Mercury-nominated Troyka keyboardist Kit Downes is set to release his new duo recording with cellist Lucy Railton, titled Tricko, on up-and-coming contemporary music label Coup Perdu Records on 29 June. Downes’ fourth solo recording to date, Tricko was recorded over a two year period at various locations and feature him on both piano and church organ, the album was produced by Alex Killpartrick (who also mixed the album) – and was mastered at Abbey Road Studios. Released on CD, digital download and vinyl the album was launched earlier this month at Kings Place.

Downes has also co-curated the South Tyrol Jazz Festival in northern Italy, from 26 June to 5 July, with his partner and versatile bassist Ruth Goller, who originally hails from the picturesque mountainous region. Festival director Klaus Widmann asked them to select their favourite bands from across the UK’s progressive jazz scene, and artists set to appear through the week include Melt Yourself Down, Three Trapped Tigers, Shiver, Troyka, Dan Nicholls’ Strobes, Matt Bourne, Leon Michener, Laura Jurd Septet (feat. Chris Bachelor), Alice Zawidzki, Kit Downes/Lucy Railton Tricko duo, Blue-Eyed Hawk, Brass Mask (who play six shows), Julia Biel, Mark Sanders and Paul Rogers, Alex Bonney (solo), Sarah Gillespie and Tori Freestone. These artists will be joined by European groups such as Killing Popes (featuring Petter Eldh and Oliver Stiedl), Matthias Schriefl, Andreas Schaerer, Panzerballet, Jacob Larkner, Tatu Ronkoo and Mirko Pedrotti.

– Mike Flynn


For more info go to www.suedtiroljazzfestival.com

Listen to a piece from Tricko here:

The Cockpit Theatre’s monthly series Jazz in the Round continues on Monday 29 June with a strong triple bill of contrasting artists topped by trumpeter Quentin Collins' Quartet.

The other two artists appearing are acclaimed UK guitarist John Etheridge, performing a solo set, and emerging sax talent Camilla George’s Quartet, while the evening is hosted by BBC Radio’s Jazz On 3 presenter Jez Nelson.

Headliner Quentin Collins has built his career as a versatile and virtuosic trumpeter with an array of leading jazz musicians including Toni Kofi, Jason Rebello and Gregory Porter as well as mainstream artists such as Craig David and Alicia Keys.

A monthly event since January 2012, Jazz in the Round has become well established with its varied line-ups aided by The Cockpit’s novel performance space with the audience seated on all sides.

– Frederick Hoareau

For more info visit www.thecockpit.org.uk

Although Gunther Schuller had a formidable reputation in the classical world, where he was celebrated as a composer, conductor and educator, he also — and perhaps uniquely — had a deep interest and association with the world of jazz. While he will be rightly remembered for his huge contribution to classical music in the United States, his contribution to jazz was both enduring and memorable.

Born on 22 November 1925 into an intensely musical household, his father played in the New York Philharmonic for 42 years and his grandfather was a conductor and teacher in Germany, he took up French Horn at the suggestion of his father, since “There were more violinists than there were horn players.” He was sufficiently accomplished to drop out of school to tour with the American Ballet Theater at the age of 18. The same year he became principal hornist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra where he developed an interest in jazz. In 1945, he moved back to New York to become principal hornist of the Metropolitan Opera.

It was at this point he began an enduring friendship with Miles Davis, appearing on the four numbers recorded on 9 March 1950 by Davis’ ‘Birth of the Cool’ nonet. He also formed a lifelong friendship with pianist John Lewis, an association that resulted in working towards a synthesis of jazz and classical music, a movement Schuller dubbed ‘Third Stream’, now remembered through three key albums from the mid-1950s, The Modern Jazz Society Presents a Concert of Contemporary Music (Norgran) from 1955, Music for Brass (Columbia) from 1956 and Modern Jazz Concert (Columbia) from 1957 on which Schuller composed for, conducted and also played French Horn. It is often overlooked that he performed on French Horn on Miles Davis’ classic recording of Porgy and Bess (Columbia) from 1958, where, because of the configuration of instruments, Gil Evans’ conducting could not be seen by his section mates, necessitating Schuller to unofficially to keep time for those who could not see Evans.

With the arrival of Ornette Coleman in New York in 1959 the free jazz controversy erupted, with Schuller emerging as a staunch supporter of Coleman. As president of the New England Conservatory (1967-77) Schuller was responsible for the conservatory becoming the first eminent classical institution in America to establish a degree-granting jazz programme, which he founded in 1969. As conductor at Berkshire Music Centre, he encountered a 17 year-old Wynton Marsalis who performed Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto under his baton. In more recent times, he composed, arranged and conducted all the music for Joe Lovano’s Rush Hour (Blue Note) in 1994, which still remains the saxophonist’s finest album. Among the many books Schuller wrote — not least Horn Technique (1962) which is still judged as a the standard reference work — Early Jazz and The Swing Era (both Oxford University Press)are now regarded as seminal works of jazz scholarship. A third volume was widely anticipated, but never begun. Schuller died on Sunday, 21 June 2015 from complications arising from leukemia, he was 89.

– Stuart Nicholson

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

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