Rocksteady is a style of reggae I’ve often been drawn to, with Toots and the Maytals and Augustus Pablo among my heroes. I’ve been listening to some Bitty McLean as well recently who I’m less familiar with, and he’s performing with the Jamaican Legends band soon, alongside Ernest Ranglin, Sly Dunbar, Robbie Shakespeare, and Monty Alexander appearing on 29 July as part of the celebrations of the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence at London’s IndigO2 in Greenwich. He’s also playing in the more intimate surroundings of the Jazz Cafe in Camden two days later.

The O2 is playing host to the Jamaica 50 Festival for 12 days of gigs with some of the greatest names in reggae and Jamaican music taking part including Jimmy Cliff,Yellowman, U-Roy, Mighty Diamonds, Marcia Griffiths, Freddie McGregor, Maxi Priest, Damian Marley, Derrick Morgan, and Toots and the Maytals all to appear.

Born in Birmingham on 8 August 1972 McLean had hits in the early 1990s with Fats Domino’s ‘It Keeps Rainin’ (Tears from My Eyes)’ a big breakthrough, and he also worked with UB40 as an engineer/producer as well as singing with the band. His albums include On Bond Street, and Movin’ On, with Sly and Robbie, recorded in Jamaica, and he continues a gigging association with the great Jamaican rhythm team to this day. With the “Riddim Twins" McLean has also recorded a follow up to Movin’ On to be released (although this is still unconfirmed) in the autumn.  

Stephen Graham

Pictured above: Bitty McLean

http://www.theo2.co.uk/indigo2

http://venues.meanfiddler.com/jazz-cafe/full-listings/featured-gigs/7042

There’s an awful lot of Keith Jarrett activity at the moment with the release in July of the Belonging Band/European Quartet’s Sleeper, which I’m sure will excite a lot of people, and acts as an even more intense companion piece to Personal Mountains.

Five Impulse! American Quartet albums from 1974-1977 have also been reissued, that’s Back hand, Mysteries, Shades, Byablue and Bop-be.

But the Standards trio has not been forgotten about, although the Lucerne album recorded in July 2009 is not coming out for the time being, although I think that’s a good thing given the amount of Jarrett activity at the moment. Sleeper alone will enchant many’s a Jarrett fan for months and possibly years to come. But hopefully Lucerne won’t be too long in the offing.

I’ve been looking at pictures taken from around the time of the concert by Olivier Bruchez and a few are below.

I’m looking forward to hearing this concert partly because I attended an Abdullah Ibrahim Ekaya concert at the venue last year which completely blew me away. 

Listening on CD to the Jarrett release won’t be quite the same as being there but part of the fun is imagining that you were there.

The concert hall has wondrous acoustics and is quite a remarkable venue with an art gallery, smaller hall, and restaurants as part of the complex overlooking Lake Lucerne.

According to unofficial fan site keithjarrett.org the title may be Somewhere, and has long versions of ‘Somewhere’ and ‘Tonight’ from West Side Story.

Stephen Graham

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Photos: Olivier Bruchez

Blue Note president Don Was told the New York Times some weeks ago that Van Morrison was returning to the historic jazz label and details of the album have now emerged.

Titled Born to Sing: No Plan B the album is to come out on 2 October in the States nine years after Morrison’s only outing for Blue Note so far, What’s Wrong With This Picture?

Recorded in Morrison’s home city of Belfast and produced by the singer who plays a special Bluesfest show at the Hammersmith Apollo in London tonight tracks are ‘Open The Door (To Your Heart)’; ‘Going Down To Monte Carlo’; ‘Born To Sing’; ‘End Of The Rainbow’; ‘Close Enough For Jazz’; ‘Mystic Of The East’; ‘Retreat And View’; ‘If In Money We Trust’; ‘Pagan Heart’; and ‘Educating Archie.’

Stephen Graham

Van Morrison in his Blue Note days (above). The best track from What’s Wrong With This Picture? is ‘Little Village’ as most fans and casual observers know see clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ot2WQrXXoDU