Hidden Seas will be released in late-September, the Leeds date among other touring is on 24 October. Last on our radar when trombone player Rosie Turton emerged with an EP Maria Chiara Argirò is a pianist and shoots to the top of the marlbank list of brand new pretty unknown pianists really impressing as a composer particularly this year thinking back to the earlier tracks and relistening prompted by this new work. The singer in her group is Leïla Martial and again makes her presence felt (the style lands in an experimental Gretchen Parlato vein but less sunny side up). The band sound very in the moment on this albeit slim evidence so far. Look out for the rest of the album: marlbank will be joining you if you do round about then. Leeds gig details

Naked Allies

“Last summer,” writes drummer composer bandleader Matthew Jacobson, “Irish-Australian saxophonist Daniel Rorke organised a recording session with myself, Oscar Noriega and Simon Jermyn at Figure 8 Recording in New York, playing tunes of Daniel’s and mine.

“It came out real nice and it is getting released on LA-based Orenda Records on 20 September.”


Orenda add: “Daniel Rorke has lived and worked in Ireland, Iceland, Australia, Norway, and toured throughout the world.

His performance career has included work with many well known Nordic musicians such as Hilmar Jensson, Per Oddvar Johansen, Rune Nergaard, Veli Kujala, Samúel Jon Samúelsson, Sigtryggur Baldursson, Australian piano giant Alister Spence and many others.” 

Matthew Jacobson, top left-to-right, Daniel Rorke, Simon Jermyn, Oscar Noriega. Listen to the title track above via Bandcamp. 

Worth getting to know for sure.

John Surman, Vigleik Storaas, Elina Duni, Rob Luft, Arild Andersen are to appear and documentaries Travels with Manfred Eicher and Open Land: Meeting John Abercrombie screened at the Triskel Guinness Cork jazz festival weekend. It runs from 25-27 October. Website.

Taking place in Helsinki from 28-30 October the Go Northward line-up includes Darrifourcq-Pohjola-Tikkanen, Insufficient Funs & Mikko Innanen, Joanna Duda Trio and Elodie Pasquier. Website

Big Bad Wolf’s Mike de Souza, having assembled a trio and following on from their EP Road Fork tour extensively during October and November, is to issue Slow Burn.

The guitarist — with Huw V. Williams on double bass and Jay Davis playing drums in the trio — has a stellar academic record picking up degrees from Leeds College of Music and the Royal Academy of Music. He notes referring to the title track explaining that: “The piece builds slowly over the course of 9 minutes. I was listening to a lot of Radiohead’s music around the time of writing this piece, and I was hearing the sound of Thom Yorke’s voice in my head as I composed the main melody which steered the direction of the track. Sufjan Stevens album Carrie & Lowell also inspired me with its uses of multiple layers of lush guitars playing different arpeggios which led me to write the initial figure played on acoustic guitar at the start of the track.” 

The tour will take in London, Oxford, Cambridge, Bristol, Nottingham and Leeds among other staging posts. Full dates can be gleaned via the shows page of the de Souza website. Listen to the earlier Road Fork EP above. Slow Burn will be available as a CD and download.

The main theme of the European Jazz Conference to be held in the northwestern Italian city of Novara next month is “Feed Your Soul”. Discussion groups will look at the value and actual effectiveness of showcases; potentials of the use of virtual reality in music; funding possibilities for international projects beyond Creative Europe; Brexit plus other possible challenges for mobility of artists; Article 13/17 and the new European copyright regulations; new publications and studies linked to jazz research. Programme

Even at a wallet busting £75 a pop the gigs not on until peak office party season time descends on Soho the two nighter Bob James jazz club dates in London this December have already been snapped up by eager gig goers. A coup for the Pizza Express Jazz Club: the tiny basement club has often pulled a rabbit from its hat for some magical nights down below Dean Street. Recall, for instance, a riotously splendid Melody Gardot appearance a few years ago.

Fans of Bob, who turns 80 on Christmas Day, whether from the early obscure surprising Bold Conceptions days when he was certainly not a smooth jazzer, ‘Nautilus’ hugely sampled in hip-hop, or the poignant ‘Angela’ from brilliant 1970s and 80s TV comedy Taxi, were quick off the mark. Not sure if the club does returns, worth asking if you missed out. Begging is worth considering. Details: 1-2 December.  

 

The Texas born singer songwriter Jazzmeia Horn does not disappoint. Horn is changing jazz vocals already and she is still only on her second run around the block in terms of albums: Love And Liberation follows a couple of years on from A Social Call while nominated for a Grammy isn’t half as good as this although she showed her poise and steeliness on ‘The Peacocks’. In 2015 she won what was then called the Monk competition, the most prestigious of its kind in the world by then her playing credits had already included Junior Mance, Ellis Marsalis, Peter Bernstein, Frank Wess and Delfeayo Marsalis. I cannot think of a bad track, the personnel with her this time around who include pianists Victor Gould and special guest Sullivan Fortner on the Chris Dunn produced album plus tenor saxophonist Stacey Dillard and trumpeter Josh Evans, the ex-Unity Band former Blanchard bassist Ben Williams (another Monk winner back in 2009), and yet another Monk victor drummer Jamison Ross (2012). Covers on Love and Liberation are Jon Hendrick’s ‘No More’ , Erykah Badu’s ‘Green Eyes’, Rachelle Farrell’s ‘Reflection of My Heart’ duetting with Ross (singing) here and silky as ever, and Jimmy Van Heusen/Johnny Mercer’s ‘I Thought About You.’ The record was released last Friday. ‘When I Say’ shows best how intuitively Horn inhabits that boisterous rollercoaster of a Betty Carter sound and the originals sound like standards. Perth (22 November), Glasgow (23 Nov) and Edinburgh (24 Nov) audiences will hear her with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra this autumn, click for more information SG.

... to Bobby Bland. Listen above to the Don Robey song: “D” in the credits is D as in Deadric Malone a pseudonym of the producer businessman and check out a new state of the art digital reissue by Black & Partner Licenses and their version on the generous selections of a compilation. Opt for the 16 bit FLAC file version if possible and budget allows: one of two versions available for Close to You

Many songs have been written about the blackbird and its beautiful song. As a symbol the bird means much more. No finer a song so inspired exists than the Paul McCartney song, ‘Blackbird’. Spectrum on which a new version of it appears is shaping up well. Initial clips trailed on this site regularly over the last few weeks were promising and now this lustrous version of Macca's (“White Album” featured) song that was “woke” before the term even existed exceeds all expectation. As previously reported on marlbank only the charismatic jazz-rock Chick Corea championed Japanese pianist Hiromi’s second solo piano release after Place to Be a decade ago, this new set of performances will be out in October on the US label Telarc and tracks beside this very imaginative relatively narrative lilting treatment of ‘Blackbird’ 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. Last word from her, and you can read the quote in full on YouTube who says: “Whenever I play The Beatles’ ‘Blackbird,’ I feel like I’m playing towards someone — not any particular someone, but towards one person.” 

Paul Booth

Warm early this morning as the phone rang Paul Booth switched off his fan. The bandleader, saxophonist, composer has signed to the Ubuntu label and he explains in this interview firstly why he chose Martin Hummel’s indie jazz label that has quickly become a leading new force on the UK scene over the last few years. ‘‘I knew people already on the label. Martin got in touch and we met up. I had heard good things but we hadn’t met. We hit it off immediately. I had an album in the can. I sent some mixes across to him.’’

Those mixes became Travel Sketches, a mellow yet absorbing, beautifully played modern mainstream quartet album that stands out in terms of the quality of the writing, and which was recorded in March in Birmingham at the East Side club of the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire.

The rhythm section of Dave Whitford on bass, Andrew Bain playing drums and Steve Hamilton on piano are on the record with Booth who was last heard by marlbank jamming on his vintage Conn saxophone at the Riverside hotel in Sligo a year ago. Earlier this summer Paul returned once more to the banks of the Garavogue where in Sligo he has been on the jazz faculty for a few years. He enjoys it there and it is full on. ‘‘We are working in the morning doing masterclasses and ensembles, the gigs begin at 4pm and continue on until 2am.’’ He will be returning to Ireland later in the autumn to play the Cork jazz festival after appearing last year with his Bansangu orchestra.

Blessed with a warm and powerful tenor sound there is a pastoral aesthetic at work on Travel Sketches perhaps slightly paradoxical given that the album was recorded in an urban big city environment. ‘‘Dave had become available,’’ Paul who lives in Ramsgate says. “We were good friends which is nice: You need that first. We had worked together in a backing band for someone else, a guitarist called Jamie Dean who is from my area in Kent.’’ 

What you hear is what happened, mostly one-takes — Paul Booth

Back in Birmingham earlier this year where Andrew Bain teaches at the Conservatoire home to the East Side, the repertoire Booth brought to the recording was shaped around original composition by Booth plus a version of Peter Gabriel’s ‘Don’t Give Up’ is included. The idea was to strip down production to make the album feel as if it were a gig.

Preparing, Paul brought in engineer Alex Bonney, who is also a trumpeter and who Booth had worked with in the band of bassist Michael Janisch. Bonney brought his own portable set-up along. Asked about the tender, powerfully moving song, a Gabriel hit duet with Kate Bush in the 1980s when it first came out, Paul confirms that he does play ‘Don’t Give Up’ live. He explains: ‘‘A couple of years ago I heard it on the radio and it is a beautiful song with such a strong melody. We played it at sound checks and it became a closer at gigs.’’ Expanding and more generally he notes: ‘‘Travel Sketches was written while travelling.’’ At the launch gig this week the quartet will play tunes from the album plus additional material.

Booth also produced Travel Sketches and chose not to go into a studio where otherwise the players would have had to record in specially separated insulated settings for sound engineering reasons. This was because he says he: ‘‘Wanted the recording to feel like a gig and people could come in to listen if they wanted to. We set up in the round. What you hear is what happened, mostly one-takes.’’

The Booth approach to producing is not to be too heavy handed. He says he likes to ‘‘dish out encouragement’’ — and when he is not playing himself in other situations having produced for other artists might suggest paring back a track in length say from 8 minutes to six minutes. He stresses he is not a sound engineer but in his own home studio he edits and tweaks on Pro Tools. The mastering on the new album, which he did not attend, was done at Air in London.

Playing live the quartet did not for the most part use stage monitors at East Side except for the bass amp. There were no issues about hearing the piano, he tells me, although on the ‘‘raucous’’ piano track as he refers to one particular track attention was needed to think about hearing the piano on the day in performance a bit more.

Originally from the historic city of Durham in the north east of England he was home schooled as a child and did his A-levels at the early age of 16. He had also lived in Spain as a young boy and later as a teen at the Royal Academy of Music in London he studied jazz saxophone during the Graham Collier pioneering years. He was there first in 1993 — jazz had begun at the Academy only at the end of the 1980s. His second study was piano. Later Booth would develop his interest in flute and clarinet.

As a teenager he began to play with the Colombian bandleader master timbalero, Roberto Pla. Paul says he used to play at the Farringdon Jazz Bistro in central London in 1994 and Pla heard him there first. ‘‘It was absolutely brilliant playing with him. He was the nicest guy.’’ Paul got into the latin-jazz scene a lot and played with other salsa bands around the time moving and extending his interests away from his earlier influences of Ben Webster and Stan Getz. He learned how to power hard above a 15-piece salsa band, a very different discipline to that which he had hitherto been accustomed, and with Pla performed salsa, Afro-Cuban, Puerto Rican but not so much merengue which he however did with other bands that he joined at that busy time.

His own parents were into 1940s swing bands and he says he ‘‘probably grew up listening to a lot of that.’’ They liked the Great American Song book as well as swing. In his early career Booth played with two versions of the Glenn Miller ghost bands beginning in France with the European Miller and in the UK with the Ray McVay version. Booth’s more recent work this last decade with legendary global rock and blues icons is legion and includes not only Eric Clapton but also Van Morrison — and the list is a long one.

Beyond jazz over the last 12 months he has performed with music theatre legend show singer Elaine Paige in New Zealand and then his long time gig inside the Steve Winwood band continued in tour dates opening for Steely Dan who in the past he has also played with. Most recently he was heard by many thousands playing baritone saxophone for The Eagles at Wembley Stadium.

On his own projects Paul last year played the Margate Jazz Festival not far from home in Kent with the world music big band Bansangu Orchestra which he had formed with Kevin Robinson of Jazz Jamaica renown and guitarist Giorgio Serci. Bansangu will be back in action playing the 606 club in London on 15 September and before that (tomorrow) on Tuesday 27 August Booth plays with his Travel Sketches band at Pizza Express Jazz Club in London launching the album.

Interview by Stephen Graham

James Carter has become a 21st century Paul Gonsalves, not in playing style at all, in the tradition of making an impact in Newport at the festival, where the modern worldwide jazz festival movement was spawned, nurtured, codified and sustained by George Wein in the 1950s in the beginnings of a cultural phenomenon that has assisted the growth of jazz the world over. 

Carter’s Blue Note debut, the track above drawn from his Organ Trio album, is also marlbank track of the day, week, and easily a contender for track of the year. The way Gerald Gibbs on the B3 slides around the 1min 20sec mark into the Crépuscule theme which is very like (predating) the melody of ‘Wave’ and then how Carter responds high up is remarkable.

The Alexander White groove taps New Orleans — to be specific the feel uncannily of the John Boudreaux sound that you hear towards six minutes in stripped of congas if you imagine on Dr John Gris Gris track ‘I Walk On Guilded Splinters

While half a symphony in length ‘Mélodie au Crépuscule’ alone is micro to macro in every way and demonstrates how a tiny unit can achieve the scale of a 100-piece orchestra in terms of artistic impact as jazz bands prove day in day out. As for Django Reinhardt listen to the Django 1946 “ur” version first and then play Carter immediately after and I guarantee that you will be astonished by how vivid he sounds in a feat of recomposition.

This is the music that Carter emerged from in his project documented live and on record already in many ways made radical instead of by revolution instead in syncretic diasporic universal musical evolution made possible by ferocious command of his instrument and what he wants to do with it in a small group setting. Want to know where and how jazz lives in the moment on a stage in front of people? Look no further than on Live From Newport Jazz which is proved to be history in the making. 

 Stephen Graham

To be released on 31 August

“Traditional music from Greece, Turkey, Lebanon and Armenia’’ does not really indicate how much of an art music this is nor does it suggest that the traditional here can be timeless and to an extent modern too in the same way that Greek drama continues to have relevance for actors, dramatists and audiences.

Singer Maria Farantouri projects grandeur and tragedy in equal measure to a striking humanity. She achieves profundity throughout. The compositions are by saz player Cihan Türkoğlu, and material spans huge terrain via Sephardic song of exile to a setting of Heraclitus, wedding music, and much else.

Anja Lechner in the five-piece instrumental ensemble is at the centre of the formal sound. She is one of the world’s finest cellists and ECM have been a big champion of her work over many years and proves how much she is a major artist although here in the democratic setting of a group is quite anonymous.

Recorded in a studio in Athens produced by Manfred Eicher if you like traditional music then you will enjoy this. If you do not you will not. An excellent album where traditional music fits into an ocean of sound these days is a big subject and nothing here poses let along answers that question given that it is not at all about polemics, issues or style, more about humanity via a wide angle. An endangered species? Yes. However, records like Beyond the Borders protect and nurture, challenge and add new life part of why they signify and deliver so much.

Danish
Jazz Special — http://www.jazzspecial.dk

Dutch
Jazzism — https://www.jazzism.nl/

Finnish
Jazz Rytmit — http://jazzrytmit.fi/wp/

French
Jazz magazine — https://www.jazzmagazine.com/

German
Jazzthing — https://www.jazzthing.de/

Italian
Musica jazz — https://www.musicajazz.it/

Japanese
Jazz Japan — http://www.jazzjapan.co.jp/

Norwegian
Jazznytt — https://jazznytt.jazzinorge.no/

Polish
Jazz Forum — http://jazzforum.com.pl/ 

Swedish
Orkester Journalen — http://orkesterjournalen.com/wordpress/

Just under half of It’s Morning is online at the moment ahead of the latest from Led Bib which will be released at the end of September. These pre-order tracks are enough to signal an expansion in the group sound and the addition of vocals. Interesting that bassist Jim Barr of Get the Blessing/Portishead had a hand in some of the additional recording. All the tracks were recorded in the summer of 2018. The vocals of Sharron Fortnam and less so Jack Hues, from Wang Chung, are an acquired taste but the obvious question is are they acquirable and do they match and fuse with the essential Led Bib sound? You dear listener decide.

Full declaration I am a long time fan of Led Bib. However I would not claim to like every record they have made and I will suspend thinking about It’s Morning for a while even if what is available at the moment is quite a lot to gain a good idea of the new album. If you are new to the band, basically they play in a highly customised Ornette Coleman language borne out of a two pronged saxophone attack densely coloured by alto sax with a blues connotation deep down in the sound and a punk sensibility mainly exhibited by the understanding between bass and drums skewering obvious metre and generally playing full on loud and fairly dissonant. 

Go straight off to Sensible Shoes which remains a classic and then have a listen to the earlier Sizewell Tea which also was excellent. The band while a proper band in the sense that it is more than the sum of the individual parts is the vision primarily of drummer Mark Holub who is an excellent composer and the band are completely non conformist and remain even after their long time ago Mercury success outsiders, not self consciously so, but just that is what their music is about. Their appeal is that it is attractive to outsiders everywhere. They are not in it for the bantz, or the pose, the heritage nostalgia or simple gigging... even to their most hostile critics the cacophony. Again I reiterate free-jazz in its classic sense is not always better live than on record although some supporters of the style claim that it is. It can be. However bands like Led Bib know how to make studio sounds vivid more than most. It’s Morning is ambitious and does not play safe. Their latest artistic departure is to be welcomed if only for that fact whether or not it actually succeeds artistically in the end. SG

Pigfoot Shuffle

A studio affair recorded in 2017 not a patch on 21st Century Trad, the line-up has changed a bit and as with Sons of Kemet I miss the presence of Oren Marshall even if reedist James Allsopp, doubling baritone saxophone and bass clarinet (pity that his name is misspelt in the liner caption) now a fixture in Pigfoot, is a fine player and he certainly is excelling particularly on ‘Black Dog’. The change means that the texture of the band is different but not massively so. 

The quartet look on their material through a wide angled lens in terms of repertoire spanning popular song (the Bacharach selections), opera (‘Dance of the Seven Veils’) and rock (the cheesy ‘Heartbreak Hotel’) plus a taste of soul (Curtis Mayfield) and more.

The results are a party mix and on some tracks depending on whether you like the tune or not you can switch off more so than on the much more amusing and anarchic live predecessor. Perhaps the live environment on a recording actually suits the band better than the studio, I can’t quite put my finger on why it lacks something.

Saving grace? Yes: ‘Black Dog’ rocks, Clarvis putting the boot in big time and Liam Noble is zanier than ever on that track while Chris Batchelor goes berserk in a riot of momentum. Stephen Graham 

Pigfoot play the Vortex, London on 7 September

Playing John Williams

An album where the idea and theme, playing quality and execution are all strong — piano solo interpretations of the instantly familiar work of film composer John Williams — and yet an album that ultimately fails to inspire.

Most engrossing when David Helbock who has in the past interpreted such classic material as within the scope of the music of Dave Brubeck and Joe Zawinul manages to steer himself away from the concise themes whether they are part of the world of ET, Star Wars or Harry Potter, and opens up in the freer passages.

It makes me think instantly about the multiple extra challenges such an exercise throws up for Helbock: will improvisation become ornamentation (and that is clearly Helbock’s solution) or instead become a deconstruction? 

Helbock has to grapple with the lush nature of how most of this music first appeared in fully orchestrated form and yet he has to make the themes live in his own terms.

Helbock had to compromise clearly in his thinking. As a result the power of the compositions themselves shrink the performance down to size in terms of impact. Recorded in Berlin last year it all feels a little too safe. Perhaps solo piano in itself cannot do justice to the conceptual challenges the Williams body of work commands.
Stephen Graham    

Atlas

As previously reported in April in what is one of their highest profile signings to date London jazz indie label Whirlwind have signed singer Natacha Atlas and will release her album Strange Days in the autumn. Release date is now confirmed as 9 September. Listen to the call and response of lead-off track, ‘Maktoub’.    

Atlas over the years has worked with Transglobal Underground, Peter Gabriel, Nitin Sawhney, Nigel Kennedy, Indigo Girls, Jean-Michel Jarre, and Ibrahim Maalouf. Strange Days Whirlwind describe as “A darkly dystopian Arabic-infused jazz fantasy.”

It is a departure for Whirlwind whose releases tend to gravitate towards acoustic hard bop, jazz-rock, Cool School and mainstream flavours and a sign of the growing reach of the label which is run by bassist Michael Janisch beyond its core constituency.

Atlas on her Facebook page provides more details, crediting violinist, composer, arranger Samy Bishai as her producer, co-composer and arranger on the album and indicating that her personnel on it includes pianist Alcyona Mick, Andy Hamill, Asaf Sirkis, Hayden Powell, Robinson Khoury, Laurie Lowe and Idris Rahman among others.

Full personnel is now available. The main additional talking point is the presence of guest soul singer superstar Joss Stone on the track ‘Words of a King’.