Singer Juliet Kelly, pianist Kate Williams, saxophonist Phil Meadows (all pictured L-R top), drummer John Marshall and pianist Alex Webb’s Café Society are the latest names to be added to the high profile event, Jazz for Labour: A Concert for Fairness and Diversity, which takes place at the Barbican on Friday 27 February.

Inspired by the Jazz For Obama concert during the 2012 American presidential campaign which featured a who’s who of top US jazz names, Jazz for Labour takes place in the run up to the UK general election in May and features a stellar line-up, exclusively announced in the previous Jazzwise, including Courtney Pine, Claire Martin, Arun Ghosh, Ian Shaw, Liane Carroll, Gary Crosby, Christine Tobin, Andy Sheppard, John Etheridge, Phil Robson, Jay Phelps, Tim Garland and Dave O’Higgins, with transatlantic support from Darius Brubeck and Freedom Sounds DJ slots from Chris Philips and Jez Nelson.  

Talking about the concert, Courtney Pine says: “Jazz is the greatest music that allows human beings to describe their social environment. Many have adopted the philosophy of jazz music to unify people in sound, it is my belief that this event can do this to make for a better United Kingdom.”

Clarinetist and bandleader Arun Ghosh says: “Jazz embodies and has always been built on anti-racist and progressive principles, principles that I believe are essential for our society. I don’t want to live in a country where narrow-mindedness and bigotry are the norm. Jazz for Labour represents and calls for another way. Just like the music, we value and recognize the need for community, empathy, fairness and diversity, and that is why I am proud to be a part of this musical movement.” 

The Deputy Leader and Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, Harriet Harman, also adds: "I'm delighted that so many of Britain's leading jazz musicians are showing their support for the Labour Party and the values we share, by staging a high profile concert at one of London's top venues. It will be a great night out and make an important statement in the run up to the election."

– Jon Newey


For more details visit
www.jazzforlabour.org. Tickets available from www.barbican.org.uk

Pianist and composer Simon Purcell presents music from his recently released (and long overdue) debut album, Red Circle, tonight (Monday 26 January) as he headlines this month’s edition of Jazz in the Round, at the Cockpit Theatre, Marylebone, London.

Currently Head of Jazz at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance, Purcell will be accompanied by an identical line-up to his CD, which includes saxophonist Julian Siegel, trumpeter Chris Batchelor, double bassist Steve Watts and drummer Gene Calderazzo. The Cockpit Theatre, designed with seating banked on all four sides around a central stage, seems tailor made as a venue to present album material recorded with a ‘live date’ feel in a single room without isolating any instruments.

The evening will also feature performances by steel drummer Sam Dubois plus opening band Nerija (feat. Nubya Garcia). Located on Gateforth Street (Marylebone, London) and hosted by Jez Nelson of BBC Radio 3’s Jazz On 3. Jazz in the Round has established itself through its monthly mix of eclectic and experimental multi-bill nights since its inaugural run in January 2012.

– Jamie Fyffe

For more info go to www.cockpit.org.uk/jazz

Braxton-W-M-12
Persistence paid off on Tuesday night for Todd Wills, Bristol Colston Hall’s Head of Programming, when Anthony Braxton took the stage with his Diamond Curtain Quartet in The Lantern, the smaller of the city centre venue’s two halls. “I’ve been trying to book him for years” explained Wills in response to a question about how he’d managed to lassoo the newly endowed NEA Jazz Master for this sole UK date on a rare foray outside the US and, according to the band, his first visit to these shores since 2004. “I just kept asking” said Todd and a capacity audience in The Lantern were pleased he did, judging by the rapturous reception at the end of two sets, each one long, unbroken piece. Wills, known to many in the jazz world for his years at London’s Vortex, is fast establishing The Lantern as a space with an eclectic but adventurous programme, pushing boundaries in all directions and attracting healthy audiences in the process.

Braxton-W-M-14

Expect the unexpected might be sage advice for someone purchasing a ticket to a Braxton performance. He’d brought with him regular collaborators guitarist Mary Halvorson, reed player James Fei and brass player Taylor Bo Hynum. Apart from Halvorson, there was a constant rotation of instruments as shifting registers and textures were demanded. Braxton’s recognition by America’s National Endowment for the Arts with the Jazz Master award was, according to Braxton in other interviews, a big surprise as he sees his music as extending beyond the boundaries of jazz. He names ensembles for the systems he uses to create the music and direct the band. Diamond Curtain Music uses pre-recorded sounds controlled by programmes that respond to what the bands are doing and there were plenty of ringing, metallic noises and drones laced through the squalls of notes and rumbles from the band. Ghost Trance Music made an appearance too with streams of notes and looping episodes, orchestrated by the occasional wave and gesture from the leader.

Braxton-W-M-15

The evening was an adventure in listening as well as playing and if the size and attentiveness of the audience for this gig is an indication, Todd Wills is on a winning streak with his programming. Mr Braxton was excited too. As the music came to an abrupt halt, he leaned to the mic, thanking everyone for coming and declaring "I love UK, its one of my favourite countries!"

– Mike Collins


– Photos by Chris Cooper / Shotaway

There are easier ways to make music; it doesn’t have to be a jazz orchestra, does it? I’m asking composer and bandleader Sid Peacock about the challenge he has set himself with his latest project, called Surge Orchestra, and its debut outing in a concert at Birmingham’s MAC Theatre on 7 February.

“It's Challenge Anneka on steroids,” he tells me. “You have to raise the cash and do the whole organising thing yourself that big orchestras have a whole team of people doing. You'd think in times of austerity it'd be better to be a solo or duo act,” he agrees, “but that's not how musicians think.”

It’s certainly not how Sid Peacock thinks. Over the past year, in addition to the education and performance work he has been doing as associate artist at the MAC in Cannon Hill Park, Birmingham, Sid has also played in the Peacock Angell Band, the Celtic folk group he co-leads with his partner Ruth Angell, and spent time with the Sichuan Opera Troupe in Chongqing, China, as a British Council musician.

Before all that Sid had been back home in Northern Ireland working with his mentor and fellow composer Brian Irvine on Beyond The March, a project to get Loyalist marching bands playing their music in a cultural context. All those recent influences in his life will be reflected in the music he is currently writing for the Surge Orchestra, an expansion of his Surge Big Band, which was formed in 2003 and has recorded two albums.

“It's going great so far. I've been trying to reconnect with my Celtic influences. It's not exactly Enya though. I'd recommend checking out the novelist Patrick McCabe, who wrote The Butcher Boy and Dead School. It’s something like that. It deals with the darker and delirious side of everyday small town Irish life.” He quickly adds: “There'll be plenty of brighter moments too, though!”

In addition to having added string players, the Surge Orchestra will feature two soloists, drummer Mark Sanders and pianist Steve Tromans.

Sid Peacock and Surge Orchestra with featured soloists Mark Sanders and Steve Tromans will be at the MAC, Birmingham, at 8pm on Saturday 7 February – for full info and tickets go to macbirmingham.co.uk

(Pictured top: Sid Peacock, centre, with featured soloists Steve Tromans, left, and Mark Sanders)

– Peter Bacon

Bass master Dave Holland made a rare appearance in the Houses of Parliament last night, Wednesday 21 January, when he played as special guest with the National Youth Jazz Collective at the Youth Jazz concert: an annual event organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group in the House of Commons’ Attlee Suite, situated in Portcullis House.

British born but New York-based since he moved to America to join Miles Davis in 1968 after Davis had spotted him playing at Ronnie Scott’s Club, Holland has built a formidable career as a much-in-demand bassist and bandleader with over 20 solo albums, starting with Conference Of The Birds on ECM in 1972, over 19 albums as co-leader and dozens of dates as featured bassist on albums by Miles Davis, Chick Corea, Herbie Hancock, Pat Metheny, Kenny Wheeler and Anthony Braxton among many others. Holland had been in London for the past week as International Artist in Residence for the Royal Academy of Music’s jazz course: a long standing relationship and commitment to helping up and coming musicians, which this year included a Masterclass and a special performance of his ‘Monterey Suite’ with the Royal Academy Big Band.

Run by artistic director Issie Barratt, the National Youth Jazz Collective is made up of young musicians who are about to or have just started jazz courses at conservatoires across the UK. The standard of musicianship is already praiseworthy and featured in the large ensemble at Portcullis House were trumpeters Alex Ridout and Jake Labazzi; alto saxophonists Alexander Bone and Tom Smith; tenor saxophonist Ash Parkinson; guitarist Nick Fitch; pianist Stephanie Wills; bassist Daisy George; drummer Adam Woodcock; vocalist Ella Hohnen and Jessica Mistry on Indian flute.


Following an opening set by the NYJC, Dave Holland took over on double bass as the ensemble tore into a brisk, often latin flavoured set with captivating arrangements and a lively confidence that belied their junior years. Among the highlights were Asha Parkinson’s anti-war ‘Battles’ and Stephanie Wills’ ‘July’, which provided a surge of summer heat on a freezing winter night. The performance wrapped with a scorching blow through Horace Silver’s ‘Nica’s Dream’ with Holland’s assured melodic depth anchoring and driving the youthful exuberance, particularly a whiplash alto solo from Alexander Bone – a name already recognised by the BBC as the 2014 Young Jazz Musician of the Year. Judging by some of last night’s impressive performances, he won’t be the only one.

– Jon Newey

– Photo by Hayley Madden featuring Dave Holland and the National Youth Jazz Collective together with NYJC director Issie Barratt, Michael Connarty MP, Jazz FM's Helen Mayhew and Jonathan Morrish and Keith Harris of sponsors PPL

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