Wrap your ears around a sublime bit of Joe Jackson and ‘Strange Land’ from the singer’s album Fool which is released this week. Live dates coming up include April dates in London, Birmingham, Glasgow, Manchester, Cork and Dublin. 

Quite beautiful... a piano-clarinet duet by pianist Lucian Ban and clarinettist Alex Simu taken from the upcoming Free Fall to be released by Sunnyside records on 15 February that serves as a tribute to reedist Jimmy Giuffre.

There is something quite special in the rapport the pair have on ‘Quiet Storm (for Jimmy Giuffre)’ and especially the atmosphere they convey, a tingling extra element that exists invisibly beyond the simplicity of the appealing melody and its slow, hypnotic, wheeling, motion. 

Pretty left-field this but no matter look out for some extraordinary sounds on The Oracle to be released on the International Anthem label next month. Chicago composer, clarinettist, singer, Angel Bat Dawid provides nearly all the sounds you will hear on this album which to our ears lands in an Abbey Lincoln-meets Sun Ra type space (with the path finding spirit of Tony Scott in there somewhere too!) torn up, pieced back together and reinvented for the 21st century. Pretty lo-fi and no wonder as Dawid recorded tracks on the album using only her mobile phone. Just goes to show that you do not necessarily have to rely on state-of-the-art studios to come up with something fresh and compelling. Ideas and a bag full of originality are the real currency, more like. 

From The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul Andrew Hill’s ‘Snake Hip Waltz.’ 

The album was recorded over the course of three days in the Alexander Theatre at Monash University in Australia last year it features the Branford Marsalis Quartet “in the usual line up on all tracks, no guests this time,” says OKeh label chief Wulf Muller.

So that’s sax icon Branford Marsalis also the producer, with pianist Joey Calderazzo, double bassist Eric Revis, and drummer Justin Faulkner.

Tracks are: 1 Dance of the Evil Toys by Eric Revis; 2 Conversation Among the Ruins by Joey Calderazzo; 3 Snake Hip Waltz by Andrew Hill; 4 Cianna by Joey Calderazzo; 5 Nilaste by Eric Revis; 6 Life Filtering From The Water Flowers by Branford Marsalis; and 7 The Windup by Keith Jarrett.

Branford Marsalis says: “Some musicians may need to work in different projects to create the illusion of sounding different by changing the context, whereas we are confident that we can adjust our group sound so we don’t have to change the context. What always appealed to me were the great bands, not just the great players who could start and stop at the same time. Staying together allows us to play adventurous, sophisticated music and sound good. Lack of familiarity leads to defensive playing, playing not to make a mistake. I like playing sophisticated music, and I couldn’t create this music with people I don’t know.” To be released through Sony on 1 March the same day as the Branford Marsalis Quartet play London’s Barbican.

Christoph Irniger has been ploughing his furrow for a while with his quintet Pilgrim and maybe it is time for a change of direction. A ponderous beginning to this latest outing Crosswinds (Intakt, **) hardly bodes well: would this track not have been better pushed further back into the album? But hang on most of the album is like this! All pervasive introspective moods dressed in moody chamber-jazz livery failed to hook me in. What we have throughout all just seems instead like navel gazing. Most of the tunes are Irniger’s with bassist Raffaele Bossard and pianist Stefan Aeby also contributing as well as one group-penned piece. Dull fare. SG

Duncan Eagles Citizen Line through2

Released next month I have been listening today to Citizen by the virtuosic Partikel saxophonist Duncan Eagles who opens for Joshua Redman at the Barbican on 18 February. US fans via his new label Ropeadope will probably get to know Eagles for the first time and he is a talented player who first came to notice jamming in Streatham club Hideaway at the beginning of the 2010s. 

A sober studio affair on which Eagles is joined by guitarist David Preston, pianist Matt Robinson, Eagles’ erstwhile Partikel bandmate bassist Max Luthert, and drummer Dave Hamblett, the style falls in a no man’s land. Compositionally strong, although the writing is oblique, the title track which opens proceedings has good cohesion and interplay between the solo line passages and the rhythm section underneath, and its bustling momentum displays a lot of energy. It is pretty earnest stuff and a little dry, though! On the plus side, however, the tracks that follow offer plenty to admire and the album is beautifully recorded, a soft texture to the listening sheen has somehow been fashioned by the engineers, a harsh abrasive listen this certainly is not.

Luthert leads off ‘Conquistador’ which again shows how well the bass has been recorded but there is an airy spaciousness here rather than a spiritual glow to the style which sucks the momentum out of the record and it is pretty short on really strong melody lines which is slightly frustrating given that the album is pretty melodic at least in inclination. ‘Shimmer’ with its accessible style comes closer and the airy ‘Folk Song’ is even more direct but Preston’s role is overcooked and the tune really didn’t grab me that much but I think it probably will work better live and turn into a bigger feature. 

The track certainly has more drama to it than most of the other numbers. ‘Taxco’ is the sort of track you will hear Swiss trio Vein tackle and certainly there is a maturity here that can be a scarce commodity when you hear a lot of party-jazz bands out there just relying on groove and quirky effects to get the crowd going. Citizen is not that kind of record. There is a lot of improvising content and again live I am sure this will be even more evident. Certainly as a muso band Eagles has cracked it but to civilian listeners will his appeal be as strong? SG 

Jamie Saft, Steve Swallow and Bobby Previte have a new record coming up on 25 January once again on London prog-jazz label RareNoise and they have come up with a highly non-predictable song to cover as title track that certainly chimes mightily with their creative instincts.

The title track is from Billy Gibbons’ psychedelic blues band The Moving Sidewalks. “Billy Gibbons,” says Saft, “is a master of his instrument in the same way that these great jazz masters are. I wanted to find tunes that were soulful, important pieces of music to me that would also resonate with Steve and Bobby.

‘You Don’t Know the Life’ creates this trance-like space that I thought it would be just a perfect vehicle for the trio.”

Human Feel

There has not been a Human Feel record in many years. So this is an event.

Gold does not disappoint.

For a whole new generation of fans the band is unknown. This is a new mountain of discovery to explore.

If this extraordinary record had come out last year it would have topped a lot of people’s lists and I do not think that anyone will be able to even get close to the quality of this record this year certainly in terms of originality and ambition not to mention the quality of the writing.

How much the band plan to tour this year is impossible to say at this distance but I think when promoters hear this and still have festival spaces to fill they will be getting on the phone pretty quickly when they hear Gold unless that is their idea of a headliner is some sort of lightweight showbiz ivory-tinkler.

The great thing here by contrast is the blues connotation and the quality of the melodies. The style straddles a lot of things and you could be a rock fan or an avant jazz fan, a mix of the two or even someone more attuned to the contemporary classical avant garde and you will get what is going on here. By the way it will give you kicks and not make you come away with the feeling that you should be writing a PhD thesis about it although there are plenty of things to consider and strike you as brand new and innovative.

One of the great things about these sounds is the complete lack of a false corny swing sensibility when you know that swing has become a facsimile for complacency or sentimentality which it often has become in the wrong hands.

As for details of instrumentation Andrew d’Angelo alternates between alto saxophone and bass clarinet; Jim Black as well as drums contributes synth (it can sound like the grandeur of an organ say on his tune ‘Martens’ which has a ‘Round Midnight’ calibre greatness to it) Kurt Rosenwinkel of course is on guitar and not as arrogantly all over the shop as he can be on some of his more mainstream chops-heavy records, while Chris Speed alternates between tenor and clarinet. The tracks were recorded in a studio in 2017.

More impressions? There is a huge tenderness and some tremendous ballad playing here, actually many of the more absorbing passages have a bittersweet quality to them, but they are counterweighted with a brutal sense of the reality of the world in contrasting play. Check the beginning of ‘Lights Out’ for instance when the reeds go into exploratory and very nihilistic mode which almost tears up the band’s own thinking.

There is quite pervasively a social realism to the sound which is the antithesis of romanticism but there is also plenty of imagination thrown in too so this is not a mundane earnest kind of record at all which often bedevils more orthodox free improv which this resembles at times but is ultimately distinct from.

The sax interplay between d’Angelo and Speed is the best thing about it all and certainly narrates the album most so the reeds are your guides at all times to “the story” and underpins everything. Rosenwinkel has to fashion his harmonic colour into a smaller space which challenges him and the listener in the end.

Jim Black is very powerful and shows how world class a player he certainly is in this regard but he is more of an auteur than a drummer if that makes sense.

When an avant garde record is accessible and this certainly is you just know someone has cracked the code and given listeners the key to a certain kind of rare wisdom. Push yourself as a listener. These guys do as players and it works.


It might become compulsory to begin a live album with the noise of the audience just so we know that it is live.

In any case that is how Live From the Cotton Club Tokyo Vol 1 begins. “Volume 1” makes it sound like The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. But this particular story is not that epic a tale.

Joey Calderazzo is an A list player, usually known as a member of a group and for a long time with Branford Marsalis and who has a new album The Secret Between the Shadow and the Soul out in March.

There is a British interest in the choice of bassist with Orlando Le Fleming who lives in America and who swings like mad on ‘Hats Off to Rebay’ and the Jeff Watts-like sound of Donald Edwards on drums completes the band.

Most of these tracks are pretty long and that is not unusual in a live jazz club setting. The band swing all night long and it is enjoyable but you will not come away from this with any other great insights other than bask in the ability of the players or just wish you were there because going by the audience it was fun.

The latinate ‘Cianna’ has a feelgood style to it but you certainly will be looking for a bit more edge and that luckily is provided in the opening of ‘One Way’ that has a mysterious teasing opening from Le Fleming and Calderazzo, the pianist using the deepest notes of his instrument to add a little suspense, the bluesiness an added ingredient for great flavour.

I have not heard Calderazzo live in quite a few years, I think the last time was at a festival in Glasgow, and was always blown away by his technique on his own records and which is still there in natural abundance. I’d pick ‘Free’ to indicate that great aspect of his playing best of all with Edwards really coming into his own and the trio respond best and show their firepower which mostly on this record as a unit is kept in reserve.

The audience show their engagement again at the beginning of the choppy opening to ‘The Mighty Sword’ and Le Fleming rampages the tune along, the trio going for broke. Certainly then to reach a conclusion a pretty album and very easy to absorb but I would not say it is a classic and is quite undemanding in large sections. Nevertheless it certainly helps put the Cotton Club in Tokyo on the map for quality live recordings and presumably future volumes. Stephen Graham   

Image result for vijay iyer marlbank

Vijay Iyer

A ROUND UP OF CLUB ACTIVITY AT A RANGE OF INTERNATIONAL CLUBS: The Kevin Brady trio featuring Bill Carrothers and Seamus Blake are at Arthur’s Dublin on 20 February. Over at the A-Trane in Berlin Human Feel are in town on 30 January.  

Look out for the Jazz Art Orchestra with Jason Marsalis at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam on 14 January.

Over at Birdland New York Ingrid Jensen’s quintet play from 23-26 January. 

At Bix in Stuttgart the accent is smooth, reggae and Afrobop in the mix courtesy of Yolanda Brown on 25 January. 

In Italy at the Blue Note in Milan acid jazz stalwarts JTQ are playing there on 18 January. 

The Blue Note in New York has Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah coming up on 5-8 February.

The Tokyo Blue Note has Tony Allen’s sextet on 23 and 24 January. Stateside at Washington DC club Blues Alley David Binney's Angelino Quartet are in the club on 19 February.

In Denver club Dazzle Peter Bernstein, Larry Goldings and Bill Stewart are playing on 17 January. Staying in the US, Dimitriou’s Jazz Alley in Seattle hosts UK guitar legend Martin Taylor on 15 and 16 January. At Dizzy’s, in New York, the mighty Cookers begin a four-night residency on 24 January.

Across the Atlantic at the Domicil in Dortmund Ambrose Akinmusire makes the trip to Germany once more with his quartet to play on 30 January. Criss crossing the continent to the Duc des Lombards in Paris where you can hear the David Kikoski trio on 30-31 January. 

At Fasching in Stockholm look out for Antonio Sánchez and Migration on 16 January while over at the Green Mill in Chicago Patricia Barber is in the house on 28 January.    

At Jamboree in Barcelona Liane Carroll is in town playing there on 16 January. Further north at the Jazzhus Montmartre in Copenhagen Jan Lundgren with strings pays tribute to Jan Johansson from 31 January-2 February.

Interestingly at the Jazzkeller in Frankfurt Vincent Herring and Soul Chemistry play on 17 January while back in the States at the Jazz Standard in New York Vijay Iyer are in the club on 22 and 23 January. Note the (how new?) line-up, with Linda Oh on bass and Tyshawn Sorey on drums. 

Back in Europe at the Loft in Cologne the Kari Ikonen trio are to play on 18 January and in the States at Mezzrow in New York Sullivan Fortner plays after hours from 11pm on 23 January. 

Moods in Zurich presents Craig Taborn and Dave King in duo on 20 January. At Porgy and Bess in Vienna the Iiro Rantala trio featuring Dan Berglund play on 23 January.

At the Regatta bar in Boston Stanley Jordan is in the club on 1 February and a few weeks before at Smoke in New York Al Foster celebrates his 75th with a three-night residency beginning on 18 January. Snug Harbor in New Orleans features the Herlin Riley quartet on 26 January. 

Back in Germany at the Stadtgarten in Cologne Kris Davis, Stephan Crump and Eric McPherson under the moniker the Borderlands trio play on 27 January. 

Before that and this week, finally in this round-up, at the Sunset-Sunside in Paris trad trumpeter Pete Horsfall of the Kansas Smitty’s House Band makes the trip across the channel to play on 15 January in the company of Frank Amsallem as they pay homage to Louis Armstrong.