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After Jamie Cullum’s success here in 2011, it was no surprise that this show in the Theatre Antique here at Jazz a Vienne, would sell out very quickly, his billing with French Manouche singer Thomas Dutronc no doubt accelerated the rush for tickets (Dutronc is the son of singer Françoise Hardy and his father is the singer, songwriter, guitarist, and film actor Jacques Dutronc).

For this concert Cullum expanded his current touring band to the status of ‘big band’ with strings and extra horns – so that he could film the show for a Concert DVD to be released in conjunction with the new album, which will be released on Universal in the autumn.

For Cullum, this album is hugely important – his award-winning BBC Radio 2 show on Tuesday nights has ‘re-ignited’ his passion with, and his desire to play, more jazz – so he has been writing new and arranging old material which culminated in recording sessions with Nostalgia 77’s Benedic Lamdin. Even Marc Connor, Cullum's manager, described this as, “Jamie’s most jazz-based album yet.”

The decision to film the show was only taken two weeks ago and proved to be a massive challenge to arrange an additional 24 musicians. The venue, a Roman amphitheatre that holds around 7,500 is a fantastic setting and once the decision was taken to film a show from the current tour – was Cullum’s first choice. The weather in Vienne has been very unsettled and the previous night had seen quite heavy rain during Joe Satriani’s show.

Fortunately, although spitting during Thomas Dutronc’s set it didn’t actually rain and by the time Cullum took to the stage it had almost completely stopped. Dutronc (with special guest guitarist Angelo Debarre) was excellent playing a mixture of songs ‘Allonges’, ‘Charleston’, ‘J’aime Plus Paris’, ’Tiger Rag’ and ‘I’ll see you’, evoking memories of Django and Henri Salvador in his prime.

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While a very large space the Theatre Antique is also quite intimate and suited Cullum’s presentation of his music. Always the showman, still jumping off the piano and leaping around the stage, much to the delight of the crowd, it was the more intimate moments during the ballads when you could see him hold the audience and take them with him on a song that showed his growing artistic maturity. The new songs are certainly far jazzier than before, the addition of a big band, ably led by saxophonist/multi-instrumentalist Tom Richards and featuring among others saxophonists Ben Castle and Tom Challenger and trombonist Barnaby Dickinson alongside his regular band of trumpeter Rory Simmons and drummer Brad Webb, who were superb throughout.

The older songs unsurprisingly got the most reaction ‘When I get Famous’, ‘Don’t Stop The Music’, ‘I’m All Over It’ and ‘These Are The Days’ turning into real anthems for him. The sight of most of the Theatre Antique jumping up and down together in unison at the climax of the show wearing their free red or blue rain-macs was a wonderful sight and contrasted with the total hush as he sung a solo version of ‘Gran Tourino’ with not a sound coming from the audience.
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Tour manager Danny White, who has been with Cullum for more than 12 years and has seen virtually every show, told me he thinks he is better now than he has ever seen him – the popularity of the radio show and his busy touring schedule are attracting new fans and also existing jazz fans who perhaps have dismissed him in the past but have gained respect because of his obvious love of jazz and the eclectic playlist on his show.

The new album and Live DVD should be out in the autumn 2014 and promises to be extremely interesting.

– Tim Dickeson (story and photos)

 

Ryan-Quigley300Ryan Quigley, the Parliamentary Jazz Award winning virtuoso trumpeter, has signed to Whirlwind Recordings with an album release lined up for 2015. Quigley is set to tour later this month with music from the forthcoming album that will be recorded late July at Steve Winwood’s private studio. The band includes: Whirlwind founder Michael Janisch on bass, Paul Booth on saxophones, Steve Hamilton on piano and New York based Clarence Penn on drums.

Quigley was formally a member of Brass Jaw and currently plays principal trumpet for the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra, BBC Big Band and multiple national-level symphony orchestras, as well as sessions and tour work.

Catch Ryan and his cross-Atlantic group on his following UK dates: The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh (23 July); Stereo, Glasgow (24 July); Urban Coffee, Church Street, Birmingham (25 July); and Pizza Express Jazz Club (26 July).

Tom Wright

For more information go to www.whirlwindrecordings.com

 

love-supreme2014
Love Supreme Festival’s
brave debut last year as the first green-field UK jazz festival in many years had blazing sunshine to match its beautiful South Downs setting. Early, steady drizzle this time showed it’s weatherproof, as the jazz and soul tribes mingled in celebratory mood, in numbers 50% up from last year.

Courtney Pine, a rare jazz presence on Sunday’s Main Stage, pulled out all his considerable crowd-pleasing stops, proving one of the weekend’s biggest draws under by now perfect summer sun. “If you know anything about jazz,” he preached in evangelist mode, “we’re about unity – especially the way the UK is going.” Pine’s Coltranesque soprano sax honks were just part of the party, proving jazz’s potential when powered by heart and talent this huge and open.

That’s true, too, of Gregory Porter, who headlined Sunday’s Big Top to a crowd spilling far outside it, and was treated as a pop star. A familiar set-list had fresh arrangements heavy on soul-powered brass punch, with Yosuke Sato’s blistering sax ensuring improvisatory potency. Porter, too, kept his artistic head above the growing industry clamour, remaining majestic on ‘1960 What?’, and reminding you how he’s vitally weaved gospel-soul earthiness and new popular songwriting back into jazz. Snarky Puppy’s British keyboardist Bill Lawrance mixed classical solos into their brew of fast latin funk shuffles, swaggering brass and singalong riffs on Saturday’s Main Stage. The Love Supreme ‘effect’ was at its most powerful when Phronesis were dumbfounded by roared encouragement to their airily spacious acoustic jazz, inspiring drummer Anton Eger to head-banging, hand-grenade pyrotechnics. Bassist Jasper Høiby asked for the cheers to stop so they could continue. “I’ve been waiting all my life to say that,” he sighed.

Christian McBride’s more straight-ahead bass-led piano trio benefited from a Big Top partly packed with curious post-Soul II Soul listeners, who approved every post-bop solo. Best of all was a section of the set by Dave Holland’s Prism, when the bassist’s oppressive, depth-bomb-heavy duet with drummer Eric Harland suddenly had the light let in by pianist Craig Taborn, who made the music breathe and swing, more than John Scofield, who followed Prism, as his Überjam band switched easily between jazz, electronica and rock’s pleasures, instead of fusing them. Such fleet-footed dances were second nature at Love Supreme.

Nick Hasted  

 Read the full report with exclusive photos in the August issue of Jazzwise - in shops 24 July


Filing on to the Barbican’s capacious stage, grey-suited and smart, their ties colour-coordinated, a smiling Wynton Marsalis in the lead, the JALCO instrumentalists earned their first ovation of this, the last night of their latest UK visit. If earlier London concerts had concentrated on cross-cultural interactions, notably with the Sachal Jazz Ensemble, this was a re-affirmation of the band’s roots in powerful jazz creativity. Badged as The Best of Blue Note Records with Wynton as both soloist and interlocutor, their tribute ran the gamut from Horace Silver’s earthy hard bop through to the more cerebral offerings of Woody Shaw and Wayne Shorter. Along the way, British interests were represented and expectations exceeded with the appearances of altoist Nathaniel Facey and vibist Lewis Wright as special guests, of which more later.

Sat in the section, Wynton was both ring-master and arranger for the opening ‘Appointment in Ghana’, a Jackie McLean piece, his extended solo like a compendium of possibilities, embracing tough riffs and sudden darts contrasted with extended figures, the band’s classy rhythm section locked into swing. ‘Fee Fi Fo Fum’ by Shorter proved to be a harder nut to crack, Ted Nash’s chart colour-blocked and heavy, although sparked initially by pianist Dan Nimmer’s neat Monk-inclined patterns. The band’s sole British member, Norwich-born trombonist Elliott Mason showed off his more solemn side on Shaw’s ‘The Moontrane’, before ramping up his solo as the bravura trumpet flourishes powered in, lead-man Kenny Rampton’s high-note alacrity as good as could be. Silver’s ballad, ‘Peace’ then introduced Facey, complimented straightaway by Wynton both for his sartorial and creative qualities ­– “he plays as well as he dresses” – and indeed he did, unpacking ideas in a seamless flow, the applause from both bandstand and audience leading into Wright’s arrival, his four-malleted outpourings on ‘Senor Blues’ momentarily making even the seasoned JALCO players blink in awe. And he looked sharp, too.

More good things followed, four more pieces arranged by four more band members, with trombonist Chris Crenshaw’s version of McCoy Tyner’s ballad ‘Search for Peace’ an elegantly shaded and eloquent reading featuring baritone saxophonist Paul Nedzela (standing in for the absent Joe Temperley), his perfect sound and tonal command impressing everyone, the audience held rapt. Facey and Wright returned for Joe Henderson’s ‘Inner Urge’, up on their toes and unphased by drummer Ali Jackson’s carpet-bombing, Mason joining them to make a powerful, all-Brit front-line. More ovations proffered. If ‘Free For All’ was the expected, storming closer with tenorist Walter Blanding at his congenial best and Crenshaw playing good, hard-swinging trombone, we knew somehow that there might be more to come, even as the bandstand cleared.

In New Orleans, there’s a custom called ‘lagniappe’, that little bit extra on the side of the plate and Wynton gave us it in musical form, staying on with the rhythm section to play as nifty a solo sequence on an up-tempo blues as you could want, moderating to a ballad feel when Blanding sidled on. Cue standing ovation and cheers, and why not? A grand night for swinging, for sure.

– Peter Vacher

 

The final few tickets are now on sale for The London Art Collective’s tribute concert to Sun Ra and his 100th birthday year at London’s The House Of St Barnabas on Monday 7 July.

The collective includes the Black Top duo, Pat Thomas, Orphy Robinson, flautist Rowland Sutherland (pictured), saxophonist Rachel Musson, percussionist Maurizio Ravalico and others who will perform music from Sun Ra’s extensive repertoire.

This exclusive, and probably explosive, performance, in affiliation with The House Of St Barnabas charity for homeless people, is part of a series of three summer jazz evenings that will take place in The Chapel at The House Of St Barnabas, Greek Street, London, W1. For more info go to hosb.org.uk

– Tom Wright

 

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