Jazz continues to play a strong part in this year's Bath Festival programme, which runs from 19 to 28 May, with the theme of music and verse combining in various forms. Chief among the artists appearing is a rare UK outing for the much-feted Brad Mehldau Trio, featuring bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard (Assembly Rooms, 20 May) all fresh from the critical success that was their 2016 album, Blues and Ballads.
A jazz-informed tribute to the music of Bob Dylan is led by chanteuse Barb Jungr and fellow musicians Justin Adams, CN Lester and Sid Griffin alongside music writers David Hepworth, Dorian Lynskey and Hajar Woodland, and host Danny Kelly, for a diffuse look at Dylan's words and music (Forum, 20 May).
Further dates include rising-star violinist Alice Zawadzki in a trio with drummer/ pianist/producer Fred Thomas and emerging bass talent Misha Mullov-Abbado (Masonic Hall at Old Theatre Royal, 21 May); the eternally hip Georgie Fame backed by the Guy Barker Big Band (Forum, 22 May); a newly-created piece from Alex Webb entitled 'Stormy: The Life of Lena Horne', which celebrates the life and music of the singer through the multi-talents of vocalist and actress Camilla Beeput (Komedia, 24 May).
Two vocal-led performances complete the programme with popular US songstress Madeleine Peyroux performing music from her Secular Hymns album (Forum, 27 May) and the hugely entertaining a capella beat-box and instrumental imitators Naturally 7 (Komedia, 28 May) closing things out in emphatic style.
– Mike Flynn
For more info visit www.thebathfestival.org.uk
On an otherwise quiet Tuesday night in Central London, rising stars Henry Spencer and Juncture drew a sell-out crowd for the launch of their debut album. More than two years in the making, The Reasons Don't Change combines hard-driving 1950s-style jazz with the emotional punch of the Cinematic Orchestra.
Tonight the band seem to be enjoying their freedom from the constraints of the studio, giving themselves ample room for improvisation across two sets at Soho's Pizza Express Jazz Club. Spencer is a jovial and confidant host, gently mocking his bandmates between songs and directing them with the hand signals of a Wall Street trader. Switching between trumpet and flugelhorn, he specialises in simple, catchy motifs and mournful solos. At his most sombre on 'Joanne's Diary' and 'Hopeless Heartless', his group are always close behind, urging an emotional resolution, with blasting beats and loud, towering harmonies. This sense of camaraderie between the friends and Guildhall alumini often escalates the tension to hypnotic effect.
Central to the action, drummer David Ingamells impresses, whether he's barely hitting the kit or pounding through an all-out wall of rhythm. Pianist Matt Robinson gradually expands three-note melodies over guest guitarist Ant Law's single chord riffs with a rumbling energy that belies his calm, upright posture at the keys. And double bassist Andrew Robb shapes the drama with low-end hooks. Tucked in a corner, string ensemble the Guastalla Quartet add a symphonic quality to four of the band's compositions and premiere a short chamber piece by George Stevenson.
Throughout both sets, there is a keenness to reinterpret Spencer's work rather than simply playing through the songs on the record. The approach creates some of their finest moments, such as the closing number 'The Survivor and the Descendant', where the musicians give the reprise an avant-garde twist, thick with atonal squalls and clattering rhythms. A haze of noise around him, Spencer takes a swig of beer before firing a final series of drawn-out notes. An evening of resonant jazz dowsed in rock'n'roll fury.
– Edward Lander
Disciples of Bohren & der Club of Gore and John Zorn's lounge-loafing exoticas would be well-advised to check out the sultry sax and keys duo Georges Kaplan Presents... when they launch their 4 Card Trick EP, issued in collaboration with the Chaos Theory collective, during a live performance at New River Studios on Saturday 11 March.
– Spencer Grady
For more info visit www.georgeskaplanpresents.com
The grand setting of Blenheim Palace, in Woodstock, Oxfordshire, is to once again host the Nocturne series of summer concerts, this year's line-up featuring a starry triple bill of jazz-influenced singers Jamie Cullum, Gregory Porter and Corinne Bailey Rae on Saturday 17 June.
Cullum returns to the venue for the first time since his 2004 concert, which resulted in an acclaimed live DVD, while Porter returns fresh from a Grammy win for Best Jazz Vocal album for his latest long-player, Take Me to The Alley, and follows his double bill last year at Blenheim with Van Morrison.
Other Nocturne concerts so far announced include neo-classical pianist and composer Max Richter (16 June) and a double bill of Motown stars The Jacksons, plus soul funk icons Kool & The Gang (18 June).
– Mike Flynn
For more info visit www.nocturnelive.com
Following their much-celebrated stop-off at London's Cafe OTO this month, the legendary Art Ensemble Of Chicago has wasted no time in booking in for a swift return to the fashionable Dalston hotspot.
The same stellar line-up of Roscoe Mitchell, Don Moye, Hugh Ragin and Junius Paul will appear for their second OTO residency of the year between 15-17 October.
– Spencer Grady
– Photo by Roger Thomas
Get your golden tickets here www.cafeoto.co.uk/events/aeoc-three-night-residency