Iconoclastic post-jazz band Polar Bear returned earlier this year with their fifth and most far-reaching electronically charged album to date, In Each and Every One. The band, that’s led by influential drummer/composer Seb Rochford, have just released a new video for the song ‘Life and Life’ which you can see below for the first time exclusively on Jazzwise – see the video below.

The band also head out for a series of dates across the summer and one in mid-November – you can see the band live on the following dates:
Meltdown, The Clore Ballroom, 
Royal Festival Hall, Southbank Centre, London (Free entry, 13 June); Third Rail Festival, Thames Prom, Richfield Ave, Reading (5 July), Love Supreme Festival, East Sussex 
Glynde Place (6 July); Brecon Jazz Festival, Powys 
Theatr Brycheiniog, Brecon (10 August); and Millenium Hall, Ecclesall Road, Sheffield (13 November).

For more info go to polarbearmusic.bandcamp.com

appjagawards group-picThis year’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards took place in a packed Terrace Pavilion at the Houses Of Parliament, attended by jazz industry professionals, musicians and jazz-loving parliamentarians in what is the award’s 10th year. The awards, which are organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group, PPL and Jazz Services, featured several guest presenters including Chris Barber, Lord David Steele, Digby Fairweather, Darius Brubeck, Simon Cooke of Ronnie Scott’s and jazz singer Elaine Delmar while Jazzwise magazine editor Jon Newey compered the ceremony, standing in for Moira Stewart the well-known TV presenter who was unable to attend.

The winners are as follows: Jazz Album of the Year: Troyk-estraLive at Cheltenham 2013 Jazz Festival; Jazz Venue of the Year: EFG London Jazz Festival; Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Beats & Pieces Big Band; Jazz Education Award: Issie Barratt of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra; Jazz Media Award: Jamie Cullum Show on BBC Radio 2; Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Arun Ghosh; Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Christine Tobin; Services To Jazz: David Redfern: Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Phil Meadows; and the APPJAG Special Award was presented to Chris Barber.

Ambrose-Akinmusire-Live
Ambrose Akinmusire
begins with a strengthening trumpet solo, which becomes a woozily falling, bugle-like cry. A quick cymbal-shiver, and his high school friend Justin Brown brings in the rest of his quintet, newly including Charles Altura, a guitarist of meditative delicacy. Even lacking Muna Blake, the child who on its recorded version lists black Americans recently killed by cops and vigilantes, ‘Rollcall for Those Absent’ feels elegiac. Then it merges into ‘As We Fight’, and Akinmusire’s single-note screams into the stratosphere coalesce into combination-punches of clean, bright power. The rhythm section roils beneath him, Brown creative in the spaces between Sam Harris’ less busy piano. Akinmusire’s alternation between post-bop blitzes and soulful introspection makes this the sort of night Ronnie’s was made for.

The 32-year-old Oaklander writes back-stories for his tunes, made explicit by vocalists including Cold Specks on his second Blue Note album, The Imagined Saviour Is Far Easier to Paint. The complexity of thought suggested by this process, and by such floridly poetic titles, can fill his records almost to bursting. Watching him live makes it plain how much he also belongs in the small-group lineage that began in Blue Note’s pomp, and a trumpeter-bandleader roll of honour reaching back even further.

A private, intuitive duet sometimes seems at work between Akinmusire and Brown, as when the trumpeter makes his runs keep pace with the drummer’s beats during ‘Vartha’, while Harish Raghavan’s double-bass weaves between them. ‘With Love’ sees Akinmusire roll his eyes before launching into rapid, flickering trills over the rhythm section’s buzzing backdrop. A week earlier, at Cheltenham, he paused between musical thoughts, of which he has more than most. Here, he surges through the gears.

The sell-out crowd is mostly young, suggesting Akinmusire is becoming a figurehead. He’s at his strongest when he is most simply emotional, though, and his tone touches that of Miles. ‘Regret (No More)’ is an almost solo blues, with just Harris’s piano in murmuring support. Akinmusire is hushed, breathy and melancholy. He inspects his trumpet between each sally, as the exposed heart of his playing draws you in. Later, Altura’s slow, lucidly reflective phrasing leads to another elegy from the trumpeter of long, low notes. At such moments, the air seems to clear and the surroundings fall away from his potency in the spotlight.

There’s excitement to match the quiet power. Akinmusire takes a little jump as he launches into ‘Milky Pete’, named after Altura’s favoured milk-and-vodka tipple (“quite disgusting,” the trumpeter shudders). Akinmusire starts more snatched and percussive, while Harris switches to keyboard to stab Morse-code riffs. Brown grits his teeth to soar into hard-smacking, kit-roaming overdrive, and his leader’s fingers blur as they almost strum the valves to keep up with the staccato funk.

They finish with a slurred, soft-stepping blues stroll, with Raghavan on slowly walking bass and the tune sliding, like this is the last jazz band on the Titanic’s tipping deck. After a long day when plane delays barely let them make this gig, they play way over time. They still leave you feeling there’s more to come.

– Nick Hasted

– Photo by Tim Dickeson

 

anoushka-lucasThe Love Supreme Jazz Festival is fast approaching – taking place in the idyllic setting of Glynde in the Sussex countryside from 4 to 6 July – and the closing date to enter the festival’s Discovery Competition is this coming weekend on 18 May. The winner will have the chance to perform on the same bill as the likes of Dave Holland’s Prism, Christian McBride Trio, John Scofield’s Überjam Band, Jamie Cullum, Laura Mvula, Gregory Porter and De La Soul. They will play twice over the weekend, opening the festival on 5 July 2014 before playing a later show on the Matua Sessions Stage, a new stage debuting at Love Supreme 2014.

Solo artists and bands can enter via the festival’s Facebook page here. Those wishing to enter should submit: a YouTube (or similar) link of one track being played live; a SoundCloud link of an audio file of the same or a different track to demonstrate a higher quality recording; and 300 word 'covering letter' telling the festival about the act. The closing date for submissions is 18 May 2014.

A shortlist of the best acts will be chosen by a panel consisting of Jazz FM, Serious and Incognito frontman Bluey with the final shortlist open to a public vote via Facebook from 25 May to 7 June 2014 with the winner announced on 9 June 2014.

Last year’s winner, singer Anoushka Lucas (pictured above), explained how performing at the festival helped her: “Winning the Love Supreme Discovery Competition was a huge breakthrough, giving me immediate press coverage, as well as having my winning song played on Jazz FM.”

For more info and tickets go to www.lovesupremefestival.com

 

Rising star, Belgian-born London-based jazz vocalist, Gabrielle Ducomble, whose repertoire ranges from contemporary jazz to French popular song, plays UK dates commencing in May to showcase her latest album, Notes from Paris which launched at London’s Pizza Express Jazz Club in February.

Ducomble’s band features guitarist Nicolas Meier, accordionist Dan Teper, double bassist Nick Kacal and drummer Saleen Raman, and their performances will include new arrangements of well-known French classics by Edith Piaf and Serge Gainsbourg.

Dates are: Wakefield Jazz at Wakefield Sports Club, Wakefield (30 May); Fleece Jazz, Suffolk (6 June); North Devon Jazz, Devon (16 June); St Ives Jazz Club, Cornwall (17 June) and Cleethorpes Jazz Festival, Cleethorpes (27 June).

– Gemma Boyd

 

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