Keyboardist Bill Laurance, who rose to prominence with Grammy Award-winning groove-merchants Snarky Puppy, is set to tour the UK once again as his solo career builds momentum outside the band. Laurance hits the road just ahead of Snarky's tour in April and May, playing jazz-fuelled Afrobeat, electronica and cinematic sounding songs from his three acclaimed studio albums, Flint, Swift and Aftersun ahead of his next album, which is set to be a piano-led solo record. Kicking off in Gateshead and traversing the country down to Brighton, the tour concludes with a three-night residency at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London.
Dates are: Sage 2, Gateshead (28 Feb); O2 ABC 2, Glasgow (1 Mar); RNCM, Manchester (4 Mar); O2 Academy 2, Liverpool (5 Mar); Howard Assembly Room, Leeds (6 Mar); Glee Club, Birmingham (7 Mar); The Lantern, Bristol (8 Mar); Old Market, Brighton (9 Mar) and Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London (29-31 March).
Over the last decade or so, Cafe OTO has secured an impressive hit rate of presenting bona fide free jazz originators from across the pond – but the Art Ensemble Of Chicago have remained a stubborn fixture at the top of the want list. As such, excitement is riding high for this rare three-date UK residency by the current incarnation – a quartet featuring original member, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, longstanding percussionist Famoudou Don Moye, veteran trumpeter Hugh Ragin and upcoming Chicagoan double-bassist Junius Paul.
Mitchell initiates this final night's set with a nod to performance art, standing stock still while the house falls into silence and finally signalling the music's start with a single, isolated parp on the soprano. From there, the sound fans out into a spectral improvisation of glistening filaments, lent shape by Paul's sonorous, woody filigrees – but it's only a few minutes until the quartet ascends to a seething tumult of pure energy. Mitchell and Ragin, both seated, weave complex, ecstatically joyous lines: Mitchell pouring out endless, jagged, tumbling shapes on the alto with astonishingly sustained circular breathing, while Ragin adds impossibly high, tight trills from the piccolo trumpet.
Smashing it all forward is Don Moye – a captivating mystic, robed, bejewelled and utterly in tune with his rhythmic imperative, driving the drums with a bullish, muscular insistence that nevertheless always dances with a jovial swing. The energy builds, the solos flash by, until the quartet break into an irascible pantomime, crying out "hey, it's Friday night!" and "yeah, man!" partly ragging the spellbound audience for its pin-drop reticence, partly just having fun. As the wave breaks, there's an interlude that harks back to the Ensemble's use of 'little 'instruments', with Paul tinkling the shimmering glockenspiel while Moye rattles out tiny, detailed telegraphs on metallic bells and gongs. Finally, Paul strikes up a slithering bass hook and the horns spell out the Ensemble's familiar touch-down melody, 'Odwalla (The Theme') as an hour of transcendent music-making draws to a close. A brief, boisterous blast of an encore seals the deal. It's been real.
Leading UK saxophonist Julian Siegel is set to unveil his most ambitious project to date in 2017 when he debuts his newly-formed Jazz Orchestra, whose 19-piece line-up features a wide-range of top British jazz talent for a six date UK tour in March. The ensemble will be performing expanded and reimagined versions of his works for Quartet and Trio, as well as a newly written work entitled 'Tales from the Jacquard' that was produced by Derby Jazz with support from Arts Council England's Grants for Arts scheme. The tour also includes an appearance at Ronnie Scott's as part of the Jazzwise 20th Anniversary Festival on Thursday 16 March.
The group will be conducted by Nick Smart and features a strong line-up of Siegel on sax and clarinet, trumpeters Tom Walsh, Percy Pursglove, Henry Lowther and Claus Stoetter; alto saxophonists Mike Chillingworth and Jason Yarde; tenorists Stan Sulzmann and Tori Freestone; baritone sax and clarinettist Gemma Moore; trombonists Mark Nightingale, Trevor Mires, Harry Brown; bass trombone and tuba player Richard Henry; pianist Liam Noble; bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo.
Dates are: The Venue @ De Montfort University, Leicester (14 March); Lakeside Arts, Nottingham (15 March); Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London (16 March); Terry O'toole Theatre, Lincoln (17 March); Guildhall Theatre, Derby (18 March) and Town Hall Birmingham (19 March).
Hard-blowing New York-based saxophonist Tim Armacost kicks off his European tour in style with two Late Shows at Ronnie Scott's, London (6 and 7 February) in support of his new album, Time Being, which is released on Whirlwind Recordings on 24 February. A prolific and powerful presence on the international jazz scene for the last 30 years, Time Being is his first album under his own name for Whirlwind, also appearing on two albums by the New York Standards Quartet and Alex Garnett's Bunch of Five for the label. His latest packs in an all-star rhythm section of first-call bassist Robert Hurst and powerhouse drummer Jeff 'Tain' Watts, with some tracks also featuring renowned pianist David Kikowski.
The tour itself features US expat drummers Rod Youngs (on the first two UK shows), Barcelona-based Marc Ayza (for the Valencia gig) and the Vienna-based Klemens Marktl for the rest of the concerts. Whirlwind label boss and bassist Michael Janisch is set to play every night of the tour with guitarist David Preston making a guest appearance on their final night in London. Dates are: Late Show, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London (6-7 Feb); Jimmy Glass, Valencia, Spain (8 Feb); Repete, Llubliana, Slovenia (9 Feb); Miles Jazz Bar, Graz, Austria (10 Feb); Raj, Klagenfurt, Austria (11 Feb); The Albert, Bristol, England (12 Feb); Royal Academy of Music Festival, London (14-16 Feb); The Verdict, Brighton (17 Feb); The Archduke, London.
Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival and Dictionary Pudding productions have made an inspired connection, pairing Michigan's ornery noise-niks Wolf Eyes with British improv pioneers saxophonist Trevor Watts and keys conquistador Veryan Weston, who'll be performing in their Quantum Illusion guise. For those sniffing around for the BS scent, this isn't the first time America's din-making lupines have locked in with legends from jazzes' outer reaches, their previous deep collaborations with Anthony Braxton spewing up the feral row of 2006's Black Vomit.
This time around expect full sets from both Quantum Illusion and Wolf Eyes, as well as an exclusive collaborative encounter, on Saturday 8 April at West Hill Hall, Brighton.