The Vocal Jazz Summit - The Spice of Life, Wednesday 21 November - London Jazz Festival

My vain expectations of a manly explosive vocal brew left me with a half-empty stomach last Wednesday at the Spice of Life. Tastefully accompanied by double bassist Steve Watts and drummer David Wickins under the dedicated eye of Paul Pace, the backstage venue’s heartbeat, the Vocal Jazz Summit (Pete Churchill pictured right, Iain Mackenzie, Anton Browne) served the audience with a refined, yet overly traditional, three-course bill.

Anita Wardell Trio - Octave Jazz Bar, 16 August 2007

On Thursday, August 16th I had a revelation. A good fifteen minutes before her trio started rompin’, Anita Wardell looked unflappable. Cramped on a chair in a remote corner behind the Octave’s unfathomable carpeted stage, the great UK-born be-bop vocalist was artlessly flipping over her music sheets like a conscientious student swotting for an impending exam. Even Lee Morgan, blowing ‘Moanin’’ from the venue’s deafening speakers, did not burst her impenetrable bubble of concentration. Suddenly in walked serene pianist Robin Aspland, soon followed by composed bassist Jeremy Brown; Anita reconnected with the world around her.

The Femi Temowo Trio - Tsolo Bar, London, 11 January 2008

Friday nights in Herne Hill may be mistaken for Friday nights in Harlem as long as this residency continues. What began in October 2007 continues to be a lively affair that is gathering pace. The Nigerian restaurant and jazz bar provides an intimate setting for an emotive jam session. With an intensive Tom Hanson on bass, a precise Saleem Raman on drums and an impassioned Femi Temowo playing the guitar, there is a definite chemistry.

Monk Liberation Front - First Session One - QEH, Sunday 25 Nov - London Jazz Festival

Over the course of three consecutive concerts the Monk Liberation Front took on the daunting task of playing all seventy of Thelonious Monk’s compositions for the second time.  Their initial performance was at the London Jazz Festival back in 2003, but with 2007 being what would have been Monk’s 90th birthday, this was the perfect opportunity for celebration.

Tribute To Joe Zawinul - Django Bates/Victor Bailey/BBC Big Band - Barbican, 25 Nov - LJF

Joe Zawinul’s untimely death in September meant his scheduled collaboration with the BBC Big Band at the Barbican did not happen. However, the show went on with British keyboard player Django Bates stepping into the great man’s shoes, a fine choice given his similar talent of being able to extract organic sounds from synthesizers. Joining Bates and the Big Band was one of Zawinul’s most prolific collaborators, bassist Victor Bailey. MC’d by Julian Joseph with contributions from Zawinul biographer Brian Glasser, the evening was more than just a concert, serving as a superb tribute to the man and his music.

The Write Stuff

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