The full line-up has been announced for Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from 1 to 6 May, at various venues around the picturesque Spa town. With a newly designed festival site in Montpellier Gardens set to include a larger 2,000-capacity Big Top, jazz vocal/piano star Jamie Cullum will appear there on the opening night.

Other concerts announced for the Wednesday and Thursday nights include emerging US vocal talent Charenee Wade (Daffodil, 1 May); and a Buck Clayton and Billie Holliday tribute featuring singer Julia Biel and multi-reedist Alan Barnes, backed by a high-calibre band (Daffodil, 2 May). Further early names are soul-jazzers Incognito, with guest vocals from Omar and Leee John (Town Hall, 3 May) and the popular Friday Night Is Music Night concert takes a nostalgic look at 'The Secret Life of Soho', featuring music inspired by Ronnie Scott’s and The Beatles (Big Top, 3 May). Friday night also sees the Parabola Arts Centre programme launch with über-trio Sunlight (comprised of alto-sax firebrand Soweto Kinch, Finnish guitarist Kalle Kalima and Swiss vocalist extraordinaire Andreas Schaerer), followed by feisty jazz-rockers Partisans. Saxophonist of the moment, Nubya Garcia, brings her high-energy show to the opening night as well, in a ‘pop-up’ venue in the House of Fraser basement. This unlikely locale also hosts gigs by Joe Armon-Jones and Vels Trio (4 May). By contrast Brit-jazz sax icon John Surman celebrates his 75th birthday year with an epic performance of his renowned 1976 Brass Project album, with help from a 10-piece choir from Birmingham Conservatoire and collaborator/conductor John Warren (Town Hall, 4 May).

Further additions include leading US saxophonist Joshua Redman (Town Hall, 4 May); swinging jazz-soul vocal don Georgie Fame with the Guy Barker Big Band (Town Hall, 4 May) and recent Jazzwise cover stars Rymden, the new Scandi-jazz super trio featuring Nu-Jazz pioneer Bugge Wesseltoft and EST rhythm team Dan Berglund and Magnus Öström (Jazz Arena, 4 May). Chart-topping vocalist Gregory Porter will headline the Big Top (4 May), while the core-jazz Parabola programme hots up with a strong Saturday line-up of UK saxophonist Rachel Musson’s Nonet; Dan Weiss’ hard-hitting drum-led Starebaby from the US; a rare chance to hear Nikki Yeoh and Zoe Rahman duet on two grand pianos and top European bassist Michael Formanek leads his Elusion Quartet.

Sunday highlights include the warm soul-jazz vocals of Kandace Springs (Town Hall, 5 May); American sax man David Sanborn with his acoustic band (Town Hall, 5 May) and exciting UK trumpeter Yazz Ahmed premieres music from her new album, Polyhymnia, with her 13-piece ensemble performing a suite of music dedicated to inspiring women (Jazz Arena, 5 May). More stellar Sunday names include The Bad Plus making their festival debut (Jazz Arena); the high-intensity piano/violin duo of Omar Sosa and Yilian Canizares (Jazz Arena); and a rare chance to catch South African piano legend Abdullah Ibrahim with his percussively-charged group Ekaya (Big Top). Folk-jazz songstress Madeleine Peyroux (Big Top) and virtuoso US pianist Fred Hersch (Parabola) also appear. The Parabola showcases more emerging talents, including Norwegian saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg’s Concept; gyil player Bex Burch’s West African groove trio Vula Viel and young Swiss jazz harpist Julie Campiche. Jazzwise is media partner for the festival.

– Mike Flynn

For full programme details visit www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz/

The names for the 2019 Jazz FM Awards were revealed at a special nominees’ announcement ceremony on 12 February, with the wide range of artists selected reflecting a year which saw a significant resurgence for the music from its grassroots to the mainstream. Alongside the emerging names, jazz giants Wayne Shorter (above centre), Charles Lloyd and the late great John Coltrane (for his posthumously released best-selling Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album) also received nominations.

The resurgent British jazz scene, which has been making waves in the US and Europe, is reflected with nods to the likes of Sons of Kemet (above left), Nubya GarciaEmma Jean-Thackray, Camilla George, Joe Armon-JonesMoses Boyd and Sarah Tandy (above right), while live events such as Jazz Re:fest (Brighton edition) and The Cookers at Church of Sound, are also recognised.

The innovative use of social media platforms and digital technology was also highlighted, with nominations for extrovert LA drummer Louis Cole and tech-savvy UK sticksman Moses Boyd. Also featured across several categories were highly respected UK-based musicians Orphy Robinson, Ian Shaw and Jean Toussaint, as well as cutting-edge US artists such as trumpeter Jaimie Branch and drummer Makaya McCraven. The winners will be announced at the awards ceremony at Shoreditch Town Hall on 30 April.

Public voting is open now at www.jazzfmawards.com and will close on Monday 12 March 2019

The full list of nominees is as follows:

Breakthrough Act
 
Cassie Kinoshi
Emma-Jean Thackary
Sarah Tandy
 
The Digital Award with Oanda
 
Blue Lab Beats
Louis Cole
Moses Boyd – 1Xtra Residency
 
The Innovation Award with Mishcon de Reya
 
Orphy Robinson – Freedom Sessions at Vortex
Steam Down
Tomorrow’s Warriors
 
Instrumentalist of the Year
 
Camilla George
Jean Toussaint
Rob Luft
 
International Jazz Act of the Year with Lateralize
 
Jamie Branch
Makaya McCraven
Wayne Shorter
 
Soul Act of the Year
 
José James
Leon Bridges
Poppy Ajudha
 
Blues Act of the Year
 
Eric Bibb
Errol Linton
Roosevelt Collier
 
Vocalist of the Year
 
Cherise Adams-Burnett
Ian Shaw
Judi Jackson
 
UK Jazz Act of the Year (Public Vote) with Cambridge Audio
 
Jason Yarde
Joe Armon-Jones
Nubya Garcia
    
Album of the Year (Public Vote) with Arqiva
  
Charles Lloyd & The Marvels and Lucinda Williams – Vanished Gardens
Jean Toussaint Allstar 6Tet – Brother Raymond
John Coltrane – Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album
Sons of Kemet – Your Queen Is A Reptile
Various Artists – We Out Here
Wayne Shorter – Emanon
 
Live Experience of the Year (Public Vote)
 
Jason Moran: The Harlem Hellfighters – Tour
Jazz Re:Fest 2018: Brighton Edition
Makaya McCraven and Nubya Garcia – EFG London Jazz Festival
Orphy Robinson presents Van Morrison’s Astral Weeks – Tour
Steam Down featuring Kamasi Washington
The Cookers – Church of Sound

 – Mike Flynn

 MatanaRoberts MG 3019

Matana Roberts (above) is so relaxed tonight her short opening set is almost a lullaby. Playing alto-sax unaccompanied, she investigates melodic wisps with leisurely calm, occasionally breaking off to chat informally to the audience: she tells us she’s annoyed to find herself thinking about Donald Trump while she’s trying to “play the blues,” and goes on to encourage all of us to stop watching the news if we want to improve our mental health. A few more simple fragments of melody and she ends with a series of spoken homilies read from a battered notebook. “Let that shit go,” she advises. It’s everyday wisdom from the most laid-back preacher in town.

MoorMother MG 3134

All of which makes Irreversible Entanglements (above) seem even angrier by comparison. Poet/vocalist Camae Ayewa, also reading from a notebook, pours forth scalding jets of furious hellfire rage. “What are you doing in my neighbourhood? You don’t have the training to survive here,” she mocks, conjuring an undeclared civil war ripping the heart out of American cities. The rest of the band, too, seem wound up in a state of militant tension and ready to blow. For over an hour, without pause, they navigate a shifting, spontaneous terrain. Upright bassist Luke Stewart and drummer Tcheser Holmes are the engine, locking into fierce, urgent grooves while trumpeter Aquiles Navarro directs the musical flow, blowing barbed hooks that flutter like pennants on the battlefield. Saxophonist Keir Neuringer holds back, reluctant to crowd the theatre of operations, adding splashes of chiming percussion like a warrior priest inventing new rituals.

For the encore, Matana Roberts joins them on stage, dropping abrupt phrases into the melee while Ayewa’s scorched lyrics focus to a diamond hard sharpness. I can’t think of anyone else making music this tough right now.

Daniel Spicer
– Photos by Roger Thomas

The London-based 17-piece Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are set to release their debut album, The Adventures of Mr Pottercakes, on 1 March on Spark! Records, with a live launch at the Queen Elizabeth Hall’s foyer space on the same date. The Peter Whittingham Award-winning band feature a whole host of fast rising twentysomething jazz talent that includes trumpeter James Copus, trombonist Tom Green, saxophonist Alex Hitchcock, guitarist Rob Luft and double bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado – all of whom can be heard on the track ‘Badger Cam’ below.

Generating a substantial buzz through their sold-out gig at last year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, the band are set to take the album on the road on the following dates: The Clarendon Muse, Watford (24 Feb); Junction 2, Cambridge (26 Feb); Yellow Arch Studios, Sheffield (27 Feb); Seven Arts, Leeds (28 Feb); Queen Elizabeth Hall Foyer, London (5.30pm, 1 Mar) and Tap Social Movement, Oxford (20 Mar).

Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.sparklabel.com/patchwork.html

Hiseman Tribute1

As Jon Hiseman would say: “If you are going to do something, do it properly.” Certainly the tribute concert to the legendary drummer was done with all the skill and dedication his memory deserved.

Jon’s daughter Ana Gracey organised an event that presented an ever changing cavalcade of performers representing different facets of Hiseman’s career, from the days of Graham Bond, John Mayall and Colosseum to his work with Barbara Thompson’s Paraphernalia and NYJO. The result was a show full of surprises that drew cheers from the 800-strong audience at a packed 02 in Shepherd's Bush.

Technical feats were achieved by the use of a video wall and Jon himself seemed to come alive, talking, playing and even drumming, synchronised with the stream of ‘live’ performances on the crowded stage. Jon’s son Marcus emphasised proceeds from the show would be donated to the Cure Parkinson’s Trust and Jon’s wife Barbara Thompson received an ovation when she recalled how she met her future husband at a NYJO rehearsal when she was a 19-year-old saxophone player. Ana sang songs from her new album, Wicked Games, with jazzy versions of popular songs ‘Stay With Me’ and the Prince classic 'Cream', backed by Peter Lemer (keyboards), Adrian Revell (sax), Phil Mulford (bass) and Tom Hutch (drums). 

Michael Robert Williams Colosseum Jon Hiseman Tribute Concert Shepherds Bush Empire London 2nd Feb 2019 I2654

JCM, the trio Jon formed last year with Clem Clempson (guitar) and Mark Clarke (bass and vocals) was reunited with drum meister Ralph Salmins. They blasted through numbers from their Heroes album, including 'The Inquisition' a terrifyingly fast Gary Moore-penned jazz-rock instrumental with Don Airey on organ. NYJO opened the second set with a powerful brass-and-reed section, Alex Temple Heald on drums and Billy Thompson back on violin.

A highlight was the hypnotic ‘Sax Rap’ with a synchronised video of Barbara playing tenor along with the band. More guest stars joined the party with Pete Brown singing ‘Morning Story’ and Chris Farlowe roaring into the Colosseum favourite ‘Walking in the Park’. Only Jon Hiseman himself could top the show, and the video of him soloing with double-bass drums and cymbals afire provided an astonishing climax.

Chris Welch
– Photos by Michael Robert Williams 

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