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.” 

OK. I read an article earlier titled “Britain’s jazz scene is in full swing” and disagreed with it.

Here are the relevant points why. The article runs in bold italic type, my notes on it are in plain non-bold type.

The idea behind this exercise is to amplify what is worthwhile and explain the inadequacies of what is not, in a challenging spirit of analysis, something that is often lacking in the day-to-day cycle of publication. Reddit it ain’t.

Jazz died in 1959. At least, that’s what New Orleans trumpeter Nicholas Payton wrote in 2011 as part of a series of tweets that riled jazz lovers the world over.
The author has picked a well known controversialist to begin with. Payton prefers the term “BAM” [Black American Music] to “jazz”. 
It later transpired that he meant jazz the word (which, he reckoned, was ‘a label forced upon musicians’) rather than jazz the genre. Semantics aside, Payton struck a chord. He fired up what many people for many decades have assumed to be an ever-shrinking band of jazz aficionados.
The author places himself on the side of musicians. However, the controversial intent dissipates rather here so negating the beginning. 
In fact, there has been an increasingly cool end to the jazz catalogue in America for at least the past 20 years. Pianist Robert Glasper and saxophonist Kamasi Washington are two figureheads of this stateside jazz renaissance, which is characterised by a liberal use of synthesisers and drum machines.
“In fact” meaning “indeed”; “cool” is misused here and rendered meaningless. Why 20 years only? Surely jazz has always been cool to use it in its correct sense? [Ergo in the 1920s, “cool” was already known as a term of approval and even reverence. Check the song ‘Cool Kind Daddy Blues’ for instance.] Oh, the worst clanger here: most jazz musicians run a mile from drum machines or use them very advisedly.  
In the UK, ears have taken longer to prick up beyond all but the most committed circles. Now, though, a jazzy storm is blowing through Britain. Some say it started in 2003 on London’s Portobello Road, at Mau Mau Bar. A weekly night called Jazz Re:freshed began offering a space apart from the stalwarts of the London jazz scene — the likes of Ronnie Scott’s and the 606 Club in Chelsea. Here, players were free to experiment and perform as they wished.
I think this is wishful thinking and just a way to introduce the interviewed speaker.
Around the same time, digital recording and publishing technology meant that musicians could capture and share material. Since winning an Arts Council grant in 2014, Jazz Re:freshed has turned into a label which promotes this body of work all over the world.
So exaggerated.
‘Jazz is having its time in the sun,’ says Justin McKenzie, the label’s artistic director. He attributes this in part to the fact that jazz has learned from rock and pop, where artists seek to brand themselves: ‘It’s not enough just to put music out. You need to be the music, you need to represent the music.’
Point of view only and fair enough. But do artists seek to brand themselves as described, really, truly?
The eclectic range of styles that Jazz Re:freshed set out to champion now defines the UK jazz scene. Seed Ensemble, which has strong Afrobeat underpinnings, was nominated for a Mercury Prize last month, and many more groups featuring influences ranging from Indian folk to ‘dark dub’ are playing at summer festivals.
There are several UK jazz-indie labels out there who have received Mercury nominations over the years (eg Dune, Basho, Babel). Fact. Jazz styles have been happily hybrid and inclusive of many other musics reaching back to the 1960s at least.   
 
Renowned DJ and impresario Gilles Peterson has given a push to the trend. He features many of the UK’s up-and-coming acts on his BBC 6 Music show on Saturday afternoons, has given the stage to them at his annual summer festival in the south of France, and even offers mentoring services.
Peterson has rightly given jazz a push. Not everyone however subscribes to his DJ-centric vision. 
But ‘it would be unfair to give people with a platform all the credit’, McKenzie says. For many years before the current cool, organisations such as Tomorrow’s Warriors, a jazz education outfit, provided the real bedrock of the UK jazz resurgence.
Big claim. Only partly true.
Now, it’s not just London that is enjoying this blast of new music. Bristol, Leeds, Brighton and Manchester are all developing distinctive scenes; and a similar new wave is sweeping Scotland. In Glasgow, where the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland has been offering formal education in jazz for only a decade, a committed — if small — set of young musicians is blending elements of traditional music with selected tenets of jazz. The result is virtuosos such as Fergus McCreadie who, at 22, sold hundreds of seats at the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival this year. Reports of jazz’s death, it seems, have been greatly exaggerated.
It would be interesting to know about “the distinctive scenes” mentioned. Seems vague. SG.

Article appeared in The Spectator, link.