Nels Cline contributes the one and only outtake from his Lovers suite – a version of that beautiful ballad ‘In The Wee Small Hours Of The Morning’ – to a special limited seven-inch issued by Blue Note for Record Store Day (April 22). This lush sax and string-quartet bolstered cut finds Shirley Horn’s spectacular rendering of the same song residing on the flip.
Sax-bass-drums trio Partikel return with a new album, Counteraction, set for release on 24 March on Whirlwind Recordings, supporting the release with several UK and European live dates. Featuring saxophonist Duncan Eagles, bassist Max Luthert and drummer Eric Ford, the trio continue to explore new territory after their string-laden previous release, String Theory. Jazzwise is proud to present a video exclusive of the song 'Lanterns' from the new album below:
The new album once again features violinist Benet McLean alongside rising guitar star Ant Law on several tracks, as well as using subtle electronics to expand the group's soundworld. Partikel's profile has grown in the UK and abroad thanks to appearances at Love Supreme and Ealing jazz festivals, two tours in China and several dates in Belgium and Germany.
Launching the album at Kings Place, London on 11 May the band also appear at: The Queens Head, Monmouth (3 May); Cafe Jazz, Cardiff (4 May); Progress Theater, Reading (5 May); Arts Centre, Colchester (7 May) and The Verdict, Brighton (19 May).
Now in its fifth year the Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival has matured well, and this year's programme managed to balance crowd-pleasing headliners and popular mainstream jazz and blues acts with a weekend's worth of well-chosen contemporary jazz action that was gratifyingly well-attended.
Andy Sheppard's specially-commissioned soundtrack for Fritz Lang's silent classic Metropolis made for an impressive opener: Sheppard's score pitted an eight-strong horn section against his own trio with guitarist Eivand Aarset and Michele Rabbia's percussion. Their adroit and imaginative use of electronics wove around strongly thematic brass parts to capture the essence of the film's themes, notably the tension between the remorseless machinery and human needs. By leaving space for individual improvisation the music, notably the guitar and saxophone, was able to mirror the emotional tides of the story while permitting the more tightly scored music to return with split-second timing. As always with soundtrack performances, the trick was to make it interesting without being unduly distracting and this was certainly achieved.
By contrast, Jason Rebello's (above) solo piano performance was intense and intimate, drawing the listener into the physical mechanics of Herbie Hancock's richly riffing 'Canteloup Island' or Errol Garner's powerhouse stride on 'Play Piano Play'. These were rhythmically dense numbers, like his own 'Pearl', whereas his Jarretty ruminations for Sting's 'Every Little Thing' or the self-penned 'Closeness' played with the melody, savouring the possibilities of the phrasing. It was beautiful and absorbing music and all the more impressive for being played at lunchtime.
A similarly early start had bedevilled Dakhla Brass on Friday, but again this didn't hamper their performance which showcased new music from a forthcoming recording. This included 'Insomnia Sonia', a programmatic piece driven by a ticking clock, the four brass voices pulsing through the chorus and then derailing throughout the verse until a final becalming resolution. Their music was driven by contrasts – staccato/legato, tight harmony/chaotic anarchy, single time/double time – and a smart use of polyrhythmic overlay that made it a satisfyingly complex listen. After a year that took them to Montreal Jazz and the Albert Hall they have deservedly become local heroes.
Fans of classic bebop were well rewarded by Gilad Atzmon and Alan Barnes (above) whose Lowest Common Denominator's entertaining combination of drily antagonistic banter and briskly flamboyant playing drew a capacity audience. Moving easily between a choice of reed instruments this odd couple proved highly compatible in evoking a vintage sound with fresh energy on original numbers like the appropriately titled 'Alone Together' with Gilad's torrential alto well-matched to Alan's elegiac baritone sax thanks to Frank Harrison's no-nonsense piano. More bebop treats came from former Gillespie sideman Bobby Shew's evocation of 'My Friend Dizzy' with the veteran trumpeter supported by the festival's house big band in a set of favourites that included 'Manteca' and 'Groovin' High' with the Afro-Cuban groove of 'Tin Tin Deo' providing the set's real high-point.
There was no doubting a shift in this year's festival attendance that, gratifyingly, packed out The Lantern's programme of contemporary jazz acts as never before. This included Yazz Ahmed's (above) septet performance, atmospheric Arabian-influenced music picked out through well-judged effected trumpet and Ralph Wyld's vibes, and complex compositions like 'La Saboteuse' and 'Her Light' unfolded with spellbinding assurance. Though there was no question that it was her compositional vision that defined the music there was also a strong sense of the individual musical personalities involved, notably Dudley Philips' expressive bass and Martin France's drumming that rode effortlessly over the often-complex time signatures and rhythms.
They were followed on Sunday evening by the much-anticipated Jasper Høiby's Fellow Creatures (below), whose interestingly eclectic set had only the slightest echoes of the bassist's long-standing trio, Phronesis, and its whirlwind pyrotechnics. Instead there was a conscious deliberation about their playing, suggesting the musicians were still exploring the ideas underpinning this coming together of three generations of British jazz in Loose Tubes alumnus Mark Lockheart, Jasper himself, and the trio of young players alongside them. Numbers like 'Spirit of the Bees' subverted what could have been a carnivalesque dance with little glitches, Will Barry's suppressed piano coalescing with tinkling bells, scattered rimshots and a laughing trumpet riposte.
The self-consciousness of the set was possibly emphasised by having seen drummer Corrie Dick and trumpeter Laura Jurd (pictured top of page) on the same stage the night before in Laura's band Dinosaur. The fluid energy and assertiveness of Dinosaur's Miles-leaning music – a fresh take on the electric jazz-rock of the 1970s – gave it a confident momentum that was exhilarating to hear. On 'Living, Breathing' the trumpet needled at the writhing Elliot Galvin's fearlessly vintage electronica until Conor Chaplin's rigorous bass suddenly locked into the unobtrusively creative drumming like an idea suddenly making sense. It was moments like that (and there were many such) that made them appreciably the highlight of a pleasingly satisfying weekend.
Dynamic jazz singer Lauren Dalrymple has hosted her SoFF Music Jam for nearly two decades at The Effra Hall Tavern (aka The Effra), a cosy Victorian pub in Brixton, South London. One of the longest running jazz jams in London, she's retained a loyal following as well as nurtured new talent by offering them a way into the sometimes intimidating London jazz scene. Over the years the house band has included many top level players such as drummer Robert Fordjour (Courtney Pine), bassists Karl Rasheed-Abel (Laura Mvula) and Neville Malcolm (Billy Cobham, Gabrielle, Tom Jones etc) as well as pianists Robert Mitchell, Chris Jerome and Alex Hutton among many others. The jam often features hard-swinging bop, soulful jazz-funk and vocal jazz performed in a uniquely eclectic atmosphere of diverse local listeners and hard-core jazz fans, aspiring amateur players and worldly-wise professionals – all uniting around the chance to play and listen to the music they love in an accommodating space. Ahead of the jam's 18th birthday night on 9 April, Dalrymple spoke to Mike Flynn about the history and staying-power of this eternally swinging night
How did the SoFF music jam start?
I was running jam sessions and performing by the time I brought my jam session to Brixton in 1999. I found The Effra because I sat in on a gig after being taken by another singer. After that performance the owner asked me what I could do for the venue. I explained that a jam would encourage a steady flow of talent and audiences. We kicked it off in the April of that year. At that time, I had a small (miniscule) organisation called SEG: Sistah Entertainment Group with a newsletter, but the name allowed people to think it was just for women or even just black women. I changed the name to represent me and the thing that I was told would keep me from singing successfully. Sistahs of the Fuller Figure Music: SoFF Music. I named it with a couple of other big girls who since enjoy a smaller frame. I'm keeping my sound and the jam as BIG as a Fuller Figured Sistah!
What are the key ingredients to a good jazz jam night?
The house band and host must be able to keep the entertainment flowing because with a jam you don't who will turn up or indeed if anyone will at all. You've got to be able to keep the audience happy and there must be an "ego-less" enthusiasm to share your talent with both audience and whomever is ready to perform. (Lemon-infused water between songs helps too)
What advice would you give to young musicians, or those taking their first steps into jazz, any dos and don'ts?
Again a willingness to share your talent without ego; "give and take" is mega important. You will learn from others but in turn you will also teach as they have the opportunity to listen to you. Long selfish solos are nobody's friend and you can't hear anyone else if you are the only one "showboating " and making "noise" rather than making music.
As things progressed did the word spread about the jam – and did it help attract more high-calibre musicians?
Well as I had mentioned before when SoFF was still SEG, I had a newsletter that advertised in the initial stages of the jam being in Brixton. I got the word out by word of mouth and inviting patrons to spread the word and join a mailing list, which admittedly was a weak one. We were still in the days of no social media. The community gave me, the band and the gig major props and continued to support us. We help them (the community) with their out of town guests, birthdays, Mother's Day, even Christmas!
When I first visited the jam back in 2006 Robert Mitchell was playing piano in the house band – who are some of the people who've come through the Effra who've gone on to great things since?
I believe at least three members of the jazz-funk band, J-Sonics met at the SoFF Music Jazz Jam Session in Brixton. Trumpeter Jay Phelps was a regular and Empirical members Nathaniel Facey and drummer Shane Forbes (from age17). Shane paid me a compliment when I told him how proud I was of them, (Jay, Nathaniel & Shane) saying: "Auntie (my nickname) back in the day we didn't have gigs, your gig was our gig". In fact, they are the reason I got my nickname. In West Indian/African culture an older woman would get that respect... standard! I was 27, they were 17. Passers through have included 'bone master Dennis Rollins, saxophonist Tony Kofi, guitarists Robin Banerjee and Cameron Pierre and MOBO award winners such as pianist Zoe Rahman and saxophonist and hip-hop stylist Soweto Kinch.
For me the greatest thing about the nights at the jam at The Effra over the years is how it draws together the local community and how supportive the atmosphere is. Is this local focus an important part of the jam's success?
The local community is the audience. SoFF Music prides itself on treating them with the utmost respect and serving them with different 'special occasion gigs', like the jam's 18th birthday party on 9th April 2017. We always celebrated ourselves and the success of the gig but that means we celebrate the support of the community audience and treat them to top quality entertainment (and the odd prize giveaway and audience participation). The great thing is we have a global community too. I touched upon the fact that the local community bring their friends, family and out of town guests to see us, so we have audience members from France, Germany, Australia, China, Canada, Argentina and beyond. These people have all revisited and continue to email me to find out if the jam is on. They never let us down so we, SoFF Music and me will continue to raise them up! Love, peace and hair grease! The SoFF a.k.a. Lauren Dalrymple.
Thelonious Monk's only ever soundtrack recording, for the provocative 1959 French feature film Les Liaisons Dangereuses, is set to be released in its entirety on a double LP for the first time, specially for the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day on 22 April. The album, co-produced by Zev Feldman, is being released in partnership with two French companies: Paris-based Sam Records and Saga Music and features rare photographs from the sessions and extensive liner notes. The labels' respective producers, Fred Thomas and Francois Lê Xuân, contacted Feldman to give the music a full public release, as the music has never been available separately from the film, itself is now out of print.
Recorded on 27 July 27, 1959 at Nola Penthouse Studios, New York the band is on fine form and features Charlie Rouse and Barney Wilen both on tenor saxophones, plus a rhythm section of bassist Sam Jones and drummer Art Taylor. The track listing includes high-energy takes of 'Rhythm-a-Ning', 'Crepuscule with Nellie', 'Blues', 'Well You Needn't', 'Ba-Lue Boliver Ba-Lues Are', 'Light Blue (Making Of'), 'We'll Understand it Better, By and By', plus two solo takes and one quartet version of 'Pannonica'.
Commenting on the music Feldman notes: "It was a startling revelation to discover that this music existed, that it was not just another live recording but a very well recorded studio session of great historical significance. I was beyond honoured and thrilled to participate in this collaboration with my colleagues Mr. Thomas and Mr. Lê Xuân."
The album, which will also be released on CD, marks Monk's centenary year ahead of what would have been his 100th birthday on 10 October 2017.
– Mike Flynn – Photo courtesy of Arnaud Boubet (Private Collection)