wayneHendersonAlthough trombonist Wayne Henderson will be forever remembered as the founding member of the hugely successful Crusaders, one of the key exponents of jazz-funk in the 1970s, he was a musical all rounder of the highest order. Composer, arranger and producer, he collaborated with the big leaguers - B.B. King, George Benson, Jean Carne, Marvin Gaye, Steely Dan and Roy Ayers, to name but some - and was also a mentor to up and coming artists like Side Effect, whose gorgeously soulful sound he helmed with consummate skill. Their signature piece ‘Keep That Same Old Feeling’ remains a much loved ‘rare groove’, and demonstrates just how imaginatively Henderson could blend strong melodies, state of the art keys and dreamscape electronics.

Bigger, commercially speaking, was the Crusaders’ 1979 single ‘Street Life’, a beautiful song with a fine vocal from Randy Crawford and a string arrangement to die for. Playing the Rhodes was Joe Sample and it was he, drummer Stix Hooper, and saxophonist Wilton Felder who, along with Henderson, formed the band’s classic line up. Initially named the Jazz Crusaders, the group started in the early 1960s as purveyors of soul jazz and instrumental R&B, though a sharp take on Coltrane’s 'Impressions' convinced cynics of the strength of their chops. To their great credit Crusaders also played Sly Stone with the groove down pat.  

Henderson, a soloist with a burly, barreling sound that seemed to mirror his imposing physique, was, like his bandmates, from Houston, Texas, and the blues sensibilities of his heartland pervaded all the music he ever made. While the vast discography of the Crusaders, selected highlights of which include Southern Comfort, Scratch and Tough Talk, ensure that Henderson will be hailed as part of a seminal group in black music, it is the one-off project he launched in 1967, The Freedom Sounds, that remains something of a jewel in his artistic crown. On the album People Get Ready, the band’s mix of smart covers and smarter originals made the point that the trombonist knew all about the funkadelica to be found in old socks and new shoes.

– Kevin Le Gendre 

 

The 28th Glasgow Jazz Festival, which runs from 25 to 29 June just ahead of the city’s hosting of the Commonwealth Games in July, has announced an eclectic line up featuring new and established jazz names. Emerging talents set to appear include jazz-soul singer Zara McFarlane (pictured), trip-hop influenced guitarist Stuart McCallum and last year’s Jazz MOBO winners Sons of Kemet. The Neil Cowley Trio perform music from their new album Touch and Flee, while acclaimed guitarist Martin Taylor and charismatic trombonist Dennis Rollins’ Velocity Trio also appear.

There’s a strong Jamaican flavour to the programme in celebration of the Commonwealth Games and this will see the likes of Courtney Pine’s House Of Legends, Jazz Jamaica, Black Star Steel Band and a Jamaican-jazz themed Classic Album Listening Session all featured at this year’s festival. Other names announced include Jacqui Dankworth and Todd Gordon, James Tormé, Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band plus the festival will also hosts the final of Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year. Concerts are held at venues across the city including Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, the City Hall Recital Rooms, The Old Fruitmarket and the basement Rio Club, which will also host the festival’s official late night jam sessions.

– Mike Flynn

For more info go to www.jazzfest.co.uk 

A previously unreleased John Coltrane live concert from 1966 is to be released by Resonance Records in association with Impulse! on 23 September, the saxophonist’s birthday. Offering: Live At Temple University,1966 will be available as both a deluxe double CD and a deluxe double 180-gram vinyl LP set (sleeve pictured left) and is the first time this previously unissued Coltrane concert has been given an officially sanctioned release, though it has appeared in incomplete form on poor audio quality bootlegs.

Recorded in Philadelphia on 11 November 1966, nine months before he died of liver cancer, the band includes Alice Coltrane on piano, Pharoah Sanders on tenor sax and piccolo, Rashied Ali on drums and Sonny Johnson substituting for Jimmy Garrison on bass alongside Coltrane on tenor and soprano sax, flute and vocals. Two guest saxophonists and four percussionists also appear on the recording, which has been remastered in 24-bit from the master tape reels originally recorded by Temple University’s WRTI-FM radio. Coltrane fans are in for a big treat with over 90 minutes of music captured at a pivotal time, including ‘Naima’, ‘Crescent’, ‘Leo’, ‘Offering’ and ‘My Favourite Things’.

JohnColtrane1965ImpulseRavi Coltrane, John and Alice’s son, and the Coltrane Estate have been involved in this historical release and it is co-produced by jazz writer Ashley Khan, who contributes liner notes to the set’s accompanying 24-page booklet. Khan talks of the recording as, “a 90 minute session of sustained intensity; experimental, frenzied and at times, deeply spiritual. Coltrane was pointing the way forward for generations of players to come.”  The double set will incorporate the characteristic identity of Impulse! record’s design, Coltrane’s label from 1961 until his death in 1967, and a contribution from each sale will go towards the John Coltrane Home Foundation, set up to preserve the saxophonist’s former home in Dix Hills, New York.

– Jon Newey

For more info go to www.resonancerecords.org

 

Jazz in Australia has a very long history; back to the 1920s when the country fell for the many visiting Americans. Today jazz is alive across the country, but with a distinct focus on the population centres of Sydney and Melbourne. Here the best-known venues are The Basement near the quay in Sydney and Bennetts Lane in Melbourne. Although making a living is difficult, there is a thriving network of labels, co-operatives and venues. Rufus, home of the late Bernie McGann, Jazzhead, Newmarket, Jazzgroove and New Zealand’s Rattle Records, to name but a few, are all releasing and promoting excellent, and often innovative, jazz. But most notably, there is vitality and a thirst for new directions, evident in the following albums.

– Michael Prescott,
Jazz Presenter 5MBS, Australia


Anton Delecca Quartet
The Healer
Jazzhead Head 192

Anton Delecca (ts), Luke Howard (p), Jonathon Zion (b), Daniel Farrugia (d) Rec. Date not stated

Anton Delecca has been a working musician for over 20 years and in that time has played with Odean Pope, Arthur Blythe, a host of popular and rock artists and has also been a member of many jazz groups. Despite a relatively long career, “The Healer” is only his third as leader.

Although the Luke Howard Trio (see below) provide the backing, this is Delecca’s album with the leader composing seven of the ten tracks featured here. Delecca possesses a mature expressive tone and on this album he deservedly gives himself plenty of space to explore and he uses this to show considerable improvisational skill.

The album kicks off with a Klezmer sounding “The Ark” and from there presents two standards, “Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered” and “Love For Sale” and one from bassist Zion. The interest is not the standards but the new works. “Hectic” is up-tempo featuring an excellent Luke Howard solo and so proving that although best known for his spacious approach, he can also play faster and fuller, whilst on the ballad “Hokusai Says” Delecca delivers a sensitive, thoughtful solo.

The album would probably have been that much better if Delecca had the courage to forgo the standards. With tracks like “The Lake” there is simply no need to revive old well worn works.

Nonetheless, an impressive and enjoyable album.

Click here for more info and samples

Andrea Keller Quartet With Strings
Wave Rider
Jazzhead    Head 191 

Andrea Keller (p), Eugene Ball (t), Ian Whitehurst (ts), Joe Talia (d), Erkki Velthiem (v), Helen Ayres (v), Matt Lang (viola), Zoe Knighton (c). Rec. 6 & 7 December 2012

Let’s get one thing clear from the start, the description “with strings” is misleading, there’s absolutely nothing saccharine about Keller’s scoring. Here the strings, in the form of a classic string quartet, are an integral part of Keller’s compositions; they perform with and almost inside her quartet.

This takes talent and it is obvious that Keller has that in abundance. This is totally original music; by that read no one else composes anything like this. If you have heard Keller’s previous discs, this is no surprise, especially her previous album of solo piano; “Family Portraits” another superb album.

This is something else again, complex with themes weaving in and out and Keller’s often dark and foreboding piano evident throughout. Her talented quartet handles this difficult music with aplomb, Ball and Whitehurst are exceptional while Talia adds rich tonal colour. The absence of bass is not an issue, so expertly are Keller’s tunes composed and arranged.

There is great variety here, with 15 tracks varying from just 49 seconds (the title track) to over 10 minutes (the brooding “Patience”) but nowhere does the interest flag, a true indication of the album’s success.

Andrea Keller should be known throughout the jazz world, one can only hope that this album raises her international profile to where it should be.

Click here for more info and samples

LukeHowardTrioDoveALoinACoastLuke Howard Trio
A Dove, A Lion, A Coast, A Pirate
Which Way  WWM 018  ★★★

Luke Howard (p), Jonathon Zion (b), Daniel Farrugia (d). Rec May 2012

This album never really gets above mid-tempo. Normally that could be a negative, but not here, Luke Howard is so in command that anything thing else would disturb the whole fabric of this superb CD.

From the sublime opener, “Oslo” this music utilises space as a musical instrument with Zion and Farrugia, listening intently to their leader adding colour and depth throughout.

Recorded at Oslo’s Rainbow Studios with renown engineer Jan Erik Konkshug this disc does evoke, but definitely does not imitate, another well known visitor to that studio, Ketil Bjornstad. Zion’s three tunes blend in seamlessly to the other nine tunes, all penned by Howard.

What stands out here is the beautiful lyricism of Howard’s piano, a reflection of his excellent compositions and almost hummable tunes, the title track being a case in point.

As you would expect with Konkshug at the helm, the recording is so natural that at times one is tempted to look toward the speakers to confirm that the band really is in your living room.

This album works on all levels, the enthusiast will love the sheer musicality and invention whilst the casual listener will fall for the simple beauty of this music. This is an album that not only can withstand repeated listens, but calls the listener back again and again.

Click here for more info and samples

HannahJamesGroupEffigyHannah James Group
Effigy
Self Release

Hannah James (b), Ed Rodrigues (d), Casey Golden (p), Tim Clarkson (s) Dave Rodriguez (g)

Rec 20 July 2011

It can be difficult for young artists to get a break no matter how talented. Hannah James was lucky, as the winner of The Jann Rutherford Memorial Award for promising female jazz musicians, she was able to record this album at the ABC’s studios. Even so she still had to release the CD herself.

But, despite her youth, this is a mature group album with the leader, aside from a few thoughtful solos, for the most part taking a back seat to Golden, Clarkson and Rodriguez.

James has said that she has been influenced by the New York scene, referencing Aaron Parks and that is certainly a good reference point, especially on Casey Golden’s ”When The Talking Stops” evoking Parks’ 2008 album, “Invisible Cinema”

For her debut, James has assembled a crack band with guitarist Dave Rodriguez and Casey Golden on piano being particularly impressive. Rodriguez possesses fine technique, delivering intelligent and interesting solos. Hannah James also proves to be a fine composer, particularly the opener, “Morning Glory” and the title track.

This is a very strong debut and points to a bright future as a bassist, composer and leader. It will be interesting to follow her development as she further defines her own voice.

Info with sample www.hannahjames.com

JulienWilsonTrioSwailingJulien Wilson Trio
Swailing
lionsharerecords LSR 20142

Julien Wilson (ts, b cl, ss), Stephen Magnusson (g), Steve Grant (acc)

Swailing is a very Australian concept, a controlled burn of the bush aimed at promoting regrowth. In spite of the title, the music on this CD has a very European feel, at times reminiscent of an ECM recording, no doubt as a consequence of the unusual composition of the trio, no rhythm section but with an accordion.

But there are important differences mainly flowing from song selection. After a delicious Wilson penned opening track, with the marvellously titled “I Believe This Belongs To You” comes Hermeto Pascoal’s “Little Church”, most famously heard on Miles Davis’s “Live Evil”. A little later, Gabriel Faure’s “Meditation”, Hoagy Carmichael’s “Stardust”, even Fats Waller’s “Jitterbug Waltz” and finally, Ornette Coleman’s “Chanting”, plus several originals.

The trio benefits from having performed together over many years (their first CD, “Live” dates from 2007) as they weave in and out with a beautiful precision that only experience can bring. All three members both solo and provide accompaniment, the resulting music ebbs and flows producing a gorgeous sound. The occasional overdub fills out the music, most notably Wilson’s bass clarinet.

Although mostly subdued, it is a strangely uplifting and enjoyable music. Grant is just fabulous throughout; Magnusson demonstrates that he is an all-round guitarist and in places squeezes out very un-guitar like sounds. All the while Wilson is sublime, at times his breathy tenor is reminiscent of Ben Webster.

What makes this all the impressive is that this was released together with a completely different album and band, the mainstream balled collection, “This Is Always”, also on lionsharerecords. On this album his Websterisms come to the fore.

Click here for more info and samples

 

Hiromi250Japanese piano star Hiromi Uehara hits London’s Cadogan Hall from 13-15 April for a rare three-night stand along with US bass guitar legend Anthony Jackson and revered jazz-rock drummer Simon Phillips. Dubbed The Trio Project the dazzling pianist’s technically brilliant but equally high spirited and passionate style is powered along by these two rhythm section veterans – Jackson’s CV including iconic recordings with the likes of Paul Simon, The O’Jays (providing the classic bassline to their hit ‘Money, Money, Money’), Steely Dan and Chick Corea among many others – while drummer Phillips has recently worked with Toto, Ray Russell and Jack Bruce but shows off his virtuoso jazz skills with Hiromi.

The group’s two albums Voice and Move add to Hiromi’s varied output since her frenetic 2003 debut Another Mind, which also featured Jackson on bass. She toured with her regular trio of bassist Tony Grey and drummer Martin Valihora for six years, expanding the band to include David ‘Fuze’ Fiuczynski for her Sonic Bloom group, while she has also recorded a duo piano album with Chick Corea, Duet, and a 2009 solo album Place To Be. These three nights will showcase her dynamic, highly virtuosic material that takes in everything from electro-jazz funk through to post bop, classical and burning jazz-fusion.

– Mike Flynn

For more info go to www.cadoganhall.com/event/hiromi-the-trio-project

 

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