Butcher Brown – Live at Rich Mix, London

I walk into Rich Mix to meet a packed, smoke filled room of beer drinking, head-nodding twenty-somethings. The sickly scent of e-cigarettes lingers in the air. In the corner, is a lone woman sat cross-legged, her luxurious afro hair sweeping the floor as she stretches forwards gracefully, still bopping to the beat of the incomprehensible track playing in the background; it's uncanny.

Butcher Brown are in town 'for the first time!', Marcus Tenney gushes at his adoring crowd. 'What up London?' grins the multi-instrumentalist and frontman of the popular Virginian jazz quintet. In the moments after greeting the crowd, it seems a perfectly timed subliminal exchange plunges the boys into 'James River Tunnel Vision' – a track thickly-layered with abrupt imbalance in tempo, intriguing harmonic dissonance and beautifully clashing melodies.

Seemingly effortlessly, Butcher Brown call on their eloquent understanding of musical genres from Jazz and Funk to Hip Hop; intelligently informing their pioneering sound. Yet, there's something so inherently youthful, and modern about the product of their collaboration. Their use of nostalgia inducing 90's hip-hop melodies, is exciting and fresh. Their jazz is clearly inspired by the free jazz movement of the 50's and 60's – as the boys are articulate in the art of altering, extending and breaking down customary jazz convention; adding a funky, youthful flair.

Often, the soothing influence of reggae can be heard cutting through the dense instrumentation. This is due to each member of the crew having their own personal improvisation style. DJ Harrison commands the keys, charmingly jumping between melodies inspired by: reggae, jazz, hip-hop and R'n'B. Corey Fonville is magic on the drum kit, playing at light-speed, altering the syncopation of his drum-fills scattered all over tracks such as 'Fiat' and 'AfroKuti #3'. Andrew Randazzo's bass creates harmony in contrast with Morgan Burrs' electrifying guitar solo's, which showcase a profound knowledge of rock intonation and melody.

Marcus Tenney, when not providing us with oozing, funkadelic jazz melodies on either the saxophone or trumpet, stands at the back of the stage – carefully analysing every move his band members make; albeit, not in any way being patronising as opposed to carefully concentrating. Tenney, persistently engages the audience, whilst his contemporaries jam-out their improvisations in jubilant glee; grinning from ear to ear, and occasionally mouthing unintelligible jokes to one another, then bursting into laugher as they hit the climax of the next glorious crescendo.

The talented quintet will refrain from introducing any of their records. It's clear, their music doesn't remotely represent braggadocio, but simply a friendly environment in which you can get lost in music from all era's, cultures and influences. Butcher Brown's live show is full of free-flowing, groovy vibes that will assuredly get your head-bopping and your heart racing. As I leave Rich Mix, the sickly e-cigarette smoke has morphed into clouds of potent-smelling marijuana as our twenty-somethings gather outside the building. 'That was sick!' exclaims a gangly lad as he puffs away. I agree.

Tahirah Thomas

Ezra Collective – Live at Islington Assembly Hall

Drummer Femi Koleoso lays down an infectious backbeat as he is soon joined on-stage by TJ Koleoso on bass, Joe Armon-Jones on keys, Dylan Jones on trumpet, and James Mollison on tenor saxophone. The crescendo of screams from the audience reaches its peak when the band become one. Together they are Ezra Collective, currently one of the UK's hippest ensembles right on the cutting edge of jazz.

Having emerged from Gary Crosby's Tomorrow's Warriors programme, Ezra Collective brought their fresh brand of Afrobeat jazz to Islington Assembly Hall on Sunday night, as the EFG London Jazz Festival came to a close. But rather than let it simply fizzle out, Ezra Collective ensured that it ended with a bang, delivering a brilliant and engaging set showcasing material from their new EP Juan Pablo The Philosopher, released last month. Each musician brings their own style to the table with immense talent; Dylan's bright and virtuosic solo in Enter The Jungle is contrasted with his unaccompanied introduction to People in Trouble, a melancholic and sorrowful whisper in comparison. This pairs with James' haunting tenor sax rendition of James Speaks to the Universe, right before the band lift the mood once again with their cover of Sun Ra's Space is the Place. And when he isn't driving the band, Femi draws in everyone's attention with his thunderous drum solos.

Supporting were Kokoroko, an Afrobeat ensemble from London, bringing rich harmonic tone with an all-female saxophone-trumpet-trombone front line, as well as vocals and a striking rhythm section. Ezra Collective were also joined by a couple of guest musicians throughout the night: nu-soul and R&B singer Jorja Smith, and later Nubya Garcia on baritone saxophone. Garcia is another emerging talent on the scene, with a comprehensive skill on her instrument. Though perhaps it is more apt to say instruments, having demonstrated her skill on alto saxophone and even flute at Electric Ballroom supporting Christian Scott on Wednesday.

"Do you like to party?" Femi asks the audience encouragingly, and he is met with an overwhelmingly positive response. Ezra Collective have proved their popularity with today's younger generation. This group of truly great musicians are a fine example of where the future of jazz is headed, and it's headed in the right direction.

– Gareth Thomas

Are You Ready For the Write Stuff 2017? Apply for the 15th edition of the writing workshop

Budding music writers listen up! This year's Write Stuff music journalism course will return for its milestone 15th edition, with workshops held at the Southbank Centre during the EFG London Jazz Festival's opening and closing weekends, on 11-12 November and 18-19 November. Founded and organised by Jazzwise and festival producers Serious, the Write Stuff gives new jazz and improv music writers a valuable free opportunity to work with professional journalists to improve their writing skills, develop an understanding of music criticism and the workings of the music press and the blogosphere, as well as getting to see a bunch of great concerts! As the course marks its 15th birthday it will concentrate its focus on bringing on a new generation of younger writers aged 18-25, who will attain an Arts Award qualification following a successful completion of the course.

The workshops will include sessions on feature writing and live reviews by Jazzwise writer and BBC broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre; an insight into the history and development of the UK jazz and music press with Jazzwise editor in chief Jon Newey; and a workshop on blogging and social media with Jazzwise editor Mike Flynn and an invited guest, alongside input from other writers and jazz industry figures. Several Write Stuff participants have gone on to have pieces published in The Guardian, The Wire and Jazzwise as well as work within the wider jazz and broadcasting industry. This year's participants will have their work posted on both the Jazzwise and festival's websites, and one review considered to be of particular merit will be published in a subsequent issue of Jazzwise.

If you are interested in participating in the Write Stuff, please submit by email a 300-word review of a gig/concert that you have seen recently, together with a CV and full contact details to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. by 17 October 2017 with 'The Write Stuff 2017' in the subject line.

Applicants must be aged 18 to 25 and be available in London on the following dates: Friday 10 November (evening); Saturday 11 – Sunday 12 November and Saturday 18 – Sunday 19 November.

For more info visit www.jazzwisemagazine.com/the-write-stuff

Trope Cast Type Of Wonder Over The Verdict


Trope's first EP, Butterflies and Dragons, was all about growing up and evolving. This may be why they seemed like a different band to the one I saw at Love Supreme last year. They have been around since 2014 but, like seasoned musicians, they performed music from their back-catalogue that filled two fairly lengthy sets. The laidback feel of the venue changed them as performers. Compared to the fearless, 'out there' performance at Love Supreme, it felt as though they had invited the audience to watch them jam at their own private studio. Introverted and experimental, it was interesting to watch them please themselves, reworking the songs of Stevie Wonder, delighting with a mellow version of 'Superstition' arranged by dynamic pianist, Andy Bunting, the band replete with frantic, arpeggiated bass and piano solos. Intrepid vocalist, Cherise Adams-Burnett played with a hypnotising vocal riff during 'All I Do'. Wonder's DNA was certainly present, but the genes had been completely mutated in a refreshing way. 'Butterfly' from the first EP fluttered hopefully up the scale, while songs from the new EP 5ive, about love gone wrong, tended to have more descending scales, perhaps expressing an increased world weariness. The vocal technique used for 'The Drop' and 'Rude' was almost sprechgesang, which increased the drama and brought the audience connection back after a few technical problems. The ensemble, which also included Jonathan Silk (drums) and Nick Jurd (bass) aren't afraid to mutate their sound, its evolving, experimental nature make them an exciting band to watch out for in the future.

– Tina Blower

Calico brew up a jazz-tronica storm in Brighton

Having supported jazz pioneers Mammal Hands and Vels Trio, Brighton-based Calico were more than ready to headline the Hope & Ruin with their own unique blend of jazz, rock and electronica. Reflecting the mood of the times, they opened the set with a strong, politically-charged sample. A version of an essay by Paul Harvey, 'If I Were a Devil' served as the background for their track 'New World', which they played over a combination of acoustic and electronic instruments. Amid the drama, there was a call and response interplay between trumpeter Lewis Husbands and keyboardist Chris Martyr.

They were promoting their new single 'Trappist' from their upcoming EP where a different conversation between trumpet and keyboard could be heard. It was based around a staccato keyboard motif, interjected with bursts of sound effects and riffs from the trumpet, which sounded more like an argument this time. This relationship between the hard and the soft seemed to be prevalent in their music and was highlighted in their track 'Circles'. All instruments began a unison marching rhythm, which then gave way to more meandering, ambient sounds. 'Flow' also left you with a false sense of security, the pleasant, unhurried journey broken up by a jarring change of time signature and complicated rhythms played by drummer (and sometime astrophysicist) Graham Burgess exposing their math rock influences.

This four-piece blended fantastically well together, whatever the tension in the music. They may have lost a bass player but in the process gained a heavier, synth bass-led sound. This creative approach to overcoming obstacles has made them a much stronger band and their music more exciting and original. Yet with the audience crying for more, on this their strongest gig to date, guitarist Daniel Nixon had to sheepishly admit they had no more songs. A case of quality exceeding quantity, as they left the stage no doubt plotting a swift return and an expanded set list.

– Tina Blower

The Write Stuff

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