Tous1

'All-star' is a term mostly out of fashion these days. But Jean Toussaint's 6Tet make a convincing case for its reinstatement. This storming gig from the Virgin Islands saxophonist who relocated to London via New York in the 1980s after a stint with Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers features a frontline of volcanic energy – trumpeter Byron Wallen and trombonist Dennis Rollins – as well as an eruptive rhythm-section – pianist Jason Rebello, double-bassist Alec Dankworth and drummer Shane Forbes – that calls to mind the heyday of small groups with big sounds, epitomised by Toussaint's former boss. The spirit of Blakey is strong throughout the two sets as several of his trademarks, from heraldic, stirring themes to bluesy unison passages and potent soloing across the whole band, are present and correct.

Furthermore, as he emphatically demonstrates on the group's studio debut, Brother Raymond, Toussaint has injected a bold, robust Afro-Caribbean pulse into much of the music that is further enhanced by the horn players all hitting cowbells, shakers and agogo, just as Blakey's men did on the breakdown of 'A Night In Tunisia' in their hard-bop heyday. Pieces such as 'Amabo' – a tribute to Obama – have a driving, snapping vigour that has real dancefloor appeal, as do a number of other pieces with a similarly punchy, strident dynamism. The bright chording of 'Major Changes' belies the downward cast of its subject matter, Brexit, while the evening's finale, 'Mandingo Brass', is an utterly hypnotic calypso in which the resonant clang of the percussion provides a piercing, entrancing rotation into which drums, bass and piano are drawn before the horns skip heartily into action. Inspired by a band he was in during his formative years in the West Indies, the song has the energy of what is known in the locality as a 'road march', meaning that the sub-text of people letting go to 'jump up' is well to the fore. Joyous as the ensemble playing is, the detail in the individual performances really counts, chief among them being Rollins' enticingly round, bulbous tone that evokes as much the lineage of great latin players such as Raoul De Souza as it does the American titan Curtis Fuller. Then again, Rebello's comping, full of fleet, fluttering, percolating lines, often judiciously filling the breathing space between the horn phrases, serves the important purpose of providing a full spectrum of colour for music that conveys all of the wine-yuh-down abandon of carnival.

Tous2

Having said that, the introspective side of Toussaint the composer also marks the evening. 'Interlude For Idris' and 'Letters To Milena' are gently charming ballads in which the noble whisper of Wallen's trumpet seals the underlying reverence of the music. Yet Toussaint, whose finesse of tone and well-paced, patiently graduated solos, are a reminder of what Blakey heard in him all those years ago, is entirely clear in his mission statement – an evocation of the spirits of 'Buh', Mingus, Monk, Duke and Caribbean and Cuban legends such as Ray Barretto. The result is a statement of modernity borne of tradition that strikes a parallel with the work of The Cookers on the other side of the Atlantic. Those two bands on one bill would be a very hot ticket.

Kevin Le Gendre
Photos by Carl Hyde

 

Hilde-Marie-Holsen photoEspen-Koen-Webjrnsen2

The Norwegian brass-band tradition, which first evolved in that country with the onset of railway construction in the 19th century, is very much alive and kicking, particularly on the western side where Hilde Marie Holsen was raised. It was why she picked up a trumpet in the first place, and after finding classical music too restrictive she moved to jazz, and her favoured form of free-improv with acoustic and processed trumpet.

This is the basis for her second solo release, Lazuli (Hubro) and the record's launch night, an understated affair hosted at Kafé Hærverk in Oslo, a hangout of bare brick and lampshades lovingly reproduced from a 1960s German prototype by a lamp enthusiast (so the English sound engineer told me). The set opened with an extended single note, gentle but assured, hanging in the air like a horn sounded on an ancient longship. Her playing of the acoustic trumpet is minimal and even when she elaborates with melody such as on the track 'Lapis', it follows the modern Scandi template; pared down, muted.

It's in the processed trumpet noises that you feel her thrill, the invention of clicks, hums, fuzz, ripples and radio interference. These electronic manifestations actually give an impression of an analogue of the past, Holsen may be using a laptop and media controller, but she sounds like she's transmitting from a Cold War hideout surrounded by oscillators and code-breaking typewriters. Her nuances force the audience to tune into the slightest glimmer of change, an absorbed silence pervades.

At one point a droning bass follows her melody, a breath lagging behind the timing, like a foreboding shadow. The blue tone, so integral to the original Norwegian jazz wave, is broken on occasion; a flock of metallic noises, playful at first becomes menacing and Hitchcockian as the music intensifies. Shards of emotion break out, when Hilde's instrument rasps or squeals, balancing out the drones. There needs to be more height to the music, and more tension, but without doubt the audience was captivated and Holsen clearly knew how to leave her audience wanting more.

– Debra Richards
– Photo by Espen Koen Webjørnsen 

 Ken-V-2

The streets of Brighton have been overflowing with music fans thanks to this year's Great Escape Festival, whose ever more eclectic programming even expanded beyond it's indie rock remit to include some 'New Thing' jazz artists. As a coda to that event, the ever resourceful promotion partnership of Dictionary Pudding and the Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival brought a pair of genuine musical free-thinkers to town.

Ken Vandermark and Paal Nilssen-Love took to the stage, framed by the modishly derelict-industrial girders and brickwork of the Green Door Store, launching immediately into a furious tirade of squalling tenor sax and crashing tides of percussion that gradually coalesced into a swaggering polyrhythmic funk. Vandermark's virtuosity and conviction were instantly present, projecting into the room, but equally impressive was the metronomically insistent power of Nilssen-Love's drumming, his surging, clattering, endlessly inventive playing creating a turbulent sea over which Vandermark surfed, skimming the surface or diving into the groove, responsive to every current and squall. The drummer suddenly dropped out, allowing Vandermark to demonstrate his fluency and imagination in a solo atonal workout, with long gobbling runs, interspersed with fragments of shattered melody, unexpected squawks and honks; Nilssen-Love returning to add terse punctuation. Vandermark's sax barrage resolved into a nagging, insistent three-note phrase which Nilssen-Love converted into a pulsing, monumental beat. Together, the pair ramped up the tension into a towering structure, which then shattered apart under its own internal stresses.

Next Vandermark revealed his extraordinary voice on clarinet; woody and tender in the lower register, ascending to higher notes of laser-beam intensity, melodic lines unfurling into something approaching a jaunty swing. Nilssen-Love responded with a barrage of unorthodox percussive effects that gradually merged into what, during its closing moments, appeared to be a distant relative of a Brazilian Chorinho. Further unexpected traces of Brazilian accents surfaced briefly in the snare patterns and repurposed items of samba percussion accompanying the next searing clarinet exploration. Then, all too soon, we reached the set's climax – a protracted, more conventionally free-improv passage of gnomic dialogue between sax and percussion, all high tones and sudden startling crashes like Japanese Gagaku, growing in intensity and then cataclysmically releasing into a pounding three-beat worthy of John Bonham.

It's a shame that none of the Great Escape crowd were present to witness this radical stomp – but the small, loyal band of supporters give it their all as the dynamic duo bowed, dripping with sweat, and left the stage to make for the bar.

– Eddie Myer

 Nigel

What better way to celebrate the conferring of an honour than to invite a crowd of chums to Ronnie Scott's and then to offer them the company of great musicians and ply them with plentiful food and wine while they wait to greet you? These generous preliminaries preceded the arrival in the club last Friday of Nigel Tully MBE, hot-footing it from the Palace, with distinguished spouse Professor Deborah Cunningham on his arm, medal in hand, and with a smile that lit up the room.

Nigel spoke touchingly of his desire to share his good fortune with the jazz world at large. He then cited his own engagement with music as both player and enthusiast before adding a song with perfect accompaniment by pianist Nikki Iles, tenorist Tim Garland's coda his own special gift. An impromptu display of genius from solo guitarist Martin Taylor followed ahead of chanteuse Tina May's heartfelt set, with Frank Griffith on clarinet and bassist Simon Woolf at the piano. Earlier, the specially assembled line-up of Alex Garnett (as), Alex Ridout (t), Garland, Chelsea Carmichael (bs), Iles (p), Nick Fitch (g), Adam King (b) and Shane Forbes (d) had given us such a rousing display of exuberance, creativity and, yes, humour, that one would have wished it never to stop.

Ex-IBM executive, long-time leader of the Dark Blues function band, Past Master of the Worshipful Company of Musicians and now Executive Chairman of the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, Nigel has more than earned his musical spurs and fully deserves all the recognition that has come his way. Bravo and thanks, Nigel.

– Peter Vacher
– Photo by Carl Hyde

 CometisComing LWormsley 1 USE

After years of going to jazz gigs and being the youngest person in the room by a good quarter of a century, I can't tell you how happy it makes me to see a (too) cool, 20-something festival crowd lose it over a virtuosic bass solo. I watched it happen time and time again at Field Day in London's Brockwell Park this weekend, which had a packed programme of jazz acts alongside the usual DJs and leftfield hip hop artists who help make this festival one of the UK's most self-consciously hip. For anyone doubting whether jazz (or at least a certain, dancefloor-focused strand of it) is cool again, this year's Field Day bill was confirmation.

Though they regularly play to young crowds, the significance of the event wasn't lost on Ezra Collective who unleashed their storming Afro-beat grooves, bold hornlines and pyrotechnic solos on a packed Dimensions/Total Refreshment Centre tent. "If you're about supporting jazz music make some noise," shouted drummer Femi Koleoso, as they kicked off a danceable cover of Sun Ra's 'Space Is The Place'. The cheers were deafening.

There were more London 'new wave' favourites throughout Friday evening, including the ferocious Sons of Kemet and drummer Moses Boyd's Exodus, whose set mixed infectious beats and visceral tuba basslines with rock textures, episodic horn melodies and massive solos – from Boyd, Binker Golding on tenor and guitarist Artie Zaitz. They paved the way for The Comet Is Coming who channelled the sound of intergalactic warfare – all blazing synths, fizzing electronics and hyperdrive drum beats – with Shabaka Hutchings firing tenor hollars and circular breathing through swirling nebulas of notes.

NubyaGarcia LWormsley 1 USE

On the open-air mainstage, Norwich trio Mammal Hands dealt in introspective minimalism. New tune 'Transfixed' featured minor modes, sax whorls and thrumming tabla, and had echoes of a Jan Garbarek and Trilok Gurtu collaboration. Meanwhile, singer Zara McFarlane and her 10-piece band brought a reggae flavour to the intimate Moth Club/It's Nice That tent, closing with the bruising, melancholic 'Stoke The Fire'. Next came one of the highlights, a set from Nubya Garcia, who slayed on tenor, stretching out and showcasing her rich sound as drummer Femi Koleoso and bassist Dan Casimir laid down surging swing feels, hip hop grooves and (once) a burst of UK garage. As much talked-about keysplayer Joe Armon-Jones let rip, Garcia danced and turned her face to the heavens. She looked like a lioness with a mane of braids. Her playing has the same air of fearsome grace. Later on, two of her Nérija bandmates came out to join her: thoughtful guitarist Shirley Tetteh and trumpeter Sheila Maurice-Grey, who was powerful and inventive on the Ethio-jazz tinged 'Hold'. A Saturday morning appearance from Tomorrow's Warriors Female Frontline proved there's plenty more talent where they came from.

Beyond all that, you could hear the influence of jazz in numerous other sets across the weekend – further evidence of its current kudos in the music world. Topping the Dimensions/Total Refreshment Centre bill, Detroit techno legend Jeff Mills battled Afro-beat drum icon Tony Allen and keysplayer Jean-Phi Dary across a psychedelic landscape of subtly-shifting beats, riddled with funky Minimoog basslines and the knuckle-crack of a Roland TR-909. And elsewhere there were electronic music producers backed by horn sections sketching Gil Evans-like harmonies (James Holden and The Animal Spirits) and rappers doubling on alto saxophone (Masego performing his own 'You Gon' Learn Some Jazz Today').

ErykahBadu LWormsley USE

This year's headliners continued the theme. There's a jazz sensibility to Erykah Badu's vocals – both her tone and the freedom with which she phrases. She's often compared to Billie Holiday and that certainly came across in her erratic Friday-night set, which also included a rain dance accompanied by some Tanya Tagaq-style throat singing. 'Out My Mind, Just In Time' had the dreamy air of a jazz ballad, and on '... & On' she had her backing vocalists scatting over walking basslines.

Saturday's headliner, Stephen 'Thundercat' Bruner, was an even better fit. Bruner is a childhood friend of Kamasi Washington and Flying Lotus, and one of the LA jazz-heads who turned Kendrick Lamar onto John Coltrane. Through those channels and his own music-making he's done a huge amount to introduce mainstream audiences to the joy of burning swing. In fact, we should probably be falling at his besocked-and-sandaled feet. A lot of people were, including Erykah Badu who came out to dance and hype amid the squelchy funk of 'Them Changes' yelling: "Sing that shit, Cat." Bruner did, his chest voice velvety, his falsetto rich, and much more secure than at Heaven last year. Stoner poems, from breakthrough album Drunk, came thick and fast and there was acres of furious shredding as he jammed with Knower keysplayer Dennis Hamm and frightening drummer Justin Brown (a member of Ambrose Akinmusire's quartet), who machine-gunned round his tom toms. More, epic solos; more huge cheers.

Who knows how long this jazz boom will last, or how big it's going to get? But I'm pretty confident that when the jazz historians of the future adjust their Google glasses and try to unravel the renaissance Field Day 2018 will figure. Good things come to those who wait.

– Thomas Rees 
– Photos by Lisa Wormsley 

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

Archie Shepp’s Art Songs & Spirituals blows the blues away at Barbican

Archie Shepp’s Art Songs & Spiritual…

This evening gets off to a flying start with Simon...

Read More.....
Gregory Porter, Joshua Redman, The Bad Plus, Sergio Mendes and bigger Big Top for Cheltenham 2019

Gregory Porter, Joshua Redman, The Bad P…

The first names have been revealed for next year's Cheltenham...

Read More.....
Billy Harper charges up Church Of Sound

Billy Harper charges up Church Of Sound

A house of praise is the perfect setting for one...

Read More.....
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.....


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

Office late pm vibes: dulcet guitar arpeggios punctuating raindrops, spirit in Motian @ECMRecords @ProperJazz… https://t.co/N7J5HWDOcM
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Archie Shepp’s Art Songs & Spirituals blows the blues away at Barbican https://t.co/VwHEFpEUbB https://t.co/mmoiGPFKG3
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