Even comparatively hyped new artists can really struggle to fill jazz clubs outside our major cities, let alone an unknown tenor player on his very first headline engagement. Despite the chilly ambient temperature, caused by an overzealous aircon unit, there's a warm welcome and a full house for Dan Cartwright. There's a mixed age demographic – the younger audience members look like friends and contemporaries of the 24-year-old leader, while the more seasoned attendees have the air of connoisseurs, drawn to chance their evening's entertainment on the promise of promoter Andy Lavender and the implicit endorsement of the personnel now warming their hands onstage. Joining bassist and educator George Trebar are a pair of players who bring with them a considerable freight of reputation in their own right, but whom together constituted part of the last band led by that titan of UK tenor players, Bobby Wellins. From the opening bars of 'I'll Remember You" there is no mistaking the supple, driving but infinitely flexible groove that Spike Wells has been creating on drums for nearly half a century – nor the rich, creative voicings and subtle touch of pianist Mark Edwards.

Dan-Cartwright2

With the band settled behind him, Cartwright has all the space and support he needs. His tone is clear and true with an attractively gruff edge – think early Sonny Rollins, though he's yet to develop the master's pinpoint precision – and there's no flash or showboating, just a succession of unhurried, beautifully turned phrases. He's sparing with the 16th note passages, resists exaggerated dynamics, but demonstrates the instinctive sense of space and timing that are at the heart of the music. 'It Could Happen To You' features a perfectly pitched, melodious solo from Wells on brushes and a logical, clear-toned and swinging statement from Trebar. Edwards' solo on 'Out Of Nowhere' demonstrates the limitless fertility of his musical imagination. The seldom-played Frank Rosolino composition 'Blue Daniel' requires a brief onstage talk-through, demonstrating the ad hoc nature of the event, but it's all about the spontaneity, and the relaxed togetherness of the band proves to be more than equal to the challenge. The evergreen 'I Can't Get Started' allows Cartwright to really play to his strengths – beautifully turned phrases precisely played against the rhythm – and the band take up the baton and play up magnificently till Wells calls time at the exact right moment.

The second set has everyone really getting into their stride. 'Recorda Me' is warmly romantic, showing Cartwright's affinity for an older tradition than that embodied by its composer. 'Portrait Of Jenny' is a highlight, a typically inventive solo by Edwards takes the tune somewhere else entirely with Wells and Trebar willing partners, while 'Ask Me Now' rises to a climax of percussion and rippling piano. Throughout Cartwright's musicality, command of language and unaffected sincerity are apparent, his tone and approach reminiscent of the underrated Charlie Rouse's contributions to Monk's Columbia recordings. You might search in vain for the imprint of post-Coltrane harmonic language or contemporary polyrhythmic shifts in Cartwright's playing, but why would you when the results are this swingingly sincere? The community's backing felt thoroughly justified by the evening's end.

– Eddie Myer
– Photos by David Forman

Banks of lights sketch out a looming angel presence on the backcloth as Alina Bzhezhinska sits at the harp and strikes an introductory chord. She reproduces Alice Coltrane's trembling flurries of high notes and swooping glissandos with uncanny accuracy, and her intensely physical relationship with her harp is mesmerising to watch. After a chiming solo sets the scene, she cues in Larry Bartley and Joel Prime who come in like thunder as Tony Kofi strides forward into the spotlight from the blue-lit wings and the band burst into 'Blue Nile'. It's the first spectacular emotional sucker-punch of the evening. The band sound great: Bartley's big-toned, magisterial bass solo draws whoops of applause, as does the climactic duet between harp and Kofi's clear-voiced soprano on 'Journey in Satchidananda' – and Alina's eccentrically effervescent personality shines through, bringing a real sense of joy.

Baptiset-Barbican2

Next up is Denys Baptiste's outfit (above), an altogether a more considered production, with Baptiste asking the audience to imagine themselves sitting on top of Everest, quipping "don't worry about the oxygen" before launching into an Expression-era group free improv, complete with electronic tambura. Next the band sets up a heavy groove reminiscent of 1970s Miles, over which Baptiste initiates a dialogue of increasing frenzy with a kimono-clad Nikki Yeoh that has the latter up off of her seat before drummer Rod Youngs lashes the kit up to the finish line. There's a duet with Yeoh on 'Peace On Earth', which allows Baptiste to give free rein to his powerful chops, then a reworking of 'After The Rain' with a simple extended major-key vamp over which Yeoh shows her impressive imagination before the piece subsides into an incongruous reggae-lite groove. Surprise guest Steve Williamson, louche and elegant in a rumpled suit, joins the leader in an extended two-tenor freak-out over Young's boiling beats – his powerful, cutting tone a reminder of just what a singular force he is; then everyone leaves the stage but Baptiste and Bartley, the bassist setting up a bolero bassline while the saxophonist shows off his awesome technique on the effect-enhanced horn.

Pharoah S-Barbican

Expectations are running high by the as Pharoah Sanders (above and top) himself is announced. The band walk onstage and the audience rises to its feet as a frail, hunched figure moves with infinite slowness from the darkness of the wings; cautiously climbing the stairs and slowly moving centre stage. Yet, once he lifts his horn to the mic the sound that emerges is undiminished – a clear powerful clarion. The band swell into a rippling crescendo as he blows a simple sequence of three falling tones, like a child's rhyme, fading away into a single held note so high and faint that it seems to suck all the sound in the room into itself, creating a concentrated vacuum of absolute silence, and the packed hall holds its breath in a moment of total stillness. Then suddenly, improbably, he blasts out the head to Trane's 'Lazy Bird' and pianist William Henderson leads the band into a crashing tide of high-speed virtuosic free-bop. Sanders sits impassively on a strategically placed chair, head bowed, as bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo give a good account of themselves. Then he's back up again, entering with squall of notes, effortlessly riding the rhythm. Next, another surprise. A solo rendition quickly takes shape as 'A Nightingale Sang In Berkely Square', as Henderson enters, sketching out the background with deft strokes. Sanders sounds fantastic – agile, clear, impassioned – age hasn't diminished his talent, even if it has led him to be more economical in its deployment. The speed and facility over changes he acquired in later years is still there, and while the tone no longer screams as it did with Trane there's a diamond hardness still at its core as well as a confidence in the phrasing that betokens an absolute unwavering belief in the message of his music. After Hayhurst's monumental solo he returns with a spectral, unaccompanied cadenza, each note falling through the silence like a snowflake.

Next a scarlet-jacketed Chaouki Smahi appears onstage and takes up his oud, to lead the band into a hypnotic ostinato that turns into an extended flamenco-tinged jam, Sanders entering and leaving at intervals, his contributions never less than riveting, before the band return to a swelling minor key rubato against which the leader plays starkly beautiful, towering phrases, like mountain peaks against a darkening sky. Then the mood changes again.

Hayhurst and Calderazzo set up the familiar line for 'The Creator Has A Master Plan', and Sanders, turning and facing the crowd for the first time, is suddenly all approachable geniality, introducing the band with palpable warmth, beaming smiles between his snow-white beard and impressive moustache. Getting the audience to sing along as the beat shifts to a sprightly calypso, he essays some shuffling dance steps and executes a cautiously arthritic twerk, to rapturous applause. "My name is Farrell Sanders, and I play the tenor saxophone," he says, then breaks into a hoarse-voiced, raucous wordless folk melody. Somehow it's the most uplifting moment of the evening: a simple affirmation of life, music and everything by one of jazz's true visionaries. The only less-than-cosmic aspect of the evening is the unsympathetic Barbican sound: all harsh, over-amplified bass, with the piano often almost completely swallowed up in the blurry sonic fog. Such masters deserve more.

– Eddie Myer
– Photos by Tim Dickeson

Jazz-influenced experimental musician, composer, conceptualist and now political protester Matthew Herbert is among 12 musicians receiving a grant from the UK Department for International Trade (DFID) to help export musical talent overseas. Herbert will receive a £5,000 grant to help his Brexit Big Band complete its ambition of releasing an album on the day Britain is expected to leave the EU in March 2019. It's ironic that the DIT is headed by pro-Brexit MP Liam Fox.

Other artists sharing the £181,944 grant money, awarded via the Music Export Growth Scheme, include Mercury-nominated rapper-songwriter Ghostpoet and Public Service Broadcasting. DFID, which aims to promote international trade and will seek free-trade agreements after Brexit, has so far awarded grants totalling £2.4m to support musicians who could "become the next Adele or Ed Sheeran". Contrary to these export plans, the Musicians Union and The Guardian have reported that there are big issues with UK and European musicians continuing to work as freely as they do now. An example of this is the European Union Youth Orchestra leaving its base in London, "in part due to concerns over restricted freedom of movement for working musicians".

Herbert performed with his Brexit Big Band at the Barbican in October, with the concert featuring numerous UK jazz musicians as well as percussive sounds created by copies of the pro-Brexit Daily Mail being torn up on-stage. Herbert stated on his website that: "The message from parts of the Brexit campaign were that as a nation we are better off alone. I refute that idea entirely and wanted to create a project that embodies the idea of collaboration from start to finish." The composer has already set Article 50 to music and will conduct a series of Brexit-related concerts and workshops right up until March 2019. Commenting on the project he said: "I want to create something that's the opposite of Brexit – about collaboration, about creativity, about love rather than hate."

UPDATE: Since this story was first published Matthew Herbert has released a statement clarifying his position on Brexit and his motivations for initiating this project:

“Most importantly, this is not an anti-Brexit project. This is a project that, having accepted Brexit will occur, attempts to work out what a new kind of relationship with our European neighbours may look like. That relationship I believe should be founded on respect, curiosity, creativity, empathy, collaboration and love. I am unclear which of those ideals are controversial.

This project is not simply one person’s vision or pet project; it has already had contributions from over 1000 people from here and from all over the world who think those values are worth nurturing.

One of the things I value most about this country is its tolerance for dissent and, having performed with my big band in places such as Syria, China and Russia, I feel like the project is representing some of the very best things about Britishness abroad whilst at the same time providing hundreds of people with jobs or income in the creative industries - one of Britain’s biggest and most respected exports.

Having recently successfully applied to the BPI for part of a grant to assist with exporting British music abroad, some of the musicians fees will be covered by this. None of it is a wage or money to me. According to the BPI website every £1 they invest brings a return of £10 so it is clear that they consider this an investment
 rather than a subsidy.

The state subsidises many things in this country, including a lot I don’t agree with: wars in the middle east, the arms trade, processed food manufacturers, giant American tech companies who avoid tax, the DUP, fossil fuel companies and so on. If parts of our democracy can’t cope with an industry body supporting musicians in trying to bring ideas of tolerance and hopefully even some joy to others then maybe we’re in worse shape than I thought.

I reserve my democratic right to hold the government accountable in public and to propose an alternative comment that reflects what I believe to be important British values such as inclusiveness and kindness. I created this project to be part of the conversation with ourselves and with Europe about what it means to be British post-Brexit. This and any plan should aim to bring people of all identities and beliefs with it. I reject the forced distinction between Remainers and Leavers, and all are welcome to contribute or be part of the show. It’s up to others whether they wish to be part of this expression of common values or not.” – Matthew Herbert, November 2017

 – Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.matthewherbert.com/brexit-big-band/

See the December/January double-issue of Jazzwise out on 23 November for a further discussion of this issue in the Way It Is – subscribe here to order your copy today.

Multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney Pine has been announced as the fourth high-profile instrumentalist to lead the Inner City Ensemble touring project in February 2018 as part of the ongoing Jazz Directors series. Previous musicians involved have included US stars Terence Blanchard and Chris Potter, while this year saw Pine collaborator and Mercury Prize nominated pianist Zoe Rahman lead a specially convened group of young emerging musicians from the north of England.

The Jazz Directors Series is a two-year residency and touring project which brings together emerging UK professional jazz musicians with an internationally revered Jazz Director. Each edition comprises of a four-day residency produced by Brighter Sound and a corresponding tour of live concerts produced by Band on the Wall in collaboration with local regional promoters. The musicians for the Inner City Ensemble will be announced soon and will play music written by Pine for the project.

Courtney Pine and Inner City Ensemble dates are: Band on the Wall, Manchester (22 Feb); Brudenell Social Club, Leeds (23 Feb); The Grand, Clitheroe (24 Feb) and Grand Theatre, Lancaster (25 Feb).
Mike Flynn

Tickets are now on sale at www.bandonthewall.org

Mark Guiliana is associated with a certain level of jazz-fusion high intensity, but tonight's gig, in support of the new album Jersey is billed as a different turn for his career. As if to emphasise the fact, the first number begins with no sound from the leader's drums at all: a limber, curling unison from saxophone and piano unfolds in the expectant hush, until Guiliana enters, tapping the snare with his fingers over an insistent single-note bassline. The dynamic slowly builds, as the sax peels off into a flurry of spiralling phrases. Guiliana hunches over the kit, completely absorbed in the restless chattering polyrhythms, hands and feet ever busier with the rising tide, leaning into each unexpected, sudden rhythmic bomb. He and bassist Chris Morrissey skirt around the implied pulse as Fabian Almazan's piano builds up from whisper-quiet to cascading intensity and the whole band radiate a fiercely geeky energy.

Mark-Guiliana-Ronnies2

In a surprise move, Guiliana leaves the kit and sits down at the back of the stage, head in hands, leaving Jason Rigby's tenor sax to play a soft, almost pastoral melody over a droning arco bass and rumbling piano. Then he's back on the stool, and they're off into a hip three-four swing that suddenly descends again into near-silence, punctuated by a few carefully positioned bass phrases, before Rigby takes flight again, his awesome fluidity complemented by his soft, clear tone. Both Rigby and pianist Almazan share a similarly remarkable command of language, at once capable of great abstraction and immense tenderness. An extended piano solo goes from mutated blues phrases and hints of expansive Peterson or Shearing chording into dense tonal clusters and shimmering, cimbalom-like textures, all delivered with a sure and subtle touch. Morrissey takes a feature on his bass, playing it as though it's a folk instrument, his strums and simple pentatonics accompanied by Guiliana's taps on the snare and slaps on his thigh.

Mark-Guiliana-Ronnies4

The quartet are superbly balanced: the almost supernatural empathy and the compatibility of their voices allows them to range freely across the open structures of the compositions, using silence as a potent musical force, pushing the dynamic almost to the lowest limit of audibility before rising again, diverging then miraculously coming back together for a short, gnomic phrase or unexpected accent. The second set pays increasing dividends as the band set up a cycle of simple minor chords, like a still pool of water, with Almazan and Guiliana creating ripples of dissonance on the surface and Rigby soaring aloft on butterfly wings. His dazzling flight seems like a clear winner for solo of the evening, until Almazan equals it with another effortlessly sustained flow of ideas, with accents of everything from free-improv to calypso, and bass and drums spin an intricate filigree of rhythm out of which Giuliana finally pulls the astonishing, climatic drum solo that everyone's been waiting for. After this payoff, there's a version of Bowie's 'Where Are We Now' as an elegiac coda for the evening's journey; an outstanding performance of a unique and convincingly realised musical vision, created by four distinctive and wholly compatible players. No wonder the leader looks quietly triumphant.

– Eddie Myer

– Photos by Steve Cropper

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Elaine Mitchener Delivers Dramas Of Defiance At St. George's, London

Elaine Mitchener Delivers Dramas Of Defi…

This Hawksmoor church in Bloomsbury is by no means familiar...

Read More.....
Peter Lemer Quintet revive Local Colour at Pizza Express

Peter Lemer Quintet revive Local Colour …

When composer and pianist Peter Lemer recorded Local Colour in...

Read More.....
Dave Holland and Evan Parker line-up for Vortex Fundraiser ahead of new album

Dave Holland and Evan Parker line-up for…

Two of British jazz's biggest names – former Miles Davis...

Read More.....
Get The Blessing’s ‘Bristopolis’, Dame Evelyn Glennie and Pee Wee Ellis for Bristol Jazz & Blues Fest

Get The Blessing’s ‘Bristopolis’, Dame E…

The programme for the sixth edition of the Bristol Jazz...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine, Zara McFarlane and Evan Parker added to full Cheltenham Jazz Fest line-up

Courtney Pine, Zara McFarlane and Evan P…

The full programme has been revealed for this year's edition...

Read More.....
Daring Dutch drummers Han Bennink and Joost Lijbaart for UK dates

Daring Dutch drummers Han Bennink and Jo…

Heavyweight Dutch jazz bands Quartet NL and Under the Surface...

Read More.....
GoGo Penguin bring the beats to the Roundhouse

GoGo Penguin bring the beats to the Roun…

GoGo Penguin, the Blue Note-signed Manchester piano trio whose fusion...

Read More.....
Sugimoto Activity Surge: Studio News and UK Dates

Sugimoto Activity Surge: Studio News and…

Phantasm of fragmentary restraint, Japanese guitarist Taku Sugimoto, jostles with...

Read More.....
Vula Viel electrify Elgar Room

Vula Viel electrify Elgar Room

What do Swaledale in North Yorkshire and Western Ghana have...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine heads-up Jazz For Labour in Leatherhead

Courtney Pine heads-up Jazz For Labour i…

Having blown up a storm at the inaugural 2015 Jazz...

Read More.....
Andrew McCormack's Graviton Hit The Ground Running At Ronnie's

Andrew McCormack's Graviton Hit The Grou…

  The acoustic at Soho's iconic venue changes quite considerably according...

Read More.....
Jaimie Branch, Moor Mother and Jeff Parker Among the Acts at Austin's Sonic Transmissions Fest

Jaimie Branch, Moor Mother and Jeff Park…

  Texan Templars of outlier audio releases, Astral Spirits, have combined...

Read More.....
Zakir Hussain Crosscurrents, Parliament-Funkadelic, Tony Allen, Moses Boyd and Nubya Garcia announced for Love Supreme

Zakir Hussain Crosscurrents, Parliament-…

The first tranche of names to appear across the Love...

Read More.....
Saxophonist Roberts Braves The Outlands

Saxophonist Roberts Braves The Outlands

US saxophonist and composer Matana Roberts, arguably best known for...

Read More.....
Helena Kay leads Women In Jazz celebration at 100 Club

Helena Kay leads Women In Jazz celebrati…

Ella, Nina, Billie, Dee Dee – figures so distinguished that...

Read More.....
Alex Hitchcock/Tom Barford Quartet's Twin Tenor Frontline Fires At The Verdict

Alex Hitchcock/Tom Barford Quartet's Twi…

The twin tenors tradition has a long history, stretching back...

Read More.....
Award-winning bassist Gary Crosby OBE recovering following a stroke

Award-winning bassist Gary Crosby OBE re…

Jazzwise received this statement from Trudy Lister of Tomorrow's Warriors...

Read More.....
Clark Tracey and Brotherhood of Breath - The Music Of Chris McGregor Among The Manifold Delights At South Coast Jazz Fest

Clark Tracey and Brotherhood of Breath -…

Last week saw the highly successful South Coast Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Caine Sprouts Chamber Music Chomps At Ambitious Brussels Fest

Caine Sprouts Chamber Music Chomps At Am…

  One of the Brussels Jazz Festival's best gigs came three days...

Read More.....
Nubya Garcia, Maisha and Triforce surf new wave of UK jazz at We Out Here album launch

Nubya Garcia, Maisha and Triforce surf n…

Like all the best creative scenes, London's emergent and youthful...

Read More.....
Høiby And Kinch Lead Brits Charge At Brussels Jazz Fest

Høiby And Kinch Lead Brits Charge At Bru…

There were three dominant artist groupings during the Brussels Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Video Premiere: Fire! Take Hold With 'The Hands'

Video Premiere: Fire! Take Hold With 'Th…

Check out Martin Malm’s psychotropic Brakhage-influenced flicks for ‘The Hands’...

Read More.....
Earth, Wind & Fire confirmed for Love Supreme Jazz Festival 2018

Earth, Wind & Fire confirmed for Lov…

The organisers of this year's sixth edition of the Love...

Read More.....
Simon H Fell: Raggedy And Rhapsodic At Kings Place

Simon H Fell: Raggedy And Rhapsodic At K…

The image that graces the souvenir booklet of Kings Place's...

Read More.....
Theon Cross and Shirley Tetteh join Courtney Pine for Inner City Ensemble

Theon Cross and Shirley Tetteh join Cour…

Following the announcement that multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney...

Read More.....
Paul Towndrow presents Charlie Parker with Strings for Glasgow concert series

Paul Towndrow presents Charlie Parker wi…

Fresh interpretations of the landmark Charlie Parker with Strings recordings...

Read More.....
Hugh Masekela (04/04/1939 – 23/01/2018)

Hugh Masekela (04/04/1939 – 23/01/2018)

As South Africa continues its development in the post-apartheid era...

Read More.....
South Coast Jazz Festival Crests The Big Wave

South Coast Jazz Festival Crests The Big…

  Now in its fourth year, the South Coast Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Julian Lage brings Appalachian jazz apocalypse to Pizza Express

Julian Lage brings Appalachian jazz apoc…

Perhaps it's a canny coincidence that's there's a tune on...

Read More.....
Marlene Verplanck 1933-2018

Marlene Verplanck 1933-2018

  On stage, Marlene Verplanck stood quite still, diminutive and always...

Read More.....
Sons of Kemet burn at New York’s Winter Jazzfest

Sons of Kemet burn at New York’s Winter …

Winter Jazzfest is a big deal in New York City...

Read More.....
Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quartet captivate at Kings Place

Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quart…

The conventions of a jazz performance are so well established...

Read More.....
Baptiste Curates Capital Coltrane Day

Baptiste Curates Capital Coltrane Day

Award-winning saxophonist and Jazzwise 2017 end-of-year-chart podium-maker Denys Baptiste curates...

Read More.....
Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Andy Sheppard, Nigel Kennedy and Roller Trio added to Cheltenham Jazz Festival line-up

Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan, Andy Sheppar…

Things are hotting up for this year's 22nd edition of...

Read More.....
Cloudmakers Five make it rain with new album and tour

Cloudmakers Five make it rain with new a…

Vibrant vibes-led group Cloudmakers – the long-running trio featuring vibes...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Elaine Mitchener Delivers Dramas Of Defiance At St. George's, London https://t.co/n8JLsBikZW @ElaineMitchener… https://t.co/PDWcAEBv0N
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Hasidic New Wave and Yakar Rhythms at Littlefield, Brooklyn, NY https://t.co/HbkYnrCfYb @littlefieldnyc @WMInyc… https://t.co/0zQgU9Hpsy
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA