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’. 

‘Life’ — from the upcoming Matthew Halsall Gondwana triple album, Oneness.

Look for Common Practice from the Ethan Iverson Quartet with Tom Harrell. 

The full personnel is: Ethan Iverson, piano; Tom Harrell, trumpet; Ben Street, double bass; Eric McPherson, drums. A live in the Vanguard album — the Village Vanguard is generally reckoned to be the greatest jazz club in the world for live jazz recordings.

Track titles include George Gershwin’s ‘The Man I Love’, taken very slowly, ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams,’ Denzil Best’s ‘Wee’ + a brace of Iverson originals. 

Iverson writing on his 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.” 

This is really quite something. A stellar trio who know each other’s moves instinctively: the sound bubbling up from the drums: Ali Jackson you may know from his work at the kit within the Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra sound; star pianist Aaron Goldberg who habitually thrives in a trio situation; and bassist Omer Avital whose own work as a leader is also worth checking out. The highly accurately exclamatory monikered, for once, Yes! Trio are on the French indie jazz label Jazz&People roster: look for Groove du jour (****) on 11 October. Seriously swinging but not at all indulgent or tired the trio keep it interesting and you feel the narration in the way they handle each tune. 

Above a live version of ‘Escalier,’ the Ali Jackson composition that opens Groove du Jour.

The album has deftly conceived and executed compositions by all three elegant players who each contribute pieces plus look drilling down for a version of Jackie McLean’s ‘Dr Jackle’ and a treatment of the Sammy Fain-Irving Kahal standard ‘I’ll Be Seeing You’. While it is not out yet marlbank had a few listens right through earlier today: Groove de la semaine — more like. Check the trailer, top and get acquainted with these sounds when you can come release time.  

Waiting Game is new from drummer Terri Lyne Carrington and Social Science this autumn. Actor Malcolm-Jamal Warner and hip-hop artist Rapsody are among the personnel while Assata Shakur and Mumia Abu Jamal samples + an improvised instrumental suite also figure. Look for the album in November. 

At the Limerick Jazz Festival in the autumn the Sarah Gillespie quintet, Ant Law quartet, Beats & Pieces, the Darius Brubeck quartet — appearing ahead of Live in Poland — and the pulsating Septeto Internacional are all in the line-up. Festival director drummer John Daly sets the scene  

Limerick Jazz Festival is now in its 8th year and continues to celebrate live jazz in some of the city’s most atmospheric and vibrant venues. It is about bringing something new and different that doesn’t sound like rock, traditional or classical music. Limerick has a very long and varied history when it comes to music and this jazz festival is a very welcome addition adding a new dimension to the sounds of top class music by top class artists.

Every year is a challenge and this year is no different when it comes to booking the acts for our upcoming festival. The thinking is always what the audience will enjoy, and this year we deliberately chose to have two acts fronted by really great female artists in the guise of Sarah Gillespie, pictured, from the UK and Gemma Sugrue, video top, from Cork. This we are really excited about and we feel this will attract newer audiences, which is always our goal.

Limerick audiences warm to acts that can create a vibe in a short space of time by knowing how to communicate with their listeners. We have been fortunate in our choices over the years in whom we have brought to Limerick. Acts like Atchere from the Canary Islands for example; and this year’s Septeto Internacional with their great Afro-Caribbean rhythms are always guaranteed to get hands clapping and feet tapping. Another great favourite were the funky sounds of bands such as the James Taylor Quartet — and this year we have Beats & Pieces.

Above all Limerick Jazz Festival is about creating something that brings life to the city in the form of music that can reach diverse audiences and also educate in the form of free masterclasses and workshops held over the weekend for those who want to learn what this great music can bring. Listening and watching great artists perform is such an amazing way to appreciate the skill and technique they have honed over many years of playing at such a high level.

The Limerick Jazz Festival runs from 26-29 September. See the festival website for further details.

 

Listen just appearing online... to Thom Yorke... and Wynton Marsalis

A Yorke collaboration with director Edward Norton on the soundtrack to Motherless Brooklyn, based on a Jonathan Lethem novel: ‘Daily Battles’ has Yorke singing achingly, beautifully, and playing tack piano, while Flea from Atoms for Peace is on bass and trumpet [top audio].

The score includes a languorous, highly engaging, brush stroked “harmon” muted close mic’ed-led Wynton Marsalis mournful instrumental arrangement for jazz group of Yorke’s composition [above audio].

Pulled By Magnets Invite Them In

exclusive Seb Rochford’s new band the trio Pulled by Magnets who play the EFG London Jazz Festival this autumn are issuing a limited edition 7” single titled Invite Them In. On the b side there is an alternate version of the piece played by guest Kit Downes on organ. Invite Them In will be issued by German indie Tak:Til in November. “The 7” is still in production,” says Silvij Skok from the label. A Pulled by Magnets album is to follow in February 2020.

Jean Toussaint

Among upcoming releases look out for a new release from Jean Toussaint. David Lyttle of Lyte records confirms a plan in an email: “I will be releasing Jean Toussaint’s next album later in the year.” 

Lyte Records signed saxophonist Jean Toussaint back in 2013 and released his first record as a leader since 2010's Live in Paris and London in February 2014. 

Toussaint’s first album for Lyte was Tate Song, the title of the album took its name from Jean’s son, a Woody Guthrie and Townes Van Zandt-influenced folk-blues singer and guitarist.

The St Thomas born London based Toussaint made his name with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers in the 1980s appearing on such records as New York Scene and Blue Night, and as a leader Toussaint’s own albums include The Street Above the Underground, which won the prestigious best album category at the first BBC Jazz Awards. 

Toussaint is also a leading jazz educator and the Berklee educated player has taught at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and at Trinity Laban in London, and in Ireland on faculty at the Sligo Jazz Project. 

Jean Toussaint, above. Facebook pic.

Wednesday 25 September 
KASIA PIETRZKO TRIO, XAVI TORRES, FAMILY BAND 

Bands from... Poland, Spain and Great Britain... 

Thursday 26 September
ROBOCOBRA QUARTET, KATU KAIKU, SKETCHBOOK QUARTET 

... Northern Ireland, Finland and Austria...  

Friday 27 September
FILIPPO VIGNATO TRIO, TRIO HEINZ HERBERT, IKARAI 
... Italy, Switzerland and the Netherlands...

Saturday 28 September
JUNO, NO TONGUES, THE BRUMS 
... Norway, France and Belgium
• For full details see the Bimhuis website  

Sheffield logo

Lots of new bands flicker on the Sheffield scene activity radar coming up including appearances at the Lescar by Elegies, Rafe’s Dilemma and relative veterans Sloth Racket. Bobtail appear later in the series, as do Forj and towards the end of September Archipelago x J Frisco. Full details via the Jazz at the Lescar website.

Michel Reis

Not a lot to go on so far about Short Stories by Michel Reis, the cover of which is above. To be issued in mid-October by Italian label CAM Jazz it is solo piano only and of the pieces eight were written before going into the studio, the remaining six are free improvisations. Reis is from Luxembourg and studied classical piano, jazz piano, composition and theory in Luxembourg and Boston at Berklee before moving to New York. He will be playing in trio mode under the Reis Demuth Wiltgen auspices in Liverpool at the Capstone theatre on 15 November. Tickets.

 

Image result for jumoke marlbank

Ten shows from across the BBC, Jazz FM, NTS, RTÉ and NPR. Tune in.

Jumoké Fashola: link 

Ruth Fisher: link 

Linley Hamilton: link

John Kelly: link   

Jez Nelson: link 

Gilles Peterson: link 

Christian McBride: link 

Helen Mayhew: link 

Phil Smith: link 

Clare Teal: link 

Jumoké Fashola, above, pictured at the EFG London Jazz Festival launch in 2018. photo: marlbank

Scott Flanigan et al

“The album,” the Belfast scene pianist, composer and organist Scott Flanigan, pictured above second from right, says, asked about his latest plans “will be called Clouded Lines, and it’s named after the suite of music co-commissioned by Moving On Music and the PRS Foundation. After a successful tour of Ireland in March, it’s now ready to be recorded. The suite, in three parts, was written with guitarist Ant Law in mind, and reflects an interest in hard swinging jazz… with a few noisier tunes in there too. The rest of the band includes two of Ireland’s finest rhythm section players: Dave Redmond on the bass and Kevin Brady on the drums.”

photo: courtesy Scott Flanigan 

Coming up in Band on the Wall, are: Sarathy Korwar (26 September), Kurt Rosenwinkel Bandit 65 (29 September), Joe Armon-Jones (11 October) and AKA trio (21 November). Tabla player Sarathy Korwar released his second studio album in July titled More Arriving, which marked a switch from Gearbox Records to the Leaf Label. Korwar’s website noted ahead of release: “This is not necessarily a record of unity; it is an honest reflection of Korwar’s experience of being an Indian in Britain, and as such is a leap forward from his previous releases, incorporating rappers from Mumbai and New Delhi, spoken word and his own Indian classical and jazz performances. More Arriving is a record born of confrontation; one for our confrontational times.” Click to book ahead via the Band on the Wall, Manchester website.

A new chapter begins. Historic first Hancock institute competition. Details via the press release: 

2019 Guitar Competition To Take Place December 2-3 in Washington, D.C.

Applications due October 11, 2019

Washington, D.C —The Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz International Competition will be presented on December 2-3 in Washington, D.C. Open to musicians age 30 and under from across the globe, this year’s competition will shine a spotlight on the guitar.

For over three decades, the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz Competition played a pivotal role in identifying and empowering the next generation of jazz musicians, educators, and influencers. Building upon this important legacy, the newly minted Hancock Institute Competition represents a changing of the guard for one of the jazz world’s most renowned institutions.

The Semifinals of the 2019 Guitar Competition will be held on Monday, December 2nd, from noon to 5:00 p.m. at the Smithsonian Institution. The semifinalists will compete before an all-star panel of judges including jazz guitarists Stanley JordanRussell MalonePat MethenyChico PinheiroLee Ritenourand John Scofield. Each semifinalist will perform for 15 minutes accompanied by a professional rhythm section.

From this group, the judges will select three finalists who will perform in the final round at the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts on Tuesday evening, December 3rd. At stake is more than $150,000 in scholarships and prizes, including a $30,000 first place scholarship and guaranteed recording contract with Concord Music Group; a $15,000 second place scholarship; and a $10,000 third place scholarship.

According to Institute Chairman Herbie Hancock, whose career epitomizes the ideals of the jazz tradition and innovation, “We look forward to discovering and hearing from the next generation of young jazz guitarists, with their innovative styles and unique approach to the music. We are particularly excited to pay homage to the guitar, which has a rich and colorful history that continues to play a pivotal role in the development of jazz. I have no doubt that this year’s Competition will show that the future of this instrument, and of our music, is in good hands.”

 

One of the biggest jazz festivals of the autumn is held each year in Barcelona. Check out the line-up for the 2019 running via its website. Herbie Hancock for instance appears on 26 October... Dave Douglas and Uri Caine on 29 October... Lizz Wright on 3 November... Makaya McCraven on 7 November... Joe Lovano and Trio Tapestry are in the Catalonian capital on 12 November... Angélique Kidjo appears on 19 November.

From Cream to Fela to Jazz Confusion. One of the greats, obviously. Listen again, again. And — again. 

Victoria Geelan

The Fermanagh Live Arts festival launch events are on 20 September to be headlined by trumpeter Linley Hamilton who will the following month be appearing as a headliner at the Cork jazz festival. Fermanagh Live festival highlights include the Dawn to Dusk poetry celebration, John Kelly reading from Notions + Irish traditional music star Gaby McArdle, jazz singer Victoria Geelan, a chess championship, jazz brunch, and the launch of Notes From Africa by Jenny Cathcart. Victoria Geelan, above, publicity photo. Festival website. Dates are 2-10 October.

Courtney Pine touring coming up includes three nights at the Boisdale Canary Wharf restaurant venue in London from 2-4 October; the sold out Ronnie Scott’s 60th Albert Hall concert on 30 October; and on 31 October an appearance at St George’s, Bristol


The erudite Anthems is to be released at the end of September on the Sunnyside label. Seems a significant release although there is only one track from Caroline Davis and Rob Clearfield’s Persona to go on so far — delivered in for want of a better term, a “New Melodic” style: let’s shrink the wait for more somehow by repeated play and a little contemplation. That heard pedal point framework is a siren to an essence of song. 

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At last: to be released by DeepMatter on 20 September voilà PYJÆN: after a lot of promise on the singles so far. Leaning towards prog jazz-rock (Polar Bear at the jazziest end, Dream Theater the proggiest) on their latest sounds, but with a very individual and fresh attitude. 

The five-piece: Dani Diodato, guitar; Dylan Jones, trumpet; Ben Vize, saxophone; Charlie Hutchinson, drums; Benjamin Crane, bass; arrived first on the marlbank new band radar last year when they were touring. As mentioned back then: They can do hard blowing Brecker-esque tenor, Byron Wallen-like trumpet, wiry guitar, rapport, flow, ladlings of Afrobeat, an energetic pulsing undertow to boot: these guys are not afraid to wear their hearts on their sleeves. A London five-piece formed via friendship and study at the Trinity Laban conservatoire in Greenwich. Vize is a new star in the making. Surely his and their profile will soar given a bit of luck. There is also a lot of stimulating heat rising from the drums. Hutchinson makes me want to listen to a bunch of Greg Bissonette solos. Yep, it cooks.

While they can do all the above the direction is clearly more in a unique prog-jazz space and moves that style on a bit since the last innovations were made by World Service Project. Could PYJÆN be the Colosseum of 2019? Tremble at that crazy prospect.  

Concord are leading the way at the moment with release after quality release from quite a number of big and upcoming names. Long may it continue. The latest to drop online is promo for Mike Stern and Jeff Lorber Fusion with the deliciously incendiary ‘Ha Ha Hotel’ from Eleven, to be issued in late-September. Not at all smooth jazz by the way. There is a funky James Brown-like undertow in the response to the flying jazz-rock soloing here, the tempo completely ramped up.

Blue World cover

Blue World by John Coltrane will be released by Impulse! on 27 September. Featuring Coltrane with Jimmy Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner, recorded in 1964, this has not been issued commercially before by an official label. According to Pitchfork the album was: “Recorded at New Jersey’s Van Gelder Studios, the 37-minute session was made at the request of Canadian filmmaker Gilles Groulx, who had asked Coltrane to soundtrack his film Le chat dans le sac.” 

Press release follows:

An unreleased and never-before-heard 1964 recording by John Coltrane and his Classic Quartet, Blue World, will be released by Impulse!/UMe on 27 September. It features new recordings of earlier works which, in an almost unprecedented move, they reinterpreted for this session, recorded at Van Gelder Studios.

The album will available on CD, vinyl LP and digitally, and is previewed by the release of the title track, which is now available:

The recordings were made in June 1964, in between the sessions for Crescent and A Love Supreme. Coltrane had been approached by a filmmaker in Quebec, Gilles Groux, who was planning to make his film Le chat dans le sac, a love story set in Montreal that had political overtones.

Groulx was a devoted Coltrane aficionado, and via his connection with bassist Jimmy Garrison, he approached the great jazz figurehead with the idea of Coltrane recording the film’s soundtrack. Remarkably, he agreed.

Sp it was that he went into the studio with Garrison, Elvin Jones and McCoy Tyner to revisit and reinterpret some of Coltrane’s earlier works. The session was recorded on quarter-inch analog mono tape and mixed by the great jazz engineer Rudy Van Gelder on 24 June. Groulx, who had been present at the session, took the masters to Canada to use in Le chat dans le sac, but only included ten minutes from the 37-minute recording.

Kevin Reeves at Universal Music Mastering in New York has now mastered Blue World from the original analog tape. The lacquers for the new release were cut at Capitol Studios by Ron McMaster.

Devotees and new admirers will hear both Coltrane’s creative progression and the consistent, interactive sound that had become the signature of the Classic Quartet by 1964. The album is also a window into a fascinating and hugely significant period in Coltrane’s musical evolution, set in between two of his most transcendent recordings. Crescent was released in July, and A Love Supreme the following January.

 

Crepuscule In Nickelsdorf (Intakt Records) by Trance Map+: Evan Parker, Matthew Wright, Adam Linson, John Coxon and Ashley Wales, is a seven part mix of field recordings, samples from cassettes, turntable scratching and live processing of Evan Parker saxophone recordings. Think of the tracks, recorded in Austria on 22 July 2017, if you like as somehow figuratively conjuring a 21st century Turner electroacoustic seascape transmogrified to forest in a void far from home because all sense of reality is upended in the churning turbulence of dreams. Quite brilliant, especially in the practically patented use of upper beyond-ledger line partials by Parker — all sounds are hugely organic in the mix. SG *****

It only begins when you listen to... Robbie Robertson. ‘Let Love Reign’, the terrific latest from Sinematic, has a Chris Rea feel to it.

The Love Stories opener is a version of Frances Lai’s theme song from the 1966 Claude Lelouch directed film Un homme et une femme — in English A Man and a Woman. The Brazilian Elias remains firmly and even more resolutely an easy listening jazz singer on this latest album. At concerts it is also, worth noting, her pianism, an effortless Evansiana, proved overwhelmingly on Something for You: Eliane Elias Sings & Plays Bill Evans that can and often does steal the show. However, her singing style is a masterclass in softness. The bossa absorbs her. 

Hear Eliane Elias at the EFG London Jazz Festival this year. She appears at the Barbican on 22 November. 

Having been longlisted it has just been announced that the Fergus McCreadie trio have made the shortlist for the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award. The full shortlist is:

Aidan Moffat and RM Hubbert: Here Lies The Body

Andrew Wasylyk: The Paralian

Auntie Flo: Radio Highlife

C Duncan: Health

Carla J. Easton: Impossible Stuff

Fergus McCreadie Trio: Turas

Free Love: Luxury Hits

Karine Polwart with Steven Polwart & Inge Thomson: Laws of Motion

Kathryn Joseph: From When I Wake The Want Is

Mastersystem: Dance Music (public vote)

Each shortlisted album has won a guaranteed minimum prize of £1,000. 

 

Tickets have gone on sale for the Button Factory appearance of Ezra Collective in Dublin this autumn. First on marlbank’s radar in 2016 alerted by their gospel, rap, driving bop and reggae flavoured EP Chapter 7 on which Zara McFarlane guested, the collective surfacing back then were all newcomers: Dylan Jones on trumpet, James Mollison, tenor saxophone, Joe Armon-Jones on piano, TJ Koleoso on bass, and leader Femi Koleoso on drums. This year the pace has quickened considerably in terms of their profile especially when ‘Quest For Coin’ from their album You Can’t Steal My Joy made an impact in late-April. The Dublin gig is on 25 November. Tickets.

Looking ahead to the Brilliant Corners festival in Belfast, dates, according to its director Brian Carson above: “In 2020 will be 29 February to 7 March.”