This year’s Parliamentary Jazz Awards took place in a buzzing Terrace Pavilion at the Houses of Parliament on Tuesday 10 March, two months early than usual due to the upcoming General Election on 7 May. The awards, which are organised by All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), PPL and Jazz Services are now in their eleventh year, and were presented by well-known broadcaster and jazz fan Moira Stuart to a packed room of leading jazz musicians, industry professionals and jazz-loving parliamentarians.

The winners are as follows:

Jazz Album of the Year: Swamp by Partisans


Jazz Venue of the Year: St Ives Jazz Club

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Engines Orchestra

Jazz Education Award: National Youth Jazz Orchestra

Jazz Media Award: London Jazz News website

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Laura Jurd

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Norma Winstone;

Services To Jazz: Chris Hodgkins

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Peter Edwards;

APPJAG Special Award: Peter Ind

For more info go to www.ppluk.com/

Tam-de-Villiers

Guitarists Tam de Villiers and Mikkel Ploug set out on UK tours during March to launch and promote their new albums released on Whirlwind Recordings.

Tam de Villiers releases his new quartet album Panacea on 16 March featuring Karl Jannuska on drums, David Prez on tenor saxophone and Frederic Chiffoleau on double bass. The band will be playing pieces from Panacea, a venture that blends classical composition with jazz improvisation, and dates include – Swing Unlimited, Bournemouth (11 March); Sound Cellar, Poole (12 March); Birmingham Jazz (13 March); Shrewsbury Jazz Network (14 March); SMJC, Southampton (15 March); Dempsey’s, Cardiff (17 March); Leeds College of Music Workshop (18 March); Lescar, Sheffield (18 March); Bebop Club, Bristol (20 March) and Schmazz/Splinter Newcastle (22 March).

Danish born Mikkel Ploug will be playing material from At Black Tornado released on 13 April which aims to capture live sound in a studio setting with drummer Sean Carpio and double bassist Jeppe Skovbakke. All who have worked with acclaimed saxophonists Mark Turner and Loren Stillman. The Mikkel Ploug Trio tour dates are: Oxford Arms, London (23 March); Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club, London (album launch) (24 March); Urban Coffee, Birmingham (25 March); and Fisher Theatre, Bungay, Suffolk (27 March).

– Liv Fernandes

For more info go to www.whirlwindrecordings.com/panacea/ and www.whirlwindrecordings.com/mikkel-ploug/

As a leader, Ravi Coltrane has many great qualities: authority; and something much rarer – unselfishness, modesty and grace. Time and time again at this stunning two-set show, he stepped away from the front of the stage to allow his superb band, The New Quartet, to shine. And what a band they were! Dezron Douglas on bass provided the underpinnings and facial expressions; drummer Jonathon Blake was as swingingly powerful as his enormous stage presence would suggest, yet proved himself capable of the gentlest of touches; and the brilliant pianist David Virelles powered everything along with his hard-edged and pulsing circular motifs, reminiscent of the great Gonzalo Rubalcaba.

The Quartet operated with real empathy, bouncing ideas off each other and switching direction in the way that only true jazz improv can. Much of the music – at once dense with sound and ideas, but full of space; oblique yet direct – had the questing turbulence of his late father’s best work, but there was release too, in the form of some lovely, ethereal ballad work. However, Ravi is very much his own man, with a unique musical vision, which pays homage to his parents’ work, but is never a prisoner of the titanic legacy of Alice and John.

Playing a mixture of originals – some from his most recent Blue Note album Spirit Fiction (2012) – and astutely chosen covers, the Quartet had the Ronnie’s sell-out crowd in the palm of their hands, each solo or ensemble exploration meeting with rapt applause. Especially outstanding were the covers by Monk (an intensely hard-edged ‘Skippy’) and Ornette (a playful ‘Bird Food’); and, for the last number, Charlie Parker’s ‘Segment’ Coltrane switched to sopranino sax, an unusual instrument he has completely mastered, if the beautiful tone with which he expressed himself is anything to go by.

The New Quartet will be playing in Leeds and Southampton later this week – try to see them, they’re worth a journey. Let’s hope they return to these shores soon.

– Kevin Whitlock

– Photos by Carl Hyde

Edition Records are set to celebrate the tenth anniversary of internationally acclaimed trio Phronesis – which features bassist Jasper Høiby, pianist Ivo Neame and drummer Anton Eger – with a special vinyl edition of their most recent album, Life To Everything. The band have released three albums with Edition, including their 2010 label debut, Alive, which came top or the Jazzwise Albums Of The Year critics poll that year.

Life To Everything is to be released on a double vinyl version on 1 May when the band perform their ‘Pitch Black’ set at Cheltenham Jazz Festival. The original album was recorded live at the Cockpit Theatre as part of the 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival, and the newly issued vinyl version will include three bonus tracks recorded live at the Copenhagen Jazzhouse.

Edition are also set to release a vinyl version of rising star Finnish trumpeter Verneri Pohjola’s debut for the label, Bullhorn, which has already received a rave review in Jazzwise, with Stuart Nicholson stating
the album takes “its place among the truly finest albums of recent times”. The album will be released on 30 April to coincide with International Jazz Day.

– Mike Flynn


For more info on both releases go to www.editionrecords.com


    

The skull, that had been staring into the hall from Dr John’s piano throughout his nearly two hour set, might have remained un-moved as the final crunching chord hung in the air, but the rest of the packed Colston Hall were on their feet roaring their approval. It was a rousing finale to the weekend festival. The Nite Tripper’s (pictured above) evening performance completed a trio of gigs in the main hall on the Sunday, billed as New Orleans Takeover, that had also included a ‘Louis Armstrong Story’ and a sizzling, funky Pee Wee Ellis band with Huey Morgan of the Fun Loving Criminals guesting who had them playing out on a cover of Armstrong’s ‘We Have All The Time in the World’. It could have been Satchmo Sunday.

TD-Alice-Zawadzki-bristol

This was the festival’s third year and the programme lived up to its billing of International Jazz and Blues. Carleen Anderson’s soul and gospel infused vocal pyrotechnics headlined on Saturday whilst a series of gigs showcased some of the most adventurous and exciting emerging talents on the current UK scene including the Paradox Ensemble’s tightly arranged, angular grooves, Alice Zawadzki’s (above) beguiling songs and Slowly Rolling Camera’s many layered, vocal led cinematic sound. Andy Sheppard’s latest ECM quartet (below) wove a magical spell in the middle of Saturday afternoon premiering material from his forthcoming album.

TD-Andy-Sheppard-bristol

Bristol’s festival has its own distinct flavour. Hosted in the Colston Hall, with just workshops and some film screenings leaking into nearby venues, the building was teeming with crowds all weekend, ebbing and flowing from the gigs in the two halls and soaking up a foyer programme of bands mainly from the city’s dynamic scene, that began with a Community Big Band on Friday, ended with Brass Junkies’ blistering latin and rocket fuelled grooves on Sunday and had taken in a great set by emerging stars Moonlight Saving Time, steaming post bop from Andy Hague’s Quintet and, as well as more than a dozen others.


Another appearance by Andy Sheppard, this time with his not-so-secret local organ trio The Pushy Doctors, threatened to hold the crowds from Pee-Wee’s gig with a Satchmo Sunday rendition of Wonderful World’ that morphed into a Coltrane-esqe burn up to wild delight all round. Saturday’s Cartoon Jazz (above) was a family friendly event that filled the main hall with massed Community and School choirs joining a top drawer mini-big band playing Ned Bennet’s specially written arrangements of all manner of ‘tunes from toons’ that managed the trick of surprising and delighting everyone, young and not so young. Three rousingly successful celebrations in Bristol of the many faces of jazz is looking like becoming a habit.

– Mike Collins

– Photos by Tim Dickeson

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