Franklin

As far as monikers go, 'Lady Soul' may well have proved a heavy load to bear for many artists. Yet Aretha Franklin, who has died at the age of 76, became the unimpeachable incumbent, the absolute personification of the genre of music that flowered from black America and grew around the whole world.

As the daughter of a Baptist preacher from Memphis, Tennessee Franklin, who grew up singing in church, had credentials others could only dream of, and her great ability to recast the ecstatic, electric energy of gospel in a secular setting, following in the footsteps of one of her sources of inspiration, Ray Charles, produced a fine body of work. The albums she cut for Atlantic between the mid-1960s and late 1970s included such gems as I Never Loved A Man The Way I Loved You, Spirit In The Dark and Young, Gifted & Black. Franklin's ability to phrase inventively, nuance her timbre and choose exactly the right moment to ratchet up her attack made memorable performances of songs such as 'Respect', 'Chain Of Fools' and 'Say A Little Prayer For You.' Her collaborations with the house bands from Muscle Shoals and Atlantic records, helmed by the great King Curtis, rank among some of the greatest in the entire history of popular music.

Having said that, she never completely discarded her gospel roots and the brilliant live album Amazing Grace became one of the biggest sellers of her career. Yet Franklin's early work as a jazz singer – she was signed to Columbia – is not to be dismissed and renditions of standards such as 'God Bless The Child', 'Skylark' and 'Misty' serve notice of her subtleties, as well as her power. Franklin continued to record up until last year, but her work was relatively inconsistent. One of her last musical golden periods was actually the early 1980s when she was produced by Luther Vandross and Marcus Miller. Two fine albums, Jump To It and Get It Right, underlined her place as a strong black woman fully deserving of all her propers in a world still marked by inequality.

Kevin Le Gendre

A-Great-day-In-Harlem

Photographer Art Kane's legendary jazz photograph 'Harlem – 1958', commonly known as 'A Great Day in Harlem', celebrates its 60th anniversary on 12 August and is the subject of new book, Art Kane: Harlem 1968, to be published in November.

In 1958, Kane pitched Esquire magazine with the idea of a photo shoot gathering together as many New York-based jazz musicians as possible. Esquire took the plunge and Kane put the word out to the jazz community via record labels, managers, agents and clubs to meet on 12 August outside a Brownstone house at 17 East 126th Street between Fifth and Madison Avenues in Harlem at 10am, a time of day not that familiar to many night-owl jazz players.

Come the day, 57 musicians turned up, including big rollers such as Thelonious Monk, Charles Mingus, Count Basie, Sonny Rollins, Lester Young, Art Blakey, Horace Silver, Dizzy Gillespie, Coleman Hawkins and Pee Wee Russell to then up-and-coming names, Benny Golson, Marion MacPartland, Mary Lou Williams and Art Farmer. Some local children also blagged their way into the frame, Kane got his shot and the photo was published in Esquire's Golden Age of Jazz special issue in January 1959, subsequently becoming one of the most iconic photos in jazz history. Thankfully, the Brownstone house has survived the gentrification of the area over recent decades, though a large number of the musicians and Art Kane are long passed.

"There was going to be an unusual shooting of a photograph for Esquire magazine and I was going to be part of it." said Benny Golson. "I couldn't believe it! Nobody really knew me that early in my career. But zippo, I was there on the intended date. When I arrived, there were all of my heroes."

The book, Art Kane: Harlem 1958, is published by Wall of Sound Editions on 1 November 2018 and tells the story behind the photo together with outtake images from the shoot, as well as many of Kane's jazz portraits from the period, and includes Kane's original text, an introduction by his son Jonathan Kane and forwards by Quincy Jones and Benny Golson.

Jon Newey

Soweto Kinch's free one-day arts festival, The Flyover Show, returns on Saturday 18 August, 12.30pm- 9pm, at Hockley Flyover Underpass, Birmingham.

Founded by the acclaimed saxophonist, MC and BBC presenter, the event is set in the Hockley underpass in the heart of inner city Birmingham. The event has regularly featured many emerging and established artists with previous events featuring performances by Goldie, Maxi Priest, Ms Dynamite and Jamaican jazz guitar legend Ernest Ranglin.

Two fast rising female stars will appear this year in the form of award-winning singer songwriters Zara McFarlane and Ayanna Witter Johnson, as well as Kinch himself, all performing for the 6,000-strong crowd expected to attend the show. Multiple arts activities will also take place throughout the day with graffiti artists, performance poets and street dance crews scattered throughout the performance space. As Kinch states about the event: "Flyover Show breaks down [the] constraints of race, culture and class, bringing world-renowned acts right into the heart of our community."

Hockley is a deliberate choice of location, as an area often branded as rife with gun crime and racial tension. Kinch's response is to reframe these preconceptions to transform it into a place known for promoting creative opportunity and expression.

Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.facebook.com/TheFlyoverShow

In a week of outstanding musical offerings in Sligo, perhaps the apogee was Malcolm Edmonstone's arrangement of Donald Fagan's solo album The Nightfly, with a cracking big band rocking the audience. 'I.G.Y. (What a Beautiful World)' was a fitting anthem for the concert.
Opening the festival, vocalists Liane Carroll, Sara Colman, Emilia Mårtensson, trombonist Shannon Barnett, saxophonist Meilana Gillard joined Edmonstone (piano), John Goldsby (bass) and David Lyttle (drums), pumping fresh life into standards such as 'Honeysuckle Rose', the folk tune 'Never Will I Marry', an original in 9/8 time and Sara and Malcolm's moving version of James Taylor's 'Fire and Rain'.

On a subsequent night, electric bassists Federico Malaman and Henrik Linder, with Nicolas Viccaro (drums) and Scott Flanigan (piano), displayed outrageous technical proficiency and brilliant musicality, including funky versions of 'Little Sunflower', 'Giant Steps' and a tune whimsically referred to as a ballad...that was anything but!

After the electrifying first half, came a band described on their Facebook page as "neo-acoustic Celtic post-rock". Very capable musicians, the Olllam left me unmoved. Putting a snare/bass drumbeat against traditional Irish instrumentation has been done to much better effect elsewhere. The audience loved it, though.

The surprise concert of the week was Goldenhair, renowned Irish film composer Brian Byrne's response to a short book of poetry by James Joyce. Great, almost operatic arrangements laid the ground for wonderful piano work by the composer, with powerful vocals by William Byrne, Lucia Evans and the ever-wonderful Carroll. The band were terrific on 'Go Seek Her Out' and a barnstorming 'Why Have You Left Me Alone', based on a W.B. Yeats masterpiece. A funky 12/8 rendition of 'The Kiss She Gave to Me' closed another night of great music making.

The final concert by a faculty of towering international musicians meant that the title 'SJP All Stars', is a description without hubris. Ranging from duos to big band, the concert closed by reprising 'I.G.Y.' as our earworm for the following days.

– John Philip Murray

 WEB-ThorEgilLeirtr-MariaSchneider-3-

Molde might be a small coastal town in western Norway, but it has multi-storey cruise ships arriving each day, preparing for fjord explorations. Its modern shopping streets are bordered by slopes full of quaint wooden houses, and there's also a surrounding scenic abundance of small islands and large mountains. All is perpetually lit by the midnight sun. Molde is also significant for hosting one of the world's oldest jazz festivals, running since 1961. All of its gigs are within easy walking distance, ranging from open-air park locations to the intimate Storyville Jazz Club, located in the Plassen cultural centre, which also boasts a medium-sized theatre. Over six days, the calendar was full (but not overly so) with big name Americans, set beside a roster of frequently more alternative Norwegian artists.

Composer Maria Schneider was this year's artist-in-residence, leaving behind her Stateside orchestra and working with Ensemble Denada from Oslo. Many of her works became darker and deeper, assisted by a stage-spanning video backdrop, populated by real-time close-ups of soloing players. Subtle electronic washes infiltrated, and her newer piece 'Data Lords' took on a dramatically mysterious hue, with Schneider appearing possessed by the doomy accumulations of Denada. This continued into the premiere live performance of 'Sue (Or In A Season Of Crime)', with guesting saxophone cohort Donny McCaslin and his current vocalist Jeff Taylor. This piece from David Bowie's Blackstar continued the brooding vein of narrative noir jazz.

WEB-MIJF2018 DonnyMcCaslin byOleBjornSteinsvik- K0A9784

The following night saw McCaslin's own band (pictured above) pin our tender bodies to the walls of Storyville, as the quirky Taylor provided vocals on a fresh songbook, inbetween extensive freak-outs from Jason Lindner's corner of extreme electro-blanketed keyboards, as he shifted from acoustic piano purity to knob-twiddling bleeds. This band strides higher every time, and is lately operating at peak power, with drummer Nate Wood's whipping funk scatters and bassist Jonathan Maron's dense low-matter suspensions. The leader stalked the stage, striking stick insect poses as he urged his combo on by blowing directly in each player's direction, as a form of conduction. McCaslin's own windswept solos were loaded with reverb-expansion. The band climaxed with more Bowie, ending with that Lodger's lesser-heard 'Look Back In Anger', in a singalong and soloing extravaganza, this outfit now operating on a gigantic, authoritative scale.

Two nights later, the Norwegian drummer Paal Nilssen-Love presented his Extra Large Unit, enlarging an already sprawling crew. An extraordinary fusion emerged from the anticipated abstract extremity, with a pair of guesting Brazilian percussionists, a sextet of Ethiopian singers, dancers and instrumentalists, as well as troublemaking guitarist Terrie Ex, from the Dutch angular rock outfit The Ex. Perhaps surprisingly, this mega-orchestra managed to jump-cut between its chosen forms, highlighting the affinity between rampant noise and ritualised groove. The combination was stunning, with the Ethiopians eager to head for the extremes, and the Norwegians enjoying a previously unheard rhythmic propulsiveness. It was surely the best Ethio-free-Nordic-Brazilian freak-out in the world, beginning at 12.50am and hurtling way past 2am, with zero dawdling on the way.

As it fast approaches 60, the Moldejazz festival presented one of its strongest Stateside line-ups in recent memory, but its European part of the programme (mostly Norwegian artists) included much music that thrilled via a precarious relationship with expectation, delivering the element of intensified surprise.

Martin Longley
– Photos by Thor Egil Leirtrø (Maria Schneider/Ensemble Denada) and Ole Bjørn Steinsvik (Donny McCaslin) 

Page 5 of 247

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