Acclaimed Norwegian saxophonist Marius Neset returns with a new album, Pinball, on 2 February 2015 on ACT, his second for the label following his debut recording Lion with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra in April 2014. The band on the album is similar to the one featured on Birds, his second album on Edition Records that received several five star reviews, with Pinball featuring British musicians Ivo Neame and Jim Hart, alongside a Swedish rhythm section of Phronesis drummer Anton Eger and bassist Petter Eldh, plus additional musicians including the saxophonist’s talented sister Ingrid Neset on flute, cellist Andreas Brantelid and violinist Rune Tonsgaard Sørensen.

Neset’s masterful use of rhythm features prominently on the Loose Tubes-esque material that contrasts the piano and vibes with the strings and flute on playful yet complex tunes, matched also by his incendiary sax work. Neset follows the album release with a series of UK dates: Purcell Room, London (18 Mar); Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton (19 Mar); Crucible Studio, Sheffield (9 Apr); CBSO, Birmingham (10 Apr); Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham (15 Apr); Seven Arts Centre, Leeds (16 Apr) and The Capstone Theatre, Liverpool (17 Apr). See the February 2015 issue of Jazzwise for an exclusive interview with Neset about the album.

– Mike Flynn

For more info go to www.actmusic.com

TD-Ken-Wheeler-05

Songs-for-QuintetThe poignant final album from revered trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, who died on 8 September, Songs For Quintet is set for release on ECM Records on 12 January 2015 – just in time for what would have been his 85th birthday on 14 January.

Recorded in December 2013 at London’s Abbey Road studios, and produced by Manfred Eicher and Steve Lake, the album features regular Wheeler collaborators saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, guitarist John Parricelli, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer Martin France. Fittingly it marks Wheeler’s return to the label that released some of his most cherished recordings including Gnu High, Deer Wan and Angel Song. Due to ill health the sessions for Songs For Quintet were the last time Wheeler was able to play with other musicians and as such he couldn’t perform as part of a planned celebratory gig after the recording.

From early listens the album showcases Wheeler’s impeccable compositions that always match strong melodies with intriguingly inventive structures – all of which is devoured by the vastly experienced band. Wheeler, playing flugelhorn throughout, sounds strong on material that’s surprisingly uptempo and driving, although solo duties often fall to Sulzmann and Parricelli. The compositions are drawn from Wheeler’s recent past and include a fresh approach to ‘Old Time’ (an Azimuth trio favourite) alongside a new take on ‘Nonetheless’, a piece first heard on Angel Song.

Other tracks include ‘
How It Was Then’ (another Azimuth piece from 1994), an aptly titled waltz-time piece ’A Pretty Liddle Waltz’, the tango-fuelled ‘Sly Eyes’, the intricate yet flowing ‘Jigsaw’, and ‘Canter No. 1’, which is a bass feature for Laurence before giving way to a powerful Sulzmann solo. See the February 2015 issue of Jazzwise for an exclusive interview with Stan Sulzmann talking about the recording of the album.

– Mike Flynn

– Photo by Tim Dickeson


For more info go to www.ecmrecords.com

Piano legends Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea come together for a rare duo performance when they play London’s Barbican concert hall on Monday 6 July 2015 following a series of US concerts in the spring. The two pianists first dueted together in 1978 when they performed a series of acoustic duo dates and released An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea In Concert for Columbia, and Corea Hancock for Polydor, then their respective record labels.

Interestingly these acoustic concerts came at a time when both were riding high on the crest of the jazz-rock wave, with Hancock’s Headhunter’s band and Corea’s Return To Forever. These acoustic duet concerts included classic pieces such as Hancock’s ‘Maiden Voyage’, Corea’s ‘La Fiesta’ and a jointly written tune ‘The Hook’, and while they have not recorded together since, they have played the occasional duo date. Chick Corea has recently released the widely acclaimed piano trio three CD set Trilogy, which was voted in the top five albums of the year in the Jazzwise Critics Poll, while Hancock has recently published his revealing autobiography Possibilities.

– Jon Newey

Tickets for this historic collaboration are available from www.serious.org.uk/chickandherbie

Jazz FM have announced a series of special Christmas period programmes with guest presenters including singer Jacqui Dankworth and bassist Alec Dankworth, US bass star Marcus Miller and soul-funk diva Candi Staton, with each presenting a special seasonal edition of Jazz FM’s regular programmes. Vinny Marino’s TransAtlantic Jazz gets things underway (6-7pm) on Christmas Eve, followed by Dinner Jazz with Helen Mayhew (7-10pm) and Sarah Ward’s Christmas Collection (10pm-1am).

The big day itself features Ella Fitzgerald In Concert, recorded in 1991 with the Count Basie Orchestra, broadcast from 1-2pm, followed by Christmas Day with the Dankworths that will feature three hours of hand-picked tunes (2-5pm), broadcast live from The Stables – the venue founded by their parents in 1970.

Regular presenter Jamie Crick follows this with Christmas Day Requests (5-7pm) with two hours of music selected by listeners, presenters and musicians before Grammy Award winning bassist Marcus Miller then lays down some jazz, funk and fusion classics in a special edition of Dinner Jazz from 7pm on Christmas Day. Following this a week later on New Year’s Eve popular soul-jazz singer Candi Staton gets the party started as a guest host on an epic eight-hour edition of Funky Sensation (6pm-2am) alongside regular presenters Jeff Young, John Osborne and Mike Vitti.  

– Mike Flynn

For more info go to www.jazzfm.com

In a surprise move Bob Dylan is to release a new album on 3 February consisting solely of standards made popular by Frank Sinatra. The album, Shadows In The Night, his 36th album for the Columbia label, features ten newly recorded tracks of well known standards such as ‘Some Enchanted Evening’, ‘That Lucky Old Sun’, ‘Autumn Leaves’, ‘The Night We Called It A Day’, ‘I’m A Fool To Want You’ and ‘Where Are You?’ all previously recorded by Sinatra, the latter four tracks all coming from Sinatra’s 1957 Capitol album Where Are You?

Produced by Dylan, a longtime Sinatra fan, under his producer pseudonym Jack Frost, the aim was to strip the tunes back for a small quintet rather than the overloaded big band and strings approach that standards albums often take. “It was a real privilege to make this album” said Dylan in a Columbia announcement. “I've wanted to do something like this for a long time but was never brave enough to approach 30-piece complicated arrangements and refine them down for a five-piece band. That's the key to all these performances. We knew these songs extremely well. It was all done live. Maybe one or two takes. No overdubbing. No vocal booths. No headphones. No separate tracking, and, for the most part, mixed as it was recorded. I don't see myself as covering these songs in any way. They've been covered enough. Buried, as a matter a fact. What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them. Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.”

Dylan released one of the tracks, ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms’ (see video above) earlier this year and has recently been performing ‘Stay With Me’ live as part of his never-ending-tour. Judging by the sound of ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms’, which has spare, atmospheric feel and melancholic pedal steel guitar, the musicians are his regular band and his voice sounds warm, less gravelly and a little smoother than his recent albums. Dylan has previously recorded standards on his 1970 Columbia album, Self Portrait, including ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘Let It Be Me’.

Commenting on the album, Columbia Records Chairman Rob Stringer said: “There are no strings, obvious horns, background vocals or other such devices often found on albums that feature standard ballads. Instead, Bob has managed to find a way to infuse these songs with new life and contemporary relevance. It is a brilliant record and we are extremely excited to be presenting it to the world very soon.”

The complete Shadows In The Night track listing is:

1. ‘I'm a Fool to Want You’
2. ‘The Night We Called It a Day’
3. ‘Stay With Me’
4. ‘Autumn Leaves’
5. ‘Why Try to Change Me Now’
6. ‘Some Enchanted Evening’
7. ‘Full Moon and Empty Arms’
8. ‘Where Are You?’
9. ‘What'll I Do’
10. ‘That Lucky Old Sun’

– Jon Newey (story and photo)

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