Southend-on-Sea's Jazz Centre UK presents a major exhibition, Jazz Women, from 30 June to 18 August, in celebration of the 'heritage, culture and future of Jazz Women'. The second of its Heritage Lottery-funded events, the programme at the Centre's home of the Beescroft Art Gallery includes live performances from Sara Dowling, Sydney Robins, Karen Sharp, Nikki Iles and Val Wiseman. A female-led film season will include screenings of The Jazz Baroness; Diane Schurr with Count Basie; Nancy Wilson at Carnegie Hall, among others.

There will also be an accompanying exhibition of books, periodicals, memorabilia, letters, art, posters and photography by or about women jazz musicians, artists, authors and journalists, as well as a multi-media presentation of current women jazz performers, writers and educators.

Featured live dates are Sara Dowling Quartet (Spike's Place, The Jazz Centre UK, 30 Jun); Sydney Robins (Spike's Place, The Jazz Centre UK, 14 Jul); Karen Sharp and Nikki Iles Duo (Spike's Place, The Jazz Centre UK, 21 Jul) and Val Wiseman with Digby Fairweather and Friends celebrating The Jazz Divas (Cricketers Jazz Bar, Westcliff on Sea, 8 Aug).

Mike Flynn

For full details visit www.thejazzcentreuk.co.uk/press-release/jazz-women/

The UK equivalent to the Brussels Jazz Weekend would be to hold a jazz festival in Trafalgar Square, something that's not too likely a prospect. The BJW has its heart in the Grand Place, right in the centre of Brussels, but its massive freebie programme also operates around three main zones, both indoors and outdoors. Uptown, downtown and the 'European district' are blessed with three days of open air gigs, shifting into an extreme infestation of clubs, bars and cafés during each of its three nights. This 2018 edition was the second, but the weekend has a two-decade history in a previous incarnation, as the Brussels Jazz Marathon. The event represents a massive jazz takeover of the capital. Even those attuned to the Belgian jazz scene would find a multitude of unfamiliar acts, so vast is the programme. Besides the majority jazz quotient, there are also many artists arriving from global-ethnic quarters, or from alternative rock/pop, hip hop and electronic music zones.

A highlight of the Saturday evening was the strange beast named Boggamasta (pictured), at Ancienne Belgique, one of the city's prime multi-genre music venues. This was the large ensemble usually known as Flat Earth Society, but acting under a special name, to signify the inclusion of guitarist David Bovée. He was an early member of FES, and also the central figure of Antwerpian global mulchers Think Of One. The repertoire for Boggamasta resides at the funkier end, incorporating a strong hip hop element, as if Frank Zappa had moved into avant rap music. Led by bass clarinettist Peter Vermeersch, FES have been together for over two decades, their deep rapport immediately visible, the line-up still including the likes of Bart Maris (trumpet), Michel Mast (tenor saxophone), Berlinde Deman (tuba/vocals) and Teun Verbruggen (drums).

The gig was only the second (or possibly third) occasion that this Vermeersch/Bovée music was performed, the latter impressing equally on lead guitar extremity and forceful frontman freestyling, complete with monsterised bass-flooded voice effects. Bovée was often partnered by Vermeersch, in a perverted manifestation of Run DMC's verbal ping-ponging. Humour and funk co-existed with power and complexity, while the big band's carefully woven layers were clearly discernible via the PA system's sharp mix. Twisted effects cloaked ensemble vocals, as most of the group tackled chorus refrains, as if in the midst of some twisted hip-hopera. Twinned drums kicked beneath charged horn parts, as Bovée battled with Peter Vandenberghe, vying for Cecil Taylor-esque freedom on a shared keyboard.

boggamasta-brussels2

A chief pleasure during this weekend was its variety of locations: to stroll from a big show like Boggamasta's, down an alleyway into the Théâtre Royal De Toone, just off the Grand Place. It's a marionette performance space and a bar, where De Braave Joenges could be found, after the witching hour, playing downhome blues, but sung in the Brusselois Dutch-French dialect (and sometimes English), with acoustic guitar, harmonica, simple percussion and joint vocals. Complete intimacy, to close the Saturday night, with not a spare chair in sight.

Les Chroniques De'Inutile opened the Sunday afternoon on the Grand Place main stage, tempting already, just because they are signed to El Negocito Records, one of Belgium's best imprints, operating from Gent. This septet played works by their guitarist Benjamin Sauzereau, opening with a vaguely Latin lope, bass flute soloing, their drummer playing like a conguero, making a light-toed funk, with ensemble horns led by a tenor saxophone onslaught. They aren't a Latin jazz combo, but that form nevertheless provided a firm influence, alongside hints of ska and a spikier, compact incarnation of the Gil Evans palette. Even though solos happened, this crew had an overriding ensemble mentality, making clean stabs with their horns, chased by a Fender Rhodes outbreak from Eric Bribosia that sounded like an early Bill Frisell guitar solo, piled-up with spangled jangle. There was a sudden interjection of manic Zappa-oid soloing from Sauzereau, followed by an episode of collective free-Zorning that didn't drive away the Grand Place crowd. On the contrary, it was wondrous to see such sounds warmly embraced in the city centre on a Sunday afternoon.

Once again, a five-minute wander brought us to Les Cercle Des Voyageurs, where the Don Kapot threesome were sunk deeply into the Afro-free brutalist basement, with blurting baritone saxophone, cyclic guitar and insistent drums, reminiscent at times of the much-missed Morphine. Sleazed noir-jazz throatiness shrunk by the third number, a tiny wooden flute revealed, before tight-tripped sticks and creamed basslines herded the sound back to a late 1960s groove, then into a ramming Norwegian head-bang.

In the uptown area, the Place de la Chapelle offered a smaller outdoor stage alternative, with the locally-based Kel Assouf representing the weekend's strong North African winners, operating in the Saharan desert Tuareg rock mode. This band are now stripped down to a hardcore guitar/synth/drums power trio, with grinding riff curlicues, spilling over with distortion, basslines (or more accurately, pulse-lines) and organ mimicry, via small keyboard electronics. They built a Flying-V Hendrix churn, with incantatory vocals. Meanwhile, the more urbane and sophisticated Hijaz played in the aptly-named Brussels City Bar, where a more select atmosphere held sway. Their combination of oud, keyboards, bass and various goblet drums facilitated a powering Arabic jazz fusion, full of streamlined detail, dynamic in execution.

Martin Longley

– Photographs by Clara Blanckaert

British vibes virtuoso Orphy Robinson is artist-in-residence at the year's Gibraltar World Music Festival, which runs 19-21 June, and will be using the opportunity to lead a large all-star 17-piece ensemble, which will form The Voicestra Polyphonic Collective. Exploring the festival's theme of 'Borders', Robinson has assembled a high-calibre lineup of international vocalists including Carleen Anderson, Christine Tobin, Mae Mckenna, Llio Millward, Cleveland Watkiss and Randolph Matthews. The band is equally impressive and includes Tony Remy, Phil Robson, Rowland Sutherland, Omar Puente, Philip Achille, Shanti Paul Jayasinha, Tiago Ciombra and Cosimo Keita. Alongside the concert will be music workshops, film screenings and a TED style talk led by Jazzwise/ Evening Standard writer Jane Cornwell.

Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.gibraltarproductions.com

Having reopened its doors in January 2016, following a multi-million-pound refit by new owners The Columbo Group, Camden's Jazz Cafe marks its second anniversary year by continuing its strong jazz programming with a bumper crop of names throughout the summer and into autumn.

Chief among the many highlights are appearances by much-lauded piano luminary Vijay Iyer and his world-class Sextet (pictured above left, 8 Jul); nimble drum maestro Nate Smith (12 Jul) and a star-studded Indo jazz night with Upaj (Indian Jazz) with Sarathy Korwar and Yorkston Thorne Khan (13 Jul). Further essential nights include the welcome return of guitar maestro Julian Lage (above right, 17 Jul); the dub-heavy collaboration between Sly & Robbie and trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær (24 and 25 July) and emerging harp talent Tori Hansley, who plays the music of Alice Coltrane (28 Jul).

Early autumn nights worth catching include saxophonist Cassie Kinoshi's SEED Ensemble (2 Oct); iconic pianist/composer Carla Bley (30 Oct); Pat Metheny drum don Antonio Sanchez (23 Nov); ultra-hip US drummer Makaya McCraven (23 Nov) and fusion-funkateers Native Dancer Play Weather Report (8 Dec).

Mike Flynn

For full listings and tickets visit www.thejazzcafelondon.com

Jon-Hiseman

One of the UK's foremost drummers and bandleaders, Jon Hiseman, who founded the innovative and influential jazz-prog band Colosseum in 1968 and played extensively across the jazz, prog-rock and session worlds died from cancer on 12 June, aged 73. Coming from a jazz background, Hiseman first came to attention with the gifted but wayward pianist Mike Taylor on Taylor's Pendulum album in 1964, now one of the rarest and most valuable of all UK jazz albums. He recorded Neil Ardley's Western Reunion in 1965 and Trio with Mike Taylor in 1966 before his driving swing and hard-hitting solos caught the eye of the Graham Bond Organisation in 1966, where he replaced Ginger Baker who had departed to form Cream.

While with Bond, Hiseman also played sessions, including with The Crazy World of Arthur Brown, and formed a robust working relationship with saxophonist Dick Heckstall-Smith. The pair left to join John Mayall in 1968 at a pivotal time when the big-selling Mayall was refashioning his Bluesbreakers into a more jazz-rock orientated band as the British blues boom looked to expand its musical horizons. The subsequent album, Bare Wires, hit number three on the national album charts, but Hiseman and Heckstall-Smith were already plotting their next move. They left to form Colosseum, whose debut, For Those Who Are About To Die We Salute You, was released in 1969. Together with follow-up Valentyne Suite, it stands as a cornerstone of the then-burgeoning prog-rock and jazz-rock scenes on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as becoming a much sampled favourite of the acid-jazz generation. Hiseman's relentless work ethic also found him recording Peter Lemer's 1968 Local Colour album, which had a 50th anniversary reunion performance at Pizza Express Jazz Club in February 2018, as well as Jack Bruce's Things We Like and Songs For A Tailor.

Following Colosseum's break up in 1971, Hiseman formed Tempest with Allan Holdsworth and refigured Colosseum 11 in 1975 for three albums before extensive live and recording work with the United Jazz and Rock Ensemble and with his wife, saxophonist Barbara Thompson's Paraphernalia. Both he and Barbara opened a recording studio and produced a number of TV and film soundtracks, while he also produced and engineered albums by Nucleus and Keith Tippett, among others. A biography, Playing In The Band, written by Martyn Hanson was published in 2010 and Hiseman had recently formed a new prog-rock power trio, JCM, with former Colosseum alumni, Clem Clemson and Mark Clarke. The 50th reunion with Peter Lemer in February was a memorable night and saw a sold-out audience of fellow players and long-standing jazz industry names come to pay respect and what ultimately proved to be one of this outstanding drummer's final performances.

– Jon Newey

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