Swanage-Fund-Raising-Concert-Poster-BIG

News that this year's 28th edition of the Swanage Jazz Festival would potentially be its last, has inspired award-winning jazz guitarist Nigel Price to set up a Kickstarter campaign and present a special Jazz at The Philharmonic-style concert to raise the funds necessary for the festival continue next year. The concert will take place on 29 October at The Mowlem Theatre, Shore Road, Swanage, Dorset and will include an opening solo set by internationally acclaimed guitarist Martin Taylor, which will be followed by a JATP-style band of top UK jazz talent including Simon Spillett (tenor sax); Tony Kofi (alto sax); George Hogg and Byron Wallen (trumpets); Ian Bateman (trombone); Dave Newton (piano); Dario Di Lecce (double bass); Steve Brown (drums) and Nigel Price (guitar).

Based in the Dorset coastal town of Swanage, the Jazz Festival has played host to hundreds of musicians since 1990. It was started by Fred Lindop, with a small marquee, a small indoor venue, and around 300 tickets. The festival has a rich history and has featured hundreds of top UK and international artists during its 28-year history. It's also worth around half-a-million pounds to local businesses during the festival weekend. Price has been nominated by the festival directors to continue running the event but to do so has to raise £15,000 to cover "unavoidable VAT impositions from ticket sales". The Kickstarter campaign has already raised £7,727 but with the deadline of 1 November there are only a couple of weeks left to hit the target.

In a statement on the Kickstarter campaign page, Price explained why he's started the fund-raising campaign: "Quite simply, there is currently not enough money in the festival fund for 2018 to even get the thing going, let alone expand enough to negate the unavoidable VAT bill. The audience will be playing their part by soaking up much of the cost through increased ticket prices, but this can only go so far. We need to find enough on top of that to make the festival run on a full tank of gas, rather than on empty, as is now the case. Together, we can all make this happen through this 'crowd funding' infrastructure. On top of attracting the top jazz musicians from the UK and further afield this festival brings a massive financial boost to the town, somewhere in the region of half a million pounds over the weekend (yes - really!) and if we all band together, share the load, each of us making a small donation then we can ensure that this important event on the Swanage calendar can continue far and away into the future. Not only that but, with the proposed increase in capacity, there will in turn be an increase to revenue for the town."

Tickets for the Jazz at The Philharmonic concert can be bought direct from the Mowlem Theatre Box Office by calling 01929 422239, or online here and here at www.mowlemtheatre.co.uk

To donate to the campaign visit www.kickstarter.com – for more on the history of Swanage Jazz Festival visit www.swanagejazz.org

Mike Flynn

The 13th annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards took place for the first time away from the Houses Of Parliament's Terrace Pavilion at the newly opened Pizza Express Live venue in Holborn, London with a wide-ranging list of winners announced. Presented by Pizza Express' music manager Ross Dines, the good-humoured ceremony was backed by a house band featuring trumpeter Henry Lowther and saxophonist Camilla George.

Dino-web-IMG 7380

The winners included Mercury Music Prize nominees Dinosaur (above), who won Jazz Album of the Year for their acclaimed 2016 debut, Together, As One, Newcomer of the Year went to female-led seven-piece Nérija (pictured top), Ensemble of the Year went to hugely successful trio Phronesis, while the Services to Jazz award was picked up by Birmingham-based promoter Tony Dudley-Evans and the special APPJAG Award was presented to much-admired Scottish guitarist Jim Mullen (below). Guest presenters of the awards included Jon Newy, Gary Crosby, Zara McFarlane, Kelvin Hopkins MP, Lord Anthony Colwyn, Sarah Champion MP, Andrea Vicari and Deirdre Cartwright.

Jim-Mullen-IMG 7612-web

The full list of winners is as follows: Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Cleveland Watkiss; Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Shabaka Hutchings; Jazz Album of the Year: DinosaurTogether, As One; Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Phronesis; Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Nérija; Jazz Venue of the Year: Scarborough Jazz Festival; Jazz Media Award: Chris Philips; Jazz Education Award: Tomorrows Warriors; Services to Jazz Award: Tony Dudley-Evans and Special APPJAG Award: Jim Mullen

– Mike Flynn

– Photos by Cat Munro

 Entropi

The most striking thing about Moment Frozen, the second release from British altoist Dee Byrne and her Entropi quintet, is its sense of space. From the opening notes of the title-track, with Byrne and trumpeter Andre Canniere playing beaming holds as keyboardist Rebecca Nash, bassist Olie Brice and drummer Matt Fisher rummaged around underneath, the music felt expansive. The whole ensemble seemed to radiate energy. Elsewhere choppy groove games collapsed into rough and tumble improvisation. The swirling 'In The Cold Light of Day' brought moments of serene lyricism from Canniere and one of several inventive features for Brice (all dark wood and warped strings). And in the second half Byrne really came alive, tearing into her solos, maiming and fracturing notes with thuggish encouragement from Fisher and Nash – each rhythm section hit like a yell of "get stuck in!"

The programme notes for this concert referenced late period Miles Davis and the spiritual jazz of John Coltrane, but the music reminded me of sounds from closer to home. The finale, 'Elst Pizarro', brought one of those merry-go-round sequences beloved by Kenny Wheeler and John Taylor – blocks of cryptic chord changes that look nightmarish on the page, but feel like a dream to play over. There was a lot of lofty concept in those programme notes too. We were told that Moment Frozen embodies, "the sequential, macrocosmic concept of 'order, unpredictability, then descent into disorder'." Surely, that's true of most contemporary jazz though: anything that combines composition and free improvisation. I don't think Entropi are breaking new ground, but when they play like this who cares? 

– Thomas Rees
– Photo by Carl Hyde

Revered South African trumpeter Hugh Masekela has announced that, due ill health, he has now cancelled all of his scheduled concerts, including his appearance EFG London Jazz Festival concert Abdullah Ibrahim & Ekaya on 14 November at the Royal Festival Hall. The concert itself is still very much going ahead, albeit sadly without Masekela. In his statement Hugh Masekela said:

Dear Friends and media
I have been in treatment for prostate cancer since 2008 when doctors discovered a small 'speck' on my bladder. The treatment seemed to be successful, but in March 2016 I had to undergo surgery as the cancer had spread. In April 2017, while in Morocco I fell and sprained my shoulder. I began to feel an imbalance when I was walking and my left eye was troubling me. Another tumour was discovered and subsequently, in September 2017, I had emergency treatment, and the tumour was neutralised. It is a tough battle but I am greatly encouraged by the good wishes of family, friends and everyone who has supported my musical journey, which remains the greatest source of my inspiration. I have cancelled my commitments for the immediate future as I will need all my energy to continue this fight against prostate cancer. I'm in a good space, as I battle this stealthy disease, and I urge all men to have regular tests to check your own condition. Ask questions, demand answers and learn everything you can about this cancer, and tell others to do the same. This will be the only public statement I make on the matter, and I ask for privacy going forward, so that I may rest and heal.

Jazzwise joins Serious in sending Hugh our thoughts and in wishing him a speedy recovery.

In a statement festival producers said that they are Abdullah Ibrahim has agreed the concert should go ahead as planned with Ekaya as a "celebration of the music that he and Hugh created for the Jazz Epistles as a landmark in the evolution of jazz in South Africa, and in recognition of the extraordinary journey that these two icons of South African culture have taken since they created such ground-breaking and uplifting music together, in the dark apartheid days of 1960s South Africa." Serious are offering partial refunds to reflect the altered billing – and remaining tickets will be on-sale at a reduced price.

Mike Flynn

– Photo by Brett Rubin

For more info visit www.southbankcentre.co.uk/whats-on/

The opening night of Birmingham's new Eastside Jazz Club featured a strong selection, in the form of a duo between saxophonist Dave Liebman and pianist Richie Beirach. These two are old playing colleagues in the Quest combo, who debuted way back in 1981. For this gig, though, Liebman and Beirach remained firmly in purist acoustic mode.

Eastside is, unusually, a jazz club within a university campus, something which might be a good move, although supposedly not risking the possibility of enhanced seediness sometimes found in such environments down the decades. Instead, there's the supportive backdrop of Birmingham Conservatoire, with an indigenous pool of players, as well as a close-proximity audience base. Drinking is encouraged, and food is available, although folks need to catch on to the fact that this can be whisked in from the reception area's café bar. There's even a specially-brewed Conservatoire cask ale, which should be pleasing to certain factions within the jazz scene. The stage is floor level in the long space, with different tiers of seating reaching right back to standing tables at the rear. There's also a long row of tall chairs along the right-hand side, overlooking the stage area. The sound quality is high, hitting just the right volume level for this space.

Liebman-Beirach-EJC-5

The advertised duo of Liebman and Beirach played a set, but there was also the bonus surprise of an additional second half, where they were joined by bassist Mark Hodgson and drummer Jeff Williams. The latter is an old sparring partner of Liebman's, their association stretching back over four decades ago to the mid-1970s ECM albums Lookout Farm and Drum Ode. Liebman was, of course, initially renowned for his time with Miles Davis, in the early 1970s. Amusingly, his chief mentioning of the trumpeter during this evening was to dismiss his involvement in penning tunes that many folks feel should arguably be attributed to pianist Bill Evans: 'Nardis' and 'Blue In Green'. Although, close to the night's climax, the quartet did play 'All Blues'!

The duo set concentrated on a mostly introspective mood, savouring the intimate dialogue between saxophonist and pianist. The first piece was an arrangement of a Bartók bagatelle by the pianist, whose theatrical flourishes at the Yamaha grand were well in keeping with such a classicist root. Beirach repeatedly curtailed his resonant gestures with a sharp pedal cut-off, as if he wanted to enjoy several worlds simultaneously. Liebman played soprano on 'Tender Mercies', his phrases ringing around the piano's interior, before Beirach commenced. Their reading of ''Round Midnight' emerged into a rolling elaboration, with a husky tenor closure. Beirach's 'Testament' followed, and the first set's only foray into fierceness acted as a nod to the coming quartet expansion of the second half. This was Wayne Shorter's 'Paraphernalia'(from Miles In The Sky, 1968), taken at a fast clip, scampering like a bull, so to speak!

The quartet set operated on a much more aggressive plane, particularly when the Liebman-Williams union was struck up, repeatedly involving vigorous exchanging of phrases. The saxophonist chose lively soprano for 'Nardis', with the following 'Blue in Green' beginning as a pensive piano trio. As the set began to build, its most exciting numbers were yet to come: John Coltrane's 'India', with its ascending and articulate soprano flood, Williams getting inside a heavy drum whirlwind, and then 'All Blues' topped the night, Liebman and Williams reaching their apex, magnetising with an explosive tenor-drum duel, Beirach yelling out his encouragement.

– Martin Longley

– Photos by Nick Brown

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