A benefit concert for the legendary trumpeter and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler will be held at Epic, 13-15 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 on 15 August, 7pm. The veteran composer, bandleader and sideman, who is now 84, has not been able to work for most of this year due to ill health. The upcoming benefit concert will be a celebration of his invaluable contribution to the jazz scene over the last sixty years and will feature saxophonist Evan Parker, a long-time friend and collaborator, who will perform with Steve Beresford, Olie Brice and Mark Sanders. Also appearing is upcoming trumpeter and bandleader Reuben Fowler, recipient of the 2012 Kenny Wheeler Music Prize, whose big band will play a collection of rare Wheeler material, as well as some of Fowler’s own compositions. Other guests include the Ray Warleigh Quartet, and innovative and exploratory violinist Alison Blunt with her 12-piece ensemble, including pianist Neil Metcalfe and bassist David Leahy. Tickets will be available on the door priced at £12 and £10.

- Bethany Roberts

Brecon was celebrating the 30th anniversary of its jazz festival in style at the weekend. After legend Burt Bacharach had officially opened the festival on Thursday night, the energy really ramped up starting with a tumultuous set from the Michael Wollny Trio in the Cathedral just as the shadows began to lengthen on Friday. The German piano master name-checked everything from twentieth century composers, hymns and psychedelic rockers as the source of tunes that built to thunderous rhythmic storms, drummer Eric Schaefer and Wollny pounding with equal ferocity, or switching to chorale like melodies buoyed by the singing bass of Christian Weber. If there were any ghosts sleeping in the crypt of the cathedral they were wide awake by the end of this exhilarating set. Friday also saw the wildly exuberant, celebratory farewell performance of Loose Tubes. Did every other performer on the programme finish their sets quickly so they could be there? It seemed that way! And the Tubes did their best too sweep the capacity crowd in the Market Hall up in the fun, finishing the set by roaming through the audience riffing on a stomping groove. They didn’t seem to want to stop playing and nobody wanted them to, but after two hours it was over. Until next time?

Just twenty-four hours later, the walls of the cathedral were trembling again as saxophone tyro Marius Neset took to the stage with his quartet. The collective roar of this band was near mind-blowing. When the joyous, dancing theme of the title track of his album Birds burst out of the maelstrom of rhythm and sound, I’ll swear my heart skipped a beat. Neset seemed inspired by the acoustics of the space and there were brain melting solo forays and a tumultuous duet with Anton Eger on drums that exploited it to the full. This is another awesome Scandinavian outfit with pianist Ivo Neame flying the flag for UK on piano.   Festival operators Orchard have done Brecon proud. The programme included plenty of variety with the Captain’s Walk stage offering a fantastic line-up for a single all-day ticket. On Saturday that included Denis Rollins’ Velocity Trio grooving like it was going out of fashion on a quirky repertoire that took in Bob Marley, Pink Floyd as well as plenty of Rollins originals. Elsewhere there was a strong Welsh theme with Burrum bringing their folk, gaelic and modal jazz brew, and artist in residence Huw Warren celebrating Dylan Thomas. There was plenty more to follow on Sunday with Gregory Porter bringing the curtain down on the weekend with his strong evening performance. With a showing like this the festival looks set fair for another thirty years.

Report: Mike Collins

 Photo: copyright Tim Dickeson

Calling all new and aspiring jazz writers, the latest Write Stuff new writers initiative returns for its 12th year in November at London’s Southbank Centre with a new series of workshops and mentoring sessions held during the EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs from 14-23 November. Founded and organised by Jazzwise and Serious, producers of the festival, the Write Stuff gives new jazz writers a free opportunity to work with professional journalists to improve their writing skills and develop an understanding of music criticism and the workings of the jazz and mainstream music press, as well as getting to see a bunch of concerts!

The Write Stuff will include sessions on feature writing and live reviews by Jazzwise writer and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre; an insight into the history and development of the UK jazz and music press with Jazzwise editor and publisher Jon Newey; online journalism with Jazzwise’s deputy editor Mike Flynn and input from other writers and jazz industry figures.

Several Write Stuff participants have gone on to have pieces published in The Guardian, The Wire and Jazzwise as well as work within the wider jazz and broadcasting industry. This year’s participants will have their work posted on both the Jazzwise and festival’s websites and one review considered to be of particular merit will be published in a subsequent edition of Jazzwise.

If you are interested in participating in The Write Stuff there is still time as we have now extended the deadline until the end of this month – so please submit by email a 300-word review of a gig/concert that you have seen recently, together with a CV and full contact details by Tuesday 30 September 2014 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with ‘The Write Stuff 2014’ in the subject line. Applicants must be 18 years old or over and be available in London on the following dates: Friday 14 November (evening); Saturday 15 November, and Wednesday 19 to Sunday 23 November.

Scottish 15-piece fusion collective Fat-Suit have announced their first European tour, beginning later this month. The band, which formed last year and has been likened to American funksters Snarky Puppy, has made a big impression at Aberdeen and Edinburgh jazz festivals this year and recently caused much excitement at the more mainstream music event, the Wickerman Festival in the Scottish borders.

Comprising past and present music students from Glasgow, including Yahama Scholarship 2014 winner, pianist Ustav Lal and saxophonist Scott Murphy, who also features in the Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra, and finalists in both the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year and the Young Scottish Traditional Musician of the year competitions, Fat-Suit is due to release its second album, the follow-up to last year’s Kambr, later this summer.

Murphy, who composes much of the group’s repertoire, said: “This European tour will be the first time we’ve actually played outside of Scotland and we’re beyond excited at the prospect of taking our music to other countries and new audiences.”

The tour opens at CC Muziekcafe, Amsterdam on August 20 before heading to the Czech Republic, where dates include The Remarkable Festival in Loket on August 23, then Poland and Ukraine, finishing off at Budapest Jazz Club on September 1. See a video below of the band recording a song from their album Kambr.

– Rob Adams

For more info go to www.facebook.com/fatsuit

 

This year’s BBC Proms will be celebrating the hard-swinging jazz of the 1930s and 1940s at the Royal Albert Hall with a Battle of the Big Bands as part of a special Late Night Prom this Friday 8 August. The concert pays homage to the legendary face-offs held at Harlem’s Savoy Ballroom in the late 1930s, where the big bands of Count Basie and Benny Goodman would try to outdo each other with killer tunes and powerful arrangements.

Now, 80 years later, two specially commissioned big bands will be going head to head in a similar Battle of the Bands, with the Count Pearson Prom Band led by James Pearson, the house pianist at Ronnie Scott’s, versus the Duke Windsor Prom Band, led by Australian pianist, composer and arranger Grant Windsor. While both pianists are in-demand sidemen and solo artists, they have also worked extensively on their big band projects, with Windsor’s Broken Big Band and Pearson’s upcoming collaboration with his trio and the Skelton/Skinner All Star Big Band to perform the music of Oscar Peterson.

This jazz Prom will also feature a guest appearance by Grammy Award-winning jazz vocalist Gregory Porter, as well as acclaimed British jazz singer and Radio 2 broadcaster Clare Teal, who has previously performed with both Windsor and Porter. She will also compère the concert, and has commented “it will be a ‘Battle Royal’ with the duel-off at the end… if you haven’t heard a big band going full throttle, the sound is extraordinary”. The concert begins at 10.15pm at the Royal Albert Hall on Friday, and will be broadcast live on Radio 3, while a recording of the event will be shown on BBC4 on 17 August.

– Bethany Roberts

For more information visit www.bbc.co.uk/proms/

 

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