When this group played at Cafe Oto in January, the pivotal figure was bassist John Edwards. On this occasion it was saxophonist Jason Yarde that took centre stage, both literally and musically. In true democratic fashion, the other musicians appeared to accommodate and contribute towards his individual expressive need, without losing any of their identities. His was the dominant presence on the night, an inspired performance.

Slightly late on stage, as if gearing themselves up for the tour de force that followed, the first section was a continuous piece that weaved in and out of familiar material – a nod in the direction of established repertoire – references to For the Blue Notes, Mark of Respect and others; expansive patterns that ebbed and flowed.

For the most part the drums kept busily chattering with an urgency that purveyed the group. Yarde explored the ranges of both alto and soprano saxophones, mixing runs of notes with broad sweeps, painting a canvas of enormous detail. This long section was reined in by a return to the theme.

Alexander Hawkins’ rhapsodic piano introduced a slower piece – dancing shoes on and a glide; strains of tango and blues waltz, as a searing sax briefly took it away to Parisian ballrooms and bop cellars, but just as quickly the dynamics altered and the melody was taken apart.

After the short interval, Edwards built a bass solo – the whole gamut of plucking, bowing and slapping to show his instrument who was boss – before entering into an anthem and announcing the arrival of his fellow conspirators. Louis appeared more animated in this second set. Leaning away to avoid the machine gun notes heading in his direction, a grimace before launching into punishing, percussive and rhythmic batteries; rimshots and explosions of controlled aggression in response to the occasional Ayleresque command of Yarde. Vocal unison from the group indicated a unity of purpose for the benefit of the collective, as well as urging individuals to state their case. Nobody disappointed.

At several points, Yarde used both saxes simultaneously, laying down a groove over which the others explored. Hawkins carved out a solo of depth and beauty, inviting the others in and developing into a free-for-all; as ever, just as suddenly as things happen, the mood changes and an immediacy, an urgency ensues. Clutch in and gear change, straight into the fast lane.

This is a group that listens, relates and responds, inspiring one another to take chances and in the main, these prove effective. If it doesn’t quite work, no problem, on with it, reflecting their continued understanding and communication within the area of free improvisation. Each member has great presence and all play with immense power and physicality. It comes as no surprise that it is booked for the prestigious Berlin Festival later in the year.

– Matthew Wright

– Photo by Tim Dickeson

A new Ogun CD is just available: OGCD044 Canto General featuring Louis Moholo-Moholo, entitled Rebel Flames and recorded live at Tivoli and Perpignan, 2007

A musical heat wave hits Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club this summer as renowned Cuban powerhouse ensemble Irakere celebrate their 40th anniversary with a six-night residency from 20 to 25 July, while revered ‘New Thing’ saxophonist Archie Shepp and his Quartet has just been announced for a very rare UK club date at Ronnie’s on 31 July. The latter stepped in at the last minute at Cheltenham Jazz Festival to replace the Sun Ra Arkestra, and unleashed a broiling blues soaked set that was described in Jazzwise as “one of clear high points of the festival”. Latin jazz trumpet legend Jerry Gonzalez and his Fort Apache Band is another just announced booking on 1 August. The trumpeter’s illustrious career began with Dizzy Gillespie in 1970 before he went on to play with a who’s who of Latin jazz names: this will be his first appearance at the club for many years.

Ten-piece Afro Cuban ensemble Irakere features virtuoso pianist and founding member Chucho Valdés and perform their high-energy mix of folkloric Afro-Cuban jazz, funk and fusion. The band has enjoyed huge success in their native Cuba and worldwide, and functioned as a finishing school for many top Cuban musicians such as Paquito D’Rivera and Arturo Sandoval. July also features an appearance by on-form voodoo jazz icon Dr John (3 July), followed by another Snarky Puppy offshoot band in the form of their bassist/ bandleader Michael League’s funky four-piece FORQ (5 July), which also features keyboardist Henry Hey, drummer Jason Thomas and guitarist Chris McQueen. Soul-jazz diva Chaka Khan follows with a three-night return (6, 7 and 9 July), while barnstorming Brit-jazz big band Beats & Pieces launch their new album, All In, the same week on 8 July. Further bookings for July include fusioneers Yellowjackets (14-15 July), and the Dave Grusin/ Lee Ritenour Band (28-30 July), while Loose Tubes are confirmed for three more unmissbale nights on 24-26 September.

– Mike Flynn
– Photo by Tim Dickeson (Archie Shepp live at Cheltenham Jazz Festival)

For full listings go to www.ronniescotts.co.uk

The 29th edition of the Glasgow Jazz Festival, which runs from 24 to 28 June, brings together another strong mix of jazz, funk and soul as well as hosting the final of Young Scottish Jazz Musician on the opening night.

This year’s line up pulls in newcomers such as aptly large Scottish prog-funk band Fat Suit, emergent saxophonist Rachel Cohen, rising star US soul-jazz singer Jarrod Lawson, and keys/multi-instrumentalist Taylor McFerrin with drummer Marcus Gilmore, alongside established names such as award-winning Brit jazz-rockers Partisans, pianists John Taylor and Zoe Rhaman (both performing solo sets), the funky Hamish Stuart Band, the Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra, and acclaimed singer/pianist Liane Carroll. Young Scottish jazz stars performing include trumpeter Ryan Quigley and saxophonist Paul Towndrow’s ‘With Strings’ collaboration and an intriguing group featuring Scots pianist Euan Stevenson and powerful US tenorist Korey Riker.

Also appearing is US the power trio of virtuoso bassist Charnett Moffett, guitarist/pianist Stanley Jordan and heavy-hitting drummer Jeff ‘Tain’ Watts, collectively known as the Nettwork Trio (pictured top), who explore an energetic take on free-flowing jazz-fusion. Concerts are held at venues across the city including Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, City Hall Recital Rooms, The Old Fruitmarket and the basement Rio Club, which will also host the festival’s official late night jam sessions.

– Mike Flynn


For full programme go to www.jazzfest.co.uk

Top US trumpeter Terence Blanchard, acclaimed piano trio Phronesis and bass boss Arild Andersen are all among the latest names added to this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs from 13 to 22 November at all major jazz venues and concert halls across the capital.

Trumpeter Blanchard, who cut his teeth with Art Blakey and has worked with Herbie Hancock as well as forging an acclaimed solo career as a bandleader and film composer, will appear with his new E Collective band who explore a vibrant mix of funk, soul and fusion jazz as heard on their new Blue Note album Breathless, headline the Barbican on 20 November. Norwegian bass virtuoso Arild Andersen celebrates his 70th birthday with a performance at Kings Place on 21 November, appearing with his top-notch sextet in a tribute to bass icon Charles Mingus who was a huge formative influence on Andersen. He joins a whole roster of top European jazz stars also appearing at Kings Place including tuba player, and fellow Norwegian, Daniel Herskedal, French bassist Stéphane Kerecki, Albanian singer Elina Duni with Colin Vallon, while the Polish Marcin Wasilewski Trio perform at Milton Court, Barbican.

Scandi-Brit trio Phronesis, who feature Danish bassist Jasper Høiby, Swedish drummer Anton Eger and English pianist Ivo Neame, make a welcome return to the Festival after their three-gig stand at the Cockpit Theatre in 2013 where they recorded their fourth album, Life To Everything. They are set to play the 600-seater Milton Court concert hall (22 November) that’s part of the revamped Guildhall School of Music in a special collaboration with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band performing new arrangements of their music scored by saxophonist/composer Julian Argüelles.

Further names added to the festival, for which Jazzwise is media partner, include a diverse selection of artists including the National Youth Jazz Orchestra (Rich Mix, 14 Nov), Courtney Pine and Zoe Rahman duo (Sam Wanamaker Playhouse at The Globe, 15 Nov), singer Irene Serra’s -isq (at Hideaway), Neneh Cherry (Village Underground, 18 Nov), Grammy-nominated Cuban jazz pianist Alfredo Rodríguez (Wanamaker Playhouse, 15 Nov), plus ECM-signed pianist Julia Hülsmann with singer Theo Bleckmann (Milton Court, 22 Nov), and the Clark Tracey Quintet playing his father Stan’s Under Milk Wood Suite in its 50th anniversary year (check festival website for details). A special family show entitled Chapter 100 and a Dream (Wigmore Hall, 14 Nov), will feature rising star singer Emilia Mårtensson, accordionist Janez Dovč and percussionist Adriano Adewele.

These artists join those already announced including Cassandra Wilson; Kurt Elling; Jarrod Lawson; Melody Gardot; Cécile McLorin Salvant; Maria Schneider Orchestra; Nik Bärtsch; Béla Fleck and Abigail Washburn; Andy Sheppard Quartet; Sons of Kemet; James Farm featuring Joshua Redman; Christian Scott and Derrick Hodge double bill; Average White Band and Kokomo double bill; the Britten Sinfonia with Eddie Gómez; Maceo Parker; Cuban pianist David Virelles; the Family Jazz All Stars with Juliet Kelly; trip hoppers Hidden Orchestra; Ibrahim Maalouf and Manu Katché double bill and a celebration of Paul Whiteman featuring Guy Barker, Keith Nichols and the Jazz Repertory Company.

– Mike Flynn

Full details and tickets at www.efglondonjazzfestival.org.uk

Edition Records, the Cardiff-based independent jazz label, has announced the signing of acclaimed British pianist Jason Rebello to the label for what will be his first ever solo piano album. Set for release in early 2016, the album will showcase Rebello’s considerable virtuosity and creative flair on acoustic piano – as he’s been demonstrating with his imaginative solo piano version of The Beatle’s ‘Blackbird’, which has been a highlight of his recent live shows.

Having first come to prominence in the 1990s with a string of albums on the BMG label, Rebello subsequently made countless world tours as a regular side man to Sting – stepping in to the band after the death of US pianist Kenny Kirkland in 1998 – going on to make three albums and tour with the singer for six years. Rebello then joined guitar legend Jeff Beck’s band for a further six years of touring as well as numerous sessions for the likes of Manu Katché, Carleen Anderson, Peter Gabriel and Chaka Khan. After such a long time as a sideman, Rebello made an emphatic return to jazz in 2013 with his eclectic song-led album Anything But Look, which was well received and featured the likes of bassist Pino Palladino and singers Jacob Collier and Omar. Rebello also became part of saxophonist Tim Garland’s progressive acoustic jazz band Lighthouse, whose last album, Songs to the North Sky, was also released on Edition.  

– Mike Flynn


For more info visit www.editionrecords.com

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