The third edition of the Brewin Dolphin Cambridge International Jazz Festival, runs from 11-26 November with over 80 gigs and workshops at 25 venues around the city. Packing in established names such as Andy Sheppard's Beyond the Dancing Sun Quartet with Michel Benita, Eivind Aarset and Sebastian Rochford; jazz-rock pioneers Soft Machine; bass-led Alison Rayner Quartet; noisy thrillers Get the Blessing and drummer Clark Tracey's Hexad, who mark what would have been the 90th birthday of his revered father Stan. Stellar forward-looking big band Beats & Pieces appear on 24 November as part of three UK datesthat also include Deaf Institute, Manchester (16 Nov) and Rich Mix, London (17 Nov, as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival) – ahead of their tenth anniversay celebrations throughout 2018.

The defining strand of the festival will be a 'New Gen Jazz' all-day event on the closing Sunday 26 November running from lunchtime to encourage younger jazz fans to check out a vibrant bill of the new wave of bands that have come to the fore in the last couple of years. These include Native Dancer, Resolution 88, Blue Lab Beats, The ElecTrio, Camilla George Quartet, Alex Hitchcock Quintet, Nérija, math-rock-electronics trio Strobes (Nov 25) and the improv-crossover boys Binker & Moses with Friends (Nov 26).

Other highlights on the extensive festival bill include bassist Michael Janisch's groove-heavy Paradigm Shift band with a hefty line-up of saxophonist John O'Gallagher, trumpeter Jason Palmer, Pakistani/American guitarist Rez Abbasi and superb US drummer Clarence Penn – plus a concert from Mercury-nominated pianist Zoe Rahman. The latter also leads a workshop with other high-profile musicians, such as classical percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie, the London Vocal Project performs Jon Hendricks' Miles Ahead workshop led by Pete Churchill, and UK-based Swedish singer Emilia Mårtensson leads a vocal workshop ahead of her Trio gig.

– Mike Flynn

For full listings and tickets visit www.cambridgejazzfestival.info

 Coleman

As Britain attempts what seems like an ungainly improvisation out of Europe, American artists more adept at the art are thankfully still finding a way into the old continent. With his residency at La Petite Halle (a well-appointed restaurant in the vast cultural centre of La Villette in Paris) extending for no less than two weeks, Chicago alto saxophonist-composer Steve Coleman appears a cipher of a more worthwhile politics against the backdrop of Brexit and Great Britannia, be it an ally of rulers or an enemy of rules.

The double-bill this evening features two very different groups that flag up both the breadth of Coleman's output and the depth of his artistry. Yet the intensity of the audience reaction reflects the substantial impact he has made in France since the late 1980s, which was duly enhanced by the memorable Hot Brass sessions of the mid-1990s. He is very much a known quantity here. Numerous workshops and master classes have strengthened his ties with local musicians and the fact that there is more or less a French version of one of his latest ensembles, Natal Eclipse, underlines as much. As the new album Morphogenesis makes clear the band is both a departure from and reinforcement of core Coleman principles. The absence of drums lightens the overall palette, yet there is a momentum and intricacy in the horn scores that bear the hallmarks of the leader's approach to writing and arranging. Melodies are often very rhythmic with phrases that move from lengthy, fluid undulations to more contained, terse lines, that underline the long-held love Coleman, whose alto solos throughout the set are as pithy as they are potent, has of all things staccato as well as allegro. There is both a beauty and austerity in the work, but the input of the French players joining Coleman, and fellow Americans trumpeter Jonathan Finlayson and electric pianist Matt Mitchell, is sadly marred by a mix that leaves their contributions close to the edge of silence. The clarinet, in this instance played by Catherine Delaunay, is virtually swallowed whole by the other reeds, which is a great shame as the instrument has a key timbral role on Morphogenesis insofar as it brings a gauzy, malleable character to the ensemble voice. Having said that, Selene Saint-Aime's often spare, distilled basslines, sometimes hingeing on no more than two pitches, are very effective insofar as they lend a pleasing floating, gliding quality to the music.

ColemanRap

If Natal Eclipse is air then The Metrics are earth and fire. The group with close to three decades of history has seen personnel changes, yet its conceptual substance remains unchanged: an exploration of rhythm with a hard edge in terms of sound, particularly low frequencies. The combination of Sean Rickman's drums, with those tinder dry offbeats on the snare and Anthony Tidd's imperious drive on the bass, is not so much a solid foundation as a kind of endlessly revolving, if not rotating floor for material whose structural complexities are not incompatible with the ability of the band to move the crowd. Originally The Metrics toured with a dancer called Laila and within minutes of their arrival those hovering at the bar are loosening up and getting down. In odd meters. The head spun numbers games or difficult-to-spot start and endpoints in the life cycle of a phrase may stem from Coleman's artful, mathematical mind yet there is no absolute break with what might pass for popular culture. Whether you call it blues, funk or hip hop, the inventions of black music beholden to Coleman's hometown of Chicago and his adopted city New York are really a part of his wider vocabulary insofar as these genres present priceless raw materials in both rhythm and timbre. We hear the ghosts of James Brown and Maceo Parker and, most importantly, the living spirit of Kokayi, one of the three MCs from the original Metrics ensemble, who frankly steals the show on many an occasion. Largely unknown beyond his work with Coleman and Andy Milne's Dapp Theory, Kokayi is arguably one of the most dynamic and creative rappers in contemporary hip hop, yet to assign him solely to the genre would be a mistake. His brilliance lies in the unforced ease with which he shuttles between rapping and singing, so that his voice becomes a mighty, all-terrain vehicle, which is particularly effective for Coleman's music given its tendency to cross the line between what might be called swinging and grooving. The sound soars upward to gospelised soprano and also dives deep into burly baritone sub-sonics, a dark, dense wedge of tone that commands the whole venue. Coleman ends the evening singing a few lines, which, in turn, act as a springboard for the rest of the band. The building blocks are gradually, but decisively, assembled and enriched. As with many Coleman pieces counterpoint is prominent, and the interlocking, weaving and criss-crossing of patterns, their hypnosis engineered by the metronomic precision of the drums and bass, in particular, once again elicits a new burst of energy from the dancers. All of which makes for a fascinating debate about music for head, heart and feet. The dividing lines between the serious and the funkulous are brilliantly blurred.

– Kevin Le Gendre
– Photos by Dimitri Louis

 cory-henry-roundhouse

With this year's annual event having drawn its biggest audience to-date, with over 35,000 people attending over the weekend beginning 30 June 2017, the organisers of Love Supreme Jazz Festival are presenting a special one-day mini-fest at the iconic Roundhouse venue in Chalk Farm, London on 5 May 2018. The event will take over every area of the venue – which includes its large multi-level foyer space, the Studio Theatre, as well as the 3,000 capacity main live room – while hosting a wide variety of forward-looking acts including multi-Grammy-winning US singer and keyboard sensation Cory Henry (pictured) and his band The Funk Apostles, jazz-step trio Moon Hooch and neo-soul artists Mr Jukes and singer Elli Ingram. Two additional stages, one programmed by music website EZH will feature beat-focused newcomers Tenderlonious and Soccer 96, among others, while Jazz In The Round – one of the huge successes of the 2017 Love Supreme programme – will also present its own cutting edge line-up, to be announced soon.

Love Supreme festival director Ciro Romano commented: "We're excited to be bringing the Love Supreme vision to London. The UK jazz scene is thriving at the moment and London in particular continues to be a fantastic hotbed for innovation and creativity within the genre, so branching out into the capital was a logical next step for us."

– Mike Flynn

For more info and tickets visit www.lovesupremefestival.com/tickets

Oli

Whether exploring a gospel-tinged, hymnic solo introduction, which would have had Smokie Norful nodding in approval, or laying down some Glasper-esque chords that lit up the outro of 'Ridiculous', keys player, singer-songwriter and producer Oli Rockberger's versicoloured pianism and rhythmic sleights of hand continue to tease the brain as well as the senses.

Launching his fourth studio album, Sovereign (Whirlwind Recordings), over two nights at Pizza Express's newest live venue in Holborn, and fronting an exceptional band that included Hannah Read (vocals/fiddle), Giorgio Serci (guitar), Michael Janisch (bass), Marijus Aleksa (drums), Rockberger is an artist whose way with a song's melodic contour and expressive arc is very persuasive. From the harmonic sophistication of opener 'My Old Life' and the surprising semi-tonal shift up in 'Vertigo' to the beautiful coda of 'Right Through Me', which slowly disappeared into the upper register of the piano (featuring the great opening line: "Oh the sky fell on my head yesterday"), Rockberger takes great delight in confounding your expectations.

The evening also included a trio of standouts from previous album, Old Habits. The first of two heard back-to-back, 'Queen of Evasion', was certainly eventful, encompassing Rockberger's Nord keyboard dying midway through the song – a quick move back to the grand piano elicited encouraging cheers from the audience – another energising key change, and audience participation riffing on a characteristically memorable vocal hook. Performed as a duet, the mellifluous vocal harmonies of 'Old Habits Die Hard' highlighted the impressive contributions of Read, whose voice blended incredibly well with the leader, while the impressionistic outro of 'Let Go' – bowed bass, soft sticks and a circling piano riff – illustrated the band's sensitivity to texture and dynamics.

Set two was similarly packed with ear-catching detail, notably the magical extended fade of 'The Garden', with Janisch sustaining a fulsome G bass pedal against an unchanging heartbeat in the drums. Channelling a bluegrass-country furrow, the Rockberger/Read duet 'I'll Go Mine' saw the fiddle player stretching out for the first time, then supplying yet more wondrous harmonies on 'Is Anybody Out There?'. As an encore, Rockberger turned to the pop perfection of 'Don't Forget Me' (the third and final cut from Old Habits), whose final textural build-up perfectly encapsulated the impressive eloquence of the music-making.

– Peter Quinn

ohe2-Dennis-Fersing preview

Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble will be presenting The Spirit of Trane and Bird with Strings at London's Pizza Express on 27-28 October, celebrating not only two of the most important jazz musicians of all time – John Coltrane and Charlie Parker – but also the release of The Spirit of Trane album, issued this month on the Fanfare imprint. Atzmon and his ensemble will be joined for these special concerrs by The Sigamos String Quartet, led by Ros Stephen.

– Spencer Grady

For more info visit www.pizzaexpresslive.com

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