There’s a rare sighting of singer Stacey Kent appearing as a guest on Italian singer/songwriter Joe Barbieri’s new Le Chant du Monde album Chet Lives! now confirmed for a 1 July release. Stacey sings the Jule Styne/Sammy Cahn song ‘I Fall in Love Too Easily’ on the album. Here’s a clip (from 4mins 19secs for Stacey’s solo): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXA9SsOnLTc&feature=player_embedded Chet, who died 25 years ago, famously sang the song on his 1956 Pacific Jazz album Chet Baker Sings. Stacey Kent is to be presented with a gold disc for her 2003 Candid album The Boy Next Door, reflecting sales of 100,000 units at a concert in London’s Cadogan Hall this coming Friday. Kent’s latest Blue Note album The Changing Lights, the title track of which the singer first debuted in Liverpool and London last year, is expected to be released in the early autumn.
Stacey Kent above
Sonny Rollins has cancelled his forthcoming appearances at the Umbria jazz festival in Italy as well as Vienne in France and North Sea in Rotterdam because of health problems. "This past spring," the 82-year-old says in a statement, “I was dealing with some respiratory issues that necessitated my cancelling several concerts. I have been under a doctor’s care, and we were hopeful that I would be able to return to performing in time for my scheduled concerts this month and next. However, I am still not in condition to perform, and regretfully I must cancel these shows."
The Swallow Quintet
Into the Woodwork
Recorded in a Provençal studio characterised by a “post-hippie vibe”, as Steve Swallow describes it, Carla Bley’s stealthily alert organ part on opener ‘Sad Old Candle’ and a quietly brooding Chris Cheek on tenor saxophone prepare the way for an often quite unusual album that Swallow is quoted as saying “evokes a sense of going into somewhere, somewhere slightly unusual”. As guitarist Steve Cardenas emerges as if from a thicket, and ex-Brad Mehldau trio drummer Jorge Rossy brushes suitably lethargically on the opener the charming scene is set. With a dozen tracks featuring music all written by Swallow there’s a jaunty vibe mostly even if some of the song titles, the likes of ‘Grisly Business’ and ‘Unnatural Causes’, are not exactly cheerful. ‘From Whom It May Concern’ (the title a quote from a Paul Haines salutation) has a big old fashioned and suitably Cheek-y romantic tenor solo, with Bley comping astutely. Swallow, from the beginning of the 1960s, has been an increasingly important figure in international jazz as the years have gone by, an influence on a new generation as his recent work as a member of The Impossible Gentlemen more than confirms. Highlights? Chris Cheek almost steals the show entirely on ‘Small Comfort’ with a Getzian solo of real surprise emerging from a quality arrangement; and Carla Bley has some offbeat moments to raise a cheer near the end on ‘Still There’ and she’s witty and quirky throughout. Swallow’s funky bass figure on ‘Exit Stage Left’ is a treat.
Released on 17 June
Gary Peacock/Marilyn Crispell
If friendships and musical associations are about the ‘now’ and the ‘then’ Azure draws this sharply into relief with a burning intensity. The ‘then’ may have been the pairing of Peacock and Crispell with the late Paul Motian; the ‘now’, a music of risk-taking adventure and contemplation in equal measure. It’s also quite a moving album at times, and Crispell’s tune ‘Waltz After David M’ is just beautifully conceived within a post-bebop piano timeline that journeys back to Bill Evans but also reveals a significant compositional voice at play. There are goodbyes and lullabies, colours and dances on Azure, the duo performing tunes they each composed individually or in three cases, together. Crispell used to be a somewhat severe pianist – I’m thinking of the marvellous Kitchen Concert trio set for Leo recorded in the late-1980s – but Azure taps an elegiac sense with some tenderness on the lovely ‘Goodbye’. Listening to Peacock here is a wholly different experience to hearing the bassist with Keith Jarrett and Jack DeJohnette, as on the recent Standards trio Lucerne live album Somewhere. The anti-grammar of the tunes on Azure, the role of Peacock as an equal soloist, and the radical conception of musical freedom they share make the experience of listening to him very rewarding. Azure challenges the listener with an accessible familiarity or so it seems; but it’s above all an album that values the mystery of experience, the seeking and the sought.
Released on 17 June
Gary Peacock and Marilyn Crispell above photo Elliott Peacock/ECM
Ronnie Scott’s is to host the London and UK debut of Prism, Dave Holland’s stellar new electric band. Playing the club on 2 and 3 November it’s hallowed turf for Holland the very spot where Miles Davis discovered the Wolverhampton man in 1968 when he was making his way on the jazz scene in a support slot, performing with singer Elaine Delmar, for the Bill Evans trio. Prism toured in continental Europe last year but has yet to play anywhere in the UK. YouTube clips suggest the band is something else. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9NMAVWfNY7sv
The band besides Holland has keyboardist Craig Taborn who’s recently released his own trio album Chants to acclaim http://www.marlbank.net/post/51370755645/ghostly-calm; plus Charles Lloyd’s remarkable drummer Eric Harland; and Kevin Eubanks, who released The Messenger last year reviewed here http://www.marlbank.net/post/33669617086/kevin-eubanks-is-back-with-elegant-ballads-laden-album. The ex-Tonight Show band guitarist who goes way back with Holland (the pair plus Mino Cinelu had a good thing going in the mid-1990s on their album World Trio). Fans of Holland will this year have already marvelled at hearing the bassist on the previously unreleased Miles Davis release Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2 http://www.marlbank.net/post/48422499665/the-lost-band and so Prism will be the icing on the cake even if November seems a long way off. An ideal build to the London Jazz Festival later in the month:
Moments club set captured on Live in Bremen
The return of Anthony Joseph and the Spasm band with their latest album on 1 July is a welcome bit of news about an artist who never sits comfortably within the often rigid genre distinctions of jazz. A charismatic poet and spoken word artist fronting an Afro-beat and free jazz-influenced band on the surface Joseph’s artistry is based on a deep love of Sun Ra and the Art Ensemble of Chicago, and as a poet the work of Derek Walcott and Linton Kwesi Johnson are important influences. Joseph, described by Robin Denselow in The Guardian as “an intriguing multicultural all-rounder”, in his direction is not going to be an obvious choice for jazz purists. But his pluralistic approach is completely in keeping with the spirit of the music and those jazz artists who are able to push the music forward. Working closing with the Heliocentrics’ Malcolm Catto, and as a guest in recent years with Jerry Dammers’ groundbreaking Spatial A.K.A. Orchestra, Trinidad-born Joseph has a unique vantage point as an artist able to draw in additional elements to his artistic ideas that make perfect sense often folding in soca and psychedelic rock to the mix and keeping it dance-friendly while retaining a strong improvisational sensibility as a bedrock ingredient. Moving to the UK in the late-1980s, Joseph has an Afro-futurist approach in his poetry and his music is its natural corollary. With three albums featuring the Spasm band so far released, the latest of which is Rubber Orchestras two years ago with its quite brilliant stand out track ‘She is the Sea’ the new album Live in Bremen was recorded in October last year and features these tracks: ‘Heavy’, ‘Griot’, ‘Cutlass’, ‘Bullets in the Rock’, ‘Buddha’, ‘Speak the Name’, ‘Bird Head Son’, ‘The Engine Room’, and ‘Started Off as a Dance’. It is released on the French label Naïve. Check back for a review of the album in these pages soon.
Anthony Joseph, above
Photo: Edwige Hamben
“I heard Wes Montgomery, and it was like ‘Oh My God!’" was how swinging modern mainstream US guitarist Sheryl Bailey explained her guitar calling to one magazine interviewer some years ago. That spark of inspiration was enough to send the player who grew up in Pittsburgh on her way deep into the heart of the modern mainstream jazz guitar tradition even as a teenager. After study at Berklee in Boston and a move to New York city the mid-1990s saw the guitarist, who’s on tour in England this week, debut with an album called Little Misunderstood and since then Bailey has chalked up a strong discography and a reputation as a guitarist’s guitarist with albums such as the 2011 album For All Those Living and A New Promise. Hear this fine player this week, with dates at Spike’s Place, Beckenham with Gareth Lockrane, Simon Woolf, and Matt Fishwick (13 June); Da Scalzo 2, Ecclestone Place, London SW1 with Karen Sharp, and Simon Woolf (14 June); the Verdict, Brighton with Geoff Simkins, and Simon Woolf (15 June); Eagle Tavern, Rochester with Dave O’Higgins, Simon Woolf, and Tristan Maillot (16 June, lunchtime); Ronnie Scott’s Late Late Show with Ross Stanley, Simon Woolf, and Winston Clifford (17 June); Lower Ground Bar, West Hampstead, London with Christian Brewer, Simon Woolf, and Clark Tracey (18 June); Boisdale Canary Wharf with Jim Mullen, Simon Woolf, and Steve Brown (19 June); Clock Tower, Croydon with Allison Neale and Simon Woolf (20 June, afternoon); and 606, London with Ross Stanley, Simon Woolf, and Winston Clifford (20 June).
Sheryl Bailey above
The first thing that struck me leafing through ECM’s hefty 172-page offering Catalogue 2013 is that printed catalogues are very hard to come by these days. I can’t remember seeing one in recent years in printed form apart from a brightly coloured flimsy booklet occasionally on a record shop counter, or as a modest small booklet inserted in a CD that falls on to the floor no sooner than the shrink wrap has been ripped off. Catalogue 2013 is presented beautifully with two album covers on each page for new releases and smaller text later for the deep catalogue. ECM values the visual element of its presentation in three ways on each individual album: in terms of graphics, typography and cover art; and this latest catalogue more than relates to this. ECM isn’t like any other independent label, or come to think of it major label. Majors particularly are blasé about how they present their treasures in catalogue form and some struggle to know what they’ve got and to publicise them, let alone list the “deep catalogue” in a coherent way. A catalogue doesn’t have to be a work of art or resemble one, as Catalogue 2013 certainly does. Yet it helps, and especially if it bears little resemblance to the Argos catalogue. Turn the page and there’s an acrostic that in the middle spells out the word ‘Catalogue’ in red reading down. Dip further in and in classic minimalist typographic design there’s an austere contents page and at the back a 7-page index that has more in common with a university text book than an extended sales document. And there are clues scattered about to future releases set to appear in the months ahead, after the label founder Manfred Eicher turns 70 this July. Look carefully and among the new releases coming up there are entries for albums about to come out: the intriguing Baida for instance by Ralph Alessi accompanied by Jason Moran, Drew Gress, and Nasheet Waits recorded in October last year and expected in the autumn; and also recorded in 2012 the Christian Wallumrød Ensemble’s Outstairs is also due. Trios, to appear on ECM rather than the extraordinary Watt imprint, Carla Bley, Andy Sheppard and Steve Swallow’s latest is also on the way.
Catalogue 2013 is available for the cost of postage only from www.ecmrecords.com
Omar Puente appearing at Matt and Phred’s in Manchester on Saturday
Al Di Meola’s latest acoustic-oriented album takes the music of The Beatles as its theme and the guitarist returns to Ronnie Scott’s this week for two nights from tomorrow. All Your Life was recorded at Abbey Road appropriately enough and tracks include ‘In My Life’, ‘And I Love Her’, ‘Because’, ‘Michelle’, ‘I Will’, and ‘Eleanor Rigby’. Di Meola is followed with a club debut by hard bop supergroup Lineage, featuring a front line of trumpeter Byron Wallen and saxophonist Tony Kofi, with a rhythm section of fine straighahead pianist Trevor Watkis, bassist Larry Bartley, and UK-based American drummer Rod Youngs. Expect some Woody Shaw tunes, perhaps ‘Moontrane’, and a Tony Williams tune or two such as ‘Citadel’. Ronnie’s also welcomes back Fred Wesley for a couple of nights with his Jimmy Smith tribute and the Dirty Dozen Brass Band taking us into the weekend. Over the road at Pizza Express Jazz Club saxophonist Renato D’Aiello performs his Stevie Wonder tribute on Tuesday and Wednesday, and there’s radio friendly funk and fusion from Shakatak from Thursday to Sunday. The late night Friday jam session, hosted by Whirlwind records, is worth catching to kick off the weekend in some style. Big highlight at the Vortex in Dalston is the appearance of the Tom Rainey Trio on Wednesday, the Pool School band that three years ago marked late starter Rainey’s first foray as a leader. Drummer Rainey has worked with Tim Berne, Wilco’s Nels Cline, and piano giant Fred Hersch to name just a few of his stellar associations, and appears for these must-hear appearances with hardcore German avant garde saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock, and Brooklyn guitarist Mary Halvorson, probably the hottest new guitarist on the New York improv scene right now. There’s some fine improv with Tony Bevan, Eddie Prevost, Trevor Watts and John Edwards the next night and then Gilad Atzmon celebrates his fiftieth birthday on Friday and Saturday with his band the Orient House Ensemble. There’s also a film charting the controversial saxophonist’s career to date showing on Friday as part of the run. Highlights at the 606 in Chelsea this week include Skydive playing the late set on Tuesday, and alto great Peter King on Saturday. In Soho singer Jo Wallfisch plays the Spice of Life earlier on Wednesday with Brandon Allen band following her the next night. Beyond the capital the Sam Crowe group play Dempsey’s in Cardiff on Wednesday, while John Etheridge appears at the Spin in Oxford in party mood the next night. Violin star Omar Puente plays Matt and Phred’s in Manchester on Saturday.
Tickets: http://www.ronniescotts.co.uk / http://www.pizzaexpresslive.co.uk / http://www.vortexjazz.co.uk / http://www.606club.co.uk / http://www.spiceoflifesoho.com / http://www.jazzatdempseys.org.uk / http://www.spinjazz.com and http://www.mattandphreds.com