Wynton Marsalis is more forward-thinking than he gets credit for – some of the sense of the trumpeter's traditionalism regarding jazz, and aspects of his 'controversial' image, are surely overplayed to sell tickets. Although recently there was a backlash against certain comments he made attacking some rap music as "more damaging than a statue of Robert E. Lee". Yet, since he emerged in the early 1980s, Marsalis is a valued keeper of the flame for acoustic jazz. And since 1991 much of his energy has been directed into the running of the massive Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra. Thus a rare quartet show at London's Barbican was a chance to get the measure of him at close quarters and to find out how much his vision included a sense of the new and the now.

The quartet's 80-minute set got off to a pleasingly challenging start with the 15-minute suite-like odyssey 'The Magic Hour'. He haunted the higher registers with an avant-tinged noise and cheeky showmanship. The disarmingly interrupted theme of Ornette Coleman's 'Ramblin'', also took a left-field point of departure but soon the group were settling into their comfort zone. Ornette himself was not afraid to be rude or crude or to shock. Marsalis is just too darned tasteful.

'Ramblin'' is a good example of his split loyalties. Long before Coleman theorised his approach as 'harmolodics', what Marsalis explained was "melodic material, in all keys at one time", Ornette was stretching harmony to breaking point. With Wynton you don't feel the same dramatic surge and danger.

WyntonMarsalisQrtBarbican2018 MG 4124-1

He is nonetheless abundantly creative and playful. He obviously enjoys the playing of Daniel Nimmer on piano and especially the prodigal English 25-year Mark Lawandowski on bass, a creative player who did most to consistently shake the tree, ranging from wide riff-bending to melodic études. But was Marsalis enjoying their lively interpolations on the familiar or just the familiar's reassuring lilt?

Marsalis's dedication to the trumpet is beyond dispute. He shares the same versatility born of an obsession with the intricacies of this coil of brass as any avant-gardist working extended techniques. In Roy Eldridge's 'After You've Gone' his use of the mute gave the theme a distant feel of dusty shellac, addressing and defusing the sentimental feel by foregrounding it a stylistic point.

The brilliance and articulation of his tone was beautifully expressed with a sense of intimacy - which was heightened further when he left the stage and promenaded through the spiralling aisles of the auditorium, shaking hands with appreciative audience members thrilled to be this close to the legend. Such a charming evening didn't shake the abiding sense of Marsalis as a bit of a traditionalist. You left with a gourmand's sense of having fared an enjoyable and tasteful repast. If you had to find fault you could quip that it was too faultless. Because it's at the fault lines where the earthquakes happen...

AJ Dehany

Joe Lovano remarked that "it was the end of an era" as he and the Sound Prints quintet he co-leads with Dave Douglas launched into a week at the Village Vanguard in NYC on 12 June. Days earlier the Vanguard's matriarch Lorraine Gordon had passed away aged 95, hence Lovano's comment. Gordon, who, after divorce from Blue Note records co-founder Alfred Lion, married Village Vanguard owner Max Gordon in 1949 (the club opened in 1935), had been actively involved with management of the Vanguard until late 2012, the year she earned an NEA JazzMasters honour. Just after 9/11 I spoke to her for my then running Jazzwise column 'Stars and Stripes', where she talked about how the New York jazz community were dealing with the fallout from the disaster. She was an acerbic, principled woman and a lifelong, committed jazz fanatic.

Without further fanfare – Gordon was a stickler for sets starting promptly – Lovano and Douglas dramatically commenced their set on the tight stage in the wedge shaped corner of this tiny, hallowed venue, with contrapuntal, antiphonal, unaccompanied horns. The two leaders alternated original compositions with settings of Wayne Shorter classics (a Douglas arrangement of 'Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum' and Lovano's recasting of 'Juju') starting with the trumpeter's 'Dream State' – the lead-off track from their recommended recent release Scandal. Counterweighting the lines of trumpet and straight tenor were a consistent feature of the intensely interwoven music which was stoked with relevance and energy by the redoubtable Joey Baron, one of the most valuable jazz drummers since Billy Higgins. Also superb was the insistent timing, rich tone and concentrated ideas of bassist Linda May Han Oh, who had picked up the gong for bassist of the year at the Jazz Journalists' Awards a couple of hours earlier.

St Louis-born pianist and former Berklee student of Lovano, not to mention a tall drink of water, was Lawrence Fields, whose rangy fingers maintained a dancing pulse and chordal architecture reminiscent, at intervals, of Herbie Hancock. Despite impassioned solos from all, it was the tunes that held the night, more so the originals than the Wayne arrangements, notably Douglas' memorable 'Ups and Downs'. The latter, a lilting ballad, began with an impressionistic descending/ascending line from the tenor with contrary motion harmonization from trumpet, beautifully buoyed by the rhythm section. Other Douglas odes that stood out were the eponymous CD title track, more mournful than scandalous per se, a sad paean to these politically messed up times, which featured bulbous muted trumpet and sighing, controlled cynicism from Lovano. At a similar dirge-like tempo was 'Libra', an arresting theme with episodic changes reminiscent of Shorter's adventurousness, succinctly rendered with a pellucid piano intro. Saliently, and I've noticed this before with the capacious book of John Zorn's Masada, Douglas has all the music memorised before he hits the bandstand.

Sound-Prints 093-2

Lovano's pieces included the cartwheeling 'Full Sun', which also encompassed complementary and asymmetrical horn lines, a tensile bass chorus heralded a burrowing solo from Lovano, holding his ungainly alp horn-like tenor aloft as he dug in. Paired with this in the second set was 'Full Moon' – a more doleful, tidal affair, and a fine feature for the Cleveland saxist's precipitous approach, in which his gorgeous note flurries were held in abeyance, thence released from bluesy reins. More upbeat and permissive of punchy punctuation from Baron were 'High Noon' (which Lovano tackles on G Mezzo Soprano on the CD) and the playful 'Corner Tavern' commemorating a saloon in Milwaukee, which featured a stellar solo from May Han Oh. The bassist wore a stoic expression and meditative mien then occasionally cracked a smile in joyful communication with the more readily grinning Baron. She's been in the band since its debut at the Vanguard in 2012, as have Fields and Baron – the unit grew out of Lovano and Douglas' association with the SFJazz Collective in 2008 and a shared appreciation of Shorter's oeuvre which has expanded to fresh material in that ruminative ilk. Sound Prints, riffing, I'm assuming, on Shorter's 'Footprints' is an intense, compelling unit with a buckled-in agenda, yet the charts, while defined, aren't overly hermetic and work well as a collaborative suite.

In correspondence with longtime club manager Jed Eisenman (who started as a janitor and dishwasher there 37 years ago as a teenager), there's little fear of the Vanguard shuttering anytime soon, since Lorraine's legacy has been handed down to her daughter Deborah. Just in case however, a souvenir band photo was taken for Jazzwise beneath the legendary awning. The upbeat Jed who will remain steadfast as manager, commented about his longtime professional relationship with the late proprietor: "Lorraine Gordon was one of the last of the jazz Mohicans, a Runyonesque character you either loved or hated - for my part I loved her very much."

Story and photos – Michael Jackson

Southend-on-Sea's Jazz Centre UK presents a major exhibition, Jazz Women, from 30 June to 18 August, in celebration of the 'heritage, culture and future of Jazz Women'. The second of its Heritage Lottery-funded events, the programme at the Centre's home of the Beescroft Art Gallery includes live performances from Sara Dowling, Sydney Robins, Karen Sharp, Nikki Iles and Val Wiseman. A female-led film season will include screenings of The Jazz Baroness; Diane Schurr with Count Basie; Nancy Wilson at Carnegie Hall, among others.

There will also be an accompanying exhibition of books, periodicals, memorabilia, letters, art, posters and photography by or about women jazz musicians, artists, authors and journalists, as well as a multi-media presentation of current women jazz performers, writers and educators.

Featured live dates are Sara Dowling Quartet (Spike's Place, The Jazz Centre UK, 30 Jun); Sydney Robins (Spike's Place, The Jazz Centre UK, 14 Jul); Karen Sharp and Nikki Iles Duo (Spike's Place, The Jazz Centre UK, 21 Jul) and Val Wiseman with Digby Fairweather and Friends celebrating The Jazz Divas (Cricketers Jazz Bar, Westcliff on Sea, 8 Aug).

Mike Flynn

For full details visit www.thejazzcentreuk.co.uk/press-release/jazz-women/

The UK equivalent to the Brussels Jazz Weekend would be to hold a jazz festival in Trafalgar Square, something that's not too likely a prospect. The BJW has its heart in the Grand Place, right in the centre of Brussels, but its massive freebie programme also operates around three main zones, both indoors and outdoors. Uptown, downtown and the 'European district' are blessed with three days of open air gigs, shifting into an extreme infestation of clubs, bars and cafés during each of its three nights. This 2018 edition was the second, but the weekend has a two-decade history in a previous incarnation, as the Brussels Jazz Marathon. The event represents a massive jazz takeover of the capital. Even those attuned to the Belgian jazz scene would find a multitude of unfamiliar acts, so vast is the programme. Besides the majority jazz quotient, there are also many artists arriving from global-ethnic quarters, or from alternative rock/pop, hip hop and electronic music zones.

A highlight of the Saturday evening was the strange beast named Boggamasta (pictured), at Ancienne Belgique, one of the city's prime multi-genre music venues. This was the large ensemble usually known as Flat Earth Society, but acting under a special name, to signify the inclusion of guitarist David Bovée. He was an early member of FES, and also the central figure of Antwerpian global mulchers Think Of One. The repertoire for Boggamasta resides at the funkier end, incorporating a strong hip hop element, as if Frank Zappa had moved into avant rap music. Led by bass clarinettist Peter Vermeersch, FES have been together for over two decades, their deep rapport immediately visible, the line-up still including the likes of Bart Maris (trumpet), Michel Mast (tenor saxophone), Berlinde Deman (tuba/vocals) and Teun Verbruggen (drums).

The gig was only the second (or possibly third) occasion that this Vermeersch/Bovée music was performed, the latter impressing equally on lead guitar extremity and forceful frontman freestyling, complete with monsterised bass-flooded voice effects. Bovée was often partnered by Vermeersch, in a perverted manifestation of Run DMC's verbal ping-ponging. Humour and funk co-existed with power and complexity, while the big band's carefully woven layers were clearly discernible via the PA system's sharp mix. Twisted effects cloaked ensemble vocals, as most of the group tackled chorus refrains, as if in the midst of some twisted hip-hopera. Twinned drums kicked beneath charged horn parts, as Bovée battled with Peter Vandenberghe, vying for Cecil Taylor-esque freedom on a shared keyboard.

boggamasta-brussels2

A chief pleasure during this weekend was its variety of locations: to stroll from a big show like Boggamasta's, down an alleyway into the Théâtre Royal De Toone, just off the Grand Place. It's a marionette performance space and a bar, where De Braave Joenges could be found, after the witching hour, playing downhome blues, but sung in the Brusselois Dutch-French dialect (and sometimes English), with acoustic guitar, harmonica, simple percussion and joint vocals. Complete intimacy, to close the Saturday night, with not a spare chair in sight.

Les Chroniques De'Inutile opened the Sunday afternoon on the Grand Place main stage, tempting already, just because they are signed to El Negocito Records, one of Belgium's best imprints, operating from Gent. This septet played works by their guitarist Benjamin Sauzereau, opening with a vaguely Latin lope, bass flute soloing, their drummer playing like a conguero, making a light-toed funk, with ensemble horns led by a tenor saxophone onslaught. They aren't a Latin jazz combo, but that form nevertheless provided a firm influence, alongside hints of ska and a spikier, compact incarnation of the Gil Evans palette. Even though solos happened, this crew had an overriding ensemble mentality, making clean stabs with their horns, chased by a Fender Rhodes outbreak from Eric Bribosia that sounded like an early Bill Frisell guitar solo, piled-up with spangled jangle. There was a sudden interjection of manic Zappa-oid soloing from Sauzereau, followed by an episode of collective free-Zorning that didn't drive away the Grand Place crowd. On the contrary, it was wondrous to see such sounds warmly embraced in the city centre on a Sunday afternoon.

Once again, a five-minute wander brought us to Les Cercle Des Voyageurs, where the Don Kapot threesome were sunk deeply into the Afro-free brutalist basement, with blurting baritone saxophone, cyclic guitar and insistent drums, reminiscent at times of the much-missed Morphine. Sleazed noir-jazz throatiness shrunk by the third number, a tiny wooden flute revealed, before tight-tripped sticks and creamed basslines herded the sound back to a late 1960s groove, then into a ramming Norwegian head-bang.

In the uptown area, the Place de la Chapelle offered a smaller outdoor stage alternative, with the locally-based Kel Assouf representing the weekend's strong North African winners, operating in the Saharan desert Tuareg rock mode. This band are now stripped down to a hardcore guitar/synth/drums power trio, with grinding riff curlicues, spilling over with distortion, basslines (or more accurately, pulse-lines) and organ mimicry, via small keyboard electronics. They built a Flying-V Hendrix churn, with incantatory vocals. Meanwhile, the more urbane and sophisticated Hijaz played in the aptly-named Brussels City Bar, where a more select atmosphere held sway. Their combination of oud, keyboards, bass and various goblet drums facilitated a powering Arabic jazz fusion, full of streamlined detail, dynamic in execution.

Martin Longley

– Photographs by Clara Blanckaert

British vibes virtuoso Orphy Robinson is artist-in-residence at the year's Gibraltar World Music Festival, which runs 19-21 June, and will be using the opportunity to lead a large all-star 17-piece ensemble, which will form The Voicestra Polyphonic Collective. Exploring the festival's theme of 'Borders', Robinson has assembled a high-calibre lineup of international vocalists including Carleen Anderson, Christine Tobin, Mae Mckenna, Llio Millward, Cleveland Watkiss and Randolph Matthews. The band is equally impressive and includes Tony Remy, Phil Robson, Rowland Sutherland, Omar Puente, Philip Achille, Shanti Paul Jayasinha, Tiago Ciombra and Cosimo Keita. Alongside the concert will be music workshops, film screenings and a TED style talk led by Jazzwise/ Evening Standard writer Jane Cornwell.

Mike Flynn

For more info visit www.gibraltarproductions.com

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Ezra Collective Get Sweaty And Prophetic For Jazz-Plus Party At Patterns

Ezra Collective Get Sweaty And Prophetic…

  "This is about joy and happiness and celebrating everything that's...

Read More.....
GoGo Penguin: Kings Of The Bill Take Flight At Concorde

GoGo Penguin: Kings Of The Bill Take Fli…

  The Concorde usually hosts mid-ranking rock bands or popular club...

Read More.....
Helena Kay’s KIM Trio launch Moon Palace album with 'L and D' video

Helena Kay’s KIM Trio launch Moon Palace…

Fast emerging saxophonist Helena Kay is set to release her...

Read More.....
Ben LaMar Gay Breaks Back Of Chicagoan Post-Jazz With Melancholic OTO Matinee

Ben LaMar Gay Breaks Back Of Chicagoan P…

A wet afternoon in the 'Big Smoke' is brightened by...

Read More.....
Shepp Sharp, Fiery and Free at Enjoy Fest

Shepp Sharp, Fiery and Free at Enjoy Fes…

The Enjoy Jazz festival is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary...

Read More.....
Baker On A Roll As Her Eden Project Pays Tribute To Ed Blackwell At Brunswick

Baker On A Roll As Her Eden Project Pays…

  Lorraine Baker recorded one of the season's freshest sounding releases...

Read More.....
Freestage Stars Ready To Fire Up EFG London Jazz Festival

Freestage Stars Ready To Fire Up EFG Lon…

With the full programme confirmed for this year's EFG London...

Read More.....
Sons of Kemet: Kinetic and Chaotic at Komedia

Sons of Kemet: Kinetic and Chaotic at Ko…

There is already a sense of excitement in the air...

Read More.....
Henri Texier, Denys Baptiste, Ghost Note and AEC heat up 37th Tampere Jazz Happening

Henri Texier, Denys Baptiste, Ghost Note…

The 37th edition of what is a key date on...

Read More.....
Dave Holland's Aziza Up The Ante At Ronnie's

Dave Holland's Aziza Up The Ante At Ronn…

The old joke that the audience will have a chance...

Read More.....
Art Ensemble and Mary Halvorson among the hair-raising turns at Berlin Fest humdinger

Art Ensemble and Mary Halvorson among th…

The English music critic Richard Williams finished his three-year stint...

Read More.....
A Melting Pot Of Sounds – Pelin Opcin talks about the EFG London Jazz Festival

A Melting Pot Of Sounds – Pelin Opcin ta…

Alyn Shipton spoke to Pelin Opcin, the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....
Roy Hargrove – 16/10/69 – 2/11/18

Roy Hargrove – 16/10/69 – 2/11/18

Although several of his legendary predecessors met their maker while...

Read More.....
Victor Wooten puts the bass on top at Ronnie Scott’s

Victor Wooten puts the bass on top at Ro…

No one really noticed the quiet, contemplative figure who was...

Read More.....
Love Supreme Jazz Festival launches new monthly music series

Love Supreme Jazz Festival launches new …

With the first names still be announced for the 2019...

Read More.....
Alexander Hawkins heads up Emulsion Fest Part VII

Alexander Hawkins heads up Emulsion Fest…

The seventh installment of the genre-busting Emulsion Festival is set...

Read More.....
Shirley Tetteh, Denys Baptiste and Ian Shaw among Parliamentary Jazz Award winners

Shirley Tetteh, Denys Baptiste and Ian S…

The winners of the 14th annual Parliamentary Jazz Awards took...

Read More.....
Omar Puente and Steam Down Collective for Albany

Omar Puente and Steam Down Collective fo…

South London's longstanding music and arts venue, The Albany, has...

Read More.....
Up From The Vaults: Don Rendell/Ian Carr Quintet Albums Back on Vinyl

Up From The Vaults: Don Rendell/Ian Carr…

Long regarded as among the most notable and, in recent...

Read More.....
Georgia Mancio's triumphant triple bill at second Pizza Hang

Georgia Mancio's triumphant triple bill …

It's been something of an annus mirabilis for the vocalist...

Read More.....
Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, The Necks and Ambrose Akinmusire make moves at Mondriaan Jazz Fest

Makaya McCraven’s Universal Beings, The …

The second edition of the Mondriaan Jazz Festival takes place...

Read More.....
Black Top boogie on down for Sardinian Extravaganza

Black Top boogie on down for Sardinian E…

This exciting initiative taken by London-based vocalist Filomena Campus is...

Read More.....
UK Seers Foresee Future Homegrown Visions At Jazz In The Round's Emergence Fest

UK Seers Foresee Future Homegrown Vision…

Jazz In The Round promoters Chris Phillips and Jez Nelson...

Read More.....
Julian Siegel and Renegade Brass light up Limerick Jazz Festival

Julian Siegel and Renegade Brass light u…

This year's festival was perhaps short on surprises, compared to...

Read More.....
Dayes Of Future Past As Yussef Dazzles At Brighton's Haunt

Dayes Of Future Past As Yussef Dazzles A…

The bouncer outside is busy checking ID and handing out...

Read More.....
Gobbling Gourmet On Finnish Baltic Sea Jazz Cruise

Gobbling Gourmet On Finnish Baltic Sea J…

Most jazz cruises skim through moist Caribbean parts, proffering smooth...

Read More.....
New York group SUM premiere ‘Sinking Sand’ video

New York group SUM premiere ‘Sinking San…

Fast emerging New York group SUM bring together jazz, soul...

Read More.....
Claire Martin and Liane Carroll top JBGB autumn jazz line-up

Claire Martin and Liane Carroll top JBGB…

There's a busy jazz line-up at the Other Palace, PizzaExpress...

Read More.....
Guadeloupean Drummer Dolmen Goes For Gwoka At French Institute

Guadeloupean Drummer Dolmen Goes For Gwo…

The World Is Moving is an apt title for this...

Read More.....
Riot Jazz Brass Band for ISM Trust's The Empowered Musician Conference

Riot Jazz Brass Band for ISM Trust's The…

The Incorporated Society of Musicians (ISM) Trust are holding a...

Read More.....
Bishop Bones Up In Glasgow

Bishop Bones Up In Glasgow

Chicagoan trombonist Jeb Bishop (Vandermark 5/Peter Brötzmann Chicago Tentet/Globe Unity...

Read More.....
Szun Waves share new video for ‘Moon Runes’

Szun Waves share new video for ‘Moon Run…

Jazztronica trio Szun Waves have just released the video for...

Read More.....
Flying Machines Video Exclusive – ‘New Life’

Flying Machines Video Exclusive – ‘New L…

Guitarist Alex Munk returns in emphatic style with his hard-driving...

Read More.....
Elliot Galvin, Cherise Adams-Burnett and Fini Bearman for Elgar Room jazz fest nights

Elliot Galvin, Cherise Adams-Burnett and…

The Royal Albert Hall's venue-within-a-venue, The Elgar Room, has a...

Read More.....
EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice stars, Rymden and Jamie Baum for EFG London Jazz Fest

EFG renews title sponsorship, Jazz Voice…

The full programme for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival...

Read More.....
Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila Maurice-Grey vibe up The Vortex

Tim Berne/Matt Mitchell Duo and Sheila M…

There's a plethora of essential jazz nights lined up at...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

RT @vortexjazz: VULA VIEL & VELVET REVOLUTION MON 19 NOV 8PM Trio Vula Viel continuing their unique musical journey centred around the Gyil…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @vortexjazz: James Brandon Lewis Trio + Anthony Pirog. Sat/24/8pm A journey through a soundscape raw, gritty, mind-bending… and full of…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA