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.

Jason Moran

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

Avishai & Avishai

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.

 

Roma cover

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. 

Out now 

 

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.” 

Tcha Limberger

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).