Tommy Smith – History in Symphony

Jazzwise-cover-cover-Sept16-300In a career spanning over three decades – from his days as an 18-year-old protégé of Chick Corea and Gary Burton, to his latter day omnivorous musical explorations of jazz-rock with Karma, Nordic post-bop with Arild Andersen and his directorship of exceptional large works with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra – Tommy Smith has always taken the musical high road. Yet, his latest album, Modern Jacobite, is his most ambitious to date as he joins forces with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and combines elements of jazz, symphony and folk melody. At its heart resides a present-day reading of a very Catholic campaign. Stuart Nicholson speaks to the Scottish saxophonist about how the current struggle for his home country’s sovereignty and the search for his own identity provided the themes for this epic sonic canvas

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Donny McCaslin – Dark Arts

Jazzwise-cover-cover-Sept16-300Following his key contributions to David Bowie’s epochal Blackstar, New York saxophonist Donny McCaslin launches his own long-player next month, Beyond Now, a barnstorming tribute to the musical and cultural icon and one cast in his influence. Selwyn Harris spoke to the reedsman about his experiences working alongside the great chameleon of rock and how Bowie’s questing, fearless spirit continues to impact upon, not just the work and life of McCaslin, but on a whole generation of energised US jazz musicians 

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Yazz Ahmed – Sabotage and Surprise

Jazzwise-cover-cover-Sept16-300Trumpeter Yazz Ahmed’s work live and on record with progressive-minded post-rockers Radiohead and arty envelope-pushers These New Puritans have made a seismic impact on her current approach to making music, with its emphasis on organic loops, soundscaping and electronics. Selwyn Harris spoke to Ahmed about her role as the go-to horn player on the alternative rock scene and how the lessons learnt there have transferred over to her forthcoming album, provisionally-titled La Saboteuse, where Arabian rhythms from her Bahraini background fuse with her lucid vision of contemporary jazz

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Dhafer Youssef – The Bittersweetness of Being

Jazzwise-cover-cover-Sept16-300Tunisian Dhafer Youssef’s cultural cross-pollinating music and career rise up like models for harmonious living in an increasingly fraught and fractured world. With a rich, genre-straddling body of work behind him, Youssef’s latest and intriguingly-titled album, Diwan Of Beauty And Odd, is a meter-manipulating collection spanning Western and Islamic tropes and features some of New York’s fi nest jazz men in Aaron Parks, Ben Williams, Mark Guiliana and Ambrose Akinmusire. Kevin Le Gendre spoke to the oud player and vocalist about the daily duality of joy and pain and how they, along with seismic personal circumstances, have provided the underlying narrative for this powerful new work

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #211 – to read the full article click here to Subscribe, save money and get a fantsatic jazz CD FREE

Branford Marsalis and Kurt Elling – Melody in Motion

JAZZWISE-COVER-AUGUST350Saxophonist Branford Marsalis’ Quartet has an illustrious 20-year history spanning a series of 15 powerful albums that have tackled everything from John Coltrane’s A Love Supreme in its entirety, to 2012’s scorching Four MFs Playin’ Tunes – always giving acoustic modern jazz a hefty kick up the behind. Yet working with a singer had never been on the Quartet’s cards – until now. Multi-Grammy Award winner Kurt Elling stepped up to the plate for what could be his fi nest vocal album to date, Upward Spiral, taming his velvety virtuosity to work within Marsalis’ fiercely intelligent vision of contemporary swing, ballads and blues. In a forthright interview Stuart Nicholson speaks to the album’s two principal protagonists about how they forged their musical partnership

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #210 – to read the full article click here to Subscribe, save money

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