As the lights dimmed and Brad Mehldau, Larry Grenadier and Jeff Ballard walked purposefully to the Barbican stage last night, who knew what to expect from the pianist and his band, currently among the most influential piano trios around. Early miniature motifs and try-outs by Brad gave away no clues and for a while, despite the first two tunes coming from Brad’s pen, the cadences and melodic snatches sounded as if they came straight from Lennon and McCartney. Mehldau has recorded fine versions of ‘Dear Prudence’ and ‘She’s Leaving Home’ but last night’s concert veered away from obvious covers and left the door wide open for rococo flourishes, deep crab-like improvising and integrated interplay with Grenadier and Ballard. Scampering along happily for most of the gig, even playing the kit with his hands at one point, Ballard’s biscuit-tin vibrations and fast hands were every bit as captivating as Grenadier’s super fast lines and rock solid walking lines, particularly on Brad’s tune based on Charlie Parker’s ‘Confirmation’.

Scottish saxophonist Tommy Smith teams up with legendary bassist Arild Andersen and drummer Paolo Vinaccia for a new album and tour next month. The tour follows from duo performances that Smith and Andersen delivered in 2006 but now adds the Norwegian-based Italian Vinaccia to the group, a player who has worked extensively with Andersen in the past. New album Live at Belleville is released on ECM in time for the tour which begins on 22 November at London’s Purcell Room. Other dates include the Lichfield Arts Festival (28 November), The Lot, Edinburgh (3 December), Blue Lamp, Aberdeen (4 December), RSAMD, Glasgow (6 Dec) and Greyfriars Parish Church Lanark (7 Dec).

Jazz FM has announced a sponsorship deal with Pizza Express. Launching on 21 October, Jazz FM will subsequently be broadcast in all 300 Pizza Express restaurants in the UK while the Jazz FM Drive Time show will be sponsored by Pizza Express and will include competitions and branding on both the show’s micro site and listen again features. The sponsorship will extend to encompass jointly branded compilation albums and the organisation and promotion of live music at such leading Pizza Express venues as Pizza On The Park and Jazz Club Soho. The two companies will also co-operate closely on the Internet with branded links to each other’s websites appearing on jazzfm.com and pizzaexpress.com.

Norwegian pianist Christian Wallumrød brings his quartet to the UK for a short tour next month. Born in 1971 he debuted for ECM in 1996 with the album No Birch and with the group set to tour this month recorded Sofienberg Variations followed by A Year From Easter. An extended group led by Wallumrød also recorded the recently issued The Zoo Is Far. Wallumrød also has an interest in 70s jazz and post-Bitches Brew explorations which he experimented with memorably in the group Close Erase with Ingebrigt Flaten and Per Oddvar Johansen. He has also worked with singer Sidsel Endresen and with Deathprod of minimalist group Supersilent. Wallumrød brings his stellar group of trumpeter Arve Henriksen, percussionist Per Oddvar Johansen and violinist Nils Okland for the tour. Dates are St George’s Bristol (27 Nov), Holywell Music Room, Oxford (28 November), Seven, Leeds (29 November) and RNCM. Manchester (30 November).
 
Pictured: Christian Wallumrød

Now in its eighth year, the unique Atlantic Waves festival – which celebrates Portuguese and Lusophone music – is back next month with a typically diverse range of music on show. Beginning in epic style with world music star Mariza on 1 and 2 November at the Barbican the festival also includes the Rabih Abou-Khalil Group featuring Ricardo Ribeiro on 9 November at St John’s Smith Square, Vinicius Cantuaria plus Samba Carioica Quartet on 10 November at the QEH and Waldemar Bastos/Neco Novellas on 11 November. For more info go to www.atlanticwaves.org
Pictured: Vinicius Cantuaria 

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