Hard-blowing New York-based saxophonist Tim Armacost kicks off his European tour in style with two Late Shows at Ronnie Scott's, London (6 and 7 February) in support of his new album, Time Being, which is released on Whirlwind Recordings on 24 February. A prolific and powerful presence on the international jazz scene for the last 30 years, Time Being is his first album under his own name for Whirlwind, also appearing on two albums by the New York Standards Quartet and Alex Garnett's Bunch of Five for the label. His latest packs in an all-star rhythm section of first-call bassist Robert Hurst and powerhouse drummer Jeff 'Tain' Watts, with some tracks also featuring renowned pianist David Kikowski.
The tour itself features US expat drummers Rod Youngs (on the first two UK shows), Barcelona-based Marc Ayza (for the Valencia gig) and the Vienna-based Klemens Marktl for the rest of the concerts. Whirlwind label boss and bassist Michael Janisch is set to play every night of the tour with guitarist David Preston making a guest appearance on their final night in London. Dates are: Late Show, Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London (6-7 Feb); Jimmy Glass, Valencia, Spain (8 Feb); Repete, Llubliana, Slovenia (9 Feb); Miles Jazz Bar, Graz, Austria (10 Feb); Raj, Klagenfurt, Austria (11 Feb); The Albert, Bristol, England (12 Feb); Royal Academy of Music Festival, London (14-16 Feb); The Verdict, Brighton (17 Feb); The Archduke, London.
Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival and Dictionary Pudding productions have made an inspired connection, pairing Michigan's ornery noise-niks Wolf Eyes with British improv pioneers saxophonist Trevor Watts and keys conquistador Veryan Weston, who'll be performing in their Quantum Illusion guise. For those sniffing around for the BS scent, this isn't the first time America's din-making lupines have locked in with legends from jazzes' outer reaches, their previous deep collaborations with Anthony Braxton spewing up the feral row of 2006's Black Vomit.
This time around expect full sets from both Quantum Illusion and Wolf Eyes, as well as an exclusive collaborative encounter, on Saturday 8 April at West Hill Hall, Brighton.
Saxophonist Tim Garland will reunite with his former partner in Celtic jazz group Lammas, Don Paterson on the guitarist's Scottish gigs with his new band, the Don Paterson Situation during February.
Garland, who subsequently joined Chick Corea's The Vigil, co-led Lammas with Paterson throughout the 1990s, recording five albums and touring widely before Paterson's work as a poet and demand for Garland's talents as a saxophonist and composer caused an amicable split in 2000.
As well as The Vigil, Garland went on to play with Bill Bruford's Earthworks and in Storms/Nocturnes with vibraphonist Joe Locke and pianist Geoff Keezer as well as fulfilling commissions from the Royal Northern Sinfonia, and the London Symphony, the City of Birmingham Symphony and BBC Concert orchestras. He premiered his Re:Focus, a re-imagining of Stan Getz's 1961 orchestral album, Focus, at Wigmore Hall during London Jazz Festival in November.
Paterson's work as a much-decorated poet has seen music taking a back seat for much of the past decade but he returned with the Don Paterson Situation early last year with renewed enthusiasm. His band launches a new jazz season at Eyemouth Hippodrome in the Scottish Borders on Saturday 11 February before going on to play at the Byre Theatre, St Andrews (25February) and Tron Theatre, Glasgow (26February).
"Tim and always I kept in touch and we've played together a few times informally since Lammas but these will be the first gigs we've done together in sixteen years and I'm really looking forward to working with him again," says Paterson.
The monthly Jazz in the Round session, which has run since 2012 and is hosted by Jazz FM DJs Jez Nelson and Chris Philips, kicks off the new year with two stellar triple bills. The first of these takes place tonight (30 January) and showcases artists from the Edition Records roster with Laura Jurd's Dinosaur topping the bill, a rare solo bass in the middle from Phronesis main-man Jasper Høiby and an opening set from pianist Elliot Galvin and drummer Mark Sanders.
This is followed on 27 February with a starry double-bill topped by the John Horler Trio with special guest Norma Winstone (above right) on vocals, trumpeter Quentin Collins and saxophonist Leo Richardson, reprising their tribute to Chet Baker set, plus an opening spot from emerging latin-jazz-folk group Esquivo.
The unexpected early November snowfall created a festive backdrop for the genuine bonhomie of Tampere Jazz Happening in Finland. In a compact arrangement of venues, homegrown Scandi-jazz took a prominent place in the 35th edition alongside the more international VIPs. Finnish Yrjö award-winners past and present, including the leading saxophonist Mikko Innanen, made up the personnel of the Finnish Jazz Federation Anniversary Orchestra, kicking things off with an absorbing set that captured something of the forgotten freedom-searching spirit of 1960s modal jazz.
On the Pakkahuone main stage, one of that mission's greatest exponents Charles Lloyd (above) excelled like you'd never seen him before, in an extraordinary performance of great warmth, poetry and emotional depth. His quartet (featuring the eloquent pianist Gerald Clayton) had the full audience in rapture, taking full advantage of the wonderfully crystal-clear sound acoustic. Which was just as vital for The Necks, the influential antipodean piano trio. If an acquired taste, they nonetheless put chamber ensemble improv under a microscope in an unusually brief one-hour set piece that might just have been one of the best cures for ADD. The New York saxophonist Steve Lehman's octet gave a stimulating showing combining compact New Music-influenced brass arrangements with acoustic-based sonic experimentation and atonal-edged bebop. Norwegian multi-reeds virtuoso Marius Neset's quintet featured a few top notch Brits – Jim Hart, Phil Donkin and Ivo Neame – in a pulsating set combining folk dance and fusion, featuring the towering presence of guest Swedish folk-prog cellist Svante Henryson.
In the more intimate Telakka club, the homegrown pianist Aki Rissanen – a new signing to UK's Edition label – mixed Zen funk and Bill Evans with his trio, highlighted by Teppo Mäkynen's uncanny electronica-influenced kit sounds. Donny McCaslin's quartet, who had made one of the best recordings of 2016 in tribute to Bowie, were disappointingly without a contemporary edge without both Tim LeFebvre and Mark Guiliana ie. half the Bowie band. French pianist Eve Risser (above) on the other hand was the big discovery of the weekend, with her eerily mesmerising, impressionistic arrangements for the White Desert Orchestra. The last day saw Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola astutely tackle the music of his father Pekka of cult 1970s progsters Wigwam, while Håkon Kornstad in his Tenor Battle band pulled off an unlikely juxtaposition of Neapolitan opera with Euro-jazz sax improv that reflected the entirely open-minded approach to booking at this International class festival.