branfordmarsalisStellar US saxophonist Branford Marsalis’ Quartet, Polish trumpet icon Thomas Stańko’s New York Quartet and celebrated South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim’s Ekaya plus his New Trio are among the first tranche of international names announced for this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, which takes place from 14 to 23 November at dozens of venues across the capital. The festival, which is sponsored by Jazzwise, is now in its 22nd year and continues a wide-angle embrace of jazz in all its forms with many anniversaries and specially commissioned works planned as part of this year’s event. Things kick off with the opening-night jazz vocal gala, Jazz Voice, at the Barbican (14 Nov), once again featuring specially written scores for the 40-piece orchestra-plus-big band by Guy Barker for a line-up of top vocalists.

Revered US saxophonist Marsalis (pictured) appears with his Quartet at the Queen Elizabeth Hall (14 Nov), while the encyclopaedic jazz man and drummer Richard Pite performs his Benny Goodman at Carnegie Hall show (Cadogan Hall 14 and 18 Nov). Pianist Abdullah Ibrahim brings both his horn-laden Ekaya group and New Trio for a double bill at the Royal Festival Hall (15 Nov). ECM-signed trumpeter Stańko’s New York Quartet make their London debut with support from piano virtuoso Stefano Bollani and Hamilton de Holanda, Brazil's master bandolim player (Barbican, 20 Nov), while quirky guitar guru Bill Frisell explores Guitar In the Space Age, his surreal retro-futuristic look at 1950s style surf guitar (Barbican, 16 Nov). Strong Brit-jazz strands so far announced include a special John Surman ‘Surman at 70’ residency at Kings Place (14-15 Nov), and rising star saxophonist Trish Clowes performs a new work with Guy Barker and the BBC Concert Orchestra (QEH, 18 Nov).

Other international names also include virtuosic Cuban jazz pianist Chucho Valdés in residence at Kings Place (20-21 Nov), French-American pianist Dan Tepfer, known for his acclaimed improvised interpretations of Bach’s Goldberg Variations, at Wigmore Hall (20 Nov) and slamming jazz-funksters Snarky Puppy play their biggest UK gig to date at the Roundhouse (18 Nov).

– Mike Flynn


See Jazzwise Breaking News online for further details and additions and go to www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk  for all ticket and concert info

phronesislovesupremeThe Love Supreme Jazz Festival is set for its second big year of midsummer madness with the news that piano trio sensation Phronesis (pictured left), US daisy-age hip hoppers De La Soul, Brit funkers Incognito and rising jazz star Jaimeo Brown have all been added to the bill for the three day greenfield event that takes place from 4-6 July in the picturesque surroundings of Glynde Place in east Sussex.

The festival, which is presented by Jazz FM and sponsored by Jazzwise, adds Phronesis, Melt Yourself Down and Natalie Wiliams to the Saturday Arena Stage alongside The Computers and Ollie Howell Quintet announced in March. Saturday’s Big Top Stage adds Matthew Halsall, Nikki Yanofsky and Reuben James Trio to the already announced Dave Holland’s Prism and Derrick Hodge Band, while the Main Stage adds Incognito and Natalie Williams Soul Family to the bill that’s headlined by Jamie Cullum, Laura Mvula and Snarky Puppy.

The Sunday bill brings in De La Soul and Imelda May to the Main Stage alongside Courtney Pine, Soul II Soul, José James and Alice Russell and the Arena Stage adds Jaimeo Brown, James Tormé, newly signed Blue Note trumpeter Takuya Kuroda and Slowly Rolling Camera to headliners Gregory Porter, Christian McBride Trio and Curtis Stigers. The Arena Stage additions include Laura Jurd, Cecilia Stalin, Chloe Charles and Norwich-based rising stars Mammal Hands alongside headliners Polar Bear and the Hidden Orchestra.

In addition to these stages, where more names will be announced shortly, rising stars and local bands will appear on the Bandstand Stage throughout the weekend.

– Jon Newey

For all ticket details visit www.lovesupremefestival.com

Amidst the sweeping glass curves of the Sage Gateshead, the weekend-long festival got off to a strong start on Friday night with the irrepressible Django Bates at the helm. Backed by his Belovèd trio and Swedish sparring partners the Norrbotten Big Band, the pianist led a tribute to the music of Charlie Parker which received its UK premier at last year's BBC Proms. Subversive and unrestrained, this was Parker taken through a hall of mirrors, hand-in-hand with an impish Bates. Bebop heads were bent and buckled, emerging in the brass before melting into passages of rhythm section-led free improvisation. It had the audience on the edge of their seats (read full review here).

Myduo11

As if to hammer home the festival's commitment to variety, what followed was a blistering performance from the Robert Glasper Experiment, who brought their unique blend of jazz, hip hop, funk and electronica to a packed Hall Two. Virtuosic and immaculately paced, Glasper improvisations soared above visceral bass grooves and whirlwind drum breaks as the group powered through covers, including Daft Punk's ‘Get Lucky’ and ‘Lovely Day’ by Bill Withers, alongside tracks from their new album, Black Radio 2 (read full review here).

Informally dubbed the Day of the Saxophone, Saturday saw horns aplenty, with matinee sets from Jason Yarde and Andrew McCormack (pictured above) followed by former Jazz Messenger Jean Toussaint. Supported by pizzicato flurries and delicate counterpoint from collaborators the Elysian String Quartet, Yarde and McCormack performed a beguiling set of originals. With energy and spirit that recalled Coltrane, Toussaint freed things up and gave the audience a taste of burning, post-bop swing – the first of the weekend.

Later that night, young tenor saxophonist Marius Neset and tuba player Daniel Herskedal brought to bear astonishing technique and youthful exuberance with marching band grooves and nostalgic Scandinavian folk melodies.

SpringQuartet17
Before a crowd pleasing set from Courtney Pine, the icing on the cake would have been a stellar performance from headliners the Spring Quartet (pictured above), featuring Jack DeJohnette, Joe Lovano, Esperanza Spalding, and her pianist of choice, Leo Genovese. But while there were some scintillating moments of free improv, much of the set felt aimless, not least when DeJohnette's announcements on the mic descended into groans and streams of fragmented sentences that seemed out of place.

Overdriven rock and experimental electronics characterised the final afternoon of the festival, with a double bill featuring local group Shiver and a rhythmically inventive set from Seb Rochford's Polar Bear. Tommy Smith and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra kept the party going with a swaggering Ellington tribute, but performances from Bill Frisell and the breathtaking Pablo Held Trio proved that the best had been saved until last.

Eschewing pre-arranged forms, the trio, led by Held on piano, displayed masterful sensitivity and interaction, playing richly varied originals that glistened with arco bass harmonics, subtle grooves and twisting melodies. Lilting folk tunes, standards, and country music melodies from Frisell, accompanied by Eyvind Kang on viola and drummer Rudy Royston, were equally captivating and assured – a superb conclusion to a festival turning 10 in style.

– Thomas Rees (@ThomasNRees)
– Photos © Tim Dickeson

Deep in the heart of Brixton, located on Kellett Road, a side street just minutes from the bustling centre, the Effra Hall Tavern, better known locally as The Effra has been a public house since 1881, and has always been a part of the area’s multicultural social scene. For the last 15 years it has also been the home of one of London’s best-loved jazz jam sessions, run by SoFF Music and hosted by irrepressible singer Lauren Dalrymple (picture) every Sunday night from 8.45pm, it’s set to mark its 15th anniversary with a black tie jazz jam on Sunday 13 April.

Dalrymple has played a vital role in nurturing many of today’s leading London-based musicians including Robert Mitchell (who was the resident pianist for four years), Matt Telfer, Jay Phelps, Nathaniel Facey, Chris Jerome, Daniel Crosby, Neville Malcolm, Miles Danso and Karl Rasheed Abel. MOBO-winning Empirical drummer Shane Forbes noted: “In our early days we had no gigs, Lauren's jam session was our gig.” The vibrant mix of local and international talent who play each week rubs shoulders with domino-slapping West Indians in a relaxed atmosphere; with the draft Red Stripe and fine home cooked food adding to the jam’s welcoming appeal.
– Mike Flynn

Listen to Lauren talking about the SoFF Music jam and her involvement with the London jazz scene on the podcast link below:
 

For more info go to www.laurendalrymple.com 

 

Building on the success of last year’s Thump Festival, Bence Bolygo and Andy Chapman of Bolygo Music Productions have done themselves proud this year with sellout performances on three of the four days at Soho's Pizza Express Jazz Club. Last year's Thump ethos was a focus on drums and rhythm. This year it seems the ethos has been extended based on the choice of headline acts.

SophieAllowayQuintettethump
Day one showcased the all-female group Quintette (above) featuring Sophie Alloway, a young drummer whose playing has been steadily gaining attention as has trumpeter Yazz Ahmed, saxophonist Josephine Davies, pianist Naadia Sheriff and bassist/singer Charlie Pyne. This collective brought to the table, not so much a thump, but a refined almost straight-ahead offering evinced through the subtleties of compositions such as Sheriff's 'A Light Heart Lives Long' here Alloway applies a hint hip-hop to the rhythm, or 'Jamil Jamal' where Eastern melodies receive an urban treatment allowing each soloist to paint their own interpretation of the songs structure. This protean collective shows signs of interesting things to come.

Day two saw Manchester-based GoGo Penguin (above) headline, the band featuring drummer Rob Turner, pianist Chris Illingworth and Nick Blacka on acoustic bass. Any Thump quota left over from the previous day was quickly consumed as this tightly woven piano trio got energised. Drawing on material from both their latest album v2.0 and previous album Fanfares, the driving piano riffs and anthemic pulses they generated at times, created an atmosphere of almost being at a rave. Blacka made a point of apologising to those at front of stage for the loudness but with a wry smile said there was nothing he could do about it and which did not seem a problem for the now-hyper audience. The overall sound was clear with brittle sparkle, crafted no doubt by their sound engineer Joe Reiser who Blacka referred to as the ‘fourth Penguin’, a major component in making the night a thumping success.
GoGoPenguinthump1

Days three and four featured Cameroonian bass player/singer songwriter Richard Bona (below). Tasked with rounding off this year's festival, Bona took it in his stride, having honed his craft working with the likes Joe Zawinul, Wynton Marsalis, Pat Metheny and George Benson to name a few, his jovial demeanour suggesting it was just another day at the office for him. With double performances on both nights Bona shows great technique and mastery of nuance, with dynamics ranging from sotto voce to a resounding thump.

RichardBonathump1


















With fellow musicians Etienne Stadwijk (keyboards), Ludwig Alfonso (drums) and Tatum Greenblatt (trumpet) they created excitement as well as soulful depth displaying their technical prowess through songs such as Jaco Pastorius’ ‘Teen Town’ and the great party spirit of ‘Please Don't Stop’ (from his album Tiki with the original featuring vocals from John Legend).  Exquisite compositional skills were evident in ‘M'Bemba Mama’. Sung in the Duala dialect, and though not many in the audience understood the words its form and musical delivery was strong enough to render the room into contemplative silence. Such was the band’s potency that Bona fearing the audience would not go home after the second encore he thought it prudent perform a lullaby not so much to calm but to put everyone to “sleep, sleep… please sleep…” – perhaps until Thump 2015.

– Roger Thomas (Story and photos)

 

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