Tomorrow’s Warriors’ role as a springboard for emerging talent in Britain has long co-existed with an inventive take on the history of jazz. Tonight’s event is really a perfect illustration of as much. The support slot unveils a quartet of very impressive youngsters – pianist Sultan Stevenson, drummer Cassius Cobbson, bassist Menelik Claffey, alto-saxophonist Donovan Haffner – whose tender years belie their ability. Presenting original material that draws on the core vocabularies of swing and fusion they play a short but dynamic set, with a good balance between ensemble dynamics and solo improvisation, which bodes well for the production line of new musicians from the ever-expanding TW hothouse helmed by Gary Crosby and Janine Irons.

To a large extent the Nu Civilisation Orchestra is one of the most ambitious strands of its activity. The 14-piece unit duly upholds the legacy of the great big bands of which Duke Ellington’s remains a paragon, but it makes an astute foray into the world of 1970s electric fusion by celebrating the songbook of the feted CTI label. Crucially, the NCO has strings as well as horns and rhythm section to convincingly produce the all important sheen and silkiness that characterised the many scores written by Don Sebesky for George Benson, Randy Weston and Freddie Hubbard, among others.

Peter Edwards conducts engaging new arrangements, some courtesy of Ben Burrell. That said, the cohesion of the large amount of musicians on stage makes the venture come to life, as there is a clear understanding of the balance the original artists struck between funky accessibility and finely wrought artistry. Which means that, on one hand, there is a sensitive touch in the rendition of Weston’s quite gorgeous ‘Ifrane’ and, on the other, a crisp attack on Grover Washington’s ‘Mister Magic’ that is enhanced by a vocal from Cherise Adams-Burnet. Guitarist Shirley Tetteh, trombonist Rosie Turton, trumpeter Ife Ogunjobi and bassist Jay Darwish all provide excellent solos, but it is really the melodies and grooves, having made such an impact on the rare groove and hip-hop scenes, which stand tall. If the evening opened on a high with Deodato’s ‘2001’ it didn’t come down on the closer, Hubbard’s ‘Red Clay’. It was recorded in the 1970s, sampled in the 1990s and is still rocking in the millennium.

Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo © Carl Hyde

 

 RAM Hamish

There are some people, who I've never understood, who smirk at the mention of Steely Dan. "Oh," they say, "that's for people who like clever-clever chord changes, session musician name-dropping and impenetrable lyrics." So, the news that the Royal Academy Big Band was lined up to honour the 40th birthday of the classic album Aja (two years too late, by my calculations) may have caused this misguided segment of society to roll their eyes: "Of course, the Academy, the conservatoire... not exactly rock'n'roll is it." And, indeed, as the young big band assumed their places on stage they had an air of academic excellence about them, the trombone section resembling a particularly brilliant team off University Challenge.

But anyone with such suspect views would have been won over as soon as this magnificently talented unit kicked into 'Babylon Sisters', one of the greatest songs of the 20th century, no debate. With Hamish Stuart, the founder of the Average White Band no less, so comfortably stepping into the hard-to-fill shoes of Donald Fagen, the evening proved a revelation. I've never wanted to hear anyone but Fagen sing these sacred tracks, but Stuart met the challenge full on, bringing plenty of Fagen’s idiosyncratic slurring and whining, while adding his own phrasing and inflections to great effect. A trio of young singers complemented him impeccably: led by Sumudu Jayatilaka, often seen in Van Morrison's touring band, they clearly enjoyed delivering the sassy backing lines so important to the Dan thing – "so outrageous" ('Black Cow'); "you gotta shake it baby" ('Babylon Sisters'); "go to Las Vegas" (or is it "lost wages"?) ('Show Biz Kids') and "the girls don’t seem to care" ('FM').

This was largely the project of trumpeter and composer Reuben Fowler, who took on purely a conducting role. His arrangements proved a total success, never obscuring or competing with the essence of the music, a clever balancing act; with many twists and turns echoing some of the live renditions heard on Steely Dan gigs since the band resumed touring back in the mid-1990s. Given the harmonic possibilities embedded in this music, ‘over-arranging’ may have been a problem in some hands, but not here. It would be easy to see Tom Scott himself (horn arranger on Aja) applauding these luscious, imaginative charts, in which Gareth Lockrane’s flute and piccolo was often prominent in the voicings.

It’s far from the first time that Dan tunes have been heard in a big-band setting: in 1978 the Woody Herman band, in a collaboration with Chick Corea, released a really interesting album including 'Green Earrings', 'Aja', 'Kid Charlemagne' and 'FM'. Tom Scott was part of the sax section, alongside Joe Lovano, Gary Anderson and Frank Tiberi; Victor Feldman played keys along with Pat Coil and handled some of the arrangements with Alan Broadbent. And, only last month, drummer Jeremy Stacey took his outstanding Steely Dan big-band project to Ronnie Scott's, which also featured Sumudu. Fagen and guitarist Walter Becker were always jazzers in any case, often opening sets with bursts of Maynard Ferguson’s 'Fan it Janet' and performing their superb version of Duke Ellington's 'East St Louis Toodle-Oo'.

Possibly the most intricate, adventurous and challenging-to-play arrangement was for 'Gaslighting Abbie', an underrated tune from Two Against Nature that was given extra legs by Fowler, even featuring a cute scatting interlude.
There were more surprises in the song choices: 'Snowbound' from Fagen’s Kamakiriad album is a neglected gem, soulfully delivered here by Stuart. This was followed by 'Kulee Baba', an unreleased track from the Gaucho sessions with an intro reminiscent of Weather Report’s 'Birdland'.

The evening underlined just how extraordinary and timeless the Dan repertoire is; and how it connects through the generations. Amazingly talented young soloists like Alexander Bone (alto and soprano) and Harry Green paid homage to Pete Christlieb and Wayne Shorter respectively on 'FM' and 'Aja', and lovely guitar work on the latter did Denny Dias and Larry Carlton proud. And, yes, the Steve Gadd drum break was properly honoured.

For the encore we were treated to Stuart’s Average White Band classic 'Pick Up The Pieces'. At first the more straightahead in-yer-face funk was a refreshing change after the multilayered Dan chicanery, but this was the arrangement by the legendary Arif Mardin and soon, with clever breakdowns, beautiful wide voicings, trumpet battle and the like we were back in Dan territory.

Fagen’s in town next month on yet another Dan tour. There’s no doubt he would have fully appreciated Fowler’s arrangements and the Academy band. But maybe his Dan partner, Becker, who passed away last year, was a presence – and looking down with interest and pride.

Adam McCulloch (@mccullocha)

The second edition of Love Supreme at the Roundhouse takes place on Saturday 13 April and packs in a huge variety of jazz, soul, funk and electronica artists across multiple stages around the iconic venue. With main stage headliners including Mercury-nominated, MOBO-winning jazz-influenced vocalist Laura Mvula; fast-rising fusion-groove keyboardist Kamaal Williams; Pete Wareham’s fiery Afro-punk-jazz band Melt Yourself Down and soul-jazz singer Judi Jackson, this second instalment also features a vibrant cutting-edge line-up on the Jazz in the Round and Supreme Standards stages.

Artists confirmed for Jazz In The Round (who also host a monthly triple-bill at the Cockpit Theatre in Marylebone) include exciting Led Bib bassist Liran Donin’s acclaimed solo project 1000 Boats, plus appearances by spiritual jazz harpist Alina Bzhezhinska Hip Harp Collective, stunning solo vocal looper Randolph Matthews and hotly tipped latin-jazz-bop sextet Hexagonal. The Supreme Standards stage hosts emerging names such as French producer and DJ Neue Grafik, soulful Manchester rapper Layfullstop, French-Caribbean trio Dowdelin, and South East London duo Bad Honey. Running from 3pm until late, the programme will also include film screenings, Q&As and DJ sets.

The main Love Supreme Jazz Festival runs from 5 to 7 July in Glynde, East Sussex. Former Fugees vocal star Lauryn Hill is the latest artists to be added to the Mainstage programme, with other names announced so far including Snarky Puppy, Chick Corea’s Spanish Heart Band, Jamie Cullum, Gladys Knight, Kamaal Williams and Madeleine Peyroux. Jazzwise is media partner for the festival.

Mike Flynn

For more info and tickets visit www.lovesupremefestival.com/tickets

The prolific French film composer and pianist Michel Legrand was one of a select band – think fellow-pianist Dudley Moore, for example – whose prowess in parallel fields masks their relevance as a practicing jazz musician. Legrand, who died in Paris on 26 January aged 86, wrote over 200 film and TV scores, many jazz-tinged, and a host of songs that have endured, garnering him three Oscars and awards aplenty along the way. Legrand’s father Raymond was a noted conductor and his older sister Christian Legrand, who died in 2011, performed with the Double Six and the Swingle Singers and Legrand himself studied with Nadia Boulanger at the Paris Conservatoire, becoming a commercial arranger at the age of 20.

Having gained considerable success as a composer and songwriter, Legrand travelled to New York in June 1958 to record his brilliant recastings of familiar pieces issued as Legrand Jazz. Columbia paid for him to hire the best players of the day including Miles Davis, sublime on ‘’Round Midnight’, Phil Woods, John Coltrane, Bill Evans and Ben Webster (sensuous on ‘Nuages’), the results cited by many critics as of five-star quality. Ten years later, he recorded as a trio leader at Shelly’s Manne Hole in Los Angeles, his style owing much to Oscar Peterson, with bassist Ray Brown and Manne on drums. There were further collaborations with key US and French musicians, including albums written for Stan Getz and Sarah Vaughan; I recall a marvellous evening at the Petit Opportun club in Paris when he unleashed his (occasional) big band, packed with star French players, fronting but never dominating a glorious set of performances.

While press comments and his detailed obituaries will concentrate on his extraordinary success as a movie composer and writer of songs, these including ‘The Windmills of Your Mind’ from The Thomas Crowne Affair, his jazz credentials should not be understated. Seldom heard in Britain – there was a trio tour in 1979 with Pierre Michelot on bass – he had planned his ‘good final chapter’ to include a concert in London. Not anymore.

 – Peter Vacher

trigan hamasyan trio 003 olivier lestoquoit

The Brussels Jazz Festival is a relative newcomer, but this ambitious 10-dayer managed to sell out around two thirds of its gigs, and was the most successful edition in terms of overall attendance. Concerts are held in the two main studios of Flagey, a 1930s Art Deco radio broadcasting complex in the Ixelles area, just south of the city centre. It was saved from demolition in the late-1990s, and lovingly preserved for reopening as a cultural centre in 2002. For six of the nights, there were also late party sets in the Flagey foyer bar area, packed with standing crowds.

Each BJF involves a collaboration with the Brussels Philharmonic, usually having a piano bias. This year was no exception, as Tigran Hamasyan (pictured) and his trio performed original works, elaborately expanded for orchestra. During the last few years, Hamasyan has disappointed with the overly introverted nature of his solo gigs, but this showing was one of the best that your scribe has witnessed, along with his early performances with an increased electronic input. Last year, the Philharmonic got extreme with Uri Caine, but in 2019, classicist grandeur was called for, or sometimes, soft, spiritualised sensitivity.

Director Alexander Hanson has a rapport with other musics, and an empathy with his guest artists, conducting large forces with exact judgement. The audience were ecstatic, and Hamasyan was inspired to visibly give his all, in the name of extroverted expression, standing up in legs-apart Jerry Lee Lewis fashion, or hanging his head with willow sadness over tear-stained keys. Armenian folk tradition was at the root, and sometimes even the Armenian blues, with ‘Markos And Markos’, then ‘Lilac’. Sometimes, Hamasyan slipped into gentle singing, and then, towards the end of the evening, whistling, along with the orchestral ranks.

The festival’s artist-in-residence was multi-instrumentalist Nathan Daems, who was involved with three of the late foyer sets, clearly the optimum time for his groove-steeped sounds. Daems is best known for Black Flower, who delivered their expected heavy miasma cobra-sway, but Daems also appeared in duo with Dijf Sanders (that’s Dave in Dutch!), who operates in the deep sampling/retro keys zone, migrating to an unknown island paradise that could be Java, in an alternative musical reality. Forest aura prickled, amid an avalanche of tumbling, sampled percussion, with flute and reed-flute topping. An anthemic slowie emerged, with Daems switching to tenor saxophone, a kind of Indonesian harpsichord vibe developing, with a soft metronomic plunk. The Sanders equipment looked very much like a lounge organ from the 1970s. By the third number, the palette had become alarmingly unusual, perhaps best described as Flemish orientalist-exotica, becoming a treacly gamelan dub, cheapo beats augmented by fruity organ and bleating tenor. “Thank you for keeping your distance,” Sanders quipped, observing the audience.

echoesofzoo 07 olivier lestoquoit

The next night, Echoes Of Zoo (pictured above) took similar musical forms, but shoved in a more aggressive direction, via Bart Vervaeck’s serrated electric guitar, Daems initially rapping a small, slender drum, before belting on his tenor saxophone for a gutsier outlet, practiced at making his horn sound like a shawm. An Eastern headbang ensued, with drummer Falk Schrauwen’s skins contrarily muted flat, avoiding that big Bonham boom.

In the medium-sized Studio 1, local pianist Martin Salemi led his trio, concentrating on a quieter aspect of his range. Just over a week earlier, your scribe had caught him playing an outstanding set in quintet mode at The Music Village, one of the city’s best jazz clubs. The presence of bass clarinet and electric guitar took that music in a more turbulent direction. Strangely, though, the best number of this festival set was the penultimate ‘Early Morning’, delightfully delicate, with a haunting melody.

Martin Longley
Photos by Olivier Lestoquoit/Brussels Jazz Festival

Page 5 of 266

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

Mark Nightingale's Big Band Go Large At …

  Trombonist Mark Nightingale is the most accommodating of virtuosi. He’ll...

Read More.....

Open letter leads protest at cuts to Rad…

Over 500 leading musicians from across the jazz, folk and...

Read More.....

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival director’s ‘…

The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden...

Read More.....

George Coleman, Jimmy Owens and Frank Lo…

The Annual SAM Benefit concert will be held on 13 April...

Read More.....

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Makaya McCraven …

The first names have been unveiled for this year’s EFG...

Read More.....

Turville's Quintet Dare To Dream At Brig…

This is the last show in the tour and there’s...

Read More.....

Durrant At The Double With Duo Of Improv…

Phil Durrant and Martin Vishnick (pictured) launch, Rifinitori di Momenti, their forthcoming...

Read More.....

GoGo Penguin, SEED Ensemble and Marquis …

The wider jazz programme for this year’s Love Supreme Jazz...

Read More.....

Branford Marsalis Quartet Muster Technic…

  Bookended by a short opening solo piano set from Nikki...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy announce Royal Albert Hall …

Grammy-winning powerhouse group Snarky Puppy are gearing up for a...

Read More.....

Waithe On Song At Huntley Conference

  Along with Allison & Busby and New Beacon, Bogle L’Ouverture...

Read More.....

Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Fes…

The inaugural Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Festival – a...

Read More.....

Saxophonist Seamus Blake launches new al…

Acclaimed saxophonist Seamus Blake releases his new album, Guardians of...

Read More.....

Taborn's Finessed Tapestry Of Textures F…

  The large number of musicians at this sold-out show says...

Read More.....

Abdullah Ibrahim, Gregory Porter, Yazz A…

The full line-up has been announced for Cheltenham Jazz Festival...

Read More.....

Irreversible Entanglements + Matana Robe…

  Matana Roberts (above) is so relaxed tonight her short opening set...

Read More.....

Jazz FM Awards nominations celebrate gia…

The names for the 2019 Jazz FM Awards were revealed...

Read More.....

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra premiere ‘Badge…

The London-based 17-piece Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are set to release...

Read More.....

NJYO, JCM, friends and family pay tribut…

As Jon Hiseman would say: “If you are going to...

Read More.....

Sons of Kemet, Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia …

The programme has been announced the inaugural We Out Here...

Read More.....

NCO hit bullseye with CTI at Ronnie Scot…

Tomorrow’s Warriors’ role as a springboard for emerging talent in...

Read More.....

Countdown To Ecstasy: Royal Academy Big …

  There are some people, who I've never understood, who smirk...

Read More.....

Melt Yourself Down, Laura Mvula and Kama…

The second edition of Love Supreme at the Roundhouse takes...

Read More.....

Michel Legrand 24/02/1932 – 26/01/2019

The prolific French film composer and pianist Michel Legrand was...

Read More.....

Hamasyan In Inspired Orchestral Manoeuvr…

The Brussels Jazz Festival is a relative newcomer, but this...

Read More.....

Zara McFarlane and Soweto Kinch turn up …

The night goes on and they keep on coming, a...

Read More.....

Jazz meets theatrical protest with The A…

Few styles of music can claim to have come as...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy return with new album Immig…

Grammy-winning groove crew Snarky Puppy return with a new studio...

Read More.....

Blue Note spearheads 80th Anniversary Ye…

The iconic Blue Note label will celebrate its milestone 80th...

Read More.....

John Turville dives in Head First – new …

Pianist and composer John Turville returns with a new album...

Read More.....

Uri Caine and Henri Texier dazzle while …

Jazzfestival Münster is celebrating its 40th anniversary, but has only...

Read More.....

Ezra Collective bring the Brit-Jazz Nois…

Much like in other recent editions of New York's Winter...

Read More.....

Yazz Ahmed and Jasper Høiby line-up for …

For some there is a Holy Grail in jazz: to...

Read More.....

Matthew Herbert marks Brexit with Big Ba…

Composer, conductor and sampling-supremo Matthew Herbert is set to release...

Read More.....

Joseph Jarman 14/09/37 – 9/01/19

  The recitation of 'Non-Cognitive Aspects Of The City' by Dante...

Read More.....

Wandering Monster step up with 'Samsara…

Bass-led progressive jazz group Wandering Monster are set to release...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

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

@profound_lore excited about this
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@KirkdaleBooks that's not Pavel Nedved?
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

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