This month sees two jazz photography exhibitions take place – one with the added bonus of some accompanying live performances and both coinciding with the EFG London Jazz Festival. The first is a joint exhibition from renowned specialist music photographers Alan John Ainsworth and John Watson whose 'The Jazz Moment' show runs from 10 to 23 November at the The Gallery, 77 Cowcross Street, Clerkenwell, London, EC1M.

The exhibition will feature 50 images of jazz legends (such as James Carter, pictured) and rising stars captured in full-flight, Watson commenting: "My aim is always to create striking images that capture the thrills of performance, and will interest viewers in great musicians and their work. Capturing 'the jazz moment' is a joy."

The second show, entitled 'The Jazz Gig' features the work of Jim Grover from 1 November to 3 December at the Omnibus Theatre, 1 Clapham Common Northside, London SW4. Showing 35 black and white images of many emerging jazz talents, two of which – acclaimed young guitarist Rob Luft and rising star bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado – with the latter bassist appearing as part of Australian singer/writer Kath Haling's group earlier this week on 12 November alongside pianist Liam Dunachie and drummer Will Glaser, and with Luft leading his own band on 19 November.

For more info visit www.jimgroverphotography.com

In these turbulent times small things can provide a reassuring sense of constancy. So Pat Metheny's arrival on stage clutching a 48-string guitar, in a striped t-shirt and jeans, with the smile of a man in his element etched on his face, relayed a sense of 'all is well with the world', a glowing feeling that persisted for the next two and a half hours and beyond.

This was the opening day of the EFG London Jazz Festival – an occasion that always means making a tough choice: the big opening Jazz Voice bash at the Royal Festival Hall, Manu Dibango at Ronnie's, Groove Warriors at the Bull's Head, Michael Janisch Band at Rich Mix, Tomasz Stanko at Cadogan Hall... But Metheny was the stellar billing: a multi-Grammy Award and Downbeat Poll winner whose gigs over the past 40 years have been marked not only by incredible musicianship, adventurous technology and great tunes but by a ferocious commitment to continued musical searching.

Joined for the current cycle of gigs by Brit Gwilym Simcock on piano, Malaysian-born, Australian-raised Linda May Han Oh on bass and 15-year Metheny associate Antonio Sánchez, from Mexico City on drums, Metheny's tune choices were similar to those of the Ronnie Scott's sets last year: lesser known PMG tracks, picks from his 1976 debut Bright Size Life, various Trio albums and the 1992 masterpiece Secret Story. Without a new album to promote this was Metheny enjoying himself with old tunes and finding fresh ways of playing them.

The quartet setting obviously meant we were not to be treated to the aural complexities of The Way Up – the last and perhaps greatest PMG recording, from 2005 – or the epic cuts from albums like First Circle or Imaginary Day to which pianist Lyle Mays made such a contribution. Instead, we had compositions that worked as standards: the poignant yet homely 'Unity Village'; an exciting 'Lone Jack' and rocky 'The Red One' (first recorded with John Scofield); a reggae-ish tune that allowed Simcock to stretch out before Pat mowed us down with soaring guitar synth pyrotechnics. A rapid 'What Do You Want?', from Trio 99/00, followed, Metheny flitting through the rhythm changes with his trademark luminously liquid flow.

'Better Days Ahead' from the 1989 Letter From Home album was an ideal choice for this setting and Simcock grinned and seemed to sing his opening phrase as he set himself up for his solo. Here, he was filling Lyle Mays' shoes with brilliance, joyfully shifting the rhythm and substituting the already complex chord sequence in waves of 10-finger sound, seemingly channelling Mays and McCoy Tyner in a lavish solo. At other times he played a subdued role; mindful perhaps of clashing with Metheny's voicings and embellishments.

Further highlights were the heart-wrenching 'Tell Her You Saw Me' from Secret Story, which showcased Metheny's astonishingly soft touch and ability to shape notes until they drop off the aural spectrum. 'Farmer's Trust' was similarly magical, on acoustic guitar. One of a series of duets saw bassist Oh take the Dave Holland role on 'Change of Heart': what a treat to hear a live version of this gorgeous dream of midwestern Americana from the Q&A album. Oh's sinuous playing complemented the tune so well but Metheny perhaps could have laid-off the backing chords a little more to allow the solo to come through.

If Oh's anchoring of the set was solid, discrete and tuneful, then Antonio Sánchez's contribution was explosive; at times sending shockwaves of awe through the auditorium at his speed and precision. The Migration band leader (current album Bad Hombre), and Birdland film score composer, has developed a sizeable a following in his own right and established himself among the world's finest drum virtuosos. He's also developed a telepathic understanding with Metheny, catching accents and using the full range of timbre that his superbly miked-up kit allowed, with echoes of Roy Haynes. Whereas some drum solos are the cue for a daydream, his were totally melodic and based on the song form – and demanded maximum focus from Oh and Metheny as to when to intrude. His duet was stratospheric: a garage-band rendition of 'Q&A' that finally entered sonic outer space.

What a shame that ticket prices for this kind of performance prevent many younger people attending; the quartet got more than one standing ovation but would have truly ignited the atmosphere at a less senior-oriented occasion, such as in a Love Supreme-style setting. Some audience members might have pined for the PMG 'hits' 'Are You Going With Me', 'Third Wind' and 'First Circle', but as with Steely Dan a fortnight ago at the 02, the group could have played a five-hour set and still not played everyone's favourites.

Finally, Metheny brought us back to the turbulent and disturbing present with a solo medley with 'This is Not America' at its heart (co-written with Mays and David Bowie). He hadn't said much on mic but this rendition was so emotionally charged that no words were needed. We knew what he meant.

– Adam McCulloch
– Photo by Tim Dickeson

Pat Metheny Quartet plays in Hull tonight, Dublin on Monday, Belfast Tuesday and Reykjavik, Iceland on Friday 17 November.

This year's 25th anniversary edition of the EFG London Jazz Festival begins tonight and runs for 10 days and nights until 19 November, kicking off with the 10th edition of the Jazz Voice opening night gala at the Royal Festival Hall.

Guest singers will include a wide variety of vocal stylists including Liane Carroll (above centre), Mica Paris, Tony Momrelle, Vanessa Haynes, Seal (top right) and charismatic bassist/vocalist Miles Mosley (top left). Backed by the 40-piece London Jazz Festival Orchestra, music will include a wide range of jazz, funk and soul classics with idiosyncratic cultural connections, woven together by composer/arranger Guy Barker's specially written arrangements.

For the first time in the festival's history the entire concert will be live streamed from 8.30pm (GMT) tonight – and can be viewed here:

 For full listings and tickets visit www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

 muhal-richard-abrams

Though it may have escaped many of the thousands of people who attended last week's Tampere Jazz Happening, an event recently applauded for its programming by the EJN (European Jazz Network), the presence of pianist-composer-educator Muhal Richard Abrams was felt in very perceptible ways. Two musicians who acquitted themselves admirably – bassist Brad Jones, as a member of the New Zion Trio, and pianist Benoit Delbecq, a member of Samuel Blaser's quartet – were both connected to Abrams, who passed away a few days prior to the festival. The former was one of his many sidemen, the latter one of his many students. And it is as a teacher, mentor and source of inspiration to other progressives in the 40-50 age group that Abrams' invaluable impact is felt.

The likes of Jason Moran, Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer have all been vocal about his contribution to their development, as well as to creative music in the wider sense. Abrams is indelibly tied to the Association For The Advancement Of Creative Music (AACM), the Chicago-based institution whence came a plethora of innovative musicians who greatly enriched the history of black music from the 1960s onwards. As a long-serving president of the AACM, Abrams was rightly respected for his leadership and unflagging drive to uphold the dignity and gravitas of African-American culture, but all of his own achievements as a composer, improviser and thinker should not be downplayed. From his classic 1968 debut, Levels And Degrees Of Light, to the fine run of albums cut for Black Saint between the mid-1970s and early 1990s, the highlight of which is arguably View From Within, Abrams proved himself to be restlessly original in his writing and playing, all the while remaining rooted in the traditions of his birthplace, the Windy City.

His experimental approach to performance really placed him in an exciting and unpredictable universe of vibrations, as Max Roach so eloquently put it, that took him beyond the school of avant-garde in which he was mostly pigeonholed. The strong Afro-latin content of much of his music as well as the stark operatic strains of a piece such as 'How Are You?', featuring the angelic voice of Ella Jackson, make it clear that Abrams was a wily sculptor of timbre and texture or, as he contended on the fascinating 2010 duets project with George Lewis and Fred Anderson, an imaginative choreographer of 'SounDance'.

– Kevin Le Gendre

 empirical c camille blake 01

For his third and final edition of Jazzfest Berlin, the veteran English music critic Richard Williams programmed a strong contingent of British artists, as well as commissioning several new works from Stateside composers. As artistic director, he also initiated a mini-season of London-Berlin collaborations, set in the intimate A-Trane club, which is a 15-minute stroll from the main Festspiele concert hall. The first two nights introduced the Lido club as a festival venue. To the east side of the city, in Kreuzberg, it created a mostly-standing, informal atmosphere, with Shabaka & The Ancestors and Steve Lehman's Sélébéyone making strong appearances, establishing South African and avant-hop territories, and beginning a marked emphasis on jazz divergence at this year's Jazzfest. The passing of Muhal Richard Abrams, at the beginning of the festival, hung over many artists, as each of them revealed their own stories of how his influence had pervaded their development. The opening night at Lido was dedicated to his memory.

One of the most ecstatically received sets was played by Empirical on the main stage, making their Blue Note rooted 1960s-style jazz sound almost revolutionary, with its direct proximity to the classic American style. So many other Jazzfest acts had been taking the music to satellite zones, but these be-suited Londoners delivered a show of tightly-controlled post-bebop complexity, using the old guidelines as a basis for launching off into their very 2017-style soloing extremities. Empirical flirt with nostalgia, while living on the edge of experimentation. Negotiating a nervous, twitching, runaway 'Anxiety Society', they not only reflected Brexit struggles, but also cut through the morass of generally downer global news developments, wriggling triumphantly out of this messy sphincter of woe.

On a more alternative level, the first of the Berlin-London Conversations involved Jean-Paul Bourelly (guitar), Frank Gratkowski (reeds), Orphy Robinson (vibraphone) and Pat Thomas (piano), with these last two (known as Black Top) also operating their tables of sampling electronics. The improvisations inhabited an unusual zone, loaded with jittery lo-fi Jamaican and American vocal cut-ups, shot through with stuttering electro-beats, spiralling fuzz guitar and the sometimes sidelined Gratkowski's bittersweet alto patterns. Thomas got into some atonal ragtime piano, and Gratkowski bent notes like Lol Coxhill, this quartet reminiscent at times of his Recedents. Bourelly loosed powerchords at low volume, vocalising like Billy Jenkins, as Thomas got a case of the pitch-bending wobblies, Monk fragments spliced and diced, paused then raced. This was a boldly alternative improvising incarnation.

tyshawn sorey

The fest's artist-in-residence was Tyshawn Sorey, drummer, percussionist, pianist, trombonist, composer, improviser and constant shades-wearer. Perhaps his best set was with his trio, as each member softly began, one-by-one, making glacial progress across a Morton Feldman landscape of true minimalism. Sorey demonstrated his control over the tiniest vibes shimmers, celeste tinkles, and then the deepest big bass-drum thunder, or scraping huge gongs slowly out of their slumber. He also led a large conduction ensemble (in the post-Butch Morris parlance) and played a duet with reedsman Gebhard Ullmann.

One of the greatest jazz movie soundtracks is by Miles Davis (and indeed, it's one of the trumpeter's finest albums), for Louis Malle's Lift To The Scaffold (1958). The pianist René Urtreger is the sole surviving member of the quintet who recorded that score and, following a screening at Cinema Paris, the 83-year-old appeared in person, to play, and to be interviewed by the festival's artistic director Richard Williams. Urtreger began with a set of tunes by Cole Porter, Dave Brubeck and Duke Ellington ("to make my cold hands warm", he quipped), delivered in an outgoing, confident manner, with a bold, detailed flow. Urtreger has an open, bright sound, prettifying into an amber glow, negotiated with a melodic traipse. Following 'Polka Dots & Moonbeams', he sat down with Williams, and told the world about sharing a room with Miles, and how Davis had an affair with his sister. Urtreger also played with Lester Young when he was in his early twenties. He's dapper and witty, not afraid to deem Monk a great composer, but a lousy pianist (ahem), and to affably dismiss Michel Legrand's efforts at being 'jazzy'. Urtreger was candid and enlightening throughout, stepping back to the piano to close the afternoon with a rendition of Dizzy Gillespie's 'Con Alma'. It was a heartwarming joy to learn about this key historic personage, while Urtreger is still around, playing, and full of beans.

The US trumpeter Amir ElSaffar premiered 'Maqam/Brass Resonance' in the modern Hohenzollernplatz church, whose long, arched sides hosted the horn section before they promenaded to join the drums and tuba on the stage. Drawn out tones fed on reverberation, and the horn patterns accelerated and overlapped, as they moved through the piece's various developmental sections. A Balkan wedding skip backed a writhing saxophone solo, breaking down into a free-er passage with sparse hand drumming, then into a maqam-style processional. The players returned to the arches unexpectedly, then presented a rousing conclusion back at the front of the stage.

The next afternoon, in another modern church, the Kaiser Wilhelm Memorial, Kit Downes played its mighty organ, showing an impressive restraint, finding fresh sounds, delicate in their avoidance of bass thunder, but investigating a risky-sounding, juddering pipe-coughing when he did head down to the lower depths. We feared that he might bust this hallowed instrument. Following a mysterious set by Trondheim Voices, awash with real-time sonic shaping, as they wafted around the pews, Downes played along with this all-female Norwegian group, at the afternoon concert's conclusion. Perhaps they could even have worked out a more extensive collaboration.

From churches to clubs, cinema to concert hall, Jazzfest had all the locations covered, and with hip hop, Indian free-ness, electroacoustic collage, South African jazz, avant easy-listening (courtesy of the excellent Nels Cline Lovers project), and the Brazilian retro songbook (with the return of Monica Vasconcelos), it had many musical spheres to pass through in highly successful fashion.

– Martin Longley
– Photos by Camille Blake/Jazzfest Berlin

Page 6 of 213

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar, Gdańsk

Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar…

Jazz Jantar is one of the less well-known Polish festivals...

Read More.....
Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Borders In St. Petersburg

Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Bord…

Being an American jazz singer in St. Petersburg is a...

Read More.....
Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continues with Vol.6 Miles Davis & John Coltrane - The Final Tour

Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continu…

The widely acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series issues its sixth...

Read More.....
Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at P…

Award-winning Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans (above) is set to play...

Read More.....
Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Shines At Jazztopad

Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Sh…

  This 14th edition of the nine-day Jazztopad festival in Wroclaw...

Read More.....
Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Residency

Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Re…

Celebrated saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton brings his semi-scripted gamut...

Read More.....
Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engage at Elgar Room

Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engag…

The Royal Albert Hall's highly accommodating venue-within-a-venue the Elgar Room...

Read More.....
Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

This year's Thelonious Monk centenary events have rightly focused on...

Read More.....
George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

  There never was a jazz record producer more important than...

Read More.....
Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Japanese ultra-shaman Keiji Haino has hooked up with US sludge-metal...

Read More.....
Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han Bennink and the Italian new wave signal JAZZMI's ambition

Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han …

 Milan's new jazz festival is inspired by London and it's...

Read More.....
Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interchange Dectet gather for Gateshead 2018

Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interc…

The line-up for next year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran added to Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018 programme

Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran…

The first names have been announced for the 22nd edition...

Read More.....
Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ronnie Scott’s

Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ron…

"Awesome!'' "That's great!" "Thank you so much". Mike Stern's bonhomie...

Read More.....
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound sinister and sublime at Kings Place

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound…

  There are very few composers now writing world class material...

Read More.....
The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

To prise apart the increasingly converging din of his two...

Read More.....
Dan Cartwright Quartet Captivate At The Verdict

Dan Cartwright Quartet Captivate At The …

  Even comparatively hyped new artists can really struggle to fill...

Read More.....
Pharoah Sanders, Denys Baptiste and Alina Bzhezhinska make for cosmic concert for Alice and John Coltrane

Pharoah Sanders, Denys Baptiste and Alin…

Banks of lights sketch out a looming angel presence on...

Read More.....
Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band Receive Government Export Funding

Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band Receiv…

Jazz-influenced experimental musician, composer, conceptualist and now political protester Matthew...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directors series and tour

Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directo…

Multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney Pine has been announced...

Read More.....
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoustic alchemy at Ronnie Scott’s

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoust…

Mark Guiliana is associated with a certain level of jazz-fusion...

Read More.....
Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

"If you have to ask, you don't know by now...

Read More.....
Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

This month sees two jazz photography exhibitions take place –...

Read More.....
Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Islington Assembly Hall

Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Isli…

Miles Mosley has already started making waves in the UK...

Read More.....
Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth The Fifth Man At Tampere Jazz Happening

Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth…

  A curious sight catches the keenest of eyes on the...

Read More.....
Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings Place Retelling Of Their Traveller's Tale

Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings…

It was during the late 1980s that John Surman (above)...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at Barbican

Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at…

In these turbulent times small things can provide a reassuring...

Read More.....
Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from the EFG London Jazz Festival

Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from t…

This year's 25th anniversary edition of the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....
Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

  Though it may have escaped many of the thousands of...

Read More.....
Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfest Berlin

Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfes…

  For his third and final edition of Jazzfest Berlin, the...

Read More.....
Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and club programme highlights as 25th EFG London Jazz Festival gears up

Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and c…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival kicks off its milestone...

Read More.....
Tommy Smith goes it alone and together with Brian Kellock

Tommy Smith goes it alone and together w…

Saxophonist Tommy Smith takes his latest project home this month...

Read More.....
Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok Amor unleash improv anarchy at Enjoy Jazz

Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok …

Some festivals cram everything into a single weekend, but Enjoy...

Read More.....
Andy Sheppard, Native Dancer and Beats & Pieces line-up for Cambridge Jazz Fest

Andy Sheppard, Native Dancer and Beats …

The third edition of the Brewin Dolphin Cambridge International Jazz...

Read More.....
Saxophonist Steve Coleman Sublimely Elemental At Paris Showcase

Saxophonist Steve Coleman Sublimely Elem…

  As Britain attempts what seems like an ungainly improvisation out...

Read More.....
Love Supreme Jazz Festival Rocks Up To The Roundhouse

Love Supreme Jazz Festival Rocks Up To T…

  With this year's annual event having drawn its biggest audience...

Read More.....

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Thanks for the music and happy birthday Mr Lifetime aka Tony Williams (keep those angels guessing with your polyrhy… https://t.co/GZGEA6sRrf
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @huwwarren: So pleased to share my new solo record with you - please feel free to share with anyone else who might be interested! https:…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA