Corea Crowns Host Of Cheltenham Charms

TD-Chick-Corea-2017-20

A successful jazz festival is made in the mix: the weave of established players (maybe even a couple of icons) with new ones on the way up; the incorporation of names that tick the jazz credibility box, and others that help to pay the festival bills; the geographical sweep that when it comes to jazz means, crucially, the transatlantic balance – all these are important. And then there are the cherry-on-the-top mixes: the unpredictable intermingling of musicians that the organisers hope will happen. And pitfalls, too: the infiltrations that would have been best avoided. Cheltenham Jazz Festival has been fine-honing this mix for years and, looking back on 2017, I think it can be considered a good, if not great, year.

If Chick Corea is a jazz icon he certainly doesn't behave like one. He began and ended by leading an audience sing-along. I can't imagine that happening at a Keith Jarrett concert. With his cross-generational trio partners, Eddie Gomez and Brian Blade, he treated a delighted Big Top crowd to '500 Miles High', 'Spanish Song' and 'Spain', nodded to Gomez's time with the Bill Evans Trio with 'Alice In Wonderland', and explored an obscure Monk tune called 'Work'. Corea's playing achieved the extraordinary twin distinction of being both virtuosic and also immediately comprehensible. The trio had the same flexibility that one hears in Wayne Shorter's quartet, stretching out far and wide from the pieces, all three pushing themselves towards that ultimate jazz prize that risk brings.

TD-Lionel-Loueke-05

"Leaving the comfort zone," was very much Benin-born guitarist Lionel Loueke's stated objective. He goes back a long way with bassist Massimo Biocalti and drummer Ferenc Nemeth, so a three-way leap into the unknown proved as exhilarating to listen to as I am sure it was to perform. The juxtaposition of a meditative bass solo against a Dixieland accompaniment, the result of the sound ingress into the Jazz Arena from the free stage, was one of many unwelcome infiltrations in this particular tent. Not so much risk-taking with the Steve Gadd Band, a group which moves the rhythm section into the spotlight, but another kind of delight. The sound was exemplary, the playing of bassist Jimmy Johnson, guitarist Michael Landau and pianist Kevin Hays just as fine, and the treat of hearing in the flesh the sound of a drum icon who is on so many of our records was reflected not only in the cheers but in the snaking line to where Gadd was signing afterwards.

TD-Chris-Potter-01

Saxophonist Chris Potter is surely on his way to iconic status. His Quartet's performance took the energy level many bands would consider the climax of their set as its starting point and moved up from there. Then Potter nipped to the Town Hall to guest with Snarky Puppy. In a masterclass the next morning pianist Bill Laurance called Potter's playing "next level improvisation" to nods of similarly awed agreement from bassist Michael League and drummer Larnell Lewis. There was another unexpected – and most welcome – guest with Denys Baptiste's Late Trane band when the rarely-heard Steve Williamson joined on tenor for Coltrane's 'Transition' and 'Vigil'. Previous subsidiary Cheltenham visitors, Kandace Springs and Logan Richardson were each given their own concert this year. Springs has all the qualities to make her a star of the future though, for my money, bassist/singer Meshell Ndegeocello packed more meaning and listener reward into one song – Leonard Cohen's 'Suzanne' – than the young Nashville singer/pianist could convey in a whole set. Richardson and his band Shift played a highly focused set which centred on the leader's hard-blown, richly pure alto. A fresh exposition of Kansas City's ongoing contribution jazz's development.

TD-Marius-Neset-26

Phronesis's collaboration with composer Dave Maric and the Engines Orchestra was a valuable co-commission, and another example of a mix where the sum of the parts really does add up. If the transatlantic mix was a little States-biased this year, the strongest European contribution, according to many I spoke to, came from Marius Neset. His talent, already near to overwhelming the listener, seems to grow stronger with each outing.

Peter Bacon
– Photos by Tim Dickeson

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Makaya McCraven, Ashley Henry RE:ENSEMBLE and Theon Cross Trio unite Chicago and London for International Anthems

Makaya McCraven, Ashley Henry RE:ENSEMBL…

Some of the most exciting names from London and Chicago's...

Read More.....
The Write Stuff adds new qualification for young writers aged 18-25

The Write Stuff adds new qualification f…

This year's Write Stuff music journalism course will return for...

Read More.....
Exclusive stream of ‘I Miss You’ – New single from Wayne Shorter produced seven-piece Holophonor

Exclusive stream of ‘I Miss You’ – New s…

Fast emerging US progressive jazz seven-piece Holophonor are set to...

Read More.....
Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2017 nominees announced

Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2017 nominees …

  The nominees for the 2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awards have been...

Read More.....
John Jack – 1933-2017

John Jack – 1933-2017

John Jack was one of those figures who seem to...

Read More.....
Liane Carroll, Miles Mosley and Seal for Jazz Voice’s tenth anniversary at EFG London Jazz Festival

Liane Carroll, Miles Mosley and Seal for…

The names have been revealed for this year's 10th edition...

Read More.....
Video Exclusive – 'Forlane' from VEIN Plays Ravel

Video Exclusive – 'Forlane' from VEIN Pl…

Swiss piano trio VEIN release their latest album, VEIN Plays...

Read More.....
Denys Baptiste, Mike Gibbs and ICP Orchestra for Turner Sims autumn/winter programme

Denys Baptiste, Mike Gibbs and ICP Orche…

Southampton's Turner Sims concert hall has a bumper crop of...

Read More.....
Nubya Garcia lines up for Steve Reid Innovation showcase – video preview

Nubya Garcia lines up for Steve Reid Inn…

This year's edition of the Steve Reid Innovation showcase will...

Read More.....
Tom Millar Quartet takes Unnatural Events on tour

Tom Millar Quartet takes Unnatural Event…

Pianist and composer Tom Millar starts his autumn tour this...

Read More.....
Hats off for Stetson's big blowout at Brighton's Duke of York

Hats off for Stetson's big blowout at Br…

  Colin Stetson has enough draw to fill this arthouse cinema...

Read More.....
A show of hands for percussion legend Giovanni Hidalgo at Jazz Cafe

A show of hands for percussion legend Gi…

Some of the UK's leading percussionists will be gathering at...

Read More.....
Walter Becker 1950-2017

Walter Becker 1950-2017

Walter Becker and Donald Fagen may have been two against...

Read More.....
Robert Glasper, Jaga Jazzist and Aron Ottignon added to EFG London Jazz Fest 25th anniversary Line-Up

Robert Glasper, Jaga Jazzist and Aron Ot…

This year's momentous 25th EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs...

Read More.....
Legacies live on as Sidewinder and Coltrane hit silver screen

Legacies live on as Sidewinder and Coltr…

  September can be a quiet month for music fans, after...

Read More.....
Metropole Orkest Modernise Mingus On Prom Night

Metropole Orkest Modernise Mingus On Pro…

Charlie Mingus famously encouraged musicians to play without charts, creating...

Read More.....
Nick Duckett talks about the Harry South The Songbook – “…a British Quincy Jones”

Nick Duckett talks about the Harry South…

Pub conversations can get you in a world of grief...

Read More.....
Obituary: Sue Steward

Obituary: Sue Steward

One of Songlines' founding contributing editors, and Jazzwise writer, Sue...

Read More.....
John Abercrombie 1944 – 2017

John Abercrombie 1944 – 2017

The final two recordings by guitarist John Abercrombie for the...

Read More.....
Mansur Brown and Yussef Dayes go supernova with the Jimi Hendrix Songbook

Mansur Brown and Yussef Dayes go superno…

Rising star guitarist Mansur Brown and exciting drummer Yusef Dayes...

Read More.....
Omar Puente and Melt Yourself Down get Canary Wharf Jazz Fest moving

Omar Puente and Melt Yourself Down get C…

The Canary Wharf Jazz Festival has been successfully putting on...

Read More.....
Video Exclusive for Sam Braysher’s ‘Dancing In The Dark’

Video Exclusive for Sam Braysher’s ‘Danc…

Emerging UK sax talent Sam Braysher releases his intimate new...

Read More.....
Dhafer Youssef and Get the Blessing get Gaume grooving

Dhafer Youssef and Get the Blessing get …

  When Get the Blessing call for audience participation, they're startled...

Read More.....
Kinch and Carroll cap Sligo capers

Kinch and Carroll cap Sligo capers

The combined festival and summer school in Sligo have had...

Read More.....
Southampton Gets Ahead As New Jazz Venue Prospers

Southampton Gets Ahead As New Jazz Venue…

  (Pianist Jason Rebello guests on the Talking Heads stage with...

Read More.....
Edwards and Castle pursue chaotic pulse at The Verdict

Edwards and Castle pursue chaotic pulse …

  'Crossover' is a word much employed by critics when talking...

Read More.....
Mark Guiliana makes mark as Jazz Middelheim's artist-in-residence

Mark Guiliana makes mark as Jazz Middelh…

Jazz Middelheim is a great jazz fest situated in front...

Read More.....
Marius Neset, Nils Landgren and Tonbruket light up Ystad Jazz Fest

Marius Neset, Nils Landgren and Tonbruke…

Now in its eighth year the Ystad Jazz Festival (not...

Read More.....
Hyelim Kim and Alice Zawadzki get K-Music kicking

Hyelim Kim and Alice Zawadzki get K-Musi…

This year's edition of the London Festival of Korean Music...

Read More.....
Binker & Moses 'Fete By The River' – Video Exclusive

Binker & Moses 'Fete By The River' –…

  Clap your pies on this vid exclusive from award-winning London...

Read More.....
Steve Lehman and Pat Metheny Lead The Moldejazz Pack

Steve Lehman and Pat Metheny Lead The Mo…

Flying north-west from Oslo on a propeller aeroplane, the first...

Read More.....
Redman's Rhythmic Reveries Live The Dream At Manchester Jazz Fest

Redman's Rhythmic Reveries Live The Drea…

Joshua Redman (top), looking super svelte in suit and dicky...

Read More.....
Anoushka Shankar, Hiromi and Shabaka and the Ancestors get Jazz à Juan jumping

Anoushka Shankar, Hiromi and Shabaka and…

After the terrible events on the Promenade des Anglais on...

Read More.....
Vote Now for 2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

Vote Now for 2017 Parliamentary Jazz Awa…

This year's Parliamentary Jazz Awards will take place on 10...

Read More.....
Wayne Shorter Goes Large At Gent Jazz Jamboree

Wayne Shorter Goes Large At Gent Jazz Ja…

As expected, the Gent Jazz Festival performs its characteristic trick...

Read More.....
Buck Clayton Legacy Band bounce with Billie at Pizza

Buck Clayton Legacy Band bounce with Bil…

There's said to be a minor resurgence in swing in...

Read More.....

ABJazzWise


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Chris Barber Big Band keeps on swinging at Cardogan Hall https://t.co/Ygj2f5Jh0L https://t.co/SEUY5VwCwS
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@frozenreeds and by the time you've seen Shabaka Hutchings for the 50th time you might want to do someone damage wi… https://t.co/zwjzscsQ1W
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA