I’m looking forward to catching Lively Up! later in the year.

The touring festival is celebrating the 50th anniversary of Jamaica’s independence with a raft of concerts around the country.

The centrepiece of the music is Bob Marley’s 1973 album Catch A Fire reconfigured by the Jazz Jamaica All Stars with the Urban Soul Orchestra and guest vocalist Brinsley Forde of Aswad.

Other elements include a tribute by Nu Civilisation Ochestra to Joe Harriott, a collaboration between Tomorrow’s Warriors and the JazzCotech dancers, and an education strand.  

Dates are: Sat 22 Sep - READING Concert Hall; Fri 28 Sep -  NOTTINGHAM Theatre Royal; Sat 29 Sep -  NOTTINGHAM Lakeside Arts Centre; Sun 30 Sep -  NOTTINGHAM Nottingham Contemporary; Fri 05 Oct -  HARROW Harrow Arts Centre; Sat 06 Oct -  BRISTOL Colston Hall; Sat 06 Oct -  BRISTOL St Paul’s Family Centre; Sun 07 Oct -  BRISTOL Trinity Theatre; Mon 08 Oct -  SOUTHAMPTON Turner Sims Concert Hall; Wed 10 Oct -  BRISTOL St George’s Hall; Fri 12 Oct -  SOUTHAMPTON Guildhall; Sat 13 Oct -  BIRMINGHAM Town Hall; Fri 19 Oct -  MANCHESTER Band On The Wall; Sat 20 Oct -  MANCHESTER RNCM Theatre; Sun 21 Oct -  MANCHESTER Band On The Wall; Wed 24 Oct -  LONDON Queen Elizabeth Hall; Fri 26 Oct -  LEEDS Town Hall; Wed 31 Oct -  LEICESTER De Montfort Hall; and Fri 02 Nov -  EDINBURGH Usher Hall

Stephen Graham

Info: http://livelyupfestival.com

Cover of Catch a Fire, above

Released earlier this week Unity Band, the first stirrings of Pat Metheny’s new acoustic quartet, a band of the great Missourian’s that features the presence of saxophone for the first time in many years, is the sort of album that does not come along every day. 

Metheny, while dazzling of late with his Orchestrion album and the charming if a little low-key What’s It All About (the spooky orchestrion makes a brief cameo on Unity Band), his output on the last two albums could be seen as part of a holding pattern to partly prove a point firstly technologically and secondly in terms of interpreting pop tunes. Unity Band is a more organic concept, and introduces two big talents: one fully formed and majestic in Chris Potter; the other, in Ben Williams, a player still on his way, but with sky high prospects and already displaying significant character on the double bass. Metheny has already started touring the band in Europe but here in the UK we’ll have to wait until 8 July to hear the Unity Band in the flesh, and what a prospect that is.Unity band cover

One thing that has struck me in following Metheny in recent years is: whatever happened to Lyle Mays? With the Pat Metheny Group parked in the (presumably American) garage, his writing talents with Metheny should not be underestimated, and his keyboards always added a unique flavour to PMG shows even if his solo albums invariably disappointed.

The Unity Band of course is completed by Metheny’s long time trio drummer Antonio Sánchez who we’ve never quite heard enough of in the UK as the trio with Pat, Antonio and Christian McBride never toured here. Now’s the time for him to shine as well.

Stephen Graham