jazz Now. Jazz has shrunk in the profile it once was afforded at Radio 3 certainly as compared to the pioneering vision of Roger Wright when he was controller.
Also going is the former Jazz Record Requests presenter Geoffrey Smith’s eponymously monikered show which moves to a coda and final bars in a few weeks’ time. Fans are still reeling however much more at the cancellation of Jazz Now which arrived in its day to replace long running Jazz on 3. Will this new maiden voyage smoothly sail away or founder on the rocks?
The timing of November will benefit from interest at that time of the year the London Jazz Festival often engenders.
Also of relevance in the shake-up is the addition to the schedule of Elizabeth Alker’s Unclassified, already road tested on the network, the focus there more experimental in a “soundscapery”
direction according to one insider: expect a maverick if bijou mix of electronica, “contemporary classical”, and pop sounds that aims to build up a firm following.
update 11 September: 15.44 Contracts are currently being finalised according to a Radio 3 spokesperson and an announcement of the presenter is hoped to be made at the launch of the EFG London Jazz Festival later this month. The programme will be produced by an independent radio company and not in-house but the title is still not being made public so far. The show will probably, although this is subject to confirmation, run during a weekend slot. update: 17.22 The production company behind the new programme, marlbank understands, will be Reduced Listening, who currently produce Late Junction. update 12 September: 16.07 the unnamed show will first air on 2 November at midnight, according to Radio Today. update 13 September: 11.52 Reduced Listening director Joby Waldman emails in: “We’re really excited about the new show.”
— Stephen Graham
The great jazz singer Cleveland Watkiss celebrates his 60th birthday with an EFG London Jazz Festival concert in the QEH on 24 November and further dates at NCEM, York on 28 Nov followed by 2020 appearances to include the Stables in Wavendon on the last day of January and St George’s, Bristol, on 13 February. For the London Jazz Festival appearance Watkiss will be joined, themed around the Great Jamaican Songbook in terms of repertoire, by among others Orphy Robinson, Byron Wallen, Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Jason Yarde. LJF link for tickets.
Enrico Rava turned 80 back in the summer. Roma was recorded at the Auditorium Parco della Musica in Rome last November. Lovano this year in his own projects has been touring with Trio Tapestry his avant band that he spearheads with Marilyn Crispell and Carmen Castaldi as fellow countercultural ambassadors. Together on Roma Enrico and Joe create a melancholic, philosophical sound: the Italian trumpet master adventurous and brave his beautiful tone whether on trumpet or flugel undiminished in no significant way by the ravages of living. An interior vision throughout the joy of the album is contained especially on the medley beginning with ‘Drum Song’ a piece by Lovano that seques into ‘Spiritual’ by John Coltrane and then the Harold Arlen standard ‘Over The Rainbow’. In this symphony of soaring spirits every element of this excellent live album is present. The fire inside burns and creates, the circle of life expressed and distilled to its very core.
Falling a month before the anniversary is marked of the release 60 years ago of Time Out, Dave Brubeck’s Time Out by Stephen A. Crist arrives as the first of two new Brubeck themed books.
To be issued in the Oxford Studies in Recorded Jazz series the Crist book is described by its publisher as “the first full-length study of Time Out, providing an insider’s look at Brubeck's life and work”. The author is a professor of music history at Atlanta’s Emory University and who according to his university biography works largely in European music of the sixteenth through to the eighteenth centuries, with additional interests in hymnody and jazz.
Interest in Brubeck also extends to a second book, a so-called “investigative biography” and titled Dave Brubeck: A Life in Time by UK based music journalist Philip Clark which is to be published in February next year.
Publisher Da Capo describes the Clark book as based on the access to Brubeck that the author gained during a Brubeck tour 16 years ago. “Structured around Clark’s extended interview and intensive new research,” Da Capo goes on to claim that “A Life in Time tells one of the last untold stories of jazz, unearthing the secret history of ‘Take Five’ and many hitherto unknown aspects of Brubeck’s early career.”
Directed by Dolma’s Daughters film maker Ádám Miklós and written by the London based Hungarian Yvonne Bauer A Magyar Nóta: Belga Mestere literally Belgian Master of Hungarian Song is a truly remarkable and quite moving insight about the music and life of the extraordinary violinist Tcha Limberger, a blind violin virtuoso from Belgium who discovers traditional Hungarian music and moves to Hungary to master it. Limberger fell in love with the long forgotten Hungarian nóta style and made it his mission to introduce it to the world. The film makers ask the questions why does he want to learn a music genre that has almost been forgotten by Hungarians; and why does he leave the security of his Belgian home to live in a Transylvanian village?
Shot in Hungary, Transylvania and Belgium the sound quality is excellent and the Transylvanian scenes are especially very beautifully filmed, the quality of the light is stunning: a scene towards the end of the film has a gathering of fiddlers that is epic and life affirming. Responding to marlbank’s comment that Limberger is up there with Roby Lakatos no less, writer Yvonne Bauer says: “Roby Lakatos himself is of the best opinion on Tcha! He said that Tcha follows in the footsteps of the great old masters in that he plays according to the most ancient rules, which few other musicians do these days. All of them try to sound more modern, just like Roby himself.”
•Tcha Limberger appears at Le Quecumbar in London on 2 November.
“Mark, heading down the 606 to hear a 13-piece do some 5/4s this lunchtime – meet you around seven minutes past one after I jump off the 319?”
“Don’t mind if I do, big Suze.”
Readers love a good trio – we salute you and echo that emotion. Most jazz fans are the very same and like a small outfit, “small” as in 9 and under – that is: The quintet or sextet is a perfection just as much as the trio. Think Kind of Blue. Subtract, peel away, to just the one, ah get you... Köln Concert. Numbers... yep we are comfortably numb to as many or as few. The notion that a number is what counts is however absurd.
It only begins when you listen... to the rock ’n’ roll of Santo & Johnny
French news agencies are reporting that the earliest known TV footage of Miles Davis to survive has been located in France. According to reports the institut national de l’audiovisuel (INA) says it found the material.
In monochrome the footage dates to a 25 December 1957 broadcast although the filming was made 18 days earlier on 7 December.
Three minutes and 50 seconds in duration approximately, above, it relates to the Lift to the Scaffold period and was found during an inventory. Miles was in France to work for the director Louis Malle on the film known in French as Ascenseur pour l’échafaud. It shows a quintet of players. Subject to verification this looks like Miles Davis, trumpet; Barney Wilen, tenor sax; René Urtreger, piano; Pierre Michelot, bass; Kenny Clarke, drums.
Look for Ballades this month. Meanwhile go back to listen to a Billy Reid song Jamal breathed new instrumental life into on Blue Moon.
Listen closely to the percussive ocean contributed by Weather Report legend long time Ahmadian, Manolo Badrena. The magic starts meshing with Herlin Riley like brothers from around 25 seconds in. Puerto Rican Badrena played tambourine on ‘Birdland’ (click to listen) ffs no less.
Jamal’s part, the changes towards the end say from the governor at 3mins 30secs on especially are beautiful. Above: first sung and as ‘The Gipsy’ so rendered brand new in a lilting 1945 treatment by Dorothy Squires.
Touring in the States next month ‘Time-Lapse City’ is from the GoGo Penguin upcoming EP Ocean in a Drop: Music for Film to be released to chime with their Texas and California dates. Inspired by Koyaanisqatsi, the Mancs perform the soundtrack live to the film in LA (8 October) and San Fran (9).