Joe Lovano - Organic Growth

Blessed with an enormous, joyful sound and the purest of tones, above all, on the tenor saxophone, Joe Lovano has not surprisingly moved to the top of the pile on the international jazz circuit in the course of his career so far. The son of a saxophonist, he has, from the 1990s onwards, laid down a formidable series of albums, primarily for the Blue Note label and the latest, Folk Art, is out now. To coincide with its release and in anticipation of his appearance at Ronnie Scott’s this month Joe tells Brian Priestley about the genesis of his new band and album, his parallel work with McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones and John Scofield, and above all about his enduring love for jazz and the improvising ethic.

At the appointed hour for our interview, saxophonist supreme Joe Lovano was still waiting to check into a hotel in Eugene (Oregon), the latest date on a whistle-stop tour of the USA and Canada by the SF Jazz Collective.

One of many all-star groupings Lovano has been involved with in the past decade or so, its latest line-up featured Joe alongside Miguel Zenón, Dave Douglas, Robin Eubanks and Renée Rosnes, with Matt Penman and Eric Harland on bass and drums. As well as original material by all concerned, this year’s tour focussed on the music of the great McCoy Tyner. This must have been like coming home for Lovano, since in recent years he’s done several quartet gigs with Tyner, including the European tour that brought him to Ronnie Scott’s last year.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #130 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a limited edition jazz photograph...

Led Bib - The Outsiders

Led Bib were one of the few bands to spawn the recently revived notion of punk jazz with their incendiary concoction of maverick avant garde jazz and rock sounds cooked up by spiky drummer Mark Holub. Newly signed to American indie Cuneiform, the band unleashes its latest album Sensible Shoes this month. Selwyn Harris talks to Holub about the roots of the Led Bib sound and how the band just doesn’t fit in

It’s clear from speaking to the New Jersey-born, London-based drummer Mark Holub that he’s feeling out on a limb. Yet it’s not simply a case of feeling apart from the conservative jazz mainstream. That wouldn’t be the least surprising and hardly an unusual position to be in. No, most of our conversation seems to be revolving around the distance between Led Bib and the entire jazz community in all its various shades and guises. Holub is the drumming mastermind behind the band and as anyone who’s seen them play live will agree, they’re not the kind of band that can be so easily contained. They make highly inflammable music that fizzes with an underlying tension, even in its most gentle moments. The five-piece is a musical timebomb. Yet the point about Led Bib is not to take them too seriously; their music has an impish, almost vaudevillian quality to it as well. Bundling together elements from gestural free jazz, cranked-up rock, downtown thrash and electronics among others, Led Bib, over its five-year existence, has had a hard job making new friends. In some ways they can’t win: perceived as too musically convoluted for the rock music sub-culture yet too unschooled for the jazz underground.

“I think as time has gone by we’ve become far more isolated from the jazz community as a group,” says the band’s amicable drummer/leader, in conversation with me at his home in Walthamstow E17. “But isolated in a good way in that people probably aren’t that bothered about what we’re doing. Saying that, the scene is much more open now than it was five years ago when we started. When we first started we were really separate at that time because none of us went to the Academy or the Guildhall.” He laughs, “we were the losers from Middlesex.”

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #130 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a limited edition jazz photograph...

Get The Blessing - Bristol Fashion

Get The Blessing made a big impact last year with its debut album and returns this month with another helping of genre-melting jazz rock, this time titled Bugs In Amber. Clive Deamer and Jim Barr might be better known for their work with Robert Plant and Portishead but, as the jazz world discovered with its debut, the pair, joined by jazzers Jake McMurchie and Pete Judge, are deadly serious about producing an identifiable group sound, grounded in their love of Ornette Coleman, the improvising ethic and an openness to other music picked up from the ecumenical attitude of their native Bristol’s music scene. Andy Robson was our man on the spot when the album was recorded

It’s been a crazy year or so for The Blessing. Well, they’re not The Blessing any more, for a start. As long as they were an anonymous bunch of upstarts from the wild west (not that they were ever really that), no one minded that they shared a name with a hairy rock band. But now they’re the august winners of last year’s BBC Jazz Album Of The Year award, they’ve found themselves re-branded as Get The Blessing.

They may have lost part of the ‘jazz’ heritage in the process – they took their original moniker from the Ornette Coleman song – but the band remain jovially surprised at the success of All Is Yes. Even Clive Deamer who has been through the industry prize wringer not once but twice as a Mercury winner with Portishead and Roni Size can’t suppress a chortle at how events have played out. But then Get The Blessing are a band who chortle plenty.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #130 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a limited edition jazz photograph...

Andy Sheppard - Five Alive

Andy Sheppard, with his debut album as a leader on ECM, featuring his new international five-piece group, Movements in Colour, is a turning point in the career of the saxophonist who first came to notice back in the 1980s when jazz was briefly undergoing a mini-boom. His first record in some years the record also marks a subtle change in Sheppard’s style, incorporating Indo-jazz and Eurojazz nuances which allows him to explore areas of interest in his music that he has been developing since his last albums for the Provocateur label. Duncan Heining talks to Sheppard about his hopes for the group and looks back with him on the highs and lows of his career so far.

Branford Marsalis - Changing Man

The Branford Marsalis Quartet is one of the longest-running most influential jazz groups on the scene today and more important than just longevity, continues to evolve its music, refusing to settle into a comfortable orthodox. The notion of change and challenging audiences is very much to the fore on the new album Metamorphosen and it’s something Branford Marsalis talks to Stuart Nicholson about ahead of dates at the Bath festival and Ronnie Scott’s in May.

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