Some exciting international jazz names are among the latest additions to this year's 25th anniversary edition of the EFG London Jazz Festival, which takes over the capital's major concert halls, jazz clubs and free-stage spaces from 10 to 19 November. These include what's sure to be a pugilistic piano encounter between veteran Brit-jazzer Keith Tippett and keyboard whirlwind Matthew Bourne, who will then be joined by Tippett's Octet to play music from their latest album The Nine Dreams of Patrick Gonogon (Kings Place, 10 Nov). Genre-hopping fusions connect many of the other additions. These include a fiery Whirlwind Recordings triple bill topped by the Michael Janisch Quartet with Pakistani-American guitarist Rez Abbasi (top right), alongside trumpeter Henry Spencer's Juncture and Zhenya Strigalev Trio (Rich Mix, 10 Nov); Indo-jazz deity and tabla master Zakir Hussain (top left) leads his Crosscurrents ensemble that includes bass great Dave Holland and sax supremo Chris Potter (Barbican, 11 Nov); German piano star Michael Wollny heads up a gravity defying four-piece of dazzling beatboxer/vocalist Andreas Schaerer, ace accordionist Vincent Peirani and scorching saxophonist Émile Parisien, with support from Polish violin virtuoso Adam Baldych with the Helge Lien Trio (Cadogan Hall, 11 Nov); while African and Indo-jazz sounds combine in a danceable triple bill of Soothsayers, Arun Ghosh Sextet and Lokki Terra (Rich Mix, 11 Nov).

The global grooves continue with composer/pianist Roland Perrin's new Brazilian-meets-Baroque choral symphony, which will receive its premiere as performed by the Hertfordshire Chorus, Blue Planet Orchestra, Bishop's Hatfield Girls School Choir and Perrin's Trio (Barbican, matinee performance, 12 Nov). The latter is part of the 25 for 25 commissioning programme that also presents a new work from Beats & Pieces Big Band (Rich Mix, 18 Nov), and Phronesis' daring new collaboration 'Decade Zero' with the Engines Orchestra and composer Dave Maric (Milton Court, 12 Nov). There's also a head-banging Match&Fuse special with Led Bib, Schnellertollermeier and WorldService Project (Rich Mix, 12 Nov); and cult LA fusion-funk-pop band Knower, aka drummer-producer Louis Cole and vocalist Genevieve Artadi, make a rare UK appearance (Scala, 13 Nov); while ascendant trumpeter Christian Scott returns with new music from his Centennial Trilogy (Electric Ballroom, 15 Nov). Two rising female UK stars also appear – singer Zara McFarlane (above centre) performs music from her eagerly awaited third album on Brownswood (Rich Mix, 15 Nov), and trumpeter Yazz Ahmed explores electronica-tinged jazz from her acclaimed album La Saboteuse (Kings Place, 17 Nov).

The Wigmore Hall's intimate acoustics will be the setting for a spellbinding collaboration between classical Indian singer Ranjana Ghatak and Israeli Led Bib bassist Liran Donin for two interactive performances for children (11am on 16 and 18 Nov). And rounding off these additions is top US trumpeter Terrence Blanchard, who performs music from his fi lm scores – Herbie Hancock: By Himself and Robert de Niro's film The Comedians – with the BBC Concert Orchestra as well as a rare performance of Joe Zawinul's grand orchestral vision of one of the world's great rivers, 'Stories of the Danube', conducted by Järvi (Barbican, 19 Nov). Further shows already announced in Jazzwise (media partners of the festival) include Pat Metheny Quartet (Barbican, 10 Nov); Jazz Voice (RFH, 10 Nov); Tomasz Stanko's New York Quartet (Cadogan Hall, 10 Nov); Average White Band + LaSharVu (RFH, 11 Nov); Andy Sheppard Quartet (Kings Place, 11 Nov); Brad Mehldau/Chris Thile (Barbican, 12 Nov); Marcus Miller (RFH, 12 Nov); Richard Pite's 1957: A Jazz Jukebox (Cadogan Hall, 12 Nov); Paolo Conte (RFH, 13 Nov)and Abdullah Ibrahim/Hugh Masekela Jazz Epistles (RFH, 14 Nov) among many others.

– Mike Flynn

Full listings and tickets at www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

 LUME-Festival-2017-graphic-ACE-logo

Those genre-bending bastions of the UK's new jazz wave LUME are back for a second iteration of their annual fest, which again takes place at London's IKLECTIK space, this time on the weekend of 24-25 June.

Among the expected highlights at this year's experimental music summit will be Dee Byrne's space-jazz voyagers Entropi, surface-to-air extemporisers Sloth Racket and an exclusive set from a crack ensemble marshalled by acclaimed vibraphonist/composer Corey Mwamba. Also making appearances across the two days will be arch electronic mage Alex Bonney, tricky granular tension-builders Ma/ti/om, garage-band swingers Archipelago, serial circuit-abuser Tullie Rennie, free radicals Birchall/Cheetham/Webster/Willberg, Laura Cole's folk-imbued Metamorphic septet and shapeshifting big band LUMEkestra. Look out too for the inevitable merchandise trails, special lucky-dip improv sessions and live artist Gina Southgate's flying flecks of paint.

– Spencer Grady

For more details and ticket info visit www.lumemusic.co.uk

 

The line-up has been announced for this year's Manchester Jazz Festival, which takes place over 10 days and nights from 28 July to 6 August at concert halls, clubs and public spaces around the city.

The 22nd edition of the festival is set to mark this year's celebration of a century of jazz, taking up the #Jazz100 campaign with 100 gigs and 100 hours of music to mark this musical milestone. With its distinct focus on nurturing new talent and commissioning new works, the MJF programme only includes one big US name in the form of sax star Joshua Redman and his Still Dreaming Quartet. They will play their only UK gig at the RNCM Theatre on 4 August. Consisting of trumpeter Ron Miles, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade, they reinterpret Redman's father, Dewey's music from his 1970s and 1980s Old and New Dreams quartet.

The festival also features the second performance (after its premiere at Cheltenham Jazz Festival) of powerful Scandi-Brit trio Phronesis' dazzling jazz-into-classical collaboration with the Engines Orchestra on composer Dave Maric's 'Decade Zero'. Other UK stars appearing include Denys Baptiste's Late Trane Quintet and trumpeter Laura Jurd's post-Bitches Brew four-piece Dinosaur. Adventurous music making runs across the rest of the programme with appearances by Mancunian jazz-rock-ambient crew The Breath; cello and voice duo Leïla Martial and Valentin Ceccaldi; a rarefied vocal/piano collaboration between Lauren Kinsella and Kit Downes; a mass saxophone mash-up led by Andy Scott who fronts the talent-packed 14-piece sax colossus Group S that includes John Helliwell and Mike Hall among the massed horns, as well as stellar pianist Gwilym Simcock.

International interlopers include danceable punk-edged Belgian band BLOW Trio; Copenhagen-based septet Horse Orchestra's raw blend of free improve and anarchic theatricality; plus Latin-American sextet Toco Madera who whip up an Afro-Caribbean rhythm storm. The global grooves continue with superlative all-female septet Nérija; Indo-jazz fretless bassist/tabla maestro Shri's brass-driven Just A Vibration big band; plus a small army of horn-heavy groups bringing the Mardi Gras to Manchester, including Back Chat Brass, Heavy Beat Brass Band, Loud Noises Brass, The Big Brass Love-In, Locking Horns Brass Jam, Brass Gumbo, Northern Monkey Brass Band, New York Brass Band and the kicking Riot Jazz Brass Band.

The festival impressively spotlights new talent once again with names to watch out for including Skeltr; Perpetual Motion Machine; Dan Whieldon Quartet; Rebecca Nash's Atlas; Andre Canniere's Darkening Blue sextet; genre-splicing seven-piece Collocutor and chamber-jazz quartet Tiptoe. And capping things off is this year's Irwin Mitchell MJF Originals commission that has been awarded to pianist/composer Andy Stamatakis-Brown, a former Peter Whittingham award winner, whose 'Cottonopolis' will form a 'a jazz, video and dance-music experience' at a surprise location in the city.

– Mike Flynn

For full listings and tickets visit www.manchesterjazz.com

 Coltrane-Tribute

One of the capital's lesser known jazz venues, Toulouse Lautrec, within walking distance of both Elephant & Castle and Kennington tubes, has nonetheless steadily burnished its credentials over a number of years. With the piano bar on the first floor and the loft club on the second there are two stages for a range of gigs, and its new showcase of Guildhall students reflects the establishment's eye on the future.

Having said that, the appearance of Ukrainian-Polish harpist Alina Bzhezhinska tonight celebrates heritage in a number of ways. Her band is an A-list multi-generational ensemble that brings together mid-career masters, saxophonist Tony Kofi, flautist Gareth Lockrane and double bassist Larry Bartley, alongside emerging players, guitarist Ed Riches and drummer Joel Prime, to celebrate the music of both John and Alice Coltrane. This is an unusual if not unique concept as the husband and wife are mostly seen as separate artistic entities, but the performance highlights the profound creative empathy that bound them as well as the strong personality of each.

The notable anniversaries – 50 years since John's passing and 10 since Alice's – become something of an irrelevance given the timelessness of the repertoire, and it is indeed the spellbinding modal structures, their relentless, unbroken circular motion so hard to resist, that defines most of the arrangements. Alice's glissandi on the harp were almost like the swaying and whispering of branches in the wind, and Bzhezhinska's superlative touch on the instrument does her role model proud, as can be heard on the opening late 1960s anthems 'Lovely Sky Boat' and 'Blue Nile', though she is equally incisive on John's quite mesmeric 'Equinox.' The absence of lingering left hand piano chords is well compensated by the strength of Bartley's tone as well as the heft of Kofi's tenor, which he pushes towards the low end of the instrument, sometimes broaching the register of the baritone, which he plays more regularly. On a few occasions this is problematic as the unison work of the horn and alto flute conspires to sadly drown out the harp, whose valuable detail is lost among the heavier resonances. Yet there is also great sensitivity in the handling of most of the material, particularly Alice's anthems 'Journey In Satchidadanda' and 'Isis And Osiris', whose majestic quality is enhanced by the hovering, almost airborne character of the legato phrases from the ensemble.

The gig really hits a peak on the songs where the band brings to the fore a facet of the Coltranes that is often overlooked in the prevailing narrative of their lives: dance. Both had come of age through the big-band era and the dynamics of swing and the blues were not alien to them. A very hard-hitting version of Joe Henderson's 'Fire', on which Alice played, is thus an astute choice, but it is the wily recasting of John's 'Naima' as a quite enchanting samba that has the audience rapt. Prime's swish, skipping rimshots are a very effective foil to Bzhezinska's lush chording as Lockrane and Kofi convey the deep romanticism of the theme by way of those familiarly serene, sigh-like whole notes. The use of an Afro-Brazilian rhythm is an inspired sub-text to the evening, a reminder of the all-consuming interest that the Coltranes took in the music of the black Diaspora, as well as the Indian sub-continent. Their pursuit of a 'universal sound' never felt more contemporary, as this performance convincingly showed.

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo by Nassim Rad

norma-winstone-live

When a top vocalist is in such high demand and performing in various places with local musicians, it must be frustrating not to have sufficient opportunity to rehearse, especially unfamiliar material. This was the case with JazzFM Vocalist of the Year Norma Winstone at Leamington's Restaurant in the Park. However, it is a reflection on the professionalism and ability of the artists involved that this was largely undetected by an enthusiastic and appreciative audience, and many felt privileged to have seen how jazz musicians work, resolving the occasional glitch.

After an introductory number, 'Gratitude', from bassist Adrian Litvinoff's band, Interplay , Ms Winstone started with the Clifford Brown composition 'Joyspring', and immediately demonstrated how adept she is at dealing with lyrics at a fast tempo. Tenor saxophonist Alan Wakeman took a strong solo that wouldn't have been out of place with the original Brown/Max Roach group and showed that he is well on the way to peak form following his recent lay-off. A slightly Latinish up-tempo version of Raye/de Paul's 'You Don't Know What Love Is' followed, which included an effective unison passage of horns and voice.

Litvinoff's attractive ballad 'Ode to Duke' showed what a good composer he is and Ms.Winstone dealt with it as if she had been singing it for years, creating a mood and atmosphere that trombonist Richard Baker continued, with his rich and mellow solo ending in a flurry of notes, suitably Ellingtonian. Key changes and tempo variations were used to good effect on 'Hang Around' and 'Sometime Ago', whilst the famous jazz standard, 'Body and Soul', featured the singer with just Litvinoff's bass and the piano of Neil Hunter, both adding warm and melodious solos. At times Ms.Winstone's voice seemed to display a fragility that somehow enhanced the lyrics, giving them added poignancy; at others her strength of tone gave balance and authority to them. 'Memphis Shout' was a delve into the 60s, the electric piano of Hunter laying down a soul groove and an excellent trombone solo from Baker, full of slurs and licks, had members of the audience getting up and strutting their stuff.

The extended piece of Monk's 'Round Midnight' that segued into Lionel Hampton and Sonny Burke's 'Midnight Sun' caused a problem, but with Ms.Winstone taking charge and quite rightly calling a halt, the audience were then treated to a keyhole class in resolution. The musicians quickly ironed out the problem and once again underway, Hunter's inventive piano solo drew a well deserved acknowledgement from the vocalist. The evening's direction then changed with a duet between vocalist and drummer/percussionist Dave Balen on tabla. Completely unrehearsed, the two entered into a musical conversation and Eastern sound experiment, the call and response elements and their rapport having the audience enthralled, reminding us of Ms.Winstone's reputation as a pioneer in vocal improvisation. Another Litvinoff number, 'When Loves Begins', once again gave the opportunity to show how well she delivers a ballad, this time with Wakeman giving a Ben Websterish breathiness to his full sounding tenor. 'Ladies in Mercedes' (composed by Steve Swallow, lyrics by Ms.Winstone) and an encore of Monk's 'Well You Needn't' sent the audience away with the confirmation that they had witnessed a soundly cohesive unit supporting someone thoroughly deserving of the title 'Jazz Vocalist of the Year'.

– Matthew Wright

– Photo by Petra Kemper

Page 2 of 186

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