Jazz FM have announced a series of special Christmas period programmes with guest presenters including singer Jacqui Dankworth and bassist Alec Dankworth, US bass star Marcus Miller and soul-funk diva Candi Staton, with each presenting a special seasonal edition of Jazz FM’s regular programmes. Vinny Marino’s TransAtlantic Jazz gets things underway (6-7pm) on Christmas Eve, followed by Dinner Jazz with Helen Mayhew (7-10pm) and Sarah Ward’s Christmas Collection (10pm-1am).

The big day itself features Ella Fitzgerald In Concert, recorded in 1991 with the Count Basie Orchestra, broadcast from 1-2pm, followed by Christmas Day with the Dankworths that will feature three hours of hand-picked tunes (2-5pm), broadcast live from The Stables – the venue founded by their parents in 1970.

Regular presenter Jamie Crick follows this with Christmas Day Requests (5-7pm) with two hours of music selected by listeners, presenters and musicians before Grammy Award winning bassist Marcus Miller then lays down some jazz, funk and fusion classics in a special edition of Dinner Jazz from 7pm on Christmas Day. Following this a week later on New Year’s Eve popular soul-jazz singer Candi Staton gets the party started as a guest host on an epic eight-hour edition of Funky Sensation (6pm-2am) alongside regular presenters Jeff Young, John Osborne and Mike Vitti.  

– Mike Flynn

For more info go to www.jazzfm.com

In a surprise move Bob Dylan is to release a new album on 3 February consisting solely of standards made popular by Frank Sinatra. The album, Shadows In The Night, his 36th album for the Columbia label, features ten newly recorded tracks of well known standards such as ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘That Lucky Old Sun’, ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘The Night We Called It A Day’, ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ and ‘Where Are You?’ all previously recorded by Sinatra, the latter four tracks all coming from Sinatra’s 1957 Capitol album Where Are You?

Produced by Dylan, a longtime Sinatra fan, under his producer pseudonym Jack Frost, the aim was to strip the tunes back for a small quintet rather than the overloaded big band and strings approach that standards albums often take. “It was a real privilege to make this album” said Dylan in a Columbia announcement. “I've wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a five-piece band. That's the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way. They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.”

Dylan released one of the tracks, ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms’ (see video above) earlier this year and has recently been performing ‘Stay With Me’ live as part of his never-ending-tour. Judging by the sound of ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms’, which has spare, atmospheric feel and melancholic pedal steel guitar, the musicians are his regular band and his voice sounds warm, less gravelly and a little smoother than his recent albums. Dylan has previously recorded standards on his 1970 Columbia album, Self Portrait, including ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Let It Be Me’.

Commenting on the album, Columbia Records Chairman Rob Stringer said: “There are no strings, obvious horns, background vocals or other such devices often found on albums that feature standard ballads. Instead, Bob has managed to find a way to infuse these songs with new life and contemporary relevance. It is a brilliant record and we are extremely excited to be presenting it to the world very soon.”

The complete Shadows In The Night track listing is:

1. ‘I'm a Fool to Want You’
2. ‘The Night We Called It a Day’
3. ‘Stay With Me’
4. ‘Autumn Leaves’
5. ‘Why Try to Change Me Now’
6. ‘Some Enchanted Evening’
7. ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms’
8. ‘Where Are You?’
9. ‘What'll I Do’
10. ‘That Lucky Old Sun’

– Jon Newey (story and photo)

Welcome to the final Europe Jazz Media Chart for December 2014, comprising selections from the leading European jazz magazines and websites.

Jochen Rueckert We Make The Rules (Whirlwind Recordings)


Collage Deluxe Boxset (hyper.records LP)


Tomasz Stańko Polin (Muzeum Historii Żydów Polskich)

Roller Trio Fracture (Bandcamp)

Alexey Kruglov - Jaak Sooäär Quartet The Mighty Five (ArtBeat)

Mark Ribot Trio Live at the Village Vanguard (PI Recordings)

Nils Økland Lumen Drones (ECM/Universal)

Lumen Drones - Ira Furore from Kleidermann Records on Vimeo.

Jozef Dumoulin & The Red Hill Orchestra Trust (Yolk Music) 

Jonas Kullhammar Gentlemen (Moserobie)

 

Hildegunn Øiseth Valencia (Losen Records) http://hildegunn.com/?p=214

Dag & Tid Music For A While Canticles of Winter (Grappa)

Giornale della Musica Anna WebberSimple (Skirl Records)

Stretch-Trio-3

Leeds-based band Stretch Trio (pictured above) have been announced as this year’s winners of the prestigious Peter Whittingham Award, organised by Help Musicians UK as part of their Emerging Professionals programme. They will receive £4,000 prize money – and follow recent emerging talents who’ve won the prize including Phil Meadows, Reuben Fowler, Roller Trio and World Service Project. Stretch Trio are all recent graduates of Leeds College of Music the band feature Andy French on saxophone and EWI, Tom Higham on drums/sampler and Calvin Travers on guitar, they create an innovative mix of jazz-into-electronica via live loops, electronic textures and snapping beats. Birmingham-based pianist Mark Pringle also won a Help Musicians UK Development Award as part of this year’s awards.

Stretch Trio auditioned for the prize in front of an industry panel that included Velocity Trio trombonist Dennis Rollins, Melt yourself Down saxophonist Pete Wareham and Jazz Re:freshed promoter Justin McKenzie who unanimously voted them the winners. Early 2014 saw them win the Jazz North Introduces award that led to them performing at Gateshead International Jazz festival, which they followed with their independently funded debut album Antithesis. Judge Dennis Rollins said of the band: “Stretch Trio do just that. No ordinary guitar trio, they sonically push the envelope of the traditional jazz sound incorporating today's contemporary technology. Definitely one to watch!"

Winners of other recent high-profile awards also include keyboardist/composer Pat Thomas and saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings both picking up Paul Hamlyn Foundation Awards that are worth £50,000 each over three years. While influential Loose Tubes composer/keyboardist Django Bates has won the Contemporary Jazz Composition category in the PRS The British Composers Awards 2014 for his piece ‘The Study Of Touch’.
The awards are chosen each year by the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) and sponsored by PRS for Music.

– Mike Flynn

Mike-WilliamsBirmingham-based jazz promoters Jazzlines present three diverse concerts early next year beginning with a rare and eagerly anticipated from revered local alto saxophonist, educator and composer Mike Williams (pictured left) who performs his SAMA project with a strong line-up exploring music inspired by Williams’ life in the city and his Sufi beliefs (CBSO Centre, 9 January). Williams has brought together a strong line-up for the gig including hotly-tipped trumpeter Percy Pursglove, trombonist Jeremy Price, tenor saxophonist Alex Merrit, baritone saxophonist Chris Maddock, guitarist Gareth Fowler, bassist James Banner and renowned jazz/session drummer Troy Miller.

Another interesting concert in the series features multi-talented Troyka keyboardist Kit Downes as part of IN BED WITH, a high-energy electro-acoustic trio with French drummer Sylvain Darrifourcq and guitarist Julien Desprez (pictured top, and video below), all appearing at the Hare & Hounds on 22 January. This gig is part of the Jazz Shuttle scheme that brings together British and French musicians for unique collaborations – the band will then play The Vortex on 23 January and are also part of next year’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival.

The CBSO Centre then hosts a double bill on 30 January featuring multi-reedist Mike Fletcher in a trio with drummer Jeff Williams and bassist Olie Brice, before Williams then leads his UK Sextet with a heavyweight line up of guitarist Phil Robson, saxophonists Josh Arcoleo and Finn Peters and bassist Sam Lasserson. Further Jazzlines dates include the Kenny Garrett Quintet (10 February, Town Hall, Birmingham); Marius Neset Quintet with Jim Hart (10 April, CBSO Centre); Polar Bear (21 April, Hare & Hounds) and the Walsall Jazz Orchestra who celebrate their 40th anniversary with guests Julian Argüelles and Martin Shaw (26 April, CBSO Centre).

– Mike Flynn


For more info www.thsh.co.uk/jazzlines

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