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.