Watermill

Trombonist Mark Nightingale is the most accommodating of virtuosi. He’ll turn up in any number of situations: small jazz groups, big bands, commercial orchestras, and everywhere he goes he gives his all. Here though, he was the master of all he surveyed: a big band stuffed to the gunnels with crack players in front of a house-full audience and performing a programme that was entirely his own. Every piece was composed or arranged by him and at its core, a special commission to celebrate Watermill’s 25th anniversary as Dorking's premier week-in, week-out jazz club.

First though, there was the opening salvo of cleverly devised originals and standards, Nightingale’s re-working of Pat Metheny’s ‘Timeline’ revealing his gift for smart patterns and sudden trumpet flourishes, with a rumbustious solo from tenorist Paul Booth. ‘But Not for Me’ opened with, what else, a trombone chorale before the groove built by drummer Matt Skelton’s morphed into three-flute softness ahead of Nightingale’s robust theme statement and some swinging brass mayhem. Trumpeter Martin Shaw dusted down his flugelhorn for ‘Just Once More’, a pretty ballad feature ahead of ‘A Gentle Man’, a medium tempo exercise originally conceived for a student big band and here adorned by another peachy trombone chorale with more from Booth and Shaw. Juan Tizol’s ‘Caravan’ closed the first half via an array of soloists: altoist Sammy Mayne, baritone man Martin Williams, tenorist Graeme Blevins and trombonist Richard Edwards, their efforts book-ended by a wonderful sax soli sparked by Andy Panayi’s soprano as the icing on this particular cake.

Nightingale’s re-run of Jerome Kern’s ‘Nobody Else But Me’ allowed Panayi to excel on alto followed by a new commission based on Frank Rosolino’s version of ‘Don’t Take Your Love From Me’, with an a cappella trombone chorale for starters, yet more in-and-out complexity from the sax section and Nightingale unleashing his inner-tearaway in blistering fashion. He introduced the much-awaited Dorking commission as ‘Silver Samba’, explaining it as a series of juxtapositions of the notes A and G which handily combine to represent silver in the Periodic Table of Elements. The result was a jubilant and wholly celebratory piece, jaunty and fast-moving with Andy Wood’s fervent trombone and Panayi's flute as the principal solo adornments. Smiles all round.

Closing with a serene chart on ''Round Midnight, voiced by four clarinets and bass-clarinet and then a two-tier tribute to the late Urbie Green, one part pretty ballad, the other totally ‘raunchy’, Mark’s word for it, and a final surprise with veteran trombonist Cliff Hardie emerging from the audience to vocalise affectingly on Mark’s version of ‘The Summer Wind’. Big day, big band, big outcomes: Watermill overjoyed.

Peter Vacher
– Photo by Brian O'Connor

Over 500 leading musicians from across the jazz, folk and electronic scenes have signed an open letter to The Guardian in protest at recently announced cuts to specialist programming on BBC Radio 3. The changes to the schedule were announced in early March and include the “resting” of Jazz Now (which has been on-air just under three years) and Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz, while the genre-hopping Music Planet moves to a midnight slot. But it is the reduction of vital crossover/experimental show Late Junction, from three nightly slots a week to just one, that’s particularly angered many musicians and music fans.

Former Mercury Prize judge/broadcaster Jude Rogers and Luke Turner, founder of online music magazine The Quietus, coordinated the open letter to Radio 3 controller Alan Davey, questioning the decision to drastically reduce the station’s niche music programmes, which goes against the grain of its public services commitments. High-profile musicians who have signed the letter include Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Norma Waterson, Shirley Collins, Tommy Smith OBE, Orphy Robinson MBE, Claire Martin OBE, Cleveland Watkiss MBE, Shabaka Hutchings, Nikki Yeoh, Dennis Rollins, Elliot Galvin and many more.

An online petition has been started to stop the cuts to Late Junction – click here to sign

Mike Flynn

 

The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden departure of Sinéad Dunphy (pictured), director of Cork’s Guinness Jazz Festival. Barely into the second year of what was announced as a three-year rolling contract, Dunphy was dismissed for reasons unexplained. An unsigned press release from Diageo, the company that owns Guinness (sponsors of the festival for nearly 40 years), thanks her for her contribution and says: “We wish to maintain the momentum achieved over the past number of years to deliver another great event this October”, without giving any details.

Dunphy received enthusiastic reviews (including from this magazine) for her 2018 festival, and noted that she not only succeeded artistically but delivered a profit. Her response now is, “I have been left with no option but to place the circumstances of my termination in the hands of my solicitors”, declining any public comment. Events company Verve Live Agency (no connection with the record label), which administers all of Diageo’s sponsorship contracts, merely stands behind the bland press release. The response of concerned musicians, including some who were in discussions about appearing in 2019, tends to assume that it’s all allegedly about money and, in this case, it seems they may well be right.

– Brian Priestley
– Photo by Miki Barlok

JimmyOwens DizzysClub

The Annual SAM Benefit concert will be held on 13 April at 5C Cafe in New York and will feature George Coleman, Jimmy Owens (pictured), Peter Bernstein, Scott Robinson, Frank London, Virginia Mayhew, Oscar Feldman and many more.

Special Audiences and Musicians, Inc. provides jazz performances in nursing homes, hospitals, assisted-living homes and other such institutions in New York and the Tri-State area. It employs musicians drawn from three under-represented groups; musicians with disabilities, senior musicians and women. The therapeutic, social and emotional benefits gained from live musical performances are well established. Utilising musician with disabilities, female musicians and senior musicians provides valuable professional performance opportunities to those under-represented musicians who have much to offer in terms of artistic expression.

Spencer Grady

Anyone interested in finding out more about SAM, Inc. can visit their website at www.specialaudiencesandmusicians.org 

The first names have been unveiled for this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs from 15 to 24 November. Taking place across stages at the Southbank and Barbican centres and at every major jazz venue and club in the capital, the festival is the second under the auspices of former Istanbul Jazz Festival programmer Pelin Opcin at Serious.

Chief among the artists announced is iconic Norwegian saxophonist, Jan Garbarek, at the Royal Festival Hall (above right, 17 Nov), with the latter venue also hosting the Jazz Voice opening-night gala concert (15 Nov). Other headliners include Dave Holland, Chris Potter and Zakir Hussain’s Indo-jazz supergroup, CrossCurrents (Cadogan Hall, 15 Nov), Grammy-winning singer Cécile McLorin Salvant (above left) with pianist Sullivan Fortner (Barbican, 16 Nov) and Nordic sax whirlwind Marius Neset performing music from his Viaduct project with the London Sinfonietta (QEH, 21 Nov). There’s also a live soundtrack for cult film Battleship Potemkin created and played by guitarist Matt Calvert (Three Trapped Tigers) and Jan Bang (Punkt) which is produced by Opera North (Kings Place Hall One, 23 Nov).

Further dates announced include bassist Lars Danielsson’s Group: Liberetto III at Wigmore Hall – with Grégory Privat, John Parricelli and Magnus Öström (19 Nov); an exciting Brazilian jazz double-bill of acclaimed pianist/singer Eliane Elias and guitarist Vinicius Cantuaria at Barbican (22 Nov); Chicagoan drum-don Makaya McCraven at Village Underground with support from trombonist Rosie Turton (above centre, 19 Nov); Swingin’ with Strings with singer Claire Martin and singer/pianist Iain Mackenzie (Cadogan Hall, 24 Nov) and a Jazz Generation collaboration between the BBC Concert Orchestra, Nu Civilisation Orchestra and award-winning bassist Misha Mullov Abbado at QEH (23 Nov). Renowned pianist Dan Tepfer performs his enthralling 'Natural Machines' AV show (Kıngs Place Hall One, 24 Nov) and Cuban jazz violinist Omar Puente presents ‘An Evening for Debbie’, with his new strings group Classico Latino Sextet, alongside solo and duo pieces, in memory of his late wife Debbie Purdy (Kings Place, 22 Nov). Jazzwise is media partner for the festival.

Mike Flynn

For more info and tickets visit www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

 

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