Joe Stilgoe does not take himself too seriously and that characteristic sense of humour and love for retro jazz surfaces once again this time as he tackles the dreaded 1980s, when pop did its very best to eat itself! The Heat Is On: Swinging the 80s with his big band arranged by Evan Jolly features songs you never really expected to be jazzed up such as ‘The Heat Is On’, ‘Glory Of Love’, ‘When The Going Gets Tough’ and ‘St Elmo’s Fire’ for goodness’ sake. Singer-pianist Stilgoe, son of witty That’s Life entertainer Richard Stilgoe, has already sold out Ronnie Scott’s for his 30 June show coming up when the album is released on the Silva Screen label.

A busy year of releases for bassist Mats Eilertsen 2019 is proving to be. I enjoyed And Then Comes the Night back in February and now the if anything even more hardcore release Reveries and Revelations on the folk-inclined Hubro label. To be frank I am not immediately taken by ‘Tundra,’ the heavily produced lead-off track but it is worth being patient with. Personnel includes a guesting Geir Sundstøl on guitar and banjo, Eivind Aarset guitar, Per Oddvar Johansen drums, Thomas Strønen, drums, and Arve Henriksen trumpet. Eilertsen provides the tunes and variously plays double bass, electric bass, acoustic bass guitar, guitar, harmonium, and keyboards. “An experimental score for some yet to be realised film,” the label suggests. Hmmm, wishful thinking no doubt but Eilertsen is worth spending quality time with in what is proving a bumper year of releases for him.

Impressive sounds from singer Quiana Lynell in an accessible mix that takes in Love Unlimited/Chaka Khan’s ‘Move Me No Mountain,’ Irma Thomas’ ‘Hip Shakin’ Momma’ and Donny Hathaway’s ‘Tryin’ Times’. Cyrus Chestnut on piano steers the band well and there is a heartland command of ‘Come Sunday/I Wish I Knew (How It Would Feel To Be Free)’. If your tastes yearn for a jazz with a twist of soul then A Little Love is perfect listening among the current crop of releases.  

Babelfish

Encounter Babelfish for the first time and you will be intrigued.

Landing somewhere in a jazz, folk, experimental space topped by the adventurous voice of Brigitte Beraha this is their third and most mature album.

Vocal jazz clichés there are none but their jazz roots are strong and Beraha gets great support from the Ian Shaw pianist Barry Green, veteran Chris Laurence on double bass and Paul Clarvis on drums.

Beraha has a big range of extra sounds, whether sighs, laughter or elaborate ornamentation that she dresses her lyrics with. Her style lands in the Norma Winstone heritage and like Winstone can stop you in your tracks with her quiet but devastating intent in the most unexpected places. Includes lots of originals plus a great version of the Ellington/Strayhorn standard ‘Pretty Girl (Star Crossed Lovers)’. SG
Babelfish, left to right above: Barry Green, Brigitte Beraha, Paul Clarvis, Chris Laurence. Babelfish launch the album at Kings Place, London on 29 June.

This is very tasty, the ever prolific Jamie Saft, the ever inspired RareNoise records, calling on the services of Dave Liebman for that extra slice of spiritual jazz inspiration on Hidden Corners, along with Bradley Jones on bass, and Hamid Drake on drums. Could well be the best thing you hear all day. 

Meaty stuff from pianist Aki Takase, to be released by the Intakt label on 21 June, drawing inspiration from a Japanese painter, and part of a two day session of recordings at the Sendesaal Rundfunk in Berlin-Brandenburg. Alexander von Schlippenbach pops up on one track as a guest.

A big deal in Germany with his trio Martin Tingvall switches to solo piano once again with The Rocket due out soon which the Swede is touring extensively this summer. Pretty easy listening to be fair but Tingvall and his accessible compositional touch drawing on the lilt of Swedish folk traditions and the language of contemporary Eurojazz have a certain inescapable charisma that hook you in. 

 

Martin Taylor

The guitar great Martin Taylor was presented with his lifetime achievement award by Suzanne Miller. Other winners included: Best band: SNJO; Best album: Turas by The Fergus McCreadie Trio; Best vocalist: Georgia Cecile.
Full list of winners:

Best Vocalist Award sponsored by Whighams Jazz Club

Georgia Cecile

 

Best Instrumentalist Award sponsored by ESP Music Rentals

Brian Kellock

 

Best Band Award sponsored by Musicians’ Union

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra

 

Winners

 

Best Album Award sponsored by Birnam CD

Fergus McCreadie Trio, Turas

 

Rising Star Award sponsored by The Blue Arrow

Marianne McGregor

 

Services to Scottish Jazz sponsored by Ticketmaster

Jazz Scotland

 

Lifetime Achievement Award in association with Help Musicians Scotland

Martin Taylor

See also: Scottish Jazz Awards site.

Well there you have it: the very antithesis of blandness and playing to formula. There is such a cram and collision of sound on Phalanx Ambassadors, a boisterous, uneasy sense of vitality, clawing at chords, rampaging off on mad solos... pianist, keyboardist, composer Matt Mitchell is as reliable as ever in his anarchic disregard for neat little solutions. Quite a band of star left-field bandleaders he has gathered with him on this new album from Pi records: Miles Okazaki on guitars, Patricia Brennan on vibraphone and marimba, Kim Cass on bass, and Kate Gentile on drums with producer David Torn in tow. Turn this mighty effort up loud. 

Dock in Absolute

Tasteful, inoffensive, a little bit too perfect in some ways there is nothing particularly disagreeable about Luxembourg’s globetrotting piano trio, the bafflingly monikered Dock In Absolute, as they return for a second album on the Cam Jazz label. Pianist Jean-Philippe Koch’s approach compares maybe to his fellow countryman Michel Reis as he sweeps in and out of lush involving tunes yet with all the rough edges smoothed out somehow redeeming himself by pulling a reliable rabbit out of his hat every so often: a thoughtful theme never far away. Bass guitarist David Kintziger and drummer Michel Mootz are reliably team spirited. File under: just that bit too neat and nice. SG

He is one of the most convincing and committed disciples of John Coltrane ever to come out of the UK. But these days hearing Alan Skidmore (a veteran of 77) is not that common a treat. Well, when better this summer on 17 July, dove tailing with the day that Coltrane died on in 1967, to hear Skid in a special 52nd memorial concert. Appearing with a quartet at Dalston club Cafe Oto plus special guest Ed Jones, Skidmore is no stranger to Oto having performed there a few years ago with Paul Dunmall. Tickets can be obtained here.

Wynton Marsalis pianist Dan Nimmer features on this tasty hard bop grounded sextet release Road Warrior from trumpeter Quentin Collins due in September on the Ubuntu label. Collins will be playing a club date around launch time at Pizza Express Jazz Club on 3 September. 

There is a certain simplicity at play with Arvoles especially the way tunes seem to build from the ground up via tiny motifs... but then layer complexity upon complexity into a remarkable confection that escapes category harnessing folk, bebop, rock and classical music flavours often delivered with extraordinary facility.  The record was recorded in a studio in Sweden earlier this year. ‘Arvoles’, which means ‘Trees’ in the ancient Sephardic language Ladino, finds Cohen with the trio that he introduced to Ronnie Scott’s audiences earlier this year, featuring newcomer Elchin Shirinov from Azerbaijan on piano and Cohen’s old school friend Noam David on drums, plus Anders Hagberg on flute and Björn Samuelsson, trombone. The horns add a bright attractive flavour and fill out the tunes. “You could say I’m going back to basics,” Cohen has noted. “Nostalgia at its best is the strongest, most romantic, sincere, bitter-sweet feeling. And I agree it’s all over the record, with compositions like ‘Childhood’, ‘New York 90s’ and ‘Nostalgia’. Thoughts? Well, it is a solid record and the horn arrangements add an attractive flavour. I am not sure if the compositions are as strong as you will find on some Cohen albums but the bar is set high. I’d pick ‘New York 90s’ and the Monk-like ‘Wings’ as the stand-outs and most relevant to jazz listeners. Go there first. SG 

 

Top quality free improv here from Shifa on Live at Cafe Oto. 

Shifa is an Arabic word meaning “healing” and the group in question features three leading UK players: Black Top pianist Pat Thomas; saxophonist Rachel Musson and drummer Mark Sanders.

The record was recorded live at Dalston club Cafe Oto in London last year and is scheduled for a July vinyl release on New York label 577 Records.

There are so many albums around at the moment that you just do not want to listen to the end.

And then there is The Long Game: you listen to the end and then you start all over again.

It is a very different Liam Noble, the electric dare I say “prog” side emerging as if for the first time. 

In the company of two ex-Polar Bear players Tom Herbert on bass and Seb Rochford on drums this is not the usual jazz trio. The tunes are Noble’s, there is plenty of mischief at play which gives the album a life and personality, and while on ‘Between You and Me’ by using piano a bit he is on more familiar territory the scenery changes quickly enough, just listen to the weird noises filtering up from the innards of the album.

‘Unmemoried Man’ is fun, the sound direction switching from left to right, a kind of a game, pin the tail on the pianist... and those odd little background hisses and fades adding peculiar seasoning.

‘Head of Marketing’ has a kind of slyly funky cod serious pisstake quality to it dressed up to sound like one of the many hundreds of Bill Frisell records that can it is rumoured even be found at the bottom of the Mariana Trench wrapped inside all those discarded plastic bags from Tesco.

‘Head First’ has a kind of heavy metal madness to it and Herbert piles in, with Noble as if kidnapped forced to keep up with Rochford’s hyperactive drums muttering as he tinkles no doubt about how much he likes Deerhoof because it would be rude not to.

‘Head Over Heels’ has a Django Bates type sense of mischief again, some crazy settings chosen on the keys to make the thing sound as if it is all under water. Some times I think of Billy Jenkins a little circa Blue Moon in a Function Room in the way Noble has fun say on the perky ‘Pink Mice’ but there is plenty to ponder too and ‘Flesh and Blood’ stops you in your tracks and ‘Matcha Mind’ has a pile of microscopic detail that succeeds in making the sound intimate and personal and probably the most significant piece of the whole thing. Definitely among the best albums that I have heard this year. Noble goes from strength to strength and pulls the rug from under us poor unsuspecting listeners yet again. SG

Zhenya

If anyone can keep bebop relevant and turn its twists and anarchy into a music still fit for the 21st century it is alto sax genius Zhenya Strigalev and guitarist Federico Dannemann, returning from Blues for Maggie, with a great bass and drums team in Luques Curtis and Obed Calvaire. Recorded in a studio in Russia The Change (Rainy Days) is the first since Strigalev moved back to his native Russia after a great spell in London where you could depend on him to enliven a jam session at the drop of a hat in places like the now defunct Hoxton club Charlie Wright’s where back in the day Strigalev first played with Calvaire and Curtis. Strigalev’s best album to date? Yes I think so. The tunes really stand up and the yin and yang of sax and guitar work well, Dannemann an expert at colour while Strigalev manages to inject extra tenderness to his wildly virtuosic saxophone expertise to elevate this beyond a showboating display of technique. SG

Photo of Zhenya Strigalev by Eugene Petrushanskiy. UK release 28 June.

Report: via BBC News.

A first listen to the latest from Graviton, pianist Andrew McCormack’s band, and the title track above drawn from their pulsating second album, The Calling released this week — McCormack with Noemi Nuti on vocals, Josh Arcoleo on tenor saxophone, Tom Herbert on electric bass and Josh Blackmore on drums.

You always get a spiritual frisson from listening to a Tori Freestone record and El Mar de Nubes is no different. With spare bass and drums accompanying the saxophonist, there is a stark stillness to the record and plenty of space for her striking style. Inspired by the Canary Islands’ “sea of clouds” tracks include originals, traditional material, and a version of Sam Rivers’ ‘Beatrice’. All eminently listenable, but I get a samey feeling following on from earlier albums. Time to throw caution to the wind next time around and shake things up? For sure. SG.  

Image result for albert hall marlbank

Tickets go on sale on Friday for the just announced Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club 60th anniversary concert at the Royal Albert Hall to take place on 30 October. Van Morrison, Courtney Pine, Imelda May, Madeline Bell and Liane Carroll are among the line-up. Ronnie Scott’s managing director Simon Cooke said: “We are transporting the club, for one night only, into the slightly larger Royal Albert Hall, but have every intention of recreating the unique atmosphere we have here in Frith Street.” Royal Albert Hall, above. Photo: marlbank

 

Amazing stuff here on a rare Irish warts-and-all jazz speckled 1970s compilation, entering a world few from this vantage point even knew existed. Buntús Rince: Explorations in Irish Jazz, Fusion & Folk is available via All City records in Dublin, and online through Bandcamp. Pick of the set for me are the tracks by Louis Stewart, Taste, Granny’s Intentions and Joe O’Donnell and what about that great mellow opener from Noel Kelehan...?

Pretty unusual instrumentation first off, a trio of drums & electronics/trombone/guitar & electronics. And a pretty unusual start too, lots of airy intrigue giving way to a more driving sound. A studio album recorded in Italy in January last year, the tunes are mostly arrived at cooperatively among the three players, the style is more about mood and texture than ferocious flurries of notes. I am not sure if it all hangs together and certainly you need patience which is not always rewarded. However on the plus side Aarset is as compelling as ever and drummer Rabbia, whose approach reminds me of Marilyn Mazur’s a little, challenges the listener to move beyond the orthodox to embrace a wide range of new sounds. An album that poses as many questions as it provides answers for. SG  

Released on 7 June.

This dreamy sweep of a title track from the upcoming Warner Music album by Swedish pianist Jacob Karlzon has been the marlbank go-to track these last few days. Shaped around a trio and strings there is a lot of complexity in the writing and a bittersweet rather than overly lush mood hovering in the air. Augurs well for the album by a pianist who is no newcomer but whose profile certainly in the UK and Ireland deserves to be higher. Maybe this project will be a prompt in this direction.

Karlzon appears at the Edinburgh jazz festival this summer.

New Day cover

There is something very intimate and thought provoking about this duo album from Welsh pianist Huw Warren and his former Perfect Houseplants colleague saxophonist Mark LockheartNew Day — Live at Livio Felluga Winery just released on the Italian CAM Jazz label was recorded last year. Full of Warren originals plus compositions by John Taylor there is a pervasive stately presence throughout that gives what they produce a gravitas that you do not always find on a contemporary jazz record but notwithstanding this there is also a playful joy to Warren’s spirited runs which Lockheart, like his fellow saxophonist and contemporary Iain Ballamy, also manages to conjure in playful spirit delivered with great control and tone to die for. I will be surprised if this does not turn up on many end of year best-of lists. It’s that good. SG. 

Drummer Lawrence Leathers who had great style and flair at the kit was best known for his work with Cécile McLorin-Salvant. More, via WBGO.

George Cables delivers a masterclass on his new standards strewn premier cru of a trio album I’m All Smiles issued by HighNote out this week, the great pianist in the company of Essiet Essiet on bass, and Victor Lewis, drums. Tracks are: Young at Heart, I’m All Smiles, Speak No Evil, Bésame Mucho, Ugly Beauty, Love is a Many Splendored Thing, Celebration, Three Views of a Secret, Thermo and Monk’s Mood.

A stand out of this week’s new releases comes from bass great Ron Carter who has collaborated with Tony-winning Def Poetry Jam co-founder/painter Danny Simmons on new Blue Note album The Brown Beatnik Tomes — Live at BRIC House, the album’s selections are drawn from Simmons’ 2014 book of poems and paintings The Brown Beatnik Tomes. Check ‘For a Pistol’ from the album, which is inspired by Amiri Baraka.

A delicious hitherto unreleased Swiss recording from 1999 named after an Ornette Coleman tune that Paul Bley had been playing since the Hillcrest days it is worth noting how different sounding this trio comes across when compared with today’s typical piano trio. This has far more of a fractured and abstract sense than most piano trios today who tend to be more rock or electronica-influenced and who often tend to lean towards a sweeter sense of melody. Bley, Peacock and Motian are never far away from bebop and yet there is nothing dated about their performance or approach here: Bley elegiac and hugely modernistic in his solos, Motian a scampering, engaged, presence leaving it to Peacock to find hidden spaces to draw out and angle the trio in a new direction as each tune develops.

‘There (Reversed Lullaby)’ is a new single issued ahead of the release of Loredana by the vocalist Emilia Mårtensson the album to be released by Babel also featuring guitarist Luca Boscagin, percussionist Adriano Adewale, trumpeter Fulvio Sigurta and bassist Sam Lasserson. Emilia launched the single at Pizza Express Jazz Club, London on 29 May.

Mesmerising sounds here from flying Finns Timo Lassy & Teppo Mäkynen drawn from their self-titled album coming up on the WeJazz label in June.

Straying away towards a more spiritual direction on some tracks from the hard bop terrain you will often hear the sax/drums pair inhabit, the two have not recorded like this before although have played together often in such bands as The Five Corners Quintet and the Teddy Rok Seven. Worth a spin.

From the Peter Frampton Band’s new instrumental version of the standard ‘Georgia On My Mind’ featured on All Blues, which will be released in June with the rock star’s band of Adam Lester on guitar and vocals, Rob Arthur (keyboards/guitar/vocals) and drummer Dan Wojciechowski among the personnel.

Pianist Michel Camilo has his 25th album, Essence, as a leader released next month on a label called Resilience Music Alliance. Check out a slice of it above. It is fairly rare to hear Camilo with his own big band. “I picked songs,” he says, “that represent shifts in my career and my point of view, that showcase how I developed my sound. I’ve always thought of the trio as a mini-orchestra, so the big band is a way to celebrate my career and my journey with a group of friends creating together in the studio.”

Report on his passing via The Guardian here.