The programme for the sixth edition of the Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival, which runs from 15 to 18 March 2018, has been announced and includes several anniversary-themed concerts. The first of these will see renowned local jazz-rockers Get the Blessing (pictured above left) unveiling their brand new 'Bristopolis' project inspired and utilising archive footage of Bristol drawn from the last 100 years, shot by amateur filmmakers and stored in the city's archives at Create Bristol. The band will be working with John Minton (who already provides visuals for them, as well as for Portishead and Moog Ensemble) and will be writing new music for this special project, which rumours suggest may well become their next album.

Another fascinating addition will be a specially convened band to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Jimi Hendrix's iconic Electric Ladyland album (originally released on 16 October 1968), which will see an all-star Brit jazz band of Laura Jurd, Yazz Ahmed, Winston Rollins, Richard Henry, Iain Ballamy, Thad Kelly, Daisy Palmer and Noel Langley, who line-up under the musical direction of guitarist Denny Ilett, who takes inspiration from the legendary Gil Evan's 1970s reworkings of the Hendrix material.

There's also a guitar-soaked tribute to blues rock legends Cream, under the banner of Cream '68, with axe-slingers Neville Marten, Mick Taylor and Jamie Dickson saluting the iconic trio's final concert at the Albert Hall in 1968. Cult Fiction is another unique concert at the festival, an expansive jazz-meets-classical programme of cult TV and movie themes, conducted by William Goodchild, with comic actor Matt Berry providing links in his own inimitable style.

Further names announced include venerated US saxophonist Lee Konitz with his Quartet; renowned percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie (above centre) with guitarist Ant Law's Trio HLK and an Edition Records double-bill topped by Phronesis keys star Ivo Neame with support from folk-tronica group Snowpoet, with both group's albums released in the spring as part of the label's 10th anniversary year. There are also concerts from top guitar duo Martin Taylor and Ulf Wakenius, Polly Gibbons/James Pearson Quintet; Arun Ghosh; The Big Swing with the Bruce/Ilett Big Band; Asaf Sirkis/ Sylwia Bialas IQ; Enrico Tomasso's High Standards; Cartoon Jazz II featuring Ian Shaw; and jazz-funk sax don Pee Wee Ellis Quartet (above right) featuring Jason Rebello, Alec Dankworth and Julie Saury. The principal concerts will take place at the Colston Hall's main stage, Lantern Theatre and large foyer space, with additional concerts at participating venues the Folk House, Bambalan and The Forge.

– Mike Flynn

Full timings and tickets are available from www.bristoljazzandbluesfest.com

The full programme has been revealed for this year's edition of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which runs from 2 to 7 May, and includes some very strong additions to its headline and core jazz strands. Things go full steam ahead with a Thursday night concert from revered Irish singer-songwriter Van Morrison (Henry Westons Big Top, 3 May) as he previews music from his forthcoming jazz-influenced new album, while the Friday Night Is Music Night concert will feature the combined forces of the BBC Concert Orchestra and Guy Barker Big Band, plus guest vocalists under the banner of Rollin' On The River, a musical journey following the path of the Mississippi and the vast musical legacy associated with its history (Henry Westons Big Top, 4 May).

The Parabola Arts Centre (PAC) gets underway with a compelling double-bill of Swiss vocalist Lucia Cadotsch and Kit Downes' J Dilla inspired collaborative trio ENEMY, with Swiss bass boss Petter Eldh and UK drum supremo James Maddren, playing music from their new album on Edition. This is followed by trumpeter Laura Jurd's Mercury-nominated band Dinosaur (4 May). Brit-jazz sax titan Courtney Pine lines up with Omar to play groove-laden tunes from their recent LP Black Notes From The Deep, with support from impressive 19-year-old French guitarist Tom Ibarra (Town Hall, 4 May), while award-winning axesmith Rob Luft appears at The Daffodil (4 May).

Highlights across the weekend include the dramatic high-energy Afrobeat sounds of Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 (2pm, Big Top, 5 May); jazz-informed electronica from festival favourites Portico Quartet (4pm, Jazz Arena) and Zara McFarlane performs songs from her acclaimed Jamaican jazz influenced album, Arise (7.30pm, Jazz Arena, 5 May). Versatile Estonian jazz singer Kadri Voorand makes a rare UK appearance (2pm, PAC) and imperious ever-questing saxophonist Evan Parker performs with his Trance Map+ five-piece for only the second time since its premiere as part of Hull's 2017 City Culture (10pm, PAC, 5 May).

The regular Saturday night headline spot at the Town Hall sees Gilles Peterson presenting jazz-loving soul singer Jordan Rakei (11.30pm, Town Hall, 5 May). Sunday morning gets off to a cerebral start with a performance of Wolves Are People Too, a collaborative work combining jazz and ballet with music from pianist/composer David Austin Grey and choreography by Kit Holder of Birmingham Royal Ballet (11am, PAC). The Parabola Sunday programme is one of the strongest in recent years and includes the 10-piece Issie Barratt's Interchange (1.45pm), improv-heavy sounds from Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quartet (4.15pm), genre-hopping Indo-jazz clarinettist Arun Ghosh (7pm) and engaging Swiss piano trio Vein appear with special guest saxophonist Stan Sulzmann (9.45pm).

Elsewhere there's top notch vocal jazz from US singer China Moses (12.30pm, Jazz Arena), while iconic jazz-funk crew Tower Of Power kick out the horn-heavy jams at the Town Hall (9.15pm, 5 May). There's also a bonus bank holiday Monday showing from London-based pop-up jazz specialists Empirical who sign off at the Jazz Arena (6.30pm, 7 May). These concerts join those already announced in Jazzwise, who are media partners for the festival, and include: Randy Crawford (Big Top, 2 May); Nigel Kennedy (Town Hall, 3 May); Bill Frisell/Thomas Morgan (Town Hall, 5 May); Roller Trio (PAC, 5 May); Jim Black's Malamute (PAC, 5 May); Beth Hart (Big Top, 5 May); Jason Moran Bandwagon Trio (5 May); Andy Sheppard Quartet (Town Hall, 6 May); Christian McBride Big Band (Town Hall, 6 May); Kamasi Washington (Big Top, 6 May) and Donny McCaslin Band (6 May).

Mike Flynn

For full details and tickets visit www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz

Heavyweight Dutch jazz bands Quartet NL and Under the Surface (an adventurous trio led by drummer Joost Lijbaart, above right), make their UK debuts with gigs in London and Scotland on 19 and 22 February respectively as part of the Jazz Promotion Network's Going Dutch project.

Formed by drummer Han Bennink (above left), bassist Ruud Jacobs, saxophonist Benjamin Herman and pianist Peter Beets to play a New Year's Eve gig in 2013, Quartet NL brought together two generations and two very different musical approaches – Bennink being an internationally acclaimed master of free improvisation, as well as having featured with Sonny Rollins and Dexter Gordon; his bandmates having followed a largely more straightahead jazz path. They were an instant success, resulting in a chain of bookings. Later, in 2016, a series of concerts featuring the music of Dutch pianist and composer Misha Mengelberg brought further acclaim.

Jacobs, who followed a career that included gigs with Louis Armstrong, Cannonball Adderley and Hank Mobley by becoming a record producer with numerous million-selling albums on his CV, has recently suffered from ill-health. His place at the quartet's gig at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street, Soho on 19 February will be taken by Ernst Glerum. The latter recently toured England and Ireland with the Instant Composers Pool Orchestra alongside Bennink and has performed with luminaries including Steve Lacy, Lee Konitz, Teddy Edwards, and John Zorn.

Under the Surface met in 2015 when the Dutch Foundation Beaux Jazz, which offers young talents artistic support, invited the young singer Sanne Rambags to choose more experienced musicians to work with for its Generation Next strand. Rambags, an improvising vocalist who uses texts and poems to build rhythmical phrases, selected Joost Lijbaart, best known for his work with saxophonist Yuri Honing, and guitarist Bram Stadhouders, who had previously worked in electronic music and with Norwegian singer Sidsel Endresen, and the trio struck up an immediate understanding.

Within a short time, their mixture of jazz with elements from unspecified folk traditions had found particular favour with world music festivals, resulting in appearances in Mali, Mexico, China, Norway, and India, and since releasing their first album, Under the Surface, last year they have also appeared at major jazz events including Jazz International in Rotterdam and the Sound Of Europe in Breda.

The band play the Blue Lamp, Aberdeen (22 Feb); Hippodrome, Eyemouth (23 Feb) and the Blue Arrow, Glasgow (24 Feb).

Rob Adams

For more info on this series of concerts visit jazzpromotionnetwork.org.uk/goingdutch/

GoGo Penguin, the Blue Note-signed Manchester piano trio whose fusion of acoustic jazz, glitchy rhythms, rock dynamics and dance-like loops earned them a Mercury Prize nomination for their 2014 album V2.0, launched their fourth album, A Humdrum Star, with a sold-out gig at London's Roundhouse.

Against black-and-white penguin outlines spotlighted above the stage, 'Raven' opened the set with Chris Illingworth's sparse, plangent piano chords and Nick Blacka's scratchily-bowed doubled bass. GoGo Penguin recently produced their own score for the experimental dialogue-free film Koyaanisqatsi, originally soundtracked by Philip Glass. Their cinematic credentials were immediately evident, as was the influence of Glass' mesmeric minimalism. 'Strid' and 'Reactor' combined polyrhythmic melodies with tricky time signatures to progressive effect. At times the repetitive bass loops and piano patterns engendered a build-and-drop effect that more closely resembled EDM (electronic dance music). 'Bardo' was closest to a rave-ready trance-track, its staccatoed piano stabs propelled by strobe lighting and restless, driving beats.

GGP-RH18-Rob-credit-Fabrice-Bourgelle

With Illingworth's piano melodies anchoring the music, Rob Turner's drums often acted as the lead instrument. Indeed, it sometimes seemed Turner (above) was playing to a different track altogether: take his drums out and it's easy to imagine a standard four-to-the-floor EDM beat. On 'To Drown in You' from V2.0, hyper splurges of snares and hi-hats splintered an initially simple melody into fits and starts, creating rhythms so busy and jittery they appeared the creation of a neurotic, four-armed drummer-bot. Perhaps this glitchy, mechanical feel is unsurprising given that many of GoGo Penguin's compositions began on computers.

Though Turner recreated beats with drum-machine-esque precision, GoGo Penguin grooved like humans. 'A Hundred Moons' brought repose in the set's otherwise relentless intensity with a looser, swaying rhythm, while penultimate song 'Protest' broke the minor-key mood that seems the band's default as insistent bass riffs and swaggering, triumphant piano chords crashed into a cacophony of riotous energy. With hypnotic hooks underpinned by virtuosic rhythms, GoGo Penguin are far more likely to get you dancing than you'd expect from listening to their records. What a shame then to turn the Roundhouse into an all-seater venue – the audience's itchy, happy feet remained regrettably cold.

– Sam Taylor
– Photos by Fabrice Bourgelle

photomorel-29                                                                                                                                                                                    RAM. Credit: Daniel Morel

Two words: bon bagay. That's 'good thing' in Haitian Kreyòl, a phrase you hear everywhere in Port-au-Prince. It's a compliment and an expression of joie de vivre, which, in spite of all they've had to endure, Haitians have in spades. A lot has changed in Haiti's capital since my visit last year. The process of rebuilding, following the devastating earthquake of 2010, continues apace. The crippled National Palace has finally been demolished, ready for reconstruction, and all around the Champ Mars, the city's main square, new structures are rising from their foundations.

PAPJazz, the city's jazz festival, now in its 12th year, is going from strength to strength too – flying the flag for Haiti's underrated music scene and doing its bit to challenge the toxic, reductive view of the country peddled by vulgar man baby presidents and the global ill-informed. It's a very good thing. It's not-for-profit and most of the gigs are free. They also do a huge amount in the way of outreach. Visiting artists give free masterclasses and they've recently set up a music school programme, to train the next generation of Haitian musicians.

There's a wealth of talent in the current generation and this year's line-up had even more Haitian acts on the bill (18, versus 12 visitors). One of the standout performances came from brilliant Haitian drummer Johnbern Thomas, who was presented with a special award for services to jazz in Haiti. On the open-air stage down at Quisqueya University, where most gigs took place, he delivered a blazing set of standards and post-bop originals, drawn from 2017 debut Mèsi, Merci, Thank you, Gracias. The highlight was an insanely syncopated whip through 'Scrapple From The Apple', which brought switches of feel from calypso to latin and racing swing to swaggering half-time funk. Thomas unleashed rim shot hail storms and a trio of superb American guests – pianist Aaron Goldberg, alto player Godwin Louis and trumpeter Darren Barrett – raised the intensity further, vying with one another in epic joint solos.

gtr                                                                                                                                                                        Wesli. Credit: Josué Azor/PAPJazz

Goldberg was on fire again that night, at the afterhours jam. These intimate sessions, held at bars around the city, are a PAPJazz signature. They're a chance to chat to the musicians and they give the festival a sense of community that I haven't experienced anywhere else. The crowds are great here too. They're always so warm and appreciative and there were huge receptions even for less obviously crowd-pleasing acts. A magnificent Spanish trio comprising veteran bassist Javier Colina, guitarist Josemi Carmona and percussionist Bandolero got a well-earned standing ovation for their fusion of bristling flamenco and jazz. They stepped things up a gear for the finisher, Carmona's 'Tangroove', which opened with a theatrical guitar introduction, worked in bluesy solos and climaxed with a storm of sharply-accented chords and cajon wingbeats.

Though it had a core of jazz tradition, this year's bill was also noticeably broader, and did an excellent job of representing the diversity within Haiti's music scene. One of the best crossover sets came from Wesli, a Port-au-Prince born vocalist/guitarist now based in Montreal. Playing tracks from his latest release, ImmiGrand Deluxe, he mixed Afrobeat grooves and silvery soukous guitar riffs with jangling Haitian troubadour styles, funk horn lines, reggae, rap kreyòl and riotous rara carnival music. It was an intoxicating mashup, enhanced by Wesli's boundless on stage charisma.

Follow                                                                                                                                                                  Follow Jah. Credit: Josué Azor/PAPJazz

RAM, perhaps Haiti's best known band internationally and pioneers of the Haitian magpie approach, were better still. Their Friday night headline performance, at Place Boyer, a public square in the suburb of Pétion-Ville, was a tour de force – fusing hypnotic vodou drum patterns, rara horn blasts, yowling rock guitar riffs and enchanting vocals. The atmosphere was electric, with a capacity crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. Rara marching band Follow Jah were there too, stilt-top dancers in tow, hammering their drums, blasting their konet (vuvuzelas made from beaten metal) and buzzing their bass bamboos between sets.

NormanBrown                                                                                                                                                           Norman Brown. Credit: Josué Azor/PAPJazz

Rara is fast becoming an obsession. It's joyful, intoxicating and raw, like the best Balkan brass music or the marching bands of New Orleans. There was a lot more of it on the final night, when the festival moved to Royal Decameron, a resort on an exquisite stretch of coastline north of Port-au-Prince. After an hour of flawless funk from an ultra-tight band led by US guitarist Norman Brown, who vocalised his own lightning fast blues licks and jerking bends, Follow Jah led a delirious rum-fuelled dance party on the beach. A closing DJ set from Port-au-Prince born EDM star Michael Brun, wound up the same way. In the dying minutes, vocalist Steeve Valcourt and rara band Lakou Mizik stormed the stage to play collaborative party track 'Gaya', leading a final rara-driven rave down on the sand when the clattering beats and shuddering beams of sub bass had subsided.

It's moments like that that make PAPJazz one of my favourite jazz festivals anywhere. It has so much character – you couldn't replicate it anywhere else – and it's so much fun. The Haitians say it best: bon bagay.

– Thomas Rees

PAPJazz will return 19-26 January 2019. For more info: www.papjazzhaiti.org/fr/

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