“Ages” away, falling a few weeks before the Brexitian day of shame: but this is a no-brainer. Guaranteed there will be nothing better on down the Dog and Duck or even The Case Is Altered, Eastcote’s finest pub, some say. Sadly even with the best will in the world The Case is Altered would not be able to squeeze everyone into the back room for Blue Maqams, who play the Barbican a few days this side of St Patrick’s Day come March. More’s the pity. 

A must, “obviously”? Well, m’lud, Anouar Brahem is the best jazz oudist in the world. His deft timbral facility is unsurpassable. There you have it. But also cast your mind back to the brilliant Thimar, an album that also featured Dave Holland who returns to the Brahem universe and is at the heart of the Blue Maqams sound along with the Tunisian master. Subtract John Surman from that formula but add the tabasco of Django Bates and one of the best drummers in the world in Nasheet Waits in for the great Jack DeJohnette as the active ingredients and hey presto. Details. 

A PARLOUR GAME AND OPINION ONLY not fact or worse opinion dressed up as fact. It is that time of year. 

The premiss: the most significant jazz musician ever to come out of Europe is Django Reinhardt (1910-1953).

If you reject this notion fare thee well, Elf awaits on TV, plenty on!

Who has followed Django and can be held in similarly high esteem as an icon of the music?

The criteria since you ask: supreme command, charisma, sublime artistry, invention — that altogether touch the soul.

We do not ask for much.

Who came next as an icon?

Jan Garbarek (born 1947), very non-trad.  

A Coltranian disciple from Norway who proved to however impossibly rewrite the rule book of European jazz and fulfils all the above criteria.

To be honest since Garbarek it is harder to find anyone who fits the bill and the ones who do are all saxophonists.

Only two players are to my mind in the running. 

The first the discovery of another Django, Django Bates, the sax titan Marius Neset (born 1985), another Norwegian by a fluke. Yes another outrageously gifted sax player whose sound is as tender as the night.

Since Marius emerged a decade ago the only other contender to follow him, again a child of the 1980s, is another saxophonist. 

He is Émile Parisien (born 1982), whose Sfumato this year was simply brilliant and is included in the marlbank albums of the year for 2018.


In August 2017 Sfumato, the Émile Parisien quintet, played Wynton Marsalis’ favourite festival Marciac in la belle France, where Skain joined the band as did the French bass clarinet legend Michel Portal, led by artist in residence Parisien in front of an estimated 5,000 audience.

Sidney Bechet’s ‘Temptation Rag’, was on the set list, Bechet (1897-1959), father of the jazz saxophone, a hero to record producer Siggi Loch. 

The very good news is the sax god from France is back in January. The signs are that he already is in the pantheon of Euro greats.

Think I am deluded? Well clicky clicky on the tasteful barcode top under the picture of the Parisien quartet for a soupçon of the storming Double Screening and discover Monsieur Parisien for yourself. 

Out at the end of January on Siggi Loch’s resurgent ACT label, Parisien is on soprano and tenor sax with Julien Touéry playing piano, Ivan Gélugne manhandling the double bass, and Julien Loutelier bashing the drums.

Tracks are all written separately by the band members.

A studio album recorded a year ago in Amiens. Harbouring a fear of missing out on an icon very much in his prime by the sound of it?

No fear. 

SG