Jazzwise can exclusively announce that Troyka, the progressive jazz Hammond/keys/guitar/drums trio of Kit Downes, Chris Montague and Joshua Blackmore, are set to make a dramatic return with their fourth album, Ornithophobia, which will be released on 26 January on the Naim Label, followed by an extensive UK tour throughout February.

Joining the label’s roster that also includes Neil Cowley Trio, Sons Of Kemet, Empirical and Get The Blessing, the new album came together over a two-year period with most of the recording done at Eton College, where guitarist Montague teaches, with the producing duties taken care of by Swedish bassist Petter Eldh, who’s known for his work with Django Bates Belov
èd Bird Trio.

In contrast to their Parliamentary Jazz Award winning Troyk-estra big band album Live At Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2013, Ornithophobia features the trio creating an imaginative multi-layered sound-world inspired by the idea of a fictionalised post-apocalyptic London under attack from an avian flu that’s turning people into human-sized birds – with the title based on Montague’s genuine fear of birds. This sci-fi comic theme is taken to its logical conclusion with the album coming complete with its own comic. Early listens suggest it’s the band’s most ambitious and fully realised album to date that dives into beat-fuelled Flying Lotus-style jazztronica – listen to some samples of the music on our exclusive soundcloud stream below.

The band follow the release of the album with an extensive UK tour at the following venues: Leeds College of Music, Leeds (9 Feb); North Devon Theatre, Barnstable (10 Feb); The Stables, Milton Keynes (11 Feb); Rich Mix, London (12 Feb); RWCMD, Cardiff (13 Feb); RNCM, Manchester (20 Feb); MAC, Birmingham (25 Feb); Capstone Theatre, Liverpool (27 Feb); Morecambe Hothouse, Morecambe (28 Feb); Sheffield Student’s Union, Sheffield (12 Mar); Moving On Music, Belfast (26 Mar); and Spin Jazz at the Wheatsheaf, Oxford (2 Apr).

– Mike Flynn

The music world has been mourning the loss of one of its greatest and most influential figures as news that former Cream bassist and vocalist, Jack Bruce, has died aged 71 after a long struggle with liver disease. News of his death was confirmed in a statement released by his family on Saturday 25 October: “It is with great sadness that we, Jack’s family, announce the passing of our beloved Jack: husband, father, granddad, and all round legend. The world of music will be a poorer place without him but he lives on in his music and forever in our hearts.”

Classically and jazz trained at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, Bruce rose to great acclaim in blues-rock power trio Cream alongside drummer Ginger Baker and guitarist Eric Clapton, forging a super-charged sound featuring intense extended improvisations. Bruce had been at the heart of the British blues boom performing as a member of such bands as Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated, the Graham Bond Organisation, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Manfred Mann. But it was with Cream that he consolidated his powerful contrapuntal bass lines, famously joking that Cream were really meant to be the Ornette Coleman Trio with Eric as Ornette Coleman, “only we never told him”.

He continued his questing improvisatory approach with jazz drum legend Tony Williams as part of his band Lifetime, alongside guitar icon John McLaughlin and organist Larry Young as well as working with revered composer and pianist Carla Bley on her acclaimed 1971 album Escalator Over The Hill. He continued his jazz-rock associations from
2008 performing as part of a Tony Williams Lifetime Tribute Band with drummer Cindy Blackman-Santana, keyboardist John Medeski, and guitarist Vernon Reid.

Speaking to Jazzwise in 2011 Bruce described his early days at music college: “I got a scholarship to study classical cello at the Royal Scottish Academy for Music and Drama – but I didn’t go for long, and now they’ve given me an honorary doctorate! So it shows you that what you should really do is go for a few months then drop out – I recommend that to every student.”

Tributes were posted across social media by his countless fans, friends and fellow musicians including one from his former Cream bandmate Eric Clapton who said:He was a great musician and composer, and a tremendous inspiration to me”.

– Mike Flynn



The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and special guests are to perform the music of Duke Ellington and George Gershwin at Scotland’s Ayr Jazz Festival before embarking on a short Scottish tour in tribute to the music of Jaco Pastorius.

The renowned ensemble is set to headline the opening night of the three-day Ayr Jazz Festival tonight, 24 October, with a programme, which pays homage to the two legendary composers and bandleaders of the jazz era. The orchestra will be joined by guest pianist Brian Kellock and will perform music from their critically acclaimed album In the Spirit of Duke – which sees it play standards from Ellington’s extensive repertoire – before giving a performance of George Gershwin’s classic jazz concerto, Rhapsody in Blue, which has been re-arranged especially for the SNJO by their leader/saxophonist Tommy Smith. For tickets and further details of the festival line-up go to www.ayrgaiety.co.uk.

Following their festival performance, the orchestra embarks on a brief tour playing the music of iconic bassist Jaco Pastorius. Best known for his work in 1970s fusion outfit, Weather Report, Pastorius also garnered acclaim in his own right for his innovative eponymous debut solo album, and subsequently went on to develop his reputation as an arranger and composer on a number of solo projects, most notably his Word of Mouth big band.

This three-night tour features brand new arrangements of Pastorius’ compositions from all stages of his career, written and performed by acclaimed virtuoso bass guitarist Laurence Cottle – who has previously performed the music with his own big band but never a full jazz orchestra. The ensemble will also feature brilliant flautist Gareth Lockrane and percussionist Marcio Doctor. The performances which are at Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh (Fri 7 Nov); Royal Conservatoire, Glasgow (Sat 8 Nov); and, The Gardyne Theatre (Sun 9 Nov), will be preceded by a pre-concert talk lasting 45 minutes.

– Steve Owen

For more info go to www.snjo.co.uk

Acclaimed jazz and rock photographer David Redfern, best known for his stunning pictures of some of the world’s best musicians, has died aged 78. His brother told close friends this morning of his death at his house in Uzes, France – Redfern had been scheduled to be taken to hospital on Thursday (where there was a bed reserved for him), but he didn't make it that long and died in his second home in France. Although he had been fighting cancer for the last couple of years, he had kept working. His wife Suzy was with him and there will be private funeral ceremony in France and a memorial service in London shortly. He is survived by three children – Mark, Bridget and Simon – and five grandchildren.

Redfern’s friend and fellow photographer Tim Dickeson confirmed the news of his death to Jazzwise earlier today, and paid tribute to David’s determination to continue working in spite of his illness:

“I was with David at Jazz a Vienne in July – we all helped him to work for a few days – carrying his bag and helping him in and out of the pit. I spoke to his friend Tim Motion who said that 'this marks the end of an era' and that he and David were lucky to have worked in a time where great jazz photography was recognised as an art form and photographers were rightly revered for their work. He was my great friend and we spent more than 10 summers working at the European jazz festivals together – he will be greatly missed not just by the photographic community but by hundreds of artists who looked to him for inspirational photography.” 

Redfern’s career began in the 1960s as London’s jazz scene was beginning to blossom, in particular capturing the stars of the Trad Boom including Kenny Ball, Chris Barber and George Melly. He went on to photograph countless jazz icons as they visited Ronnie Scott’s, including US stars Miles Davis and Ella Fitzgerald. He also spent a lot of time in America where he became a regular at big jazz festivals such as Newport, Antibes and Montreux – capturing the jazz greats in performance as well as rock musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Dylan in their early pomp. He went on to publish his first photography book, Jazz Album, in 1980 and later that year at Frank Sinatra’s request, he stepped into Terry O'Neill's shoes as his official tour photographer.

Numerous exhibitions of his work followed and a second book, The Unclosed Eye, was published by Sanctuary Publishing in May 1999, with an expanded edition following in 2005. The book received great critical praise. He was also presented with The Milt Hinton Award for Excellence in Jazz Photography in 2007 in New York and more recently received a Parliamentary Jazz Award for Services to Jazz this year at a ceremony on the Terrace Pavilion at the Houses Of Parliament. His work will live on though Getty Images who purchased his Redferns Music Picture Library in 2008.

Writing on his website earlier this summer Redfern remained passionate about his lifelong love of photographing the world’s best musicians:

“Summer has seen me photographing four days at the Vienne Jazz festival, with such artists as Buddy Guy, the Tedeschi Truck band, Ben l'Oncle Soul, Sharon Jones, Charles Bradley, to name a few.  Two days in Juan les Pins, with Imelda May, Joss Stone & the Fabulous Chick Corea with Stanley Clarke, there’s still plenty of great music around, many thanks to fellow photographers Tim Dickeson and Ed Hawkins for looking after me in the photo pits. Future plans include a Norwegian fjord cruise in the autumn, the London Jazz Festival in November and an exhibition at the new South Coast Jazz festival in the Shoreham Arts Centre in late January 2015. I was shocked and upset by the news of the sudden death of my friend writer Jack Massarik, we had some great times together, most memorable was a trip to Cuba in 1990, may he rest in peace. Thanks as ever to my lovely wife Suzy for her unfailing devotion and constant caring for me during this time. Keep the faith and live every day to the full, you just never know…”

– Mike Flynn

– Tim Dickeson – photo of David Redfern taken at Jazz a Vienne in 2012

In true experimental style, mixing two bands together to see what happens can lead to explosive results - none more so than when thrash/punk/noise-jazzers, World Service Project, collided with no-nonsense German power group, Zodiak Trio, at the Vortex as part of the Match&Fuse exchange programme.

 

World Service Project have earned a reputation for their disconcerting, quick-fire compositions and, as expected, dressed in their Droogish white shirts with braces and bowler hats, WSP’s occasional punky singing and the band’s incisive, stabbing dissonance rebelliously jangles the jazz nerve. This contrasts starkly with the composed stage presence of the brass and rhythm sections and it falls to lanky gang-leader and keyboard player, Dave Morecroft, to provide the breathless energy which mirrors the pacey music as he sweatily directs the band, shouting out the bar count before interjecting with screaming synth as the whole band changes direction like a flock of birds. It proves a whistle stop blast through songs from their aptly titled 2010 debut album, Relentless, and 2013 follow-up, Fire in a Pet Shop. The final song of their set, ‘Barmy Army’, chronicles Morecroft’s frustrated support of his local football club and starts with a jaunty rudimental march from drummer Liam Waugh which wafts of fat-bellied hooliganism with its rhythmic instrumental shout of “come and ‘ave a go if you fink you’re ’ard enough” - which sums up this fun-loving band’s incorrigible style.

 

Next on stage, Zodiak Trio also incorporate elements of sound design into their sets but sit on the jazz family tree closer to folk and fusion styles which allows the audience a chance to relax into their seats having sat on the edge during the previous act. Playing songs from their 2012 album, Acid, while still at the chaotic edge in places, the trio is less jabby punk more whammy-bar prog rock, dreamy electronica and aggressive-yet-intricate heavy metal – all emanating from guitarist Andreas Wahl’s tiny, futuristic headless guitar. Around this lush backdrop of sound, trumpeter John-Dennis Renken snakes a penetrating trumpet-line while drummer Bernd Oezsevim provides the cohesion, moving confidently between a range of dynamics and unusual time signatures into straightforward funk and rock. On the penultimate song, ‘Fotoalbum’, an ethereal number worthy of a Get The Blessing album, he is particularly impressive and displays creative mallet and brush-work to find unearthly metallic scrapings and flat thumps dampened by his elbow while still laying down a laid back but insistent groove.

 

In keeping with the philosophy of the event, for the night’s grand finale WSP rejoin to the stage for the collaborative piece - a fused rendition of Zodiak Trio’s ‘Nachteulen’ with bits of WSP spliced in. Although you can hear the joins there is a sense of fun on stage with both drummers sitting smiling behind the same kit and each band clearly enjoying the challenge of playing each other’s compositions. It’s obvious a real bond has been established between the bands who, despite the language barrier and fundamental differences in styles, have proved fluent in the jazz vernacular and make compelling Match&Fuse counterparts.


– Steve Owen

 

For more info go to www.matchandfuse.co.uk

 

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