Andrew McCormack and Jason Yarde - First Move

While Jason Yarde is better known as a prolific producer mainly for the Dune label and more recently for Empirical, as a saxophonist he is noted for a wide variety of work including the celebrated 1990s band J-Life and his own group WAH. Pianist Andrew McCormack on the other hand made an award-winning impact when he sprang from nowhere to release his debut Telescope and together with Yarde shares some basic improvising principles. This month they team up for their first album release together. Interview; Kevin LeGendre

As autumn leaves turned gold in the light of a particularly sunny morning, the crypt café in St Luke’s church, Clerkenwell, is quiet as an evening prayer. Andrew McCormack and Jason Yarde are sitting around a table, the former soberly dressed in a black sweater, the latter displaying a quirkier side by way of a cream T-shirt bearing the jowly smile of Pigsy, he of the cult 1980s small screen series Monkey. Yarde’s distinctive ‘Frohican’, a bundle ofdreadlocks piled high atop a freshly shaven head, probably wouldn’t have been out of place in a fantasy kung fu flick for that matter.

St Luke’s, in any case, is something of an appropriate setting to meet the pair given the fact that the spiritual home of the London Symphony Orchestra has seen a lot of saxophonist Yarde and pianist McCormack through their participation in the Panufnik Young Composer’s scheme. Through past endeavours, they have proved themselves to be mercurial improvisers. Now they are proving themselves to be masterly writers.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #137 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE copy of the latest Partisans CD 'By Proxy'.

 

Cecil Taylor - Free As A Bird

Cecil Taylor shook the jazz scene up in the 1950s and has not looked back since. His early trailblazing days – including the 1956 album Jazz Advance and a startling six-week residency at New York’s Five Spot – were a prelude to a career that has proved individualistic, influential and highly controversial. Yet there is a strong case to be made for the pianist to stand alongside Ellington and Monk as pivotal figures who ushered in wholesale changes in the direction and language of jazz, heralding the age of free jazz. Taylor turned 80 earlier this year and rarely performs in Europe these days. But Jazzwise was there in Norway earlier in the year when the birthday champagne had still not lost its fizz. Interview; Marcus O’Dair

“Ornette? Ornette-i-pooh is very clever!” snarls Cecil Taylor, eyes ablaze through ruby shades, his usually soft mutter suddenly unnervingly intense. With its husky low volume and curious enunciation, syllables at times grossly protracted for emphasis, the voice is somewhere between a baddie in a Western and (a more sober) Rowley Birkin QC of the Fast Show. “Ornette-i-pooh doesn’t know what jazz is. I mean, Ornette could play the saxophone but...”

We are sitting on a private boat off the Norwegian city of Molde, at whose internationally renowned jazz festival the contrarian, and now octogenarian, pianist will perform the following evening.Yet although the largerthan-life Taylor turned 80 earlier in the year, his energy levels show no sign of dimming – as suggested by the above salvo, a response to a question about last summer’s Meltdown festival and the extent to which he shares common ground with its curator.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #137 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE copy of the latest Partisans CD 'By Proxy'.

Tenor Of Our Times - Sonny Rollins

Take a minute just to contemplate the power and glory of Sonny Rollins and the sheer scale of his achievement. Whether it is getting completely inside the most tender of ballads or delivering the most audaciously fiendish bebop run imaginable, or even charming an audience with flavours of the Caribbean, he knows the perfect route. Right there when bebop was freshly minted and he was running around with Miles and the fast set, through his startling early flowering with stone classic Saxophone Colossus, to his London jazz club days in the 60s, and up to today when he steps up to the mark once again live and in the studio. Very few come near.

Rollins – Unique And Absorbing. No, not a celebration in advance of the great saxophonist’s top billing at this year’s London Jazz Festival, but the headline of a review in Melody Maker during his first visit to London in 1965. “His nightly sessions [at Ronnie Scott’s] are something which no serious student of jazz can afford to miss,” continued the review and it has remained that way ever since. A Rollins concert continues to be an event to be savoured, Rolling Stone magazine once saying that in the future people will boast of having seen Rollins perform much as the lucky few now boast of having seen the great bebop pioneer Charlie Parker.

Sonny Rollins, now 79, is one of the last of the titans from the great era of modern jazz. Noted for his bold tone, propulsive phrasing and buoyant lyricism, he is a master at blending the contradictory impulses of contemporary jazz. He swings even as he fragments rhythms and as he ranges through chorus after chorus of heated improvisation, you always feel the melody is a stone’s throw away. His playing imparts, somehow, a simultaneous sense of struggle and celebration that has helped make him a legend in his own lifetime.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #136 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE copy of the latest Partisans CD 'By Proxy'.

 

Live And In Living Colour - Jan Garbarek

As a brand new double live album is released and ahead of a tour by his newly constituted group early next year the great Norwegian saxophonist Jan Garbarek looks back to his early years before Afric Pepperbird, the definitive album that changed the face of European jazz forever and launched a new sound identified with his label ECM. Therein lie the roots of his appeal, its Nordic essence in a nutshell but also deep within the sonorous Garbarek tones there’s an important side to his playing informed by the early pioneers of jazz saxophone like Coleman Hawkins, his great hero as a teenager the hard blowing Dexter Gordon, and above all John Coltrane. As Stuart Nicholson discovers, there’s much more to Garbarek than meets the eye

He’s been called a “poet of sound” and the late George Russell called him “the most original voice in European jazz since Django Reinhardt.” Yet he calls himself a “reluctant saxophonist” even though his albums have sold in five and six figure sums. Jan Garbarek, of course, whose every album release now creates a buzz of anticipation in the jazz world and beyond. But it’s more than just the music that’s special on Dresden: In Concert. Not only is it is the first Jan Garbarek Group recording in 16 years, but it’s also Garbarek’s first-ever live album on the ECM label.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #136 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE copy of the latest Partisans CD 'By Proxy'.

Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man - Gwilym Simcock

Meteor-like, Gwilym Simcock hit the jazz scene with a vengeance when he made an assured debut with Perception two years ago, devastatingly belying his newcomer status. Since then he has made giant strides in both the jazz and classical world but will he be able to justify the oceans of praise he has received with follow-up album Blues Vignette? If anything the stakes have been raised still higher on the double album with a brand new trio, a version of the Grieg piano concerto, vocal standards ‘Black Coffee’ and ‘Cry Me a River’ and even a tribute to Weather Report’s Jaco Pastorius and Joe Zawinul. Selwyn Harris catches up with Simcock on tour in south east Asia

“I do feel guilty to have had quite a lot of recognition and I’m sure they’ll be people out there who’ll resent me for having so many opportunities,” concedes the UK’s most upwardly mobile young jazz musician for decades. It’s important to Gwilym Simcock that he pays his dues like any other jazzer. Yet such a remarkable start to a career as this Welsh-born pianist-composer has experienced could easily go to a young man’s head. But not this one as Simcock is a very unassuming young gent; he comes across with the same kind of genuine humility in conversation as when Jazzwise first caught up with him back in 2004 having just graduated with first class honours from the Royal Academy of Music. That’s in spite of Simcock since becoming the most fêted jazz musician of his generation. And by a long chalk too. Of course he’s had more than a few assists along the way.

 

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #136 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE copy of the latest Partisans CD 'By Proxy'.

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