Art-Ensemble-of-Chicago

The English music critic Richard Williams finished his three-year stint as Jazzfest Berlin's artistic director, handing the controls over to Nadin Deventer, who proceeded to boldly throw down her gauntlet for this and her next two festivals. She has extensive programming experience, and had been working as production head for the previous two years. Deventer's main mark is made by firstly condensing the festival down to a hardcore four days, jettisoning the run-up gigs of previous years, and secondly, by opening up the entire potential space of the Berliner Festspiele edifice, from its main stage down to its basement underworld. She also transformed the entrance café into a venue, and utilised the foyer space on the upper level, as well as continuing to use satellite locations such as Quasimodo and the A-Trane jazz club.

The Grand Opening night operated a seven-hour timetable with multiple choices, which might have been frustrating on one level, but also magnified the vitality of the evening, with cross-current crowds and extreme musical contrasts. Two of the strongest themes involved artists identified with Chicago (even if many of them eventually fled to NYC), and a heavy number of sets revolving around individualist guitarists.

Two of the key Windy City combos appeared in 'special edition' Berliner fusion guises. The Art Ensemble of Chicago line-up was quite possibly the largest seen so far, with Roscoe Mitchell spending much of his time conducting forces that included a strong string quotient, sensibly dignified. Unfortunately, much of the AEC character from olden days is now lost. There is little in the way of ritualistic, Afro-improvisation, preening display and wily humour, or indeed free jazz or trad jazz content. Positively speaking, this meant increased unpredictability, and a desire to shape a different sound, but this was at the expense of any charismatic abandon or sonic extremity. The best stretch came courtesy of the splinter group featuring almost-founder percussionist Famoudou Don Moye (pictured), Dudu Kouate (Afro-drums), Hugh Ragin (trumpet) and Jaribu Shahid (bass).

Trumpeter Jaimie Branch delivered a lacklustre set during the Austrian Saalfelden fest in August, but here, her Fly Or Die quartet were fuelled by the energy of their leader, who managed to exude supreme casualness, while repeatedly spouting concise bursts of solo lava, goading drummer Chad Taylor into manic triphammer beat-skipping. She swapped between mute crisp and open frazzle, distant microphone or bell-closeness.

 Fellow trumpeter Rob Mazurek's Exploding Star International added six Berlin players to the nine Americans, having the guts to maintain spacious minimalism for quite a lengthy spell, but then eventually aroused to an intense pitch of power. Damon Locks impressed, with his scholarly office worker vibe, intoning texts into his vintage telephone, doctoring via electronics. Taylor was on board again and eventually rolled crazily, while Mazurek and Branch worked together with the spicy pepper-spraying. Mazurek blew into his tangle of modular wiring, as Lock told of a "careening prism within" (or was that "prison"?).

ABACAXI

Mazurek also played an atmospheric duo set with the young French guitarist Julien Desprez (pictured), who was the vital discovery of this festival, and deliverer of quite possibly its best set. The Berlin bass-and-drums team of Jean-Francois Riffaud and Max Andrzejewski drifted on, Mazurek departed, and the guitar trio Abacaxi was born. Literally, as this was their first gig anywhere. Distressed metallic contusions deified the abrupt, everyone had a sonic impediment, and the bright white flickershow lighting was manually controlled by the players. This might account for the borderline ridiculous tap-dancing routines around their crowded semi-circle of effects pedals, as a month's worth of compacted, nervy excitement was crammed into however many minutes they were speeding at full pelt, juddering, jolting and spasming as they demanded total attention to heavy detail. Go see them next time, for sure!

Away from the mainline, there were many innovative performances in other settings. Mary Halvorson played her first gig in a hair salon, in a duo with pedal-steel player Susan Alcorn. A quartet of Tomas Fujiwara (drums), Adrian Myhr (bass), Jacob Garchik (trombone) and Jon Irabagon (saxophones) delivered some good ole free jazz in a not-so-private apartment. Another discovery, the Canadian organist Kara-Lis Coverdale played solo on the gargantuan house instrument of the Kaiser Wilhelm Church, and the mysterious, masked Kim Collective ritualised down in the caverns under the main stage, arrayed in circular fashion, set up in individual alcoves that could have been specially designed for such sculpted surround-sound mystery. These are just selected outstanding examples of Jazzfest Berlin's spread, not only sonically, but also spatially.

Martin Longley
Photos by Camille Blake/Jazzfest Berlin

Alyn Shipton spoke to Pelin Opcin, the EFG London Jazz Festival's new head of programming, about the themes of openness, diversity and global awareness she's bringing to this year's event

Following John Cumming as director of the EFG London Jazz Festival – well, those are big shoes to step into," says Pelin Opcin (pictured above left), the new head of programming. "I'm not naïve enough to think I can do what he's done in terms of the London, UK and international scenes, but after 13 years running the Istanbul Jazz Festival, I think bringing my attitude, my contacts and my musical relationships to London could be good."

Ticking off the challenges: getting to know the UK jazz world better; coming to terms with a huge, intricately organised festival that runs across many different types of venue compared to the looser, more spontaneous feel of Istanbul; and continuing to reach out to the wider market beyond the most dedicated jazz fans, Pelin is anything but naïve. She recognises that she's coming into both a supportive team, and a festival that was at least partly-planned when she arrived (as is the way with big international events with stars' diaries juggled years ahead), but she is determined to bring in her own brand of creativity and imagination.

"2018 is a landmark year," she points out. "It's the centenary of the WWI armistice, and the 70th year since the Empire Windrush brought its first thousand passengers from the West Indies. So we've events to reflect these two significant anniversaries, but also we want to reflect the current atmosphere in the jazz world, the things everyone is thinking about. For example, at the European Jazz Network conference in Lisbon in September, it adopted a manifesto to put womens' role in jazz at the forefront. It's a reminder to all of us, but in London it's continuing work that the Festival has already been doing over the last decade: to reflect women's position in society. So this, and another aspect of the London Festival, which is to portray both Britain's cultural diversity, and that of the global jazz scene, are things that should not even need to be discussed but done out of necessity!"

That cultural diversity is on show with an opening night concert at King's Place by Iraqi-American trumpeter Amir ElSaffar and his Rivers of Sound Orchestra, which merges jazz with middle-eastern microtonal scales, the Arabic 'maqam' modes. "I was proud to host him in Istanbul," recalls Pelin, "but this is his UK premiere, and I think people will be blown away by his fantastic integration of styles into a large 17-piece ensemble. Equally, a week later in the same venue on 24 November, Ian Shaw will present the Citizens of the World Choir, singers drawn from refugees, asylum seekers, volunteers and campaigners, many of whom Shaw met when he was working in the refugee camps in Northern France. These concerts show the arts as a great exemplar of peaceful co-operation. Personally, I think the arts get nourished in times of crisis. Artists reflect what's happening around them, and we can provide a platform for a great collection of musicians to comment on what's going on in the world, whether it's the current political climate, or even the growing problem with the visa situation for musicians coming to work here in London.

"This is something I learned in Istanbul. When the Taksim Square protests and the attempted coup of 2016 happened, we kept going, and as it turned out we were presenting the EST Symphony in memory of Esbjörn Svensson, and it became a concert to commemorate not just him, but also those who lost their lives in Taksim Square."

So, I ask if the Windrush concert is to draw attention to the plight of those people in the news recently whose UK citizenship has not been properly recognised by this country? "Of course that theme is present, but we see this as a positive agenda, a celebration of the members of society whose families or forbears arrived on the Windrush, It's been a bittersweet experience for many, but what we want to underline is their absolutely huge contribution to society and particularly to music.

"Anthony Joseph (above centre) came up with the idea, and I'm pleased to say it's developed into a series of events that go way beyond the festival with literature, films, poetry and discussions kicking off in mid-October and leading up to our Barbican concert on 17 November, with a new suite by Jason Yarde, plus the poet Brother Resistance, and the calypso artists Mighty Sparrow and Calypso Rose. And we're also screening the film 1,000 Londoners at the Barbican that afternoon, and holding discussions with director Rachel Wang, and some of the people featured in the film."

The Caribbean is not the only part of the world to be featured, as there's a strong South African focus. Hugh Masekela (above right) is being remembered at the Festival Hall, with musicians from his last regular band, plus Oliver Mtukudzi and Sibongile Kumalo. And if that great South African singer wasn't enough, Miriam Makeba is being celebrated by the Royal Academy of Music at a free show in the Clore Ballroom. The Festival also hosts the final of the BBC Young Jazz Musician of the year with Monty Alexander chairing the judges. Truly an impressive start for the festival's new director!

For more info visit www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

Roy-Hargrove

Although several of his legendary predecessors met their maker while much younger the death of Roy Hargrove from a heart attack at the age of 49 is still a tragic event. Generally tagged as a five-star exponent of post-bop the trumpeter-composer was a hugely versatile artist who spread his stylistic net far and wide. Born in Waco, Texas, in 1969 and discovered by Wynton Marsalis, who heard him play as a teenager at his local high school, Hargrove studied briefly at Berklee but really honed his craft at jam sessions in New York in the early 90s, going on to become a key young voice on the acoustic jazz scene of the decade. The lustrous tone and swirling turn of phrase heard on albums such as Diamond In The Rough and With The Tenors Of Our Time, that paired him with icons such as Johnny Griffin, earned Hargrove favourable press. His charisma also made him an eye catching proposal for A&R executives.

Sharp-suited and neatly barbered, Hargrove was presented more or less in the Wynton mould, 'The Tradition' was safe in his hands. However, his horizons expanded, and his 1998 album Crisol was the first significant step on an exciting evolutionary road. This was a fine set of contemporary Latin jazz where Hargrove's soaring lyricism, melodic finesse and challenging improvisations came to the fore in a band that included such luminaries as pianist Chucho Valdes and saxophonist Gary Bartz. It deservedly landed Hargrove a Latin Grammy and, perhaps more importantly, served notice of his ability to write and arrange as well as solo at length.

Even sharper twists were to come, though. Hargrove had never denied his love for black popular music as well as jazz, and in the early 2000's he made a vital contribution to three key albums in soul and hip-hop of the period - D'Angelo's Voodoo, Erykah Badu's Mama's Gun and Common's Like Water For Chocolate. His horn arrangements and concise, punchy solos, particularly on songs with rapped verses and heavy duty beats, revealed a real understanding of how a soloist could enhance a groove without overwhelming it by the force of his own chops. Image-wise Hargrove went from suits to dreads, and the sartorial change looked like a good fit.

But better was to come. He founded his own electric band, The R.H Factor and made an ambitious fusion album, The Hard Groove, whose stellar guest list included Q-Tip, Meshell Ndegeocello and Steve Coleman. It turned out to be something of a forerunner for similarly eclectic projects years down the line. Think both Robert Glasper, who toured with Hargrove as a youngster, and Theo Croker, who has always been very vocal about the inspiration he drew from the trumpeter.

Hargrove would return to an acoustic setting for the last part of his career but hip-hop and funk resonances permeated his work in subtle ways. A singer as well as a horn player, Hargrove, like Louis Armstrong and Donald Byrd, was always comfortable straddling the boundary between high art and populism, and his premature passing is a terrible loss to audiences who were happy to listen beyond rather than within boundaries.

– Kevin Le Gendre

– Photo by Tim Dickeson

No one really noticed the quiet, contemplative figure who was sat listening to young pianist Charlie Stacey play an enthralling opening set at Ronnie's, yet bass titan Victor Wooten did just that. Perhaps he was sizing up the crowd, more likely he was just caught up in the music. Either way, by the time he hit the stage shortly after, he seemed to have the measure of this hallowed jazz space. Remarkably, this was the bass boss's debut appearance at the club – his starry bandmates, Dennis Chambers and Bob Franceschini, have both appeared before – and the relaxed atmosphere was perfectly conducive to Wooten's most playful instincts. Quite possibly the most technically gifted bass player of his generation, Wooten's status beyond the bass world has seen him grab Grammy Awards with banjoist Béla Fleck and tour alongside fellow low-end legends Marcus Miller and Stanley Clarke. He joked with a wry smile: "I always wanted to be Stanley – I'm the short version".

This is just one example of the bassist's natural good-humoured showman tendencies, which are deeply imbedded thanks to having been playing gigs from the age of six with his Wooten Brothers family band. While there are countless proficient copy-cat players today, few know how to bring the house down with a carefully deployed body-spin, like Victor, deftly leaving his bass stationary, seemingly floating in the air as he pirouettes on the spot to grab the bass and eye-ball the crowd with a knowing stare. It took the audience's breath away. So much so he paused briefly to ask someone in close proximity "are you OK?" They were. Just. While this may be old-school stage-craft, it helps leaven the sheer density of notes that fly from him hands – his trade-mark 'double-thumbing' slap style capable of unleashing furious volleys of sound – almost like a tuned drum solo, which takes the lineage of Larry Graham's innovative percussive slap into another pyrotechnical universe.

Wooten1 DSC02016

The trio format allows each of these excessively skilled players space to roam – albeit initially with Wooten's bass volume pushed to excess for the first three or four songs. The latterday delicacy of Chambers' once steam-roller funk drumming was nearly little lost in the mix, but as the sound evened out the subtle beauty of his stick-work shone through. He didn't hold back all the time though, ramping up the tension with some dizzying metric shifts and thunderous solo breaks. Franceschini, like Wooten, made tasteful use of myriad effects to expand and harmonise his angular single note lines, sometimes creating a one-man sax chorus, while his solo sparring with Wooten sent bebop-esque sparks flying. Drawing mainly on music from the trio's 2017 Trypnotyx album, the songs showcased the rhythm section's mastery of dime-stop timing and huge shifts in dynamics – very often dropping to near silence – or actual silence – for pure dramatic effect. The bassist's renowned solo spots are always a highlight of his gigs and tonight he conjured soft chordal swells, pianistic two-handed runs and an increasingly long melodic loop, adding each extra note with Samurai-like skill to produce an unplayable snaking cascade. This compelling sight and sound even managed to stop the waiting staff in their tracks to simply marvel at the bassist's bewitching sonic magic.

– Mike Flynn

– Photos by Christian Doho

With the first names still be announced for the 2019 edition of the Love Supreme Jazz Festival, which runs from Friday 5 to Sunday 7 July, the festival's organisers have announced a new monthly live music platform under the banner, Supreme Standards. This follows the successful spinoff event, Love Supreme at the Roundhouse, which took place in May this year and saw jazz fans flock to the iconic live music venue for a whole day and night of live performances.

Seeking to extend the festival's distinctive forward-looking approach to programming throughout the year, the new monthly session at Ghost Notes, Peckham, kicks off on 31 January 2019 with groove-led quartet Ruby Rushton (pictured) plus rising-star trumpeter/multi-instrumentalist/producer Emma-Jean Thackray. Curated and run by DJ and journalist Tina Edwards, the live sessions will be accompanied by additional podcasts, DJ mixes and articles on the Supreme Standards website.

Love Supreme founder Ciro Romano commented on this new monthly series: "Following the overwhelmingly positive response to our festivals this year, it felt like a great time to broaden what we're offering. We're keen to support the continuing resurgence in the popularity of jazz, particularly amongst the younger demographic, and to engage with a wider, more diverse audience. Tina is an incredibly well-respected figure in this area and will do a great job of spearheading this new chapter in the Love Supreme story".

Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.supremestandards.com

Page 3 of 253

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Ezra Collective Get Sweaty And Prophetic For Jazz-Plus Party At Patterns

Ezra Collective Get Sweaty And Prophetic…

  "This is about joy and happiness and celebrating everything that's...

Read More.....
GoGo Penguin: Kings Of The Bill Take Flight At Concorde

GoGo Penguin: Kings Of The Bill Take Fli…

  The Concorde usually hosts mid-ranking rock bands or popular club...

Read More.....
Helena Kay’s KIM Trio launch Moon Palace album with 'L and D' video

Helena Kay’s KIM Trio launch Moon Palace…

Fast emerging saxophonist Helena Kay is set to release her...

Read More.....
Ben LaMar Gay Breaks Back Of Chicagoan Post-Jazz With Melancholic OTO Matinee

Ben LaMar Gay Breaks Back Of Chicagoan P…

A wet afternoon in the 'Big Smoke' is brightened by...

Read More.....
Shepp Sharp, Fiery and Free at Enjoy Fest

Shepp Sharp, Fiery and Free at Enjoy Fes…

The Enjoy Jazz festival is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary...

Read More.....
Baker On A Roll As Her Eden Project Pays Tribute To Ed Blackwell At Brunswick

Baker On A Roll As Her Eden Project Pays…

  Lorraine Baker recorded one of the season's freshest sounding releases...

Read More.....
Freestage Stars Ready To Fire Up EFG London Jazz Festival

Freestage Stars Ready To Fire Up EFG Lon…

With the full programme confirmed for this year's EFG London...

Read More.....
Sons of Kemet: Kinetic and Chaotic at Komedia

Sons of Kemet: Kinetic and Chaotic at Ko…

There is already a sense of excitement in the air...

Read More.....
Henri Texier, Denys Baptiste, Ghost Note and AEC heat up 37th Tampere Jazz Happening

Henri Texier, Denys Baptiste, Ghost Note…

The 37th edition of what is a key date on...

Read More.....
Dave Holland's Aziza Up The Ante At Ronnie's

Dave Holland's Aziza Up The Ante At Ronn…

The old joke that the audience will have a chance...

Read More.....
Art Ensemble and Mary Halvorson among the hair-raising turns at Berlin Fest humdinger

Art Ensemble and Mary Halvorson among th…

The English music critic Richard Williams finished his three-year stint...

Read More.....
A Melting Pot Of Sounds – Pelin Opcin talks about the EFG London Jazz Festival

A Melting Pot Of Sounds – Pelin Opcin ta…

Alyn Shipton spoke to Pelin Opcin, the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....
Roy Hargrove – 16/10/69 – 2/11/18

Roy Hargrove – 16/10/69 – 2/11/18

Although several of his legendary predecessors met their maker while...

Read More.....
Victor Wooten puts the bass on top at Ronnie Scott’s

Victor Wooten puts the bass on top at Ro…

No one really noticed the quiet, contemplative figure who was...

Read More.....
Love Supreme Jazz Festival launches new monthly music series

Love Supreme Jazz Festival launches new …

With the first names still be announced for the 2019...

Read More.....
Alexander Hawkins heads up Emulsion Fest Part VII

Alexander Hawkins heads up Emulsion Fest…

The seventh installment of the genre-busting Emulsion Festival is set...

Read More.....
Shirley Tetteh, Denys Baptiste and Ian Shaw among Parliamentary Jazz Award winners

Shirley Tetteh, Denys Baptiste and Ian S…

The winners of the 14th annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards took...

Read More.....
Omar Puente and Steam Down Collective for Albany

Omar Puente and Steam Down Collective fo…

South London's longstanding music and arts venue, The Albany, has...

Read More.....
Up From The Vaults: Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet Albums Back on Vinyl

Up From The Vaults: Don Rendell/Ian Carr…

Long regarded as among the most notable and, in recent...

Read More.....
Georgia Mancio's triumphant triple bill at second Pizza Hang

Georgia Mancio's triumphant triple bill …

It's been something of an annus mirabilis for the vocalist...

Read More.....
Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, The Necks and Ambrose Akinmusire make moves at Mondriaan Jazz Fest

Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, The …

The second edition of the Mondriaan Jazz Festival takes place...

Read More.....
Black Top boogie on down for Sardinian Extravaganza

Black Top boogie on down for Sardinian E…

This exciting initiative taken by London-based vocalist Filomena Campus is...

Read More.....
UK Seers Foresee Future Homegrown Visions At Jazz In The Round's Emergence Fest

UK Seers Foresee Future Homegrown Vision…

Jazz In The Round promoters Chris Phillips and Jez Nelson...

Read More.....
Julian Siegel and Renegade Brass light up Limerick Jazz Festival

Julian Siegel and Renegade Brass light u…

This year's festival was perhaps short on surprises, compared to...

Read More.....
Dayes Of Future Past As Yussef Dazzles At Brighton's Haunt

Dayes Of Future Past As Yussef Dazzles A…

The bouncer outside is busy checking ID and handing out...

Read More.....
Gobbling Gourmet On Finnish Baltic Sea Jazz Cruise

Gobbling Gourmet On Finnish Baltic Sea J…

Most jazz cruises skim through moist Caribbean parts, proffering smooth...

Read More.....
New York group SUM premiere ‘Sinking Sand’ video

New York group SUM premiere ‘Sinking San…

Fast emerging New York group SUM bring together jazz, soul...

Read More.....
Claire Martin and Liane Carroll top JBGB autumn jazz line-up

Claire Martin and Liane Carroll top JBGB…

There's a busy jazz line-up at the Other Palace, PizzaExpress...

Read More.....
Guadeloupean Drummer Dolmen Goes For Gwoka At French Institute

Guadeloupean Drummer Dolmen Goes For Gwo…

The World Is Moving is an apt title for this...

Read More.....
Riot Jazz Brass Band for ISM Trust's The Empowered Musician Conference

Riot Jazz Brass Band for ISM Trust's The…

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) Trust are holding a...

Read More.....
Bishop Bones Up In Glasgow

Bishop Bones Up In Glasgow

Chicagoan trombonist Jeb Bishop (Vandermark 5/Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet/Globe Unity...

Read More.....
Szun Waves share new video for ‘Moon Runes’

Szun Waves share new video for ‘Moon Run…

Jazztronica trio Szun Waves have just released the video for...

Read More.....
Flying Machines Video Exclusive – ‘New Life’

Flying Machines Video Exclusive – ‘New L…

Guitarist Alex Munk returns in emphatic style with his hard-driving...

Read More.....
Elliot Galvin, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Fini Bearman for Elgar Room jazz fest nights

Elliot Galvin, Cherise Adams-Burnett and…

The Royal Albert Hall's venue-within-a-venue, The Elgar Room, has a...

Read More.....
EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice stars, Rymden and Jamie Baum for EFG London Jazz Fest

EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice…

The full programme for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila Maurice-Grey vibe up The Vortex

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila M…

There's a plethora of essential jazz nights lined up at...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

RT @vortexjazz: VULA VIEL & VELVET REVOLUTION MON 19 NOV 8PM Trio Vula Viel continuing their unique musical journey centred around the Gyil…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @vortexjazz: James Brandon Lewis Trio + Anthony Pirog. Sat/24/8pm A journey through a soundscape raw, gritty, mind-bending… and full of…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA