Norwich-based trio Mammal Hands will release their debut album Animalia on 15 September on the independent label Gondwana Records. The trio features Nick Smart on keyboards, his brother Jordan Smart on saxophones and Jesse Barrett on drums and tabla. Gondwana’s Matthew Halsall produced the album which shares similar influences to Halsall’s own material such as the spiritual jazz of Pharoah Sanders, Cinematic Orchestra and Portico Quartet, as well as distinct traces of traditional North Indian and African music. To launch the new album, Mammal Hands will perform at Norwich Arts Centre on 15 September where they will be joined by forward-thinking jazz/electronica trio Gogo Penguin, also signed by Gondwana Records, who released their debut album Fanfares in 2012.

For more information and to book tickets visit https://norwichartscentre.co.uk/events/gogo-penguin-mammal-hands/

Renowned London jazz venue the Vortex will host its annual music festival, Vortex Outdoors, in Gillett Square, Dalston on 16 August from 2pm-11pm. The line up is a colourful feast of jazz and world music artists, representing a broad array of global cultures that reflect the unique diversity of modern London.

The afternoon kicks off with performances from the participants of the inaugural Vortex Summer School (2pm), followed by Krar Collective (3:15pm), a vibrant trio who create contemporary grooves on traditional Ethiopian instruments, originally hailing from Ethiopia but now residing in London. The programme then explores music influenced by gypsy and Balkan rhythms with the 30-strong London Gypsy Orchestra (4:30pm), Tatcho Drom (5:45pm) and Dunajska Kapelye (7pm), the latter including the brilliant violinists Piotr Jordan & Flora Curzon. Also featured are the popular Hackney Colliery Band (8:15pm) and nine-piece reggae collective The Big Steal (9:15pm). Hackney Globetrotter (aka DJ Russ Jones) will round off the festivities with a fittingly diverse set of beats and dance music from around the world.

For more information visit www.vortexjazz.co.uk/event/vortex-outdoors

Bethany Roberts

A benefit concert for the legendary trumpeter and flugelhorn player Kenny Wheeler will be held at Epic, 13-15 Stoke Newington Road, London, N16 on 15 August, 7pm. The veteran composer, bandleader and sideman, who is now 84, has not been able to work for most of this year due to ill health. The upcoming benefit concert will be a celebration of his invaluable contribution to the jazz scene over the last sixty years and will feature saxophonist Evan Parker, a long-time friend and collaborator, who will perform with Steve Beresford, Olie Brice and Mark Sanders. Also appearing is upcoming trumpeter and bandleader Reuben Fowler, recipient of the 2012 Kenny Wheeler Music Prize, whose big band will play a collection of rare Wheeler material, as well as some of Fowler’s own compositions. Other guests include the Ray Warleigh Quartet, and innovative and exploratory violinist Alison Blunt with her 12-piece ensemble, including pianist Neil Metcalfe and bassist David Leahy. Tickets will be available on the door priced at £12 and £10.

- Bethany Roberts

Brecon was celebrating the 30th anniversary of its jazz festival in style at the weekend. After legend Burt Bacharach had officially opened the festival on Thursday night, the energy really ramped up starting with a tumultuous set from the Michael Wollny Trio in the Cathedral just as the shadows began to lengthen on Friday. The German piano master name-checked everything from twentieth century composers, hymns and psychedelic rockers as the source of tunes that built to thunderous rhythmic storms, drummer Eric Schaefer and Wollny pounding with equal ferocity, or switching to chorale like melodies buoyed by the singing bass of Christian Weber. If there were any ghosts sleeping in the crypt of the cathedral they were wide awake by the end of this exhilarating set. Friday also saw the wildly exuberant, celebratory farewell performance of Loose Tubes. Did every other performer on the programme finish their sets quickly so they could be there? It seemed that way! And the Tubes did their best too sweep the capacity crowd in the Market Hall up in the fun, finishing the set by roaming through the audience riffing on a stomping groove. They didn’t seem to want to stop playing and nobody wanted them to, but after two hours it was over. Until next time?

Just twenty-four hours later, the walls of the cathedral were trembling again as saxophone tyro Marius Neset took to the stage with his quartet. The collective roar of this band was near mind-blowing. When the joyous, dancing theme of the title track of his album Birds burst out of the maelstrom of rhythm and sound, I’ll swear my heart skipped a beat. Neset seemed inspired by the acoustics of the space and there were brain melting solo forays and a tumultuous duet with Anton Eger on drums that exploited it to the full. This is another awesome Scandinavian outfit with pianist Ivo Neame flying the flag for UK on piano.   Festival operators Orchard have done Brecon proud. The programme included plenty of variety with the Captain’s Walk stage offering a fantastic line-up for a single all-day ticket. On Saturday that included Denis Rollins’ Velocity Trio grooving like it was going out of fashion on a quirky repertoire that took in Bob Marley, Pink Floyd as well as plenty of Rollins originals. Elsewhere there was a strong Welsh theme with Burrum bringing their folk, gaelic and modal jazz brew, and artist in residence Huw Warren celebrating Dylan Thomas. There was plenty more to follow on Sunday with Gregory Porter bringing the curtain down on the weekend with his strong evening performance. With a showing like this the festival looks set fair for another thirty years.

Report: Mike Collins

 Photo: copyright Tim Dickeson

Calling all new and aspiring jazz writers, the latest Write Stuff new writers initiative returns for its 12th year in November at London’s Southbank Centre with a new series of workshops and mentoring sessions held during the EFG London Jazz Festival, which runs from 14-23 November. Founded and organised by Jazzwise and Serious, producers of the festival, the Write Stuff gives new jazz writers a free opportunity to work with professional journalists to improve their writing skills and develop an understanding of music criticism and the workings of the jazz and mainstream music press, as well as getting to see a bunch of concerts!

The Write Stuff will include sessions on feature writing and live reviews by Jazzwise writer and broadcaster Kevin Le Gendre; an insight into the history and development of the UK jazz and music press with Jazzwise editor and publisher Jon Newey; online journalism with Jazzwise’s deputy editor Mike Flynn and input from other writers and jazz industry figures.

Several Write Stuff participants have gone on to have pieces published in The Guardian, The Wire and Jazzwise as well as work within the wider jazz and broadcasting industry. This year’s participants will have their work posted on both the Jazzwise and festival’s websites and one review considered to be of particular merit will be published in a subsequent edition of Jazzwise.

If you are interested in participating in The Write Stuff there is still time as we have now extended the deadline until the end of this month – so please submit by email a 300-word review of a gig/concert that you have seen recently, together with a CV and full contact details by Tuesday 30 September 2014 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with ‘The Write Stuff 2014’ in the subject line. Applicants must be 18 years old or over and be available in London on the following dates: Friday 14 November (evening); Saturday 15 November, and Wednesday 19 to Sunday 23 November.

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