Tenor saxophonist Seamus Blake, a former winner of the Monk saxophone competition, and a well travelled recording artist since, returns with a studio album to be released on the Whirlwind label recorded in Paris called Guardians of the Heart Machine. Blake appears fittingly enough with a French band (Tony Tixier, piano, Florent Nisse, double bass, and Gautier Garrigue, drums) and tracks include ‘Wandering Aengus’ inspired by the great Irish national poet WB Yeats. To be issued on vinyl and digital on 15 March.
Billed as the first jazz conference in Ireland and to be held over three days the Dublin conference at the newly named Technological University Dublin marks the centenary of the first documented jazz performance anywhere in the 32 counties. Keynote speakers are Krin Gabbard whose books include Better Git It in Your Soul: An Interpretive Biography of Charles Mingus; and Gabriel Solis author of Thelonious Monk Quartet with John Coltrane at Carnegie Hall.
Organiser Dr Damian Evans explains more in this Q&A:
How did you come up with the idea and why?
When I finished my PhD, I wanted to stay in contact with the European jazz studies research community and in particular bring some more awareness in Ireland to the fascinating research being conducted in Europe and globally. The timing seemed perfect with the 100th anniversary of jazz performance in Ireland. The conference was a way of bringing some of those scholars to Ireland, to try to develop and foster an Irish jazz studies community and at the same time add to my own list of experiences. I was one of the founders of the Galway Jazz Festival so organising large events wasn’t entirely outside of my skill set.
How do you think jazz has developed in Ireland in the last decade?
Tough question. I think there are fewer performance opportunities for most musicians. It’s become more of a band scene rather than individual musicians. The younger scene has developed, as it usually does, and as could be expected, their influences are wide and varied. I haven’t gotten out to nearly as many gigs as I would have liked to have in the last four years or so, but there are a lot of good musicians, though it’s as difficult as ever to turn into a career.
Why the focus on Documenting and what do you mean by that? Could you give some examples?
Anytime we talk about a representation of jazz that isn’t live performance, we are talking about documenting jazz. Liner notes, posters, internet images, blog posts, newspaper archives, recordings, movies, the list goes on. Often when we are talking about jazz, it is these things we are talking about. The process of documentation is a process of mediation, in which meaning is created and embedded. It shapes how we understand the music, and ultimately what the music becomes.
Who will be speaking and what will they be speaking about?
There will be 25 3-speaker panels so approximately 75 speakers. There is an extensive range of topics, that can be found on the draft programme on the website. From historical analysis to critical analysis to lecture recitals, from pre-jazz to the present. From Japan to Ireland to America and everywhere in-between.
The conference website can be accessed here.
EXCLUSIVE Elegant avant interplay here on the almost hymnal meditation ‘Non Plus Ultra’ taken from the upcoming limited edition vinyl (also digital) album Ex Nihilo (like the title all the tracks are in Latin) from saxophonist Binker Golding and pianist Elliot Galvin. Engrossing intertwining improvisation with Golding landing ever more in the Evan Parker domain the album featuring tracks recorded at the Vortex is released by the London indie label Byrd Out who are promoting the Walthamstow Jazz Festival which takes place next month during which Golding and Galvin can be heard.
Hearing Gemstones (released by the Listen Foundation, “Fundacja Słuchaj”, in Polish) the other day for the first time I was convinced that I had heard it before. It seems so familiar. Like a pair of old shoes, a favourite coat, somehow all freshened up after a trip to the cobbler’s to get a new heel or to the dry cleaners to get rid of the remnants of last night’s grits and gravy it feels just right. Trumpeter Verneri Pohjola is a fine player and knows how to deliver utilising an open, no safety net, rambling, bluesy free-jazz (ie Stańko or Wadada Leo Smith resembling) sometimes brutal and ferocious style.
Caught in the heat of expression the sympathetic and highly driven bass part (the work of Maciej Garbowski, who reminds me of a John Edwards approach) and Andrew Cyrille-like drum input (by Krzysztof Gradziuk) goad him on. Without piano there is a freedom.
Each of the five tracks is named after a gemstone and all were freely improvised recorded live in the Polish city of Katowice. This has instant classic written all over it. Want some spirit, some sheer balls? Look no further. Tell your mates. A perfect act for a club like the Vortex.