Pat Metheny and Brad Mehldau - Meeting of minds

The release of Metheny Mehldau is the jazz event of the year by some distance. It’s the first time guitarist Pat Metheny and pianist Brad Mehldau have recorded together and presents a fascinating match of two musical forces who have become world renowned jazz figures. Metheny, for his wealth of critically and commercially successful records, guitar virtuosity and free wheeling jazz spirit, Mehldau for his dark neo-Gothic treatments of jazz standards and the figure who has made interpretations of Radiohead and Nick Drake de rigueur for the hip young jazz musician. In this exclusive Stuart Nicholson talks to Pat Metheny about the secretive recording session that spawned the record and a future release by the pair, and finds out how Pat and Brad found themselves playing a Whitney Houston song at a birthday party when they first met. Then Brad Mehldau talks to Stephen Graham about notions of Americana, his “Gothic tinge” and declares that he is a “notoriously bad collaborator”

Colin Towns - Back from the brink

Keyboard player and composer Colin Towns is on the way back after his record company Provocateur skirted with disaster in the wake of the collapse of its distributors. Once the most adventurous and ideas-driven indie jazz record label in the UK, with a motto to match, “improvise not compromise”, a hostile record business climate brought the label close to the point of collapse. Best known for releases by Andy Sheppard and Guy Barker, whose album Soundtrack was Mercury nominated, Towns and his label, with a slimmed down staff and a more cautious approach, are set for a busy autumn, especially with his Frank Zappa-themed big band album and a major tour on the horizon. Duncan Heining talks to Towns about the once dark days at Provocateur, the green shoots of recovery and why there’s nothing sacred with Zappa. And in the following feature he talks to Norma Winstone about her new album on Towns’ label.

Branford Marsalis - Home is where the heat is

Something to brag about? Well, that’s what Branford Marsalis would like you to think he has achieved on his latest release Braggtown. A white knuckle ride with drummer Jeff “Tain” Watts punishing his drums time and time again, especially on the tune ‘Blakzilla’ inspired by the music from the Japanese horror film Godzilla. But the latest recording by his seasoned band, whose line up is completed by bassist Eric Revis and pianist Joey Calderazzo, also exposes another melancholic side of Branford’s musical psyche, inspired by the unlikely Teutonic figure of Richard Wagner.

Abram Wilson - Ticket to ride

When trumpeter Abram Wilson made the move from his native New Orleans to London he had no idea about what was in store. From jamming in London jazz clubs, to working on Soweto Kinch’s Conversations With The Unseen, to developing his own albums Jazz Warrior and now Ride! the New Orleansian has come a long way in a short time. Andy Robson talks to Abram about the inspirations behind his new album, the effects of Hurricane Katrina on his hometown and finds out more from saxophonist Soweto Kinch who will share the stage at a high profile show with Wilson at this month’s London Jazz Festival.

Gilad Atzmon - Not strictly kosher

Larger than life, with an extraordinary view of jazz, philosophy and politics, the Israeli saxophonist Gilad Atzmon tells Stuart Nicholson about his new creation Artie Fishel, a Jewish Jelly Roll Morton with his own theories about where jazz was created. Atzmon explains why he turned his back on his Israeli heritage, after serving in the Israeli army, diagreeing with the political aspects of the Jewish state and instead actively supporting the Palestinian cause. It’s a stance that has caused his critics to accuse him of being a “self hating Jew” something which Atzmon in this remarkable interview faces head on.

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