Nick Smart Trio, Cafe Posk Saturday 17 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Trumpeter Nick Smart unveiled his latest project, a contemporary homage to Louis Armstrong, at the Posk jazz bar in West London’s Polish cultural centre as part of the London Jazz Festival. Featuring Paul Clarvis on drums and Hans Koller on Fender Rhodes the trio performed interesting yet very candid interpretations of Armstrong’s compositions and other tunes associated with the legend. The group opened with a buoyant rendition of the Hot 5’s classic ‘Muskat Ramble’ before plunging into Duke Ellington’s slow blues ‘Azalea’.

Jan Garbarek Group - RFH, Sunday 18 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Playing for over two hours non-stop, with no announcements to break up the 20-30 minute pieces the group played, Jan Garbarek is no stranger to intensity, a fact reflected in the tormented cry of his tenor saxophone, a sound that evokes the turbulent winds and snow of Garbarek’s native Norway. Much like Miles Davis, Garbarek’s sound is instantly recognizable in any context, and his improvisation at the Royal Festival Hall concert was of the high standard we have come to expect from Garbarek after nearly forty years of being European Jazz’s leading light.

Radioplay, The Vortex - 18th November 2007 - London Jazz Festival

Radioplay began life as a one man show, and was a great success at the Edinburgh fringe a few years ago.  This one-off reincarnation for the London Jazz Festival saw the addition of singer Christine Tobin, Phil Robson on guitar and Dave Whitford on bass. Ed Gaughan performs the show, which he co-wrote with director Wes Williams.

Courtney Pine and The Jazz Warriors - The Barbican, October 6, 2007

Considered by many as a father-figure in the British jazz scene, Courtney Pine has spent the last three decades building up the reputation of a man with real integrity, both musically and socially.  Therefore, it came as no surprise to hear that he had conceptualised a project commemorating the abolition of the transatlantic slave trade this month.

The Cinematic Orchestra - Colston Hall, Bristol, October 31, 2007

It's Halloween, “Ooh! Scary! Wooooh!”, as Jonathan Richman once sang.  But the sound the Cinematic Orchestra are peddling tonight is more elegiac than Eldritch; far more chilled than it is chilling.  Tonight is all about gorgeous, opiated melancholy, fired deep within the furnaces of romantic despair.  Lulling us into submission with a typically slinky overture, the CO assert their enduring power as a live act with a series of taut-yet-languid-numbers; all still clearly locked within what I will describe as the David Axelrod-meets-Pharoah Sanders groove explored throughout their recorded output.

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