Charlie Mingus famously encouraged musicians to play without charts, creating big-band scores with rare spontaneity and energy, so what he would have made of the Metropole Orkest's lush orchestrations in the rarefied atmosphere of the Royal Albert Hall is open to question. By the end though of this triumph, however, I suspect he'd have been out of his seat, charging towards the stage to congratulate all the players and Metropole conductor Jules Buckley (below).

He would have undoubtedly appreciated the superb musicianship of the Dutch-oriented orchestra, set up in 1945 and now plying its trade without much in the way of state funding. And he would have surely happily raised an eyebrow as the arrangements stretched his harmonies, adding new layers of colourful complexity to the chords with some gorgeous voicings, much in evidence on ballads like 'Celia' and 'I x Love'.

Mingus-Prom2

Great soloists were imported to punctuate the charts: soaring trumpeter Christian Scott (pictured top), the ubiquitous, supremely talented Shabaka Hutchings, here on bass clarinet ('Fables of Faubus', wow); golden-larynxed vocalist Kandace Springs (below); and YouTube all-dancing baritone sax star Leo Pellegrino.

But the Metropole members, some not even mentioned as soloists in the programme, were right up there with them – for one, Bart Van Lier (top) threatened to steal the show in the first half with his velvety trombone playing with effortless top end and Bird-esque Carmen quotes (I counted four). On soprano sax Marc Scholten lit up 'God Must Be a Boogie Man', his warm, round sound interplaying sensuously with Kandace Springs' lush vocal. This was a gorgeous version of the Joni Mitchell tune.

Prom-53 CR BBC-Mark-Allan 6

There were also exciting, lengthy solos from Metropole members Rik Mol on flugel – actually played on his neighbour Martijn de Laat's horn because his mouthpiece failed moments before – and Paul van der Feen on alto sax. The imaginative arranging was given full reign on 'Goodbye Porkpie Hat', where the lead was handed to guitarist Peter Tiehuis, whose Scofield-like touches gave the standard a new lease of life and an edge that most big-band versions lack. Joni Mitchell's seminal Mingus album received further exposure with a funky 'The Dry Cleaner from Des Moines', with Kandace Springs doing Joni's rapid-fire, interval-leaping scat full justice.

Prom-53 CR BBC-Mark-Allan 5

The orchestra were returning to the Proms after last year's prime-time TV Quincy Jones tribute triumph. That was a lively old night with stellar high-energy contributions, but even they paled by comparison with the finale here. 'Moanin'' is rip roaring off-the-cuff baritone sax feature. So who better than incredible showman Pellegrino (below), trading solos furiously with Scott, to push it possibly into even wilder territory than it has ever been before?

Prom-53 CR BBC-Mark-Allan 7

His dance moves, while simultaneously producing wicked blues-driven lines on his horn, owed something to Elvis, but also hip hop, and perhaps Lenny Pickett from Tower of Power, another hip-shaking saxist. Needless to say, Pellegrino brought the house down, his vivid pink hair remaining as immovable as his formidable technique. I asked my companion. "Did he overdo it?". The inevitable, smiling reply: "Naaaahhh, you think so?".

Surely the Proms have never seen anything like it. Now what would have Mingus made of that?

– Adam McCulloch 

– Photos by Mark Allan

Pub conversations can get you in a world of grief if you're not careful. Sometimes, however, they can be the start of something truly special. A year or so ago, Nick Duckett (pictured, above left), founder of the History of RnB Records label, was having a chat in The French House pub, a regular Soho haunt. One of the barmaids turned out to be Harry South's daughter and she mentioned that there were some old recordings of his knocking around the house.

"It took nearly six months of my life," Duckett explains over a sun-kissed lunchtime half at the French. "Harry wasn't one for documentation, so it meant a lot of listening, sending things off to different people, 'have a listen to this, who do you reckon is on this one?' There are few tracks where I couldn't find any info at all."

The result of all this diligent detective work is the recently released Harry South – The Songbook, a fine tribute to one of this country's greatest composers, bandleaders and arrangers. Duckett, like many of us, first became aware of South through Georgie Fame's 1966 Sound Venture album, recorded with the Harry South Big Band, and then via the Tubby Hayes connection. Both the Fame LP, finally issued on CD in 2015, and the Hayes documentary, A Man In A Hurry, from the same year, have done much to wave the flag for British jazz.

"There's a niche market of a few thousand fanatics that maybe wasn't there 10 years ago," Duckett says. "It's quite accessible for non-jazz nuts and it's a really good way into the wider culture." Like a British Quincy Jones, South continued to make a name for himself throughout the following decades working as an arranger and composer for television (and the occasional, ahem, adult film). But it's his work with Hayes, Joe Harriot, Dick Morrissey and other post-war Brit jazz heroes that's The Songbook's big pull.

Duckett's History of RnB Records has been busy making a name for itself with its wonderful Soho Scene series (currently up to 1963). Like all the best labels from times past, there's a real love of detail at work, from the stand-out cover designs to the extensive sleeve notes. The concept, one disc British, one disc American, provides a neat comparison of how the music was evolving on both sides of the Atlantic.

Future plans include a companion compilation to the BBC4 2008 documentary series Jazz Britannia, a Jazz Europa album and, possibly, a Jazz Japan release. Anything else? Duckett smiles and takes another sip of his beer. "I'm thinking about something on Johnny Birch. There's a tape knocking about..."

– Matt Barker

For more info visit www.rhythmandbluesrecords.co.uk

One of Songlines' founding contributing editors, and Jazzwise writer, Sue Steward, passed away this morning following a cerebral haemorrhage last week

Sue started her career in the music business with Virgin Records in the 1970s, followed by a stint working for the Sex Pistols. It was her passion for Latin music that brought her to Songlines and she contributed from the very first issue in 1999 until 2012 when she went on to pursue writing about another long-held love, art and photography. Her book, Salsa: Musical Heartbeat of Latin America (Thames & Hudson, 1999), is still widely regarded as one of the definitive books on salsa. 'It's going to be hard to really explain what salsa is...' she warned in the foreword. But she did it extremely well in the following 170 pages – tracing its geographical roots from Cuba to the US, from Puerto Rico and Colombia back to Africa. Her apologetic beginning shows just how little-known this music was in 1999 and how Sue was at the forefront of bringing it to a wider world. It was a book that was also easy to read, full of illustrations and photographs, showing that Sue, then arts picture editor at the Daily Telegraph, understood that the imagery and iconography were just as important as the music.

Sue was one of the first movers and shakers of the world music scene in the UK and was a regular contributor on radio and various national newspapers – including the Daily Telegraph, London Evening Standard, The Guardian, Jazzwise and more. One of life's great enthusiasts, she will be sorely missed by her family, the many artists she championed and by all her fellow music-loving friends.

– Jo Frost

This obituary was also published on our sister publication Songlines

TD-Abercrombie-03

The final two recordings by guitarist John Abercrombie for the Munich-based ECM label – the tranquil and reflective 39 Steps and Up and Coming – seemed to provide a kind of peaceful resolution to his life that had been shattered on 7 December 2003 by a fire that destroyed his Putnam Valley, N.Y. home, together with a priceless archive and a collection of 13 guitars, including an old Gibson 175.

A graduate of Berklee College of Music, Abercrombie was a founding member of the jazz-rock group Dreams in 1969 that included tenor saxophonist Mike Brecker and drummer Billy Cobham in its line-up, two musicians with whom he formed a lasting musical relationship. Signed by the Columbia label, Dreams helped put Abercrombie's name on the map, and stints with Chico Hamilton, Jeremy Steig, Barry Miles, Gil Evans and Gato Barbieri followed. In 1974 he joined Billy Cobham's Spectrum whose popularity brought his name before a wider public. In the summer of 1974 he made his first recording under his own name for ECM, Timeless, with Jan Hammer on keyboards and Jack DeJohnette – a lifelong friend – on drums. It marked the beginning of an association that would last the rest of his life.

The ECM website indicates that he appeared on 51 albums either as a leader or sideman. During that time, he consolidated his musical philosophy which centered around small, intimate ensembles, with an ethos that embraced both open and closed forms and an interactive approach to improvisation. His albums with Jack DeJohnette's New Directions and the Gateway Trio, with Dave Holland and DeJohnette, saw him consolidating this tactic.

Often overlooked, but genuine jazz classics in their own right, were Abercrombie's albums Night (1984) and Getting There (1988), which were both graced by Abercrombie's long-time friend Mike Brecker. Yet these albums represent only a small part of his ECM legacy, which attests to his remarkable range as a musician, for example the duets with Ralph Towner, Jan Garbarek's Eventyr, Charles Lloyd's The Water Is Wide and Hyperion with Higgins, Collin Walcott's Grazing Dreams, Enrico Rava's The Pilgrim and the Stars and the Kenny Wheeler classic Deer Wan with Jan Garbarek, Ralph Towner, Dave Holland and Jack DeJohnette.

John Abercrombie died peacefully after a long illness at Hudson Valley Hospital, outside of Peekskill, NY, with his family present.

– Stuart Nicholson

– Photo by Tim Dickeson

Rising star guitarist Mansur Brown and exciting drummer Yusef Dayes are teaming up to explore the mind-expanding music of Jimi Hendrix for a special one-off concert at St James the Great Church, Lower Clapton, East London on Friday 8 September.

Prodigiously talented 18-year old Brown's scorching guitar work has been a key part of Triforce, his Mahavishnu Orchestra-inspired four-piece who've been creating buzz through incendiary performances in London and at Jazz in the Round at this year's Love Supreme Jazz Festival. Frenetic drummer Dayes has also earned widespread acclaim with his now-disbanded drum'n'bass partnership, Yusef Kamaal, with keyboardist Kamaal Williams and their album Black Focus.

For their improv-fuelled Hendrix-inspired first set the pair will be joined by bassist Rocco Palladino plus a special guest vocalist still to be announced. Following this Brown and Dayes will also present a second set of brand new original material, which will get its public premiere this evening, with keyboardist Charlie Stacey and a guest vocalist joining the ensemble.

– Mike Flynn

For more info and tickets visit www.churchofsound.co.uk

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