The autumn line-up of the Royal Albert Hall's Elgar Room Late Night Jazz series has been announced and includes a brace of rising jazz stars among the highlights. Kicking things off on 28 September is Quincy Jones' mentored drummer Ollie Howell with music from his richly melodic second album, Self Identity, with his band featuring trumpeter Henry Spencer and saxophonist Duncan Eagles.

Further stand-out gigs include trumpeter Yazz Ahmed who made a dramatic this year return with her widely praised album La Saboteuse, but here will make a rare appearance with her Electric Dreams Quartet – specially convened for this performance – featuring vocal sculptor Jason Singh, drummer Rod Youngs and Swedish guitarist Samuel Hällkvist on 12 October, while in-demand bassist and emergent solo artist Daniel Casimir plays music from his debut album Escapee on 15 November.

The eclectic programme also includes top Gambian kora master Jally Kebba Susso (5 Oct), Afrobeat-inspired jazzers Kokoroko (26 Oct); the dazzling Michelle Drees Jazz Tap Project (part of the EFG London Jazz Festival, 14 Nov); legendary British beat poet Michael Horovitz and his William Blake Klezmatrix Band (16 Nov); the Blues & Roots Ensemble and their tribute to the Music of Charles Mingus (23 Nov) and a final seasonal offering from the Chris Ingham Quartet with singer Joanna Eden and their Jazz At The Movies: A Swinging Christmas! (14 Dec). Jazzwise is media partner for this concert series.

– Mike Flynn

For full listings and tickets visit www.royalalberthall.com/tickets/series/late-night-jazz/

A prime slice of 1970s jazz funk from the Dave Gold Big Band is set to be issued in the form of Heaven On Their Minds, in a lovingly packaged and remastered 180gram LP released on 25 August via My Only Desire records.

Weston-Super-Mare-born Gold, the son of the Dixieland jazz saxophonist and bandleader Harry Gold, gained fame through his numerous jazz library compositions, contributing tracks to eight albums on KPM Music's cult '1000' series of library music between 1968 and 1977, as well as to 13 LPs on the equally popular Bruton Music library label from 1979 to 1983. Recorded in 1974 for the BBC Radio 2 show Jazz Club, Gold and co. kick out some serious big band jams on Heaven On Their Minds, adding electric piano and bass guitar to rip through rock and funk-tinged takes on the classic big band sound. The line-up includes the likes of saxophonist Ronnie Ross, trombonist Chris Pyne and Dankworth Big Band drummer Harold Fisher, plus many stalwarts of the library music scene, including bassist Les Hurdle and pianist Cliff Hall.

Remastered by Frank Merritt at The Carvery, this release is in a strictly limited one-off pressing of 500 copies on heavyweight vinyl, and comes housed in a sturdy, vibrantly decorated sleeve, with extensive album notes by Jazzwise/The Wire scribe, Daniel Spicer. The 26-minute running time, with two tracks per-side, has ensured the pressing is loud and detailed and also comes with a digital download code for listening on the move.

– Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.myonlydesirerecords.com - and exclusively listen and pre-order the album below:

Jeff-Parker-1000x750

Those still savouring the sounds of Jeff Parker's The New Breed and Slight Freedom will want to seriously consider investing in the reissue of The Relatives, the guitarist's genre-busting album from 2005. Reissued at part of the Thrill Jockey label's 25th anniversary this year, the record makes its welcome return to vinyl for the first time in over a decade and finds Parker accompanied by percussionist Chad Taylor, bassist Chris Lopes and pianist Sam Barsheshet.

– Spencer Grady

For more details visit www.thrilljockey.com 

 

Leading UK saxophonist Dave O'Higgins returns with a new quartet album and an extensive set of live dates to support its release. The curiously titled It's Always 9.30 in Zog – "a reference to those moments you feel as if you come from another place. Zog is a planet located in a black hole in the space time continuum where everyone breathes water and it's always 9:30" – is released on 8 September via O'Higgins' own JVG label. The album features O'Higgins with longtime bandmates Graham Harvey (piano), Geoff Gascoyne (bass) and Sebastiaan de Krom (drums) on a set of hard-driving originals.

The quartet hit the road for gigs on the following dates: Seven Arts, Leeds (2 Sept); Pizza Express, Dean St, London (album launch, 12 Sept); Derngate Theatre, Northampton (15 Sept); Hidden Rooms, Cambridge (28 Sept); Arts Corn Exchange, Dorchester (6 Oct); Marsden Jazz Festival (7 Oct); Talking Heads, Southampton (17 Oct); Crookes Social Club, Sheffield (20 Oct); Crypt, Camberwell, London (27 Oct); Boaters, Kingston (29 Oct); Kings Head, Bexley (30 Oct); Fleece Jazz, Colchester (3 Nov); The Oval Tavern, Croydon (5 Nov); Christ Church, Marlow (7 Nov); Cleethorpes Jazz (8 Nov); Wakefield Rugby Club (10 Nov); Swansea Jazzland (15 Nov); Calstock Arts (16 Nov); Teignmouth Jazz Festival (18 Nov); Hen and Chicken, Bristol (19 Nov); Langholm Arts Centre (21 Nov); Jazz Bar, Edinburgh (22 Nov); Blue Lamp, Aberdeen (23 Nov); Atrium Cafe Bar, Clitheroe (24 Nov); Concert Hall, Rhosygilwen (25 Nov); Ronnie Scott's, London (Late Show, 27 Nov); Guildhall, Derby (1 Dec); Beaver Inn, Appledore (4 Dec); Western Hotel, St Ives (5 Dec); Jazz Club, St Austell (6 Dec); Albany Social Club, Coventry (7 Dec); The Verdict, Brighton (8 Dec) and 606 Club, London (9 Dec). O'Higgins will also be conducting several masterclasses during the tour at the following venues: Leeds College of Music, Leeds (20 Oct); Guildhall, London (27 Oct); London College of Creative Media, London (14 Nov), RNCM, Manchester (20 Nov) and RCS, Glasgow (22 Nov).
For more info visit www.daveohiggins.com

– Mike Flynn

Here's an exclusive look at the title track from the album – 'It's Always 9.30 In Zog'

Stew-and-Heidi-Curran-SF-landscape

Raoul Peck's recent documentary I Am Not Your Negro served as a timely reminder of the relevance of James Baldwin to contemporary American society, and this show-stopper of a performance makes art of the writer's eventful life. A novelist-essayist who offered uncompromisingly acute observations on race relations as well as the bitter political hypocrisy at the heart of Uncle Sam during the Civil Rights era, Baldwin expounded un-alternative facts that could be uncomfortable for black and white, and faced no end of challenges for his grandstand intelligence as well as the arch threat he posed, by dint of his homosexuality, to fellow activists narrow of mind.

Active since the late 1990s, The Negro Problem is a provocative name, for the Baldwin Negro was a problem on many levels. In any case Stew is a front man with a waspish playfulness that livelys up the Spiegel tent at the popular cross-arts summer festival that is Underbelly. He resists categorisation as much as Baldwin does trivialisation. From the git-go he leads his troops – Marty Beller (drums), Art Terry (keys), Dana Lyn (violin), Heidi Rodewald (bass) – as Dick Gregory might marshal a sparkly Weimar Republic cabaret. Los Angeles-born and Europe-embedded Stew's asides suit that of a Tony-winning author (for Passing Strange in 2008), but the pleasing arrangements of long-time musical collaborator Rodewald have the kind of taut precision – sometimes with basslines stripped to a few chords, sometimes stretched to more expansive harmony – that makes for listenable music amid theatrical story-in-song. Time and again echoes of John Cale and The Velvet Underground ring out, perhaps with an itchy scratchy catchy rock'n'roll animalism skewing smartly to Elmore James' territory.

Tales of Baldwin's literary assassination of his former benefactor Richard Wright, the Kan-Jay or Ye-Z of the 1950s whose hook-up of the young pretender was met with an almighty putdown, are gripping because they highlight an era when ideas moving forward mattered more than careers pushing upward. As do the revelations that our hero became a hate figure because of a lifestyle choice not seen as wholesome, uniting both the Black Panthers and Black Nationalists in censure of his less than 'manly' ways. Moving seamlessly into biography-cum-travelogue mode Stew also regales us with snapshot chronicles of Baldwin's sojourns in Istanbul and France.

Sharp as the focus is on Baldwin, it is a song about Trayvon Martin that is arguably the moment that captures so much of the writer's anguish over the state of America, and, more to the point, underlines how the tragic death of a black teenager in 2012 at the hands of a 'brown man with a very German name', George Zimmerman, still resonates with the chilling divides in society that were prevalent in Baldwin's time. If Black Lives Matters hails Martin and many others then Baldwin remains one of the ultimate black lives that still matter precisely because he saw, just as Sly did, the reality of 'everyday people', the ordinary among the extraordinary, the bare fact that there were black Harlemites too busy scrappling for the rentman's apple to know who Charlie Parker was. They had to be rather than bop. Stew & The Negro Problem bring us James Baldwin as a present day flame of truth rather than a nostalgic fire last time.

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photo by Jen Pearce

Page 2 of 194

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