Over 500 leading musicians from across the jazz, folk and electronic scenes have signed an open letter to The Guardian in protest at recently announced cuts to specialist programming on BBC Radio 3. The changes to the schedule were announced in early March and include the “resting” of Jazz Now (which has been on-air just under three years) and Geoffrey Smith’s Jazz, while the genre-hopping Music Planet moves to a midnight slot. But it is the reduction of vital crossover/experimental show Late Junction, from three nightly slots a week to just one, that’s particularly angered many musicians and music fans.

Former Mercury Prize judge/broadcaster Jude Rogers and Luke Turner, founder of online music magazine The Quietus, coordinated the open letter to Radio 3 controller Alan Davey, questioning the decision to drastically reduce the station’s niche music programmes, which goes against the grain of its public services commitments. High-profile musicians who have signed the letter include Brian Eno, Peter Gabriel, Norma Waterson, Shirley Collins, Tommy Smith OBE, Orphy Robinson MBE, Claire Martin OBE, Cleveland Watkiss MBE, Shabaka Hutchings, Nikki Yeoh, Dennis Rollins, Elliot Galvin and many more.

An online petition has been started to stop the cuts to Late Junction – click here to sign

Mike Flynn

 

The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden departure of Sinéad Dunphy (pictured), director of Cork’s Guinness Jazz Festival. Barely into the second year of what was announced as a three-year rolling contract, Dunphy was dismissed for reasons unexplained. An unsigned press release from Diageo, the company that owns Guinness (sponsors of the festival for nearly 40 years), thanks her for her contribution and says: “We wish to maintain the momentum achieved over the past number of years to deliver another great event this October”, without giving any details.

Dunphy received enthusiastic reviews (including from this magazine) for her 2018 festival, and noted that she not only succeeded artistically but delivered a profit. Her response now is, “I have been left with no option but to place the circumstances of my termination in the hands of my solicitors”, declining any public comment. Events company Verve Live Agency (no connection with the record label), which administers all of Diageo’s sponsorship contracts, merely stands behind the bland press release. The response of concerned musicians, including some who were in discussions about appearing in 2019, tends to assume that it’s all allegedly about money and, in this case, it seems they may well be right.

– Brian Priestley
– Photo by Miki Barlok

JimmyOwens DizzysClub

The Annual SAM Benefit concert will be held on 13 April at 5C Cafe in New York and will feature George Coleman, Jimmy Owens (pictured), Peter Bernstein, Scott Robinson, Frank London, Virginia Mayhew, Oscar Feldman and many more.

Special Audiences and Musicians, Inc. provides jazz performances in nursing homes, hospitals, assisted-living homes and other such institutions in New York and the Tri-State area. It employs musicians drawn from three under-represented groups; musicians with disabilities, senior musicians and women. The therapeutic, social and emotional benefits gained from live musical performances are well established. Utilising musician with disabilities, female musicians and senior musicians provides valuable professional performance opportunities to those under-represented musicians who have much to offer in terms of artistic expression.

Spencer Grady

Anyone interested in finding out more about SAM, Inc. can visit their website at www.specialaudiencesandmusicians.org 

The first names have been unveiled for this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs from 15 to 24 November. Taking place across stages at the Southbank and Barbican centres and at every major jazz venue and club in the capital, the festival is the second under the auspices of former Istanbul Jazz Festival programmer Pelin Opcin at Serious.

Chief among the artists announced is iconic Norwegian saxophonist, Jan Garbarek, at the Royal Festival Hall (above right, 17 Nov), with the latter venue also hosting the Jazz Voice opening-night gala concert (15 Nov). Other headliners include Dave Holland, Chris Potter and Zakir Hussain’s Indo-jazz supergroup, CrossCurrents (Cadogan Hall, 15 Nov), Grammy-winning singer Cécile McLorin Salvant (above left) with pianist Sullivan Fortner (Barbican, 16 Nov) and Nordic sax whirlwind Marius Neset performing music from his Viaduct project with the London Sinfonietta (QEH, 21 Nov). There’s also a live soundtrack for cult film Battleship Potemkin created and played by guitarist Matt Calvert (Three Trapped Tigers) and Jan Bang (Punkt) which is produced by Opera North (Kings Place Hall One, 23 Nov).

Further dates announced include bassist Lars Danielsson’s Group: Liberetto III at Wigmore Hall – with Grégory Privat, John Parricelli and Magnus Öström (19 Nov); an exciting Brazilian jazz double-bill of acclaimed pianist/singer Eliane Elias and guitarist Vinicius Cantuaria at Barbican (22 Nov); Chicagoan drum-don Makaya McCraven at Village Underground with support from trombonist Rosie Turton (above centre, 19 Nov); Swingin’ with Strings with singer Claire Martin and singer/pianist Iain Mackenzie (Cadogan Hall, 24 Nov) and a Jazz Generation collaboration between the BBC Concert Orchestra, Nu Civilisation Orchestra and award-winning bassist Misha Mullov Abbado at QEH (23 Nov). Renowned pianist Dan Tepfer performs his enthralling 'Natural Machines' AV show (Kıngs Place Hall One, 24 Nov) and Cuban jazz violinist Omar Puente presents ‘An Evening for Debbie’, with his new strings group Classico Latino Sextet, alongside solo and duo pieces, in memory of his late wife Debbie Purdy (Kings Place, 22 Nov). Jazzwise is media partner for the festival.

Mike Flynn

For more info and tickets visit www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

 

JohnTurville5tet anyaarnold 4

This is the last show in the tour and there’s an end-of-term vibe on the Verdict’s crowded stage as our genial host Roxanne introduces the band to the packed house. “I’ve been having a lot of fun” says John Turville (pictured), adding wryly, “and I think the band have too”. The band, sporting the kind of scruffily relaxed semi-formal look typical of Higher Education academics (which several of them are during daylight hours), seem to concur; then it’s straight into the first number, 'Fall Out', drawn from Turville’s recent album, Head First. The complex head is negotiated with ease and a close eye on the chart, then Julian Argüelles surges ahead on tenor, with a torrent of ideas, followed by Robbie Robson’s powerfully precise trumpet, and the leader’s light-touch, effortlessly inventive piano flowing into a cunningly executed coda. The two horns complement each other each with their full, rounded tone, accurate articulation and endlessly fertile, oblique melodicism.

Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor are guiding lights here, and the band are perfectly suited to a spirited interpretation of the former’s '4-5-6', all the soloists coaxing a flow of lyrical ideas from the advanced harmonic base. Argüelles enjoyed a long association with Taylor, and 'Ennerdale', written by Turville in tribute, sees him rising off Dave Whitford’s big-toned, carefully constructed solo statement to raise the temperature with some inspired improvisation; his own 'A Month In Tunisia' has an airily precise latin lilt – a natural fit for Turville, who deploys a similar feel in his own 'Head First' - that leads into a super exciting drum solo from the prodigious James Maddren.

For all the band’s unassuming demeanour, these are outsize talents in this packed, intimate room. The second set starts with 'Almagro Nights' rearranged from trio format so that the full band fly over the complex, supple riffing. Then there’s a sax/piano duet, with Argüelle’s melting tone on soprano, never harsh or shrill even in the highest register, building up in telepathic correspondence with Turville’s arpeggios and swelling into a perfect torrent of notes, until the wave seems to break and the band come in with the rippling, dancing figures of 'Perfect Foil'. This is music-making of the very highest order, and it’s a rare treat to witness it so close at hand. To follow, Turville puts the band through their paces with a knotty re-working of Coltrane’s already challenging '26-2', with generous additions of metric modulation leading to a joyous group free-improv – then there’s a Bill Evans ballad, 'Laurie', dedicated to Turville’s partner, and an artful arrangement of Michel Pettruciani’s 'Beautiful But Why?' that provides a welcome dose of straightahead swing.

“This is my dream band,” says Turville in conclusion, and it’s impossible to disagree – there’s such a perfect match between their expansive abilities and the leader’s vision, and it feels as though there’s no limit to the amount of music they can make together. We are treated to an encore of 'Francisca' by Toninho Horta; Argüelles wedges bits of paper into his horn as an impromptu repair, everyone soars in solo, and then we’re left to return to whatever mundanity awaits us, carrying the memory of this exceptional two hours of artistic creation.

Eddie Myer
– Photo by Anya Arnold 

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