Partisans - On Your Side

Partisans are that very good thing, an unclassifiable band. They can’t comfortably be seen just within the prism of jazz-rock because they draw on a variety of other influences that feed their creativity.

The quartet – Julian Siegel on saxophone, Phil Robson, guitar, Thad Kelly, bass, and Gene Calderazzo, drums – has a loyal fan base that has extended the lifetime of the group way beyond the short-lived nature of many jazz bands. More than 13 years on from their beginnings, Partisans talk to Duncan Heining about how new album By Proxy got made and their craving for a live album

We’re one Partisan short of a mission. Bassist Thad Kelly lives in semipastoral bliss in the Forest of Dean and couldn’t make it. But saxophonist Julian Siegel, guitarist Phil Robson and Gene Calderazzo, the band’s drummer, gather to talk on a spring evening outside the Vortex in London. Partisans – they dropped the ‘The’ to avoid confusion with a Welsh punk group of that name – are about to release By Proxy, their fourth album, and mark this with a tour that continues this month.

Their previous record, Max, featured special guests, trumpeter Chris Batchelor along with Jim Watson on Hammond B3 and percussionist Thebe Liepere. But how does By Proxy differ from its predecessors? “Well,” says Julian Siegel, “ Max was a really nice experience with all the guests but with this one we wanted to capture the basic essence of the group and the way it plays together. We had thought about doing a live record and this is about as live as we could be in the studio.”

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #131 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE Warner Jazz CD


Diana Krall - The Silence That Surrounds Us

Singer Diana Krall may just have reached another peak in her career with the release of bossa-nova themed album Quiet Nights, arranged once again by Claus Ogerman. The very title conjures up a stylised image of Brazil, and at the same time draws on a world of lushness, sensuality and above all emotion. It also references the vast impact the title song has had on jazz under its English title or as it’s known in Portuguese, ‘Corcovado’. Krall talks to Peter Quinn about how the slow tempos of the album mattered to her above everything else in the recording of the album and, while it sees Krall return to working with a familiar team and the comfort of the zone she made her name in, it could regain the affection of those who took a dislike to her earlier album The Girl In The Other Room.

Critics then made their feelings clear despite the success of many of that album’s artistic ambitions and the undoubted quality of some of the songs Krall penned. However, the new album may, despite returning to familiar ground, lift the level of the jazz vocal style Krall presides over as one of its leading practitioners and relieve the sheer desperation many jazz fans feel about classic songbook and bossa repertoire.

She’s the most famous living jazz singer, a Grammy award winner who has sold over 14 million records worldwide. But even Diana Krall still suffers the occasional bout of nerves. Then again, if you were performing at an intimate tribute to Stevie Wonder, and both he and President Barack Obama were sitting so close you could reach over and ask them for a light, chances are you’d feel a little nervous too.

Krall was one of a select group of guests asked to perform when Wonder was awarded the Second Library of Congress Gershwin Prize for Popular Song. Held on 25 February in the East Room of the White House in celebration of African American History Month, other artists on the bill (“The most accomplished Stevie Wonder cover band ever assembled,” Obama reportedly joked) included Tony Bennett, Paul Simon, jazz bassist and singer Esperanza Spalding, hip hop artist and producer, and country star (and fellow Canadian) Martina McBride.

“I sang ‘Blame It On The Sun’. I was a wreck, an absolute mess,” Krall tells me on the phone from New York. “I was in tears first of all because I walked on stage and there’s Barack and Michelle Obama looking the most gorgeous people, and we’re honouring Stevie Wonder in the White House. I was just so moved. I was invited to the White House during President Bush’s administration and did not go. It was such a cool thing to have the President of the United States say ‘Ladies and gentlemen, give it up for Stevie Wonder’. I was just, like, ‘Aagh, this is the best’. Everybody felt it, everybody was emotional about it. And then when I finally met President Obama, he said to me: ‘You didn’t tell me your husband was Elvis Costello. That’s so cool’.”

 This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #131 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a FREE Warner Jazz CD

Joe Lovano - Organic Growth

Blessed with an enormous, joyful sound and the purest of tones, above all, on the tenor saxophone, Joe Lovano has not surprisingly moved to the top of the pile on the international jazz circuit in the course of his career so far. The son of a saxophonist, he has, from the 1990s onwards, laid down a formidable series of albums, primarily for the Blue Note label and the latest, Folk Art, is out now. To coincide with its release and in anticipation of his appearance at Ronnie Scott’s this month Joe tells Brian Priestley about the genesis of his new band and album, his parallel work with McCoy Tyner, Hank Jones and John Scofield, and above all about his enduring love for jazz and the improvising ethic.

At the appointed hour for our interview, saxophonist supreme Joe Lovano was still waiting to check into a hotel in Eugene (Oregon), the latest date on a whistle-stop tour of the USA and Canada by the SF Jazz Collective.

One of many all-star groupings Lovano has been involved with in the past decade or so, its latest line-up featured Joe alongside Miguel Zenón, Dave Douglas, Robin Eubanks and Renée Rosnes, with Matt Penman and Eric Harland on bass and drums. As well as original material by all concerned, this year’s tour focussed on the music of the great McCoy Tyner. This must have been like coming home for Lovano, since in recent years he’s done several quartet gigs with Tyner, including the European tour that brought him to Ronnie Scott’s last year.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #130 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a limited edition jazz photograph...

Led Bib - The Outsiders

Led Bib were one of the few bands to spawn the recently revived notion of punk jazz with their incendiary concoction of maverick avant garde jazz and rock sounds cooked up by spiky drummer Mark Holub. Newly signed to American indie Cuneiform, the band unleashes its latest album Sensible Shoes this month. Selwyn Harris talks to Holub about the roots of the Led Bib sound and how the band just doesn’t fit in

It’s clear from speaking to the New Jersey-born, London-based drummer Mark Holub that he’s feeling out on a limb. Yet it’s not simply a case of feeling apart from the conservative jazz mainstream. That wouldn’t be the least surprising and hardly an unusual position to be in. No, most of our conversation seems to be revolving around the distance between Led Bib and the entire jazz community in all its various shades and guises. Holub is the drumming mastermind behind the band and as anyone who’s seen them play live will agree, they’re not the kind of band that can be so easily contained. They make highly inflammable music that fizzes with an underlying tension, even in its most gentle moments. The five-piece is a musical timebomb. Yet the point about Led Bib is not to take them too seriously; their music has an impish, almost vaudevillian quality to it as well. Bundling together elements from gestural free jazz, cranked-up rock, downtown thrash and electronics among others, Led Bib, over its five-year existence, has had a hard job making new friends. In some ways they can’t win: perceived as too musically convoluted for the rock music sub-culture yet too unschooled for the jazz underground.

“I think as time has gone by we’ve become far more isolated from the jazz community as a group,” says the band’s amicable drummer/leader, in conversation with me at his home in Walthamstow E17. “But isolated in a good way in that people probably aren’t that bothered about what we’re doing. Saying that, the scene is much more open now than it was five years ago when we started. When we first started we were really separate at that time because none of us went to the Academy or the Guildhall.” He laughs, “we were the losers from Middlesex.”

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #130 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a limited edition jazz photograph...

Get The Blessing - Bristol Fashion

Get The Blessing made a big impact last year with its debut album and returns this month with another helping of genre-melting jazz rock, this time titled Bugs In Amber. Clive Deamer and Jim Barr might be better known for their work with Robert Plant and Portishead but, as the jazz world discovered with its debut, the pair, joined by jazzers Jake McMurchie and Pete Judge, are deadly serious about producing an identifiable group sound, grounded in their love of Ornette Coleman, the improvising ethic and an openness to other music picked up from the ecumenical attitude of their native Bristol’s music scene. Andy Robson was our man on the spot when the album was recorded

It’s been a crazy year or so for The Blessing. Well, they’re not The Blessing any more, for a start. As long as they were an anonymous bunch of upstarts from the wild west (not that they were ever really that), no one minded that they shared a name with a hairy rock band. But now they’re the august winners of last year’s BBC Jazz Album Of The Year award, they’ve found themselves re-branded as Get The Blessing.

They may have lost part of the ‘jazz’ heritage in the process – they took their original moniker from the Ornette Coleman song – but the band remain jovially surprised at the success of All Is Yes. Even Clive Deamer who has been through the industry prize wringer not once but twice as a Mercury winner with Portishead and Roni Size can’t suppress a chortle at how events have played out. But then Get The Blessing are a band who chortle plenty.

This is an extract from Jazzwise Issue #130 – to read the full article click here to subscribe and receive a limited edition jazz photograph...


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