Mike-WilliamsBirmingham-based jazz promoters Jazzlines present three diverse concerts early next year beginning with a rare and eagerly anticipated from revered local alto saxophonist, educator and composer Mike Williams (pictured left) who performs his SAMA project with a strong line-up exploring music inspired by Williams’ life in the city and his Sufi beliefs (CBSO Centre, 9 January). Williams has brought together a strong line-up for the gig including hotly-tipped trumpeter Percy Pursglove, trombonist Jeremy Price, tenor saxophonist Alex Merrit, baritone saxophonist Chris Maddock, guitarist Gareth Fowler, bassist James Banner and renowned jazz/session drummer Troy Miller.

Another interesting concert in the series features multi-talented Troyka keyboardist Kit Downes as part of IN BED WITH, a high-energy electro-acoustic trio with French drummer Sylvain Darrifourcq and guitarist Julien Desprez (pictured top, and video below), all appearing at the Hare & Hounds on 22 January. This gig is part of the Jazz Shuttle scheme that brings together British and French musicians for unique collaborations – the band will then play The Vortex on 23 January and are also part of next year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

The CBSO Centre then hosts a double bill on 30 January featuring multi-reedist Mike Fletcher in a trio with drummer Jeff Williams and bassist Olie Brice, before Williams then leads his UK Sextet with a heavyweight line up of guitarist Phil Robson, saxophonists Josh Arcoleo and Finn Peters and bassist Sam Lasserson. Further Jazzlines dates include the Kenny Garrett Quintet (10 February, Town Hall, Birmingham); Marius Neset Quintet with Jim Hart (10 April, CBSO Centre); Polar Bear (21 April, Hare & Hounds) and the Walsall Jazz Orchestra who celebrate their 40th anniversary with guests Julian Argüelles and Martin Shaw (26 April, CBSO Centre).

– Mike Flynn


For more info www.thsh.co.uk/jazzlines

BBC Radio 3’s popular Jazz Record Requests programme, which is currently hosted by Alyn Shipton every Saturday at 5pm, celebrates its 50th anniversary on 6 December with a special retrospective programme. First broadcast on 12 December 1964 with Humphrey Lyttelton in the chair, it has become the longest running jazz show in radio history and has seen a number of presenters over the years, including Ken Sykora, Steve Race, Peter Clayton, Charles Fox and Geoffrey Smith, who hosted the programme for over 20 years until 2012 when Shipton became the new presenter.

The special anniversary edition will feature a history of the programme, including excerpts from previous presenters shows, listener’s memories and a guest appearance by Geoffrey Smith. Shipton, who also writes for Jazzwise, prepared the programme with help from the National Sound Archive at the British Library where he was able to listen to many old episodes, some of which he heard when he was growing up.

“What I have learned from the postcards, letters and emails that come in every week is that I was not alone,” he says on his BBC radio blog. “There were listeners all over the county sharing this sense of discovery, and in the recent feature I have been running on the programme about how people first discovered jazz, many a listener has recalled it being through a track heard for the first time on JRR.”

– Jon Newey

For more info and to listen to the show go to www.bbc.co.uk

As in previous years, Linn is offering free Studio Master quality high-resolution music downloads in the run-up to the festive season, in its 24-bits of Christmas promotion. From 1 December, it’s running what it describes as an ‘online advent calendar’, with a new track available every day until Christmas Eve.

A wide range of genres will be available from across the Linn Studio Master catalogue, starting with Almost Like Being in Love from pianist/singer Joe Stilgoe, recorded at last year’s London Jazz Festival, and taking in folk, jazz and classical works. That track is available until 10am GMT on Thursday 4 December, and is taken from Stilgoe’s Linn Records release Songs on Film Live.

The tracks are available from a dedicated section of the Linn Records, at www.linn.co.uk/christmas, and the Studio Master downloads can be played on network music players including Linn’s own models, or using home computers.

– Andrew Everard

Jazzwise can exclusively announce that MOBO-winning contemporary jazz group Empirical is set to take a radically open approach to developing music for their next album over six-nights at iconic London bookshop Foyles from 26 to 31 January 2015. The shop’s move to a new architecturally stunning location at 107 Charing Cross Road, that opened its doors on 7 June this year, now features a 200-capacity Auditorium performance space that Empirical plan to use in collaboration with in-store record shop Ray’s Jazz for the project.

The new music takes inspiration from the idea of ‘connection’ – that has also influenced the way the spacious new design of the shop allows customers to engage with books and culture through events such as this. The band intends to explore this too, “both the personal and musical connection between the members of the band but more importantly the connection between band and audience.” The new music will feature on the band’s fifth album that will be recorded the week after the residency and follows their eponymous debut in 2008, Out ‘n’ In (2009), Elements of Truth (2011) and Tabula Rasa (2013). The group still feature the long-running line up of saxophonist Nathaniel Facey, vibist Lewis Wright, bassist Tom Farmer and drummer Shaney Forbes.

Also drawing inspiration from the way 1960s jazz bands would do a run of gigs – rather than single dates at a venue – the twist here will be that every gig is free entry with the audience invited to discuss and give feedback on the music to the band in the shop’s café after the gigs. The band has commented: “it is a great opportunity to directly contribute to the making of our new work, so come and connect!”

Empirical will perform brand new music everyday for six days in the Foyles Auditorium, from 6.30pm on 26-31 January 2015.

– Mike Flynn

For more info go to www.foyles.co.uk/events

love-supreme-albumThe 50th anniversary of John Coltrane’s iconic album, A Love Supreme, is set to be celebrated in style on both sides of the Atlantic this coming week with concerts in London and San Francisco. The latter features saxophone icon’s son Ravi Coltrane (pictured top) and a stellar group of his US contemporaries including electric bassist Matthew Garrison (son of Jimmy Garrison who played on the original album), guitarist Adam Rogers, trumpeter Nicholas Payton and drummer Marcus Gilmore. The group will be performing on 13 December at the SFJAZZ Center, California in a bold contemporary exploration of the album that’s set to reflect the original’s sense of adventure as well as its deep spirituality.

A Re-envisioning Of John Coltrane’s Love Supreme is also set to take place at the Union Chapel, Islington, London on the album’s actual recording date of 9 December when it was laid down in a single day at Van Gelder Studios, Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey in 1964. The Enlightenment Ensemble will perform this newly expanded take on the album with the same group that performed at James Lavelle’s Meltdown earlier this year to great acclaim. The 15-piece band brings together a huge range of UK-based jazz talent and is led by flautist Roland Sutherland who has also written the extended, through-composed versions of the songs on the album, adding strong African and Indian elements via percussionists, tabla and kora.

The band features bata drummers – Adé Egun Crispin Robinson, Dave Pattman and Oli Savill – tabla/santoor player Ansuman Biswas, vocalist Juwon Ogungbe, drummer Mark Mondesir, bassist Neil Charles, pianist Nikki Yeoh, MD/xylophonist Orphy Robinson, keyboardist Pat Thomas, tenor saxophonist Steve Williamson and kora player Tunde Jegede.  

– Mike Flynn


For more info go to agmp.ticketabc.com/events/a-love-supreme/



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