The shape of jazz to come: who to look out for in 2018


Photo: Rohey

It’s time to divine the divine, as we ask our crack unit of writers and assorted other taste-formers to gaze into their crystal balls and reveal the intel on those artists they think are set to sizzle in 2018

Kevin Le Gendre, Jazzwise, Echoes, BBC Radio 3 Jazz Line-Up

The young Guadeloupian drummer Arnauld Dolmen is a very exciting prospect. He’s just made an impressive debut album, Tonbe Leve, that showcases his skills as a composer, as well as improviser, who brings a fresh contemporary jazz sensibility to the rhythmic riches of his heartland.


Alyn Shipton, BBC Jazz Now, Jazzwise

Drummer and vibes player Jonny Mansfield not only plays in the up-and-coming Jam Experiment, but his own Elftet will release an album this year of strikingly original music, mixing whimsy with rhythmic grooves.


Andy Robson, Jazzwise

Look no further than Mary Halvorson, whose unique guitar voice has burned bright for some years and now deserves a wider audience.


Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise, The Wire

For old-fashioned funk-fusion with, ahem, plenty of chops, check out quintet Butcher Brown from Richmond, Virginia.


Brian Glasser, Jazzwise

Colin Steele: technically, a re-entry. Not one, but two, albums have announced the second coming, after a long layoff, of the brilliant but tender Scottish trumpeter this year.


Chris Philips, Jazz FM

Pianist and keyboardist Joe Armon-Jones, already making a name for himself in the highly energetic Ezra Collective, is pianist of choice for China Moses. He is currently working on a raft of different collaborative cross-genre projects, while launching a new solo venture in 2018. Look out for his electronic work with producer and DJ Maxwell Owin called Idiom, set to play at Love Supreme’s all-day event at the London Roundhouse in May and, with a solo album now complete, 2018 could be quite a year for this in-demand musician.


Eddie Myer, The Verdict Jazz Club, Brighton

Zenel Trio, Cesca, Shabaka, Triforce, Maisha, James Beckwith, Yussef Dayes, Binker and Moses, Alex Hitchcock – hanging at the Bandstand at Love Supreme we heard a new generation of UK artists breaking through with a fresh sound – looking forward to New Generation Jazz in 2018!


Helen Mayhew, Jazz FM

Vibes player, composer and bandleader Jonny Mansfield, still at college, much in demand and his 11-piece band Elftet is an exciting prospect. Also, saxophonist Tom Barford, winner of this year’s Kenny Wheeler Prize from the Royal Academy of Music, is about to release his debut album on the Edition Label.


Jan Granlie, editor

Jeppe Zeeberg is a great Danish piano-player whose distinct musical dialect you can hear in his solo work or with his Horse Orchestra. Modern and free, but still in the rich piano tradition. Another Dane, Lasse Mørch, has his own piano-less quartet whose fantastic Imagining Places I Have Never Been was released early in 2017. A great composer and bassist who has been listening to plenty of Charles Mingus.


Jane Cornwell, Evening Standard, Jazzwise

Yelfris Valdés is one of the brightest stars on London’s already vibrant Cuban and latin jazz scenes, having made his name with son kings Sierra Maestra and the pianist Roberto Fonseca. The classically-trained trumpeter landed in the British capital three years ago and swiftly stuck his fingers in a veritable smorgasbord of musical pies. There’ve been sessions for the likes of Quantic, Dayme Arocena, Gilles Peterson, Yussef Kamaal, Cuban/Iranian outfit Ariwo and Henry Wu, with whom he interpreted the music of Freddie Hubbard. 2018 brings a solo project, The World of Eschu Dina. Get ready.


Jez Nelson, Jazz FM

Sam Barnett – 16-year-old saxophonist who’s been playing jazz since he was eight. His compositions are ridiculously advanced for someone so bloody young!


John Fordham, The Guardian

A former BBC Young Musician of the Year as a classical pianist, Sarah Tandy has been making waves on the London club scene this year – notably with young saxophonist Camilla George – as an incisive, exciting and original new post-bop presence on the keys.


Jon Newey, Jazzwise

With their compelling mash-up of spiritual jazz, Afrobeat, drum’n’ bass rhythms and vintage keyboard textures, Maisha hit the head, heart and feet in equal measure. Led by drummer Jake Long and featuring saxophonist Nubya Garcia and guitarist Shirley Teteh their sessions at east London’s Church of Sound have been a revelation and are now set to take their raw, uplifting spirit to a temple near you. Meanwhile, when can we expect astonishing drummer Yussef Dayes’ next venture?


Michael Jackson, Jazzwise, DownBeat

Chicago-based Jason Stein has been flying around on a private jet of late, opening stadium gigs for his sister, comedian Amy Schumer, but it hasn’t changed this bass clarinet specialist’s attitude to making uncompromising music. Check his latest, Lucille, on Delmark Records. Elsewhere, alto-saxophonist Nick Mazzarella’s first crush is clearly Ornette Coleman, but he’s quickly become his own brand of virtuoso and a fine composer who can match lyrical ‘in’ playing with wide-ranging free improv.


Mike Flynn, Jazzwise

The rebith of fusion sees imaginative guitar/bass/drums crew SEN3 emerging among a new armada of drum’n’bass inspired trios with their sumptuous hybrid of lush melodies, kicking grooves and dime-stop dynamics. Also making waves are the frenetic James Beckwith Trio (powered-up by Harry Pope’s fearsome drumming), impressive London foursome Triforce, with their raw and soulful take on the Mahavishnu Orchestra, while US world-fusion threesome House of Waters which sees Max ZT taking the hammered dulcimer to infinity and beyond, as Moto Fukishima’s bass-playing leaves many slack-jawed in awe.


Mike Hobart, Jazzwise, Financial Times

David Virelles is a pianist with serious chops. His latest album, Gnosis, confirms him as an equally serious composer blending classical, jazz and Afro-Cuban traditions. Trumpeter Alexandra Ridout was an outstanding winner of the BBC young musician jazz award of 2016 and just keeps on growing as an artist.


Nick Hasted, Jazzwise, The Independent, Uncut

Istanbul’s Korhan Fatuci & Kara Orkestra show the ritualistic communal power still latent in psychedelic, Near Eastern-rooted jazz-rock. Belgian trio Hermia/Ceccaldi/Darrifourcq are also adding immersive, mysterious atmosphere to their playing’s lucid, high-wire intricacy.


Paul Pace, Ronnie Scott’s, Spice Of Life

Trombonist Rory Ingham is a young man on the way up – excellent musicianship, swagger and a winning ‘can-do’ attitude – his main project Jam Experiment also contain a coterie of other superb young players.


Peter Bacon, Jazzwise

David Austin Grey, Birmingham-based pianist/composer. His energy and creativity mean laurels will not be rested upon. Charlie Haden’s rightful heir, bassist Thomas Morgan, has an impressive CV, but might still be in the foothills of his potential.


Peter Quinn, Jazzwise, The Arts Desk

One of five finalists in this year’s Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Vocal Competition, vocalist, musician, songwriter and educator Tatiana ‘LadyMay’ Mayfield possesses an unfailingly beautiful timbre and a real jazz feel. Her third album, The Next Chapter, is hotly anticipated.


Rob Adams, Glasgow Herald, Jazzwise

Drummer Stephen Henderson has already made an impression with Peter Whittingham Award winners Square One, but has reinforced his credentials this year with superbly buoyant playing in Spark Trio and by adding great shape and assurance to bassist David Bowden and fiddler Charlie Stewart’s new jazz-folk band.


Robert Shore, Jazzwise

Sam Barnett’s New York-London Suite was the very definition of musical precocity. Sixteen-years-old when the album was released, the saxophonist/composer/bandleader was just 14 when he penned it.


Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise

Keep an eagle eye out for a young Norwegian singer-songwriter with a star quality, Rohey – sort of a cross between Eska, Nina Simone and Amy Winehouse. In the UK, check enterprising London-based LUME saxophonists Dee Byrne (Entropi) and Cath Roberts (Sloth Racket).


Spencer Grady, Jazzwise

After a recent series of psychotropic lathes, tapes and other sonic ephemera New York noiseniks Grasshopper (aka Josh Millrod and Jesse DeRosa) will emerge all-conquering from the entrails of 2018 clutching a talismanic third full-length. Quakes from the under-crust ought to be seismic, followers of outlier orbits already thirsty for more of the duo’s blissed-out post-Dark Magus deviancy.


Steve Mead, Manchester Jazz Festival

Hold on tight for the short, sharp shocks of Skeltr – the new Manchester duo of Sam Healey’s alto (Beats & Pieces) and drummer Craig Hanson (Toolshed) – it’s high-energy, compact and immediate. Emerging singer-songwriter Mali Hayes also wowed the crowds at MJF this year, with her neo-soulful vocals and her quirkily funky nine-piece.


Stuart Nicholson, Jazzwise

Keep an eye out for Cologne-based Pablo Held and his Trio. They have been quietly labouring at the coal face of the German jazz scene to much acclaim and a breakthrough must surely be imminent.


Tony Dudley-Evans, Cheltenham Jazz Festival and Birmingham Jazzlines

Chris Mapp continues to work with Gonimoblast and that group’s live album on Stoney Lane Records with special guests Maja Ratkje and Arve Henriksen is wonderful. In 2018, Chris will launch his ‹quiet› band Stillefelt with Percy Pursglove on trumpet/flugelhorn and Thomas Seminar Ford on guitar.

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