The night goes on and they keep on coming, a stream of dynamic young musicians emerging onto the crowded stage for a moment in the limelight. They are members of Tomorrow’s Warriors, the music education scheme and charity that is the now not-so-secret weapon behind much of the diversity of talent in the UK Jazz scene today.

This event brought current and former students on stage together, with a palpable mood of celebration and optimism. The first half was dedicated to seven newly commissioned compositions from some of the glittering alumni of Tomorrow’s Warriors – names like Zara McFarlane (above), Soweto Kinch (pictured top) and Cassie Kinoshi.

zara m

The new pieces are strong, with a nice mix of through-composition and space for the young talent to show their improvisatory chops. Master of ceremonies Binker Golding takes over as conductor for some of the more elaborate compositions, before donning a sax to show the room why he must be one of the more in-demand musical mentors at Tomorrow’s Warriors. Another highlight is the delightfully unpredictable and idiosyncratic piece arranged by guitarist and recent alumnus Shirley Tetteh, a fast-rising name on the London scene.

Ife JazzCafe

The second half is more open – an all-hands-on-deck, free-form jam that has Camden’s Jazz Cafe buzzing with delight. Tomorrow’s Warriors co-founder Gary Crosby looks on approvingly – open jams like this are the ideal environment for young players to hone their skills, and have been a crucial element of the scheme since the early days. While this night was a celebration of work already done by Tomorrow’s Warriors, it was also asking us to consider the future of the scheme, most notably the £FREE Young Artist Development programme. Established to give a chance at a career in jazz to all young people – regardless of background – the programme is in dire need of funding if it is to continue running. 

If you remain in any doubt as to the value of the scheme, make sure you take the opportunity to attend a Tomorrow’s Warriors event. It’s more than likely you’ll be watching some of the stars of, well... tomorrow.  

– James Rybacki (@james_rybacki)

– Photos by Jim Aindow

To help support Tomorrow’s Warrriors visit uk.gofundme.com/iamwarrior

Few styles of music can claim to have come as close to articulating and confronting the issues of the day as prevalently as jazz. Its historical significance and study of tension/resolution has not only sought to lay bare the unjust treatment of those marginalised, but often sought to directly challenge the fraudulent and slippery powers that be. Presently in the UK, Brexit negotiations harrow the land far and wide, yet its precursor still casts a large and menacing shadow. The issue of the day is austerity. And it’s this that’s the inspiration of Mark O’Thomas’ The Austerity Playbook, a satirical jazz musical that details the lasting impact of its namesake in Burnside, a mythical city in the north-east of England. O’Thomas has teamed up with musical director/pianist Andrea Vicari to re-interpret the research of Newcastle University professors Laurence Ferry and Ileana Steccolini, whose examination of damaging government policy and consequent public-spending cuts has led to UK-wide poverty, displacement and unemployment.

Andre Pink Musical 72

Following its premiere at Northern Stage in Newcastle, The Austerity Playbook now travels to London and the recently refurbished Hoxton Hall, to deliver an imaginative and entertaining recital performance featuring a live ensemble and the Dende Company of Elders (60+), a community theatre group directed joyously by founder, André Pink. The story follows the struggle to prevent Burnside’s local library from closing at the hands of an increasingly strapped local council, desperately searching for ways to “balance the books”. Tonight, Vicari calls in the assistance of guest vocalists Juliet Kelly, Fini Bearman, Georgia Van Etten and Luca Manning, who assume the roles of four lead characters, supported by an impressive group of players including Ronnie Scott’s jam host, trumpeter Andy Davies and NYJO alumni, saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael.

Billed as a work in progress, the show’s improvisatory nature is charming but rough and at times, difficult to follow. Nevertheless, frequent rallying calls to “Save Our Services!” and lifelike Cameron and Osborne puppets dance to Vicari’s dynamic and purposeful compositions. Vicari tackles complex the themes of love, loss, immigration and community resistance, across a wide range of styles, in what feels like a true celebration of cross-disciplinary collaboration and artistic activism. As the UK dangles off a cliff of uncertainty, The Austerity Playbook reminds us where the real fight lies.

Fabrice Robinson

– Photos by Leandro Facundo

 

Grammy-winning groove crew Snarky Puppy return with a new studio album, Immigrance (GroundUp Music), on 15 March ahead of a year of globe-trotting live performances. Much like their Grammy-winning 2016 set Culcha Vulcha, which broke with their previous albums that were recorded live with an audience present in the studio, Immigrance is also multi-tracked, this time with the band ensuring they retain some rough edges and raw-energy in the music.

Bandleader/composer Michael League has taken a far more direct approach to the writing, as can be heard on preview track ‘Xavi’, which features a percussion-heavy Afro-beat-fuelled groove and some typically climactic melodic surges. Explaining the idea behind the album’s title League said: “The idea here is that everything is fluid, that everything is always moving and that we’re all in a constant state of immigration. Obviously the album’s title is not without political undertones.” As well featuring many longtime band members, the record also includes three drummers – Jamison Ross, Jason ‘JT’ Thomas and Larnell Lewis – who all take separate sections of each tune to create exciting dynamic changes across the music.

Snarky Puppy will once again host the GroundUP Music Festival on Miami Beach, Florida on 8-10 February, with a line-up that see the band headline all three nights (performing songs from Immigrance live for the first time), as well as David Crosby, Andrew Bird, Tank and the Bangas, Lalah Hathaway, Richard Bona and more. This will be followed by a show at the Walt Disney Hall Concert Hall with the Los Angeles Philharmonic on 23 February, with the band kicking off their world tour in April. These dates will include European and UK shows, with a headline performance at the Love Supreme Jazz Festival in July, while the band are set to return to Europe and the UK in the autumn for more live shows.

Mike Flynn

Take a first listen to ‘Xavi’ from Immigrance below – and click here for more info on the GroundUp Music Festival

 

The iconic Blue Note label will celebrate its milestone 80th birthday in 2019, with a year-long spree of activity including two major vinyl-led release campaigns, alongside new artist albums, live dates and film screenings.

Founded in 1939 by Francis Wolff and Alfred Lion, the label’s catalogue is one of the most celebrated and sought after in jazz history. Extraordinarily, following the retirement of its long-time boss Bruce Lundvall in 2015, its future could have been in jeopardy. Current president, Don Was, revealed in a recent interview with Forbes magazine: “There was some talk about making it a website that just sold catalogue and Blue Note t-shirts.”

This was before Was serendipitously had a breakfast meeting with Capital Records President Dan MacCarroll, who, following Was’ suggestion that Capital sign Gregory Porter, offered him the Blue Note role. Taking the helm since 2012, Was has ushered in a fresh approach embracing the label’s illustrious past, while creating a vital, forward-looking present. He’s spearheading the 80th anniversary year with the Tone Poet 180g Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series, which will initially include 18 titles spanning albums by Hank Mobley and Cassandra Wilson, as well as 36 titles in a Blue Note 80 series of mid-price vinyl releases with themes such as Blue Note Debuts, Blue Grooves, Great Reid Miles Covers, Blue Note Live and Drummer Leaders.

Plans also include festival showings and a theatrical run (plus a DVD release) for Sophie Huber’s film Blue Note Records: Beyond The Notes. There will also be special programming for the Blue Note at Sea Cruises, plus a US autumn tour for a Blue Note 80 triple bill featuring emerging stars Kandace Springs and James Francies, alongside the newly-signed sax firebrand James Carter

Mike Flynn

For more full details visit www.bluenote.com

Pianist and composer John Turville returns with a new album, Head First, released on 22 February on Whirlwind Recordings, ahead of a run of UK live dates. His first solo album since 2012’s acclaimed Conception, the new album features his Quintet (above) of renowned saxophonist Julian Argüelles, trumpeter Robbie Robson, bassist Dave Whitford and drummer James Maddren. See an exclusive clip of the group performing the track 'Fall Out' below.

The band head out for an extensive series of gigs, dates are: Blue Room Theatre, Lincoln (8 Feb); Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, London (album launch, 25 Feb); Herts Jazz, The Maltings Arts Theatre, St Albans (26 Feb); Eastside Jazz Club, Birmingham (evening, 27 Feb); Workshop, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire (afternoon, 28 Feb); Cambridge Modern Jazz Club at Hidden Rooms (evening, 28 Feb); The Fleece, Colchester (1 Mar); Royal Academy of Music, London (workshop, 2 Mar); Cedars Hall, Wells Cathedral (4 Mar); St Ives Jazz Club, Great Western Hotel, Cornwall (5 Mar); Purcell School, Bushey (workshop and concert, 6 Mar); Bonington Theatre, Arnold, Nottingham (7 Mar); Leeds College of Music, Leeds (workshop, 8 Mar); Crookes Social Club, Sheffield (8 Mar) and The Verdict, Brighton (9 Mar).

– Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.johnturville.bandcamp.com

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