Fapy Lafertin Quartet swings Le Quecumbar


Passers by on Battersea High Street on a warm summer evening, hearing the sweet energy of a guitar and a violin in full flight on a warm summer evening, stopped to listen as Fapy Lafertin’s guitar and Hannah Bienert’s violin entwined, parted, teased and cajoled before bringing Lapertin’s Cinzano – an exhilarating coupling of fast jazz waltz and czardas - to a soaring conclusion.

Inside Le Quecumbar, a friendly brasserie that double as a veritable shrine to the spirit of Django Reinhardt, the bitter-sweet I’ll Be Seeing You found Lafertin in lyrical mood, sometimes chasing a long, assertive run up the fingerboard, only to conclude it with a slow, delicate phrase of delicately caressed notes. A true improviser, he clearly has many well practised patterns and devices in his repertoire but he is constantly inventive and discriminating in his choice of notes, his dynamics and the development of his solos. His introductions to songs - a mix of chords and fragmentary phrases - are often little gems while his occasional use of right-hand tremolo on chords can add drama and intensity behind a soloist.

Of all the guitarists to emerge from the revival of interest in the music of Django Reinhardt, Stéphane Grappelli and the Quintet of the Hot Club of France that began around 20 years ago (wryly dubbed “The Django Industry” by Jim Mullen), Fapy Lafertin is one of the most creative and interesting. A Manouche gypsy who lives in Holland, he made his name in the 1980s as guitarist with the pioneering Belgian gypsy jazz group Waso in the 1970s and ‘80s. Although recognised as a master of the gypsy jazz guitar style of playing and its particular techniques, has never been content merely to reproduce the Hot Club style. He has wide musical interests and has often included in his concerts a set of Portugese Fado, performed on the traditional 12-string guitarra (challenging to tune, let alone play!).

Lafertin’s compositions at Le Quecumbar included a minor-key bossa whose Romany title translates as Hedgehog, Plachterida (meaning Butterfly) and the somewhat baroque Turn. When he raided the Hot Club repertoire, it was to select less well-worn songs such as I’ve Had My Moments, Coquette (with double bassist Sébastien Girardot astonishing everyone with a spectacular slap-bass solo) and Speevy which, with its menacing chromatically descending chords which then resolve conventionally, served as an excellent showcase for Hannah Bienert. This young violinist from Berlin is the ideal musical partner for Lafertin; she explores a ballad with delicate care and understanding but can hold her own against the virtuosity of the leader and set the room alight on fast tempos.

The tone of Lafertin’s Maccaferri-style guitar is gorgeous, bright, deep and clear from top of its range to the open strings a the bottom and the overall sound and internal balance of this largely acoustic quartet was perfect. Bassist Sébastien Girardot, from Melbourne, Australia, but now a confirmed Parisian, laid down a firm foundation throughout while Dave Kelbie, played excellent acoustic rhythm guitar on a giant vintage archtop Gibson L7.

Highlights included a dramatic interpretation of Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion, their up-tempo closer I Wonder Where My Baby is Tonight and their encore – Fapy’s gentle arrangement of Debussy’s Clair de Lune – rounded off an evening of diverse musical pleasures from this charming, modest musician and his talented quartet.

– Charles Alexander

 

Dave Holland Prism power-up at Ronnie’s

Anticipation was biting the diners and drinkers circling the stage, and up there waiting for Dave Holland and his band to plug in and find their positions under the heavy spots, the club's compare was informing the floor that the double bassist's debut at Ronnie's was in fact with Miles Davis in 1969, the finer details of which, he explained, "Dave would probably go through later..."

As much as a milestone moment that gig was forty-five years ago, you fast got the impression from all the welcoming whistles and cheer that, like Holland himself, tonight's crowd was more concerned with the now, this gig, this band and the intoxicating self-titled album they dropped late last year.

So it was lights down and down to business, as this all-star outfit of guitarist Kevin Eubanks, pianist and keyboard player Craig Taborn and drummer Eric Harland, threw themselves into the bassist's ‘A New Day’. Growling from the get-go, the tune's repetitive, low-end bass vamp, urgent piano and stuttered, snare-driven beat at once filled the room, bedecked with a dirty, distorted blues solo from Eubanks.

If the band's immediate sound, and this fearless opener, screamed swing, 1970s Miles and Mahavishnu, Eubank's lengthy ‘Evolution’ added all the thrills of straight-ahead rock. Crawling out of some high-register bowed bass, feint cymbal rolls and Taborn slowly scraping the strings inside his piano, Eubanks' sustained, muscular guitar melody mutated into something more venomous, and an odd-time riff reminiscent of Miles' "It's About That Time", had it been covered by Led Zeppelin.

When the guitarist eventually stepped off the gas and reprised the original theme, some swirling organ and a funky, hip-hop-style hook from Holland helped brush it through a long, but hypnotic fade out. Out of that fade, against the natural buzz of the amps, Holland's introductory solo to "The Empty Chair" (dedicated to his late wife, Clare) cajoled some pensive playing from all, particularly Holland himself, essaying spacious and lyrical lines across a slow, blasé beat from Harland, so crisp you could make out every minute subdivision.

Elsewhere, Taborn's ‘True Meaning of Determination’ spotlit Harland's tireless ability to hover, and improvise over odd-time signatures. During a volcanic solo in which he played between a regular kit and much smaller, slack-skinned set-up to his left, it was debatable as to whether he was taking his cues from the piece's montuno-style head, Holland's ferocious finger work, or the clinking of glasses and cutlery around the club.

The drummer's own ballad ‘Breathe’ further-transfixed the room. Eased in with Taborn alone, deploying some vigorous, classical-like chords and rolls, the pretty piece swelled to embrace brushes, soft bass and a cascading single-note guitar drone, all of which factored in its emotive climax.

By the time the band reappeared to rip through encore ‘The Watcher’, it was obvious Holland wasn't going to conclude with some last-minute musings on Miles. Besides, the band had already paid tribute to the great trumpeter with a stimulating set that constantly grooved, moved, and flipped stylistically, just the way Davis did.

– Mark Youll

The Danes get dancing at Aarhus Jazz Festival, Denmark


The Danish word ‘hugeligt’, which loosely translates as cosy, is a perfect way to describe the small but perfectly formed city of Aarhus. Dotted with picturesque squares, gardens, churches, cobbled streets and the kind of rectangular, functional but soberly stylish buildings that the Scandinavians do particularly well, it is a place with a distinct atmosphere of calm and contentedness that simply seemed to make punters listen more intently to the acts on an excellent bill. Two stellar trios stood out: firstly Japanese pianist Makiko Hirabayashi’s group, featuring a couple of great Danes, double bassist Klavs Hovman and drummer-percussionist Marilyn Mazur, was one of the highlights of the closing weekend. Vaguely recalling My Song-era Jarrett, Hirbayashi played melodies that were loose and leisurely but had an intense rhythmic fire provided by her accompanists, in particular Mazur whose clever subversion of marching beats and African clavé patterns provided a joyousness that matched the sun-kissed skies.

In complete contrast was a unique Danish-American trio formed by drummer Stefan Pasborg, saxophonist-clarinetist Lars Greve and pianist Aaron Parks (pictured top). Given the fact that the latter was standing in at very short notice for the scheduled Carsten Dahl, who dropped out on health grounds, the musicians had precious little time to rehearse, and if there was the slightest reticence then it was soon overcome in an absorbing set that moved stealthily between driving rhythms, shifting tonality and still-of-the-night contemplation, in which Greve’s sensual long tones came into their own. This kind of inspired international collaboration did not detract from the breadth of Danish talent, of which a striking example was Ornithopter, which was akin to hearing Mr Coleman’s classic quartet with the leader replaced by Roswell Rudd.

In trumpeter Scott Westh and trombonist Jens Kristian Bang they had an expressive and wholly sensitive front line. Having said that the presence of several other local players who appeared in multiple groups – Hammond organist Kveld Lauritsen, drummer Per Gade, saxophonists Jens Kluver, Christian Wuust and Hans Ulrik– also made for enjoyable moments, particularly when the musicians played in the many small cafes in town where there was no need for amplification, and the rich timbres of each instrument could be enjoyed to the full. Lastly two very contrasting performances really underlined how open-minded the programming is.

The pan-European ensemble Melting Pot Made In Wroclaw, featuring Poles, trumpeter Piotr Damasiewicz and clarinettist Mateusz Rybicki, German drummer Fabian Jung, Danish electronicist and Soren Lyngso Knudsen two Irish, guitarist Shane Latimer and vocalist Lauren Kinsella, was a freely improvised session that had more moments of fascination than flatness, while a couple of gigs by the quite fabulous guitarist Uffe Steen, one in particular with American vocalist James Loveless, showed that the blues is alive and well in Denmark. The sight of a few hundred people shimmying in a tent to the sound of ‘Stormy Monday Blues’ was just as uplifting as that of an audience listening rapt to abstract sounds produced very much in the moment. The stylistic range proved a fitting allegory for the Aarhus jazz festival itself: challenging its audience all the while making it get up and dance.          

– Kevin Le Gendre

– Photo courtesy: Inge Lynggaard Hansen

 

Christian McBride, Mehliana and Pharoah Sanders make for epic North Sea Jazz Festival

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With the proliferation of jazz festivals in recent times you would be less likely to raise an eyebrow if the programme from one of the newer promoters were to heavily featured non-jazz acts. But, for a 39 year veteran such as the North Sea Jazz Festival, and particularly if your expectations lean more towards the mainstream then acts such as Robin Thicke or Pharrell Williams might well be considered as blurring the lines (pun intended) between what is, and what is not, jazz.

However, the NSJF's diverse programming is its strong point, held this year between 11-13 July, with 13 performance stages logistically positioned at the Rotterdam Ahoy complex, the bedazzling three-day timetable is big enough to allow you to map out a personal festival experience to your own liking or experimentation.

Entering the Ahoy is like being teleported into a musical theme park or village with music being performed at every corner. With great variety of eating and hanging out places such as Central Square also various retail outlets – should you wish to indulge in some festival merchandising therapy – the outside world becomes far removed from your existence. This festival village even has its own currency, the munten (or token) for purchasing all refreshments and culinary delights.

The Artist In Residence at this year's festival was Christian McBride (pictured top), which saw several featured performances by him on each day. A jazz bassist of formidable ability and reputation he performed in various settings; big band, small combo and with his regular trio of Rodney Green (drums) and Christian Sands (piano).

Robert Glasper's Experiment featuring Lalah Hathaway and Bilal were one of the first acts to set things rolling. Together with the Metropole Orkest their musical statement blends and crosses the boundaries of jazz, gospel, R&B, hip hop with a tinge of classical. Even the most conservative listener could endorse their rendition of Stevie Wonder’s 'Jesus Children of America' as something special. However, if 1970-80s funk also happens to be your thing, a dash across to the large Nile Arena and you could get your dose from the Parliament-Funkadelic and ex-James Brown bass man Bootsy Collins who showed a strident determination to 'tear the roof off the sucker'!  Wielding a sparkling star-shaped bass guitar he would occasionally turn to face his spacesuit clad Funk Unity Band to summon up more theatrics, much to the delight of the audience.

In stark contrast Mavis Staples brought a sobering sanity to the Congo Stage with her gospel/blues tinged performance. The band laid down a soulful foundation complementing her smooth yet assertive tone on 'Respect Yourself’, which gave the song an authentic stamp redolent of the original Staple Singers.

Pharoah Saunders creates a meditate mood in the Hudson hall with Oli Hayhurst (bass), Gene Calderazzo (drums) and William Henderson (piano). A long surging intro by the rhythm section to John Coltrane's 'Crescent' where Saunders weave his tenor sax motifs before a sweeping crescendo into the melody. This alone was ample confirmation of being at a jazz festival and for you to sit back into your chair assured of a joyful performance.

Mehliana MG 0517
Brad Mehldau
(keyboards/samplers - pictured above) and Mark Guiliana (drums/electronic gadgets) jointly know as Mehliana performed a mix of electronica fusing jazz, funk, prog rock to a captivated audience, which at times seems serious. As usual at the NSJF diversity can always be found not too far from the mainstream. In the Nile Arena following on from the Robin Thicke performance, Pharrell Williams draws a crowd that fills the arena conjuring up visions of sardines in a can. Surprisingly people found room to sway and dance when he performed the chart topper he co-wrote with the rapper Nelly, 'It's Getting Hot In Here'.

Day 2 saw Quincy Jones being honoured in the Amazon Auditorium with the Metropole Orkest Big Band, conducted by Jules Buckley they performed lush arrangements from the Jones catalogue. Later on in the day Quincy himself, presented his 'Global Gumbo Project' featuring the young Cuban pianist Alfredo Rodriguez, singer Nikki Yanofsky (who also appeared at the Love Supreme Festival) and Hungarian child prodigy, guitarist Andreas Varady. Quincy extolled their virtues as encouragement for each to do their best and for the audience to be impressed by his young protégés. Based on their performances no doubt we will be hearing more from them in the future.

Children Of The Light Trio (Danilo Perez, piano, John Patitucci, bass and Brian Blade, drums - pictured above) showed that they can conjure up musical magic without their mentor, Wayne Shorter. Their collective virtuosity gives them identity as they flow through genres and influences from Pan-American Latin, to classical and American jazz, though there are moments you anticipate Shorter will appear out of nowhere with a crowning embellishment.

Hammond organist Dr. Lonnie Smith with his guitar and drums trio show they can groove as well as take you to the outer edges of harmony incorporating synthesisers and electronic gadgetry. But it's Benny Golson with his poignant relating of the history behind each song played that really transforms the atmosphere of moderately sized Madera room to that of a cosy nightclub. His tribute to trumpeter Clifford Brown through his much-covered composition 'I Remember Clifford' was both beautiful and touching.

Surprisingly other artists such as French-Lebanese trumpeter Ibrahim Maalouf, Sons Of Kemet, singer Chloe Charles et al drew decent sized audiences, bearing testament to the strength of their musical offerings. It was surprising by the fact that Stevie Wonder's performance overlapped theirs. Such was Wonder’s attraction that the 15,000-plus capacity Nile Arena’s main entrances had to be closed with audience spilling over into the outer eating areas where it was an equal struggle to be able to view the show from various overhead cinema screens. Typically, Mr Wonder infused the mood with his wonder and closed the day where he held the audience spellbound for a marathon two-and-a-half-hour set where he also invited a gleeful Joss Stone onto the stage where they engaged in ad lib vocal exchanges.

CecileMcLorinSalvant MG 1298

Day 3 kept the momentum going with great performances and feats of showmanship from Charles Bradley, Sharon Jones and the Daptone Super Soul Revue. Natalie Cole’s performance added a svelte sophistication to the mix and Cécile McLorin-Salvant (above) shows that the defining styles of past songstress (Holiday, Fitzgerald, Vaughan) remain fresh as well as timeless whilst pianist John Escreet with his trio featuring Evan Parker on saxophones showed that you can have form without melody and hold on to an audience.

A tough act to follow after Stevie Wonder's Day 2 closing performance, it was 90s hip-hop duo Outkast who would perform the closing act of the 2014 festival. It might be assumed that the ethos for their performance was one of trying to go out with a bang and perhaps the deafening sound was their way of trying to keep up with Mr. Wonder though not a convincing substitute. However, for the vast crowd it seemed to appeal that the jazz festival would end with no jazz as the performed popular hits such as ‘Ms Jackson’, ‘Roses’, ‘So Fresh So Clean’ and ‘Rosa Parks’.

Whatever, no one would imagine the festival promoters being disappointed with much this year as numbers in attendance made this the biggest ever NSJF, with tickets being completely sold out as it remains the biggest jazz festival in the world. There are so many to choose from these days but if you like your jazz festivals to be as a ‘festival on steroids’ and you also have a good amounts of sustaining energy then this is the one for you.

– Roger Thomas (story and photos)

 

Monty Alexander, Kenny Garrett and Ginger Baker at stellar Montreal Jazz Festival 2014

Dr-Lonnie-Smith-Octe
The 35th Montreal Jazz spectacular offered what it always does, opportunity and encouragement to hook up the A-team, whatever project is in the works, show us its optimal incarnation. 

Beyond the blockbuster shows of Diana Krall and newbies Vintage Trouble, this was a boon to several stalwart bandleaders. Perhaps the most genial of these were Dr Lonnie Smith and Monty Alexander. The Turbanator, Dr Smith, fronted a crack octet, with five horns brought together by altoist Ian Hendrickson-Smith, including snakily soulful tenorist/bass clarinettist John Ellis. This organic, yet tight section (no pesky music to read) was anchored by the badass beats of Jonathan Blake and succinct guitarist Ed Cherry, with the doctor handling bass duties with his boots. 

Smith does the minimum to elicit the maximum, is always spontaneous and revels in showcasing his musicians. His double late night set at Gesu crescenodoed with a new schtick, wacking out basslines on his custom slaparoo walking stick whilst prerambulating through the wowed crowd. 

Two nights later at the same venue veteran entertainer Monty Alexander held sway with a similarly ambitious crew. His Harlem-Kingston Express is a unique yoking of jazz and reggae, twinning stylistically respective drummers Obed Calvaire and Karl Wright and acoustic/electric bassists Hassan Shakur and Courtney Panton. At a signal from Alexander at the piano the deftly acoustic cocktail jazz half of the band cut abruptly, letting the reggae boys drop. Alexander was as mercurial as ever but announced bluntly at the end of the set, “That’s all folks!” and hastily walked offstage. Blaming strong Canadian coffee for overpowering him, he eventually returned with “What de hell!” and launched in to a bonus number. Turns out he suffered a mild heart attack and spent the following day in hospital getting checked out, though no-one would have known from his merry yodel of goodbye after the encore. 

The differing feel of jazz and reggae drums is made salient in the Harlem-Kingston Express but veteran Jamaican drummer Wright, who’d otherwise dutifully installed the groove like Monty’s sometime colleague Sly Dunbar, exploded on cue with a solo finale to the evening. Talking of Sly himself, wearing a workman’s hat behind the kit, he and Robbie Shakespeare had opened for Burning Spear the night before at Metropolis, letting frontman (and tour manager) Peter Gayle croon with such fare as Stevie Wonder’s tearjerker ‘Lately’, while they plied trademark riddims in back.

Ginger-Baker-montreal

Ginger performs gingerly

Dropping flamboyant (double flam) beats, with his own health travails, was Ginger Baker, who played a low key yet big scale show with his Jazz Confusion quartet featuring bassist Alec Dankworth at Theatre Maisonneuve. Check Wikipedia for Baker’s copious drum specs and imagine assorted music shops along his tour route amassing his arsenal, as he himself travels light (not a polo pony in sight). Not too much of his impressive rig with requisite twin bass drums was deployed when he took a first solo, and its bombast bore no relevance to the rest of the music, it was as clumsy as a teenager clobbering buckets in the street. However by the end of the concert (notwithstanding a five minute intermission – he kept prefacing the more demanding 12/8 grooves with, “this one is the Baker killer”), Ginger’s synch with Ghanaian percussionist Abass Dodoo became steadily mesmerising.

Those familiar with Tony Palmer’s 1971 documentary Ginger Baker in Africa will dig that the trance like continuum of Fela’s grooves left an indelible stamp on the journeyman drum hero. The legacy of such quintessential experience made trots through ‘Footprints’ and ‘St Thomas’ sound positively bourgeois. Preferable were vehicles that telescoped his African adventures, such as ‘Ain Temouchant’ which Baker told us commemorates a location in the Atlas Mountains where “with, great aplomb, I drove my car at very high speed off the mountain – into an olive tree.”

Pointing a drumstick at Pee Wee Ellis, Baker taunted defiantly “He’ll probably die first!” Ellis, sitting on a stool, proved the perfect compliment to the arthritic Baker. Admirably lean and to the point, the dry James Brown alum took sensible forays into the upper register and, beyond winking gratuities – like slipping in the horn line to ‘Cold Sweat’ – played with more jazzy logic than expected.

Scheila-Gonzalez-Montreal-2014-

Side-women have it

Sideman saxophonists were notable at this year’s Montreal, and let’s amend that to sidewomen, because Sharel Cassity more than pulled her weight in an allstar (if strangely unscheduled) septet featuring Tommy Campbell, Cyrus Chesnut and Terell Stafford, opening for Aretha Franklin. Multi instrumentalist Scheila Gonzalez (above) was also amazing, building her tenor solo with all the soul/virtuosity of Ronnie Laws/Ernie Watts on ‘Peaches in Regalia’ with Dweezil Zappa’s six-piece Zappa Plays Zappa group at Metropolis (she bagged an instrumental Grammy for such a performance in 2009 by the by). 

Another tenor playing sidekick, Timothy McFatter, was exhorted to take it higher by Troy Andrews and duly did during Trombone Shorty (below) and Orleans Avenue’s incendiary ‘Fire and Brimstone’ return engagement at Metropolis. Also, uncredited local ringer Andre Leroux, buried in the ranks of her backing orchestra, blew an outstanding solo behind an appreciative Aretha Franklin. 

Choice gigs at Theatre Jean Duceppe, Cinquieme Salle and Club Soda

Beyond Aretha Franklin's nostalgia fest at Salle Wilfrid Pelletier, the most memorable version of 'Say A Little Prayer' was delivered by the superbly athletic Kenny Garrett Quintet. Garrett hypnotised Theatre Jean Duceppe on 1 July, with his whinnying soprano and throat singing-in-tongues mantra ‘Pushing the World Away’, the eponymous cut from his intense Mack Avenue CD, which wins my vote for tune title of the year.

Cinquieme Salle, something of a smaller version of Gesu, that often hosts theatrical asides to the main programming, has been a welcome addition to the serious jazz roster recently and was the ideal room to host Randy Weston in duo with scrappy tenor firebrand Billy Harper. Weston doesn’t like to work too hard – transporting his massive six foot eight frame around at age 88 is surely work enough – but he dispensed fresh sagacities over his well oiled perennials ‘Little Niles’ and ‘High Fly’ as Harper dug for other profundities. It was welcome to hear more expressionistic playing amid all the buttoned up virtuosi prevalent at the festival. 

Though my favorite oasis - because of the venue’s cabaret informality and approximate hit times - schedule clashes dragged me away from Club Soda too early on several occasions. I caught only a smidgin (though enough to get the gist) of Tuareg bluesman Omar “Bombino” Moctar, who was nice to hear without the reverb Dan Auerbach likes to shower over the Nonesuch CDs he produces, and not much more of Jose James, Blue Note’s suspiciously good looking darling whose lyrics – “Come to me baby/Love me tonight/Stay with me angel/Rest of my life” – failed to convince. 

Montreal-2014--Guy-Davis-4884

More compelling were gravel voiced Piedmont blues revisionist Guy Davis, who won over with his crowd pleasing harmonica feature ‘Did You See My Baby?’ and better still, the unclassifiable Benjamin Clementine, who, shrouded in darkness onstage announced “I am alone in a box of stone,” thence delivering his (in attempt to classify) spellbinding phantom-of-the-opera-meets-Screamin’ Jay Hawkins rendition of “Cornerstone.”

Time will tell whether Clementine makes the cut for a return engagement at this festival famed for record breaking attendances, where the basic requirement is that you are not only brilliant, but bums-on-seats brilliant.

– Michael Jackson (Story and photos)

 

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Gareth Lockrane's Grooveyard Get To Grips At The Verdict

Gareth Lockrane's Grooveyard Get To Grip…

Gareth Lockrane is in town tonight with a bag full...

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Atmosphères, Apneseth, Westerhus and Wesseltoft mix it up for  Punkt

Atmosphères, Apneseth, Westerhus and Wes…

If there was an air of self-congratulation about this year’s...

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Nightingale Quintet Fly High For Porter At Henley’s Phyllis Court Club

Nightingale Quintet Fly High For Porter …

  Mark Nightingale, easily our premier jazz trombonist (though Alistair White...

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Stian Westerhus and Three Trapped Tigers power PUNKT remix festival

Stian Westerhus and Three Trapped Tigers…

If today’s mainstream music is now regurgitating ever shortening cycles...

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Thomas de Pourquery’s Supersonic Honour Sun Ra At Saalfelden Jazz Fest 2016

Thomas de Pourquery’s Supersonic Honour …

This year’s Saalfelden Jazz Festival boasted an excellent mix of...

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Clarinet maestros Peplowski and Stringle pepper-up Pizza Express with collaborative masterclass

Clarinet maestros Peplowski and Stringle…

This brilliant Anglo-American pairing has form: they toured together a...

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Marvellous Masekela hits amid the kicks at Ystad Sweden International Jazz Festival

Marvellous Masekela hits amid the kicks …

Best known as the location for TV series Wallander, Ystad...

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Rubin-Atzmon team-up brimful of vim at The Verdict

Rubin-Atzmon team-up brimful of vim at T…

  Saul ‘Zeb’ Rubin epitomises an aspect of the Manhattan jazz...

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Swingles mingle with McLaughlin and Garbarek at this year’s Edinburgh Jazz & Blues

Swingles mingle with McLaughlin and Garb…

In the appropriately named Palais du Variété The Swingle Singers...

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Dave Weckl joins Barker-led big band for Buddy Rich tribute at London’s Royal College of Music

Dave Weckl joins Barker-led big band for…

Dave Weckl was a devoted Buddy Rich disciple long before...

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Pharoah Sanders and Binker & Moses walk on water at North Sea Jazz Fest

Pharoah Sanders and Binker & Moses w…

With all the recent Brexit shenanigans it must have been...

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Michael Wollny Trio breeches the wall at Montpellier

Michael Wollny Trio breeches the wall at…

How lucky to be in Montpellier at the same time...

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Wooten wows Komedia despite brotherly detour

Wooten wows Komedia despite brotherly de…

A queue stretching down the street outside Brighton’s Komedia showed...

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Mathisen and Espen Berg Trio triumph at Trondheim

Mathisen and Espen Berg Trio triumph at …

  There are empty rows in the riverside Dokkhuset during native...

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Swiss Big Easy comes alive at Ascona Fest

Swiss Big Easy comes alive at Ascona Fes…

  Revisiting old haunts can be a let-down. Not so for...

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Transatlantic triumphs light up Ljublijana fest

Transatlantic triumphs light up Ljublija…

If the much maligned technocrats of the Brexit-bashed EU wanted...

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Ernest Ranglin and friends celebrate outstanding musical career at the Barbican

Ernest Ranglin and friends celebrate out…

Generations of musicians and music lovers from across the globe...

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Riepler rips at The Vortex

Riepler rips at The Vortex

“Thinking what I will use/to get the cool tone”, sang...

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Brecht's The Threepenny Opera swings to New Orleans at the National Theatre, London

Brecht's The Threepenny Opera swings to …

Show tune is a vague term. First and foremost, it...

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Randy Weston and Christian Scott get Morocco’s Gnawa Festival grooving

Randy Weston and Christian Scott get Mor…

Randy Weston (above) was there, folding his lanky 90-year-old frame...

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Krupa and Waglewski hit the Bluesroads to Krakow fest

Krupa and Waglewski hit the Bluesroads t…

So widespread is the phenomenon of the jazz festival throughout...

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Kenny Clayton’s swinging 80th birthday gig at Ronnie Scott’s

Kenny Clayton’s swinging 80th birthday g…

There are certain people who have fallen under the radar...

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Johnathan Kreisberg Quartet on a roll at The Spin

Johnathan Kreisberg Quartet on a roll at…

The synergy between ex-prog rock guitarist Johnathan Kreisberg’s quartet and...

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Jazz Rep Co splendidly concentrated at Cadogan Hall

Jazz Rep Co splendidly concentrated at C…

The Jazz Repertory Company presents ‘100 Years of Jazz…...

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Gwilym Simcock Trio pay joyful tribute to Jaco at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Gwilym Simcock Trio pay joyful tribute t…

Captivating, insightful, lyrical, Gwilym Simcock's 'Jaco Pastorius Project’, featuring the...

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John Etheridge, Si Hayden & Interplay salute International Jazz Day

John Etheridge, Si Hayden & Interpla…

It’s a well known fact that guitarists go to hear...

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Jazzkaar Festival reveals the richness of Estonian jazz

Jazzkaar Festival reveals the richness o…

With a population of 1.3 million Estonia is one of...

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Ant Law Trio executes dazzling Oxford edict

Ant Law Trio executes dazzling Oxford ed…

Guitarist Ant Law has made two very well received albums...

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Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom shakes some tail at the NT

Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom shakes some tai…

With Motown The Musical at the Shaftesbury and Soul: The...

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Georgina Jackson, Claire Martin and Pete Long line up for Best of the Big Bands Part II

Georgina Jackson, Claire Martin and Pete…

The concert’s title conceals its inner purpose – put quite...

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Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer bring the bass to Brighton

Christian McBride and Edgar Meyer bring …

The double bass made a comparatively late arrival to solo...

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The Buck Clayton Legacy Band serve up superior swing at Phyllis Court Club, Henley

The Buck Clayton Legacy Band serve up su…

Buck Clayton’s legacy was a box. Packed, it turns out...

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Tim Garland Quartet dive in to folk and fusion at the Dome Pavilion, Brighton

Tim Garland Quartet dive in to folk and …

The relationship between celebrity and credibility is not always straightforward...

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Stirring strings meet stern jazz with Hans Koller Quartet with BCMG at CBSO Centre, Birmingham

Stirring strings meet stern jazz with Ha…

Pianist Hans Koller chooses his fellow musicians with care. Percy...

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Dakhla Brass go ape at Servant Jazz Quarters

Dakhla Brass go ape at Servant Jazz Quar…

“Upstate Dorset!”, volleying from an audience member towards the stage...

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Mike Hobart Quintet evidently soulful at The Vortex

Mike Hobart Quintet evidently soulful at…

Got a definition for soul? No, me neither. But if...

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Skelton-Skinner All-Stars Shine Across The Thames

Skelton-Skinner All-Stars Shine Across T…

  The imposing members-only Phyllis Court Club overlooks the Thames and...

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Tubby tributes top Southend’s NJA opening

Tubby tributes top Southend’s NJA openin…

Brainchild of trumpeter and bandleader Digby Fairweather, the new National...

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 Steve Fishwick Sextet reach righteous outcome at The Verdict

Steve Fishwick Sextet reach righteous o…

There’s a palpable buzz as Steve Fishwick’s Anglo-American crew take...

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Blicher Hemmer Gadd bring the Hammond boogie to Pizza Express Jazz Club

Blicher Hemmer Gadd bring the Hammond bo…

On the band's website, beside big ups from Gilles Peterson...

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Asaf Sirkis Trio and Tori Freestone take flight at The Verdict

Asaf Sirkis Trio and Tori Freestone take…

Music may be the healing force of the universe but...

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Riley Stone Lonergan/Dave Drake Band free-bopping in Brighton

Riley Stone Lonergan/Dave Drake Band fre…

For such a bijou venue, the Verdict has attracted it’s...

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To Be or Not to Bebop – Derek Nash & Alan Barnes keep the flame alight in Shakespeare land

To Be or Not to Bebop – Derek Nash &…

Alan Barnes appeared at Stratford Jazz Club (at No.1 Shakespeare...

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Jasper Høiby unveils Qualia at The Vortex

Jasper Høiby unveils Qualia at The Vorte…

  Bassist and bandleader Jasper Høiby wears a well-earned smile. It’s...

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Young jazz talents shine at Jazztopad Festival

Young jazz talents shine at Jazztopad Fe…

What defines the festive in festival is not hard to...

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Daymé Arocena showcases soulful talents at The Forge

Daymé Arocena showcases soulful talents …

At just 22 years of age, Cuban singer Daymé Arocena...

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Chris Mapp’s Gonimoblast and Arve Henriksen burst out of the sonic darkness at The Crossing

Chris Mapp’s Gonimoblast and Arve Henrik…

Chris Mapp was one of three ‘Fellows’ (the other two...

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Rising sax star Melissa Aldana gets cooking at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Rising sax star Melissa Aldana gets cook…

It isn’t unusual at events such as the London Jazz...

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Filomena Campus’ spellbinding Monk homage at Theatralia Jazz Fest

Filomena Campus’ spellbinding Monk homag…

Curated by the award winning jazz vocalist, lyricist, lecturer and...

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Richard Pite’s Jazz Repertory Company and Alex Garnett’s Bunch of Five & NYSQ swing London Jazz Fest out in style

Richard Pite’s Jazz Repertory Company an…

The EFG London Jazz Festival’s final day allowed the fleet...

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Kurt Elling, Get the Blessing and Ralph Towner ensure Pančevo punches above its weight

Kurt Elling, Get the Blessing and Ralph …

Hosted in the city’s Cultural Centre and featuring a line-up...

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 Cuban Mela fires up at Camden Forge

Cuban Mela fires up at Camden Forge

The Cuban Mela was inarguably the LJF’s most vibrant closing...

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Terri Lyne Carrington and Charenee Wade hit celebratory soulful groove down at Ronnie Scott’s

Terri Lyne Carrington and Charenee Wade …

If there is such a thing as the short straw...

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Liane Carroll Trio wraps up LJF in fine style at 606

Liane Carroll Trio wraps up LJF in fine …

  Consummate performer and every singer’s vocal idol, Liane Carroll, sidles...

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James Pearson and WordTheatre presents ‘And All That Jazz’

James Pearson and WordTheatre presents ‘…

WordTheatre, a company specialising in live readings of stories by...

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Sam Braysher, Nick Costley-White, The Dixie Ticklers with Johnny Mars set sail at Jazz Nursery

Sam Braysher, Nick Costley-White, The Di…

The Jazz Nursery, set aboard a magnificent replica of Sir...

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Simon Spillett plays up a storm for Foyles launch of Tubby Hayes – A Man in a Hurry

Simon Spillett plays up a storm for Foyl…

Last Thursday saw the launch of the Tubby Hayes documentary...

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Legends gather in somber tribute to Kenny Wheeler at Cadogan Hall

Legends gather in somber tribute to Kenn…

We were promised a smorgasbord of jazz royalty at this...

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Cécile McLorin Salvant draws on the past to captivate at Cadogan Hall

Cécile McLorin Salvant draws on the past…

After a lovely low-key opening set from Femi Temowo, featuring...

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Alto Sax Reigns Supreme At Belgrade Jazz Fest

Alto Sax Reigns Supreme At Belgrade Jazz…

The theme at this year’s Belgrade Jazz Festival was ‘The...

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Hiatus Kaiyote bring cutting edge future-soul to The Concorde

Hiatus Kaiyote bring cutting edge future…

There’s a crush of boho twentysomethings up against Brighton’s Concorde...

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Steve Smith grooves hard with Vital Information NYC at Ronnie Scott’s

Steve Smith grooves hard with Vital Info…

It was the early 1990s when this writer first discovered...

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Knoel Scott takes on tradition at the 100 Club

Knoel Scott takes on tradition at the 10…

If walls could talk then the 100 Club, squeezed between...

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Hypnotised by Hindi Zahra at London's Elgar Room

Hypnotised by Hindi Zahra at London's El…

Given the limitless ocean of music in which the world...

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Turning up the heat at the Tampere Jazz Happening

Turning up the heat at the Tampere Jazz …

Festival directors often have to unhitch hitches right in the...

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Elephant9 turn up the voltage at Electric Brixton

Elephant9 turn up the voltage at Electri…

While Elephant9’s recent studio sets might’ve inaugurated amassing embroideries of...

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Marcos Valle Makes Do At The Brooklyn Bowl

Marcos Valle Makes Do At The Brooklyn Bo…

When taking an evening to see a true legend of...

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Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express Reunite With Jim Mullen At The Jazz Cafe

Brian Auger’s Oblivion Express Reunite W…

It had been forty years since the legendary Jim Mullen...

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Sheryl Bailey gets playful and virtuosic at the Bull’s Head

Sheryl Bailey gets playful and virtuosic…

Sheryl Bailey, one of New York’s foremost guitarists and now...

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Salzburg swings to Jazz & The City

Salzburg swings to Jazz & The City

Austria’s place in the jazz firmament has been well established...

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Vula Viel Launch Good is Good to a rapturous Rich Mix

Vula Viel Launch Good is Good to a raptu…

Last time Jazzwise took an evening to see Bex Burch’s...

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Sheryl Bailey Quartet get Swinging at 606

Sheryl Bailey Quartet get Swinging at 60…

There is a significant coterie of jazz fans that come...

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Leroy Jones Quintet get Soho swinging in style

Leroy Jones Quintet get Soho swinging in…

Three nights in to his five-night stay at Pizza Express...

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Liane Carroll dazzles with vintage performance at Celebrate Voice Festival

Liane Carroll dazzles with vintage perfo…

Liane Carroll celebrated, life, jazz and the unrestrained joy of...

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Huw V Williams’ Hon storms The Vortex

Huw V Williams’ Hon storms The Vortex

On a rainy evening in Dalston, 21 October – ‘Back...

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Bill Frisell bewitches with Strings at Ronnie Scott’s

Bill Frisell bewitches with Strings at R…

It’s a great recipe: take a string quartet line-up, dispense...

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Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet digs deep at Ronnie Scott’s

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet digs deep at …

For the first time in eleven years, leading US drummer...

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Joel Harrison Quartet get cooking at Pizza Express

Joel Harrison Quartet get cooking at Piz…

The advance billing might have suggested a Joel Harrison solo...

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Aaron Parks Trio goes Zen at Kings Place

Aaron Parks Trio goes Zen at Kings Place…

I’m writing this with one eye on an article about...

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Beat poetry meets backbeats with Barry Wallenstein and Mike Hobart’s Urban Jazz Collective at Vortex

Beat poetry meets backbeats with Barry W…

New York beat poet Barry Wallenstein joined Mike Hobart’s Urban...

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Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival blasts off with Birchall, Brand and more

Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival blast…

With its emphasis on adventurous programming and bids to redress...

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Dave Drake and Riley Stone-Lonergan offer an enthralling glimpse of the future

Dave Drake and Riley Stone-Lonergan offe…

 Anyone bold or foolhardy enough to essay a career in...

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Bobby Wellins brings bright-eyed energy to the Verdict

Bobby Wellins brings bright-eyed energy …

Bobby Wellins is unique; a near contemporary of Rollins, Shorter...

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Stan Sulzmann Quartet weaves wonders at The Vortex

Stan Sulzmann Quartet weaves wonders at …

Stan Sulzmann stepped in for an indisposed Bobby Wellins on Saturday...

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Phronesis, Tingvall and Marsalis power up at Palatia Jazz Festival

Phronesis, Tingvall and Marsalis power u…

The two evenings that we visited the Palatia Jazz Festival...

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Fletch’s Brew whip up an Electric Stew at the Vortex

Fletch’s Brew whip up an Electric Stew a…

As Fletch’s Brew steamed through two sets at the Vortex...

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Robert Glasper Trio digs deep at The Hub, Edinburgh

Robert Glasper Trio digs deep at The Hub…

As the audience waits for the Robert Glasper Trio to...

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Steve Fishwick Trio Out To Lunch at Cadogan Hall, London

Steve Fishwick Trio Out To Lunch at Cado…

I’m tempted to paraphrase the old musician’s joke about not...

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Mark Guiliana, Matt Brewer and John Escreet unlock jazz’s secrets in Siena

Mark Guiliana, Matt Brewer and John Escr…

Such is the quite breathtaking beauty of one of Italy’s...

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Bennett and Gaga, Snarky Puppy and The Bad Plus/Joshua Redman top triumphant Umbria Jazz Festival

Bennett and Gaga, Snarky Puppy and The B…

Umbria Jazz is a brand and like all brands it’s...

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Avishai Cohen and Marcus Miller burn in the heat of Jazz á Vienne

Avishai Cohen and Marcus Miller burn in …

  One of the biggest French summer Festivals enjoyed the hottest...

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Brad Shepik’s Trio explore a Changing Climate

Brad Shepik’s Trio explore a Changing Cl…

Guitarist and educator Brad Shepik’s compositions have attracted sufficient attention...

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Zara McFarlane stretches out at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho

Zara McFarlane stretches out at Pizza Ex…

Singer and composer Zara McFarlane played to sold-out crowds at...

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Nigel Price Organ Trio 25 July 2015, Kings Place

Nigel Price Organ Trio 25 July 2015, Kin…

  In Michael Chabon’s 2012 novel Telegraph Avenue, the fictitious jazz...

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A party atmosphere reigns supreme at Jazz à Vienne 2015

A party atmosphere reigns supreme at Jaz…

One of the biggest French summer Festivals enjoyed the hottest...

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Soweto Kinch and Kurt Elling hit the heights at the Malta Jazz Festival

Soweto Kinch and Kurt Elling hit the hei…

Soweto Kinch’s gig is nearing its climax when he finds...

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The cerebral meets the popular at the Rigas Ritmi Festival in Latvia

The cerebral meets the popular at the Ri…

As Ramon Valle explains, the Ritmi in the title of...

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Swanage Jazz Fest swings hard with Jean Tousaint’s Art Blakey Sextet

Swanage Jazz Fest swings hard with Jean …

Swanage’s format is well-established and well-understood. A marquee each for...

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Jason Moran, Justin Kauflin and D’Angelo shine at Montreux Jazz Festival

Jason Moran, Justin Kauflin and D’Angelo…

Thomas Rees is swept away by glamour, history and stand...

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Ant Law Quintet zero in at The Verdict, Brighton

Ant Law Quintet zero in at The Verdict, …

It’s been a scant 18 months since Ant Law played...

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Mammoth 36th Montreal jazz round-up with Lovano, Cullum, Mammal Hands, Abdullah Ibrahim among the highlights

Mammoth 36th Montreal jazz round-up with…

Each visit there are switcheroos at the goliath Montreal Jazz...

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Sly & Robbie with Nils Petter Molvaer create blissful ‘Nordub’ at Barbican

Sly & Robbie with Nils Petter Molvae…

A meeting of the world’s greatest rhythm section, two progressive...

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Average White Band Jarrod Lawson get the Rio funking at Glasgow Jazz Festival

Average White Band Jarrod Lawson get the…

Although the concert hall experience is a major part of...

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Manu Katché and Dado Moroni  get Bari in Jazz bopping

Manu Katché and Dado Moroni get Bari in…

This year’s edition of Bari in Jazz marked a transition...

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Black Top funk up Freedom: The Art Of Improvisation Festival

Black Top funk up Freedom: The Art Of Im…

“Yes… central heating.” These words from Cleveland Watkiss, closing Black...

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Joe Stilgoe goes Big Band at The Old Vic for album launch

Joe Stilgoe goes Big Band at The Old Vic…

A packed venue, atmospheric lighting, crystal clear sound and the...

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