Airto IMG by-Carl-Hyde

No greater sign of changing times comes than in this declaration: "The last time we were here I couldn't see the audience through the smoke. After the gig I'd hang my clothes out of the hotel window!" So quips vocalist Diana Purim to a wry smile from her father, bandleader, and Brazilian percussion legend Airto Moreira. The heyday of his annual residencies at the club does indeed reach back to the avant-smoking ban era, when the word Brexit had yet to enter the toxic haze of national discourse.

The lengthy hiatus between those early Millennial appearances of Airto's much-loved band, Fourth World, and now also shows physically. The 76-year-old is a more frail figure, moving gingerly to the stage with a slight stoop and speaking with a softer voice as he settles down at his station, a large table on which are stacked woodblocks, cowbells, shakers and whistles, with a couple of tom-toms and cymbals flanking him for good measure. The other members of the sextet, of which guitarist Jose Neto, is easily recognisable with his white axe and black bandana, quickly take up position.

They all look to Airto for the green light. Instantly, he takes command, punctuating the beat of 'Alué', the title-track of his first album recorded in Brazil for five decades with the kind of pinball sharp drum-patterns that convey the irresistible dance at the heart of Afro-samba, which is the soul of his music. Airto brought this vocabulary to the prime movers of American jazz, from Miles Davis to George Duke and Chick Corea, to whose group Return to Forever he made a vital contribution, alongside his wife Flora Purim. His graduation to a recording artist in his own right was cemented throughout the 1970s by albums such as Free, Fingers and Touching You...Touching Me. In other words, Airto has a vast repertoire on which to draw, and the songs in the first part of the set, particularly the gorgeous 'Misturada', stand up as real anthems insofar as they have a melodic richness to match the rhythmic intricacy associated with Latin music. Airto is playing a little less vigorously than in times passed, but that simply brings to attention the idiosyncrasy of his voice, a nasal, grainy timbre which he uses powerfully in wah-wah phrases and scat lines, to strengthen the percussive drive of the arrangements, and also heats to an impassioned scream that blends effectively with the higher pitches of saxophonist-flautist Vitor Alcantara.

Airto-band-Carl-Hyde

Drummer Carlos Ezequiel, bassist Sizao Machado and pianist-keyboardist Fabio Leandro form a nucleus that is strong and steady as the solos start to unfurl, particularly Neto's, which climaxes in hyperventilating, treble-time growls. Yet Airto's showpiece moment, where he stands alone on stage with just his pandheiro (tambourine) is still a roof-raiser. With brilliant dexterity he brings out bass and treble in the little instrument to evoke an earth tremor batucada, while his vocal chants are those of a man who understands that the carnival culture he embodies is one of liberation as well as exaltation. Fittingly, the set ends with the pulsating 'Tombo In 7/4', the celebration suite that made 1990s house music producers expose Moreira to worldwide audiences by way of the sample. The ecstatic reaction of the faithful here is a reminder that he is still an essential bridge between Africa, Europe and Brazil.

Kevin Le Gendre
Photos by Carl Hyde

The Harrogate International Festival, which has been running for over half a century, has a strong and eclectic line-up of jazz names all appearing within its splendid Spielgeltent venue as [art of the festival's music strand. Running from 29 June to 8 July in Harrogate's Crescent Gardens, the pop-up venue will host a wide range of UK and international jazz talent curated by MOBO-nominated singer-songwriter Ayanna Witter-Johnson (pictured), who'll also be performing a world premiere of a special commission (30 June).

Among the highlights will be fiery sax and drums duo Binker & Moses (2 July) who return with a storming live album, Alive In The East?, released on 22 June on Gearbox Records. Further concerts include the 1930-40s style swing of singer/guitarist Benoit Viellefon & His Hot Club (29 June); Dutch funk dynamos Tristan who blend acid jazz grooves with singer Evelyn Kallansee's soulful vocals (6 July) and award-winning bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado and his band performing music from their latest album Cross-Platform Interchange (8 July).

Mike Flynn

For full details visit www.harrogateinternationalfestivals.com

Voting is now open for the 2018 Parliamentary Jazz Awards, which will take place at PizzaExpress Live, Holborn in London on Tuesday 16 October 2018. Entries are open to anyone with the final deadline for entries set for 12noon on Wednesday 20 June 2018. The awards are organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), co-chaired by Kelvin Hopkins MP and Lord Colwyn, and supported by PizzaExpress Live.

Please note the criteria for the different categories as follows:

Jazz Album of the Year (released in 2017 by a UK band or musicians)

Services to Jazz Award (to a living person for their outstanding contribution to jazz in the UK)

Jazz Newcomer of the Year (UK-based artist, musician or group with a debut album released in 2017)

Jazz Education Award (to an educator or project for raising the standard of jazz education in the UK)

Jazz Media Award (including broadcasters, journalists, magazines, blogs, listings and books)

Jazz Venue of the Year (including jazz clubs, venues, festivals and promoters)

Jazz Ensemble of the Year (UK-based group who impressed in 2017)

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year (UK-based musician who impressed in 2017)

Jazz Vocalist of the Year (UK-based vocalist who impressed in 2017

To cast your votes visit Public Nominations Parliamentary Jazz Awards 2018

A previously unreleased session by the classic John Coltrane Quartet, Both Directions At Once – The Lost Album, recorded in March 1963, is to be released by Impulse! records on 29 June with the full co-operation of the Coltrane Estate.The album, featuring Coltrane on tenor and soprano, pianist McCoy Tyner, bassist Jimmy Garrison and drummer Elvin Jones, contains seven tracks including 'Nature Boy', 'Impressions', 'One Up, One Down', 'Vilia', 'Slow Blues' and two untitled originals, both of which are new Coltrane compositions.

The session, was tracked at Rudy Van Gelder's studio in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey with producer Bob Thiele on 6 March 1963, the day before the John Coltrane and Johnny Hartman album recording sessions took place at the same studio. Coltrane had taken a ¼-inch reference tape home to listen to and subsequently the studio's multi-track master tapes were lost. The recordings were made at a pivotal point for the quartet as they came right off the back of a two-week engagement at New York's Birdland club, where Miles Davis had been in the audience, and were starting to push in new directions. While previously unreleased live concert recordings of Coltrane have been released over the past two decades on a variety of labels, unissued Impulse! label studio sessions are rare and, along with the studio outtakes and Coltrane Mono reference masters that appeared on 2015's A Love Supreme:The Complete Masters, this is the first time in years that an unissued quartet studio session will be released.

Curiously while the record company press release claims this session was unknown about until 2004 and unheard until now, it was in fact previously listed in the sessions referred to in the sleeve note of Impulse!'s 1998 CD box set, The Classic Quartet – Complete Impulse! Studio Recordings, which also featured the track 'Vilia', a Coltrane arrangement of a theme from Franz Lehar's operatta, The Merry Widow. 'Vilia' had originally appeared on an Impulse! Sampler LP in 1965, The Definitive Jazz Scene Volume 3, as well as a bonus cut on the Impulse! CD Live At Birdland reissue from 1995. This new album was given a press launch in early May at the Van Gelder studio with McCoy Tyner and Ravi Coltrane in attendance.

Jon Newey

See the July Issue of Jazzwise for the full story on this album – subscribe now to get your copy

 Trumpet

This venue has deep historical resonance for black music in Britain. It has been a nerve centre for community activism in the West Indian community, a hub for the Notting Hill carnival, a fact denoted by a large plaque dedicated to Claudia Jones, one of its co-founders, and a forum for black culture and politics in general. All of which is duly reflected by the on-stage repartee of the America-based Trinidadian trumpeter-vocalist-percussionist Etienne Charles. His introduction to every piece is bolstered by anecdotes that charm and shock in equal measure. Before playing one of the highlights of the gig, 'Speed City', Charles draws attention to the picture in the corridor of John Carlos and Tommie Smith, the two African-American sprinters banned for making the Black Power salute at the 1968 Olympics, and points out that the over-achieving Athletics Department in San Jose they represented was also shut down by way of sanction. The song has an appropriately high tempo, a rhythmic synthesis of funk and house, and a stinging theme from which Charles and tenor saxophonist Chelsea Carmichael draw punchy, pugnacious solos, creating a blend of defiance and celebration that galvanizes a thoroughly responsive audience.

Taken from Charles' current album, The San Jose Suite, the song is a leitmotif for his artistic identity, insofar as it casts astute composing and arranging against a political backdrop that could not be more relevant to the times in which we live. Without missing a beat Charles calls out the Windrush scandal and leads the band in a spirited rendition of 'My Landlady', a biting observation on the bitter realities of housing for blacks in post-war Britain by Lord Kitchener, one of the defining figures of calypso, from whom Charles draws great inspiration. Since his 2009 debut, Folklore, he has been one of the most progressive of contemporary Caribbean musicians, primarily because of his deep immersion in the work of his forebears and desire to stretch tradition towards modernity without weakening its foundation. This is an impressive concert insofar as Charles has a local pick-up band with which he has had precious little rehearsal time, but the cohesion of the ensemble carries the performance through the inevitable moments of hesitation due to the relative unfamiliarity the players have with the material, which networks a wide range of idioms from the black diaspora. Drummer Rod Youngs and double-bassist Alex Davis have the requisite bounce on the calypsos and harder 'one drop' groove on the dub, while Dominic Canning shows an assured touch on the Fender Rhodes. However, it is guitarist Shirley Tetteh, noted for her work with Nérija, who makes some of the most telling contributions of the night. Her wah-wah technique is sufficiently robust to underline the percussive implications of much of the writing, but it is the beautifully understated, shadowy, almost ghostly nature of her chording, where the notes breathe very gently into life to form a kind of vapour trail around the beat, that is decisive. Softness is strength.

On the sensual love songs, such as Bob Marley's 'Turn Your Lights Down Low', which segues neatly into 'Waiting In Vain', the blend of finesse and fire is superb, though it is Charles' teasing vocal on The Mighty Sparrow's 'Jean And Dinah', full of the spiky irony apposite for a tale of prostitution and the sly corps-a-corps of capitalism and colonialism, that has us rapt. It is a moment for head, heart and feet.

Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo by Richard Denney 

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