Soho’s Pizza Express Jazz Club has a packed programme of gigs between September and October kicking off tonight with something of a return for revered yet reclusive saxophonist Steve Williamson who debuts his new band featuring singer Filomena Campus, bassist Mike Mondesir, pianist Benet McLean and drummer Seb Rochford. Williamson will be playing new versions of music from his three albums Waltz for Grace, Rhyme Time and Journey to Truth as well as saying about the new material and band:

“The music for the forthcoming Pizza Express date will be mostly material from previous albums going back to the 1980s but with new arrangements – with well thought out and very special new line up of musicians. I also plan to introduce to the people, some pieces from the new batch of compositions reflecting where I am right now, in terms of harmonic approach, expression and of course compositionally. I am really very excited to do this! It will be the first time that I will be able to really explore the subtleties embedded within these new offerings.

“The reason for this proposed format is to familiarise the band with the development (work them in gently if you will) and also provide the audience with some pieces that they may be familiar with – but it really is all about the new compositions and approach. Hence the earlier pieces getting somewhat of a re-working. An approach that I humbly refer to as Organic Metric (O.M), a very intricate but joyous and melodic approach and contribution to the rich tradition of 'metric' musics from around the globe. I aim to record this material before the year's end.”

The programme continues with UK guitar great John Etheridge follows with a five-night residency (2-6 Sept); then it’s two roof-raising nights from saxophonist supreme Courtney Pine (12-13 Sept), and Gary Crosby’s Nu Troop’s Mingus Moves project (15 Sept). The venue also hosts more of its hugely successful themed festivals including London Latin Jazz Fest 2014 (23-27 Sept); Georgia Mancio’s fifth ReVoice! festival (10-18 Oct); and Filomena Campus’ Jazz Islands Festival (10-12 Nov). International names appearing include Spanish 19-year old vocal/trumpet sensation Andrea Motis (30 Sept-1 Oct), US trumpeter Jeremy Pelt (19 Oct), Israeli clarinetist Anat Cohen (21 Oct) and Japanese pianist Makoto Kuriya who hosts a week of gigs (27-31 Oct).

– Mike Flynn

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

 

Bridge Music, the organisation that promotes jazz in the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh and Glasgow Art Club, has announced a full programme for September and October. New York-based pianist John Colianni’s big swinging quartet leads a stylistically varied September menu in both venues (Edinburgh 3 Oct and Glasgow 4 Oct), followed by drummer Tom Bancroft’s (pictured) new experimental project, Vincent with Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii and bassist Una McGlone (10-11 Sept). Scottish National Jazz Orchestra stalwarts, trumpeter Tom MacNiven and trombonist Phil O’Malley front their Blue Note-styled quintet (17-18 Sept). Polish guitarist Przemyslaw Straczek brings his international quartet to Scotland for the first time (24-25 Sept) and drummer Ollie Howell slots in an extra Bridge Music gig with his quintet at the Edinburgh venue on (21 Sept).

October sees guitarist Jim Mullen return to home ground (Edinburgh 1 Oct and Glasgow 2 Oct) with his quartet. Then, having premiered his double big band commission Pro-Am in late July, saxophonist Paul Towndrow gets a bit more compact with his Organ Trio (8-9 Oct). Another Glasgow based saxophonist, Brian Molley continues to spread the word of his debut album, Clock (15-16 Oct) and Newcastle’s Eyes Wide Shut and Scottish horn quartet Brass Jaw share the next midweek slots, with the former in Edinburgh (22 Oct) and the latter in Glasgow (23 Oct). Guitarist Nigel Price’s Organ Trio completes the line-up with gigs in Edinburgh (29 Oct) and Glasgow (30 Oct) as part of their extensive autumn UK tour.

– Rob Adams

Further information is available from www.bridgemusic.co.uk

 

TD-Jamie-Cullum-21
Following a foray into pop, hip hop and singer-songwriter territory in recent years, British piano and vocal star Jamie Cullum is set to make an emphatic return to his first love, jazz, as he releases his new album Interlude – The Jazz Album on 6 October on Island Records. Cullum and producer Ben Lamdin (aka Nostalgia 77), both self-confessed jazz vinyl ‘crate-diggers’, have brought together a collection of jazz standards exploring a mix of classic big band swing, blues and lush vocal balladry all recorded on analogue equipment in Lamdin’s North London studio.

The album’s two guests include Grammy Award-winning US singer Gregory Porter on a barnstorming take of ‘Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood’, set to the first single from the album, and MOBO-winning British singer Laura Mvula who adds a sweet vulnerability to the ballad ‘Good Morning Heartache’.

Having premiered the album at Cheltenham Jazz Festival in May, (where Cullum was also guest festival director), he also performed the new material with his 24-piece big band at the Jazz a Vienne festival in France, which was filmed for the accompanying live DVD.

To launch the album, Cullum will be performing four shows over two nights at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club on 17 and 18 September, before setting off on a number of international tour dates in Germany, Stockholm, Amsterdam, Turkey and Hong Kong.

– Bethany Roberts

 – Photo by Tim Dickeson - Jamie Cullum live at Jazz a Vienne

It was a hot night, and having just ripped the place apart with a long, brutal, fast-fingered solo to close Mingus' ‘Flowers for a Lady’, Tony Kofi stood centre-stage, his gleaming baritone sax positioned rifle-like across his shoulder, his other hand swabbing sweat from his brow. "Now, we're gonna take things up a little..." he joked, before counting off the first ballad of the evening, McCoy Tyner's ‘Search For Peace’.

Against the growl of powerhouse trio Pete Whittaker on organ, Pete Cater on drums and guitarist Simon Fernsby, Kofi had kicked open the first set with some killer swingers in the shape of ‘Solid’ by Sonny Rollins and Miles' ‘Nardis’, the latter welcoming a warm, lyrical presence from Whittaker that would sustain throughout the show, seeping from every groove, and blending well with the band's slick, 1960s modernist sound.

Out of the Tyner tune, the tempo fast flipped back to breezy for an urgent reading of ‘Milestones’. Over a dry, discernible tap of ride cymbal, Kofi's melody here beautifully intertwined with some clever picking from Fernsby, a player whose style and weepy tone recalled both a silky Wes and a funky Metheny, with equal aplomb.

At the back, rapt in his own seductive pulse, Cater remained reserved behind a high-tuned vintage kit, whipping the band along with finesse and conviction. His monstrous chops and skills around the set were spotlit with a volcanic solo into ‘A Night in Tunisia’, the latin-like groove to which, swung so hard and fast, the high-register runs during a busy break from Kofi resembled the din of screeching tyres in a high-speed chase.

This intensity spilt over into a rousing run through of Duke Pearson's ‘Minor League’, opening a more song-based second set that brought deft arrangements of Billie Holiday and Bacharach classics to the bandstand. It was here, arch-backed and eyes shut, that Kofi revealed a sweet, more soulful side to his typically-full pelt sax act, blowing long, breathy lines across soft-strummed chords, swirling Hammond and the scratch of distant brushes.

While performances of Pat Martino's ‘Cisco’ and Woody Shaw's ‘Moontrane’ resumed a spirited service, the sludge organ funk-fest of ‘Ode to Billie Jo’, which closed the show, raised the roof. For many here tonight, the show also raised the profile of one of the U.K scene's finest saxophonists, tonight pushed beyond his potential by a killer band with real bite, especially when the heat was on.

– Mark Youll

 

The Outhouse, which is home to the weekly Playtime series of Thursday jazz concerts and hosted Playtime’s first Fringe run this year, has been presenting jazz on the Fringe since 2009 and this year featured American singers Barbara Morrison and Lillian Boutté and Barbadian saxophonist Arturo Tappin as well as shows involving Scottish musicians including singer Alison Affleck and pianist David Patrick.

Its compact and bijou loft space has become a favourite among jazz audiences and is recognised for the quality of its music programme presented in an intimate atmosphere.

Now in their 20th year, the Herald Angels are awarded by Glasgow-based newspaper The Herald for excellence across the range of festivals taking place in Edinburgh each August. The awards are much coveted by performers, companies and event organisers and previous winners with a jazz connection include Edinburgh’s Jazz Bar and international musicians including the Bad Plus and singers Barbara Morrison and Christine Tobin.

Collecting the statuette Kim Finlay, whose family own and run the venue said: “This is a great surprise because I’m not sure we realised that venues could get awards like this. It’s a real boost to have something we’re doing – and the venue itself - recognised as being of a high quality, especially when you look at the fantastic standard of the other winners this year and over past years.”

Formerly the Bank of Scotland Herald Angels and with recipients of the distinctive Angel statuettes based on all five continents, the awards have a reputation that extends across the world. They were sponsored this year by Heverlee Belgian Beer and Edinburgh Napier University.

Picture credit:
Kim Finlay of The Outhouse (far right) with Outhouse staff and (centre) Dr Sandra Cairncross, Dean of Faculty of Engineering, Computing & Creative Industries at Edinburgh Napier University.

– Rob Adams

 

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