Milton Nascimento - 20/11/08 RFH, LJF

“Everything I am mentally, physically, spiritually resides in Minas.” Milton Nascimento made this existential declaration several years ago. The implication was that his music, famous for cross-genre pollination, was a product of growing up in a town in which musical categories were overlooked. It was a disappointment therefore that this concert was so narrow in its interpretation of Bossa Nova. Given that this Nascimento-Jobim Trio (made a quartet for this occasion) project is in celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of this genre, it was an opportunity to showcase how the music has developed and what awaits us in the future. To the detriment of this performance, such a direction was sorely missed.

Nikki Yeoh - Write Stuff Workshop - Bue Room, LJF 2008

Sitting in the blue room on the South Bank’s spirit level, British Jazz pianist Nikki Yeoh was full of energy despite the fact that it was a Sunday morning. Her deep purple satin dress and sparkly jewellery hinted at the personality that her beaming smile could not hide. Yeoh, who is of English and Malaysian descent, may be at home in South London but her charm and talent has taken her around the world, tinkling the ivories in Europe, India, Latin America, Cuba and Japan. Her influences are as diverse drawing upon hip-hop, funk, pop and classical music. But wherever and whatever Yeoh plays, it is on her terms.

JVC Paris Jazz Festival 2008

This Autumn saw a lively jazz scene in Paris. The JVC Jazz Festival took place in bars all around the French capital from October 10to 182008. This marvellous venture offered a breadth of jazz music pervading concert rooms including La Cigale, Bataclan and New Morning and presenting jazz stars such as Herbie Hancock, Bjorn Berge and the Hadouk Trio. In addition, Lizz Wright electrified the public at La Cigale on November 28 and Yaelle Naim astounded the audiences of Folies Bergères from November 13 to 15.

Courtney Pine plus Empirical - 20/11/08 Barbican LJF

Empirical were electric ten minutes into their set. Playing in tribute to the late Eric Dolphy, Tom Farmer on double bass strummed the pain, in an at times dark and atmospheric set. Nathaniel Facey’s alto saxophone in particular took part in a musical inquest with notes probing the tragic loss. Yet the personality of the gig was bi polar with moments of sweet jazz as if, Lewis Wright (vibes), and Shaney Forbes (drums), joined them in some tumultuous romance.

Courtney Pine ‘Transition In Tradition’ Band – 20/11/08 Barbican, LJF

After signing my ticket, Courtney Pine politely reminds me it’s “Time to go to work.” Determined to explore what jazz is, he does not seek to give us an answer, but rather present it to us in its various guises throughout the ages. The result is a whirlwind majestic tour of jazz, characterised by the career of Sidney Bechet, the New Orleanian who bought his first Saxophone in Baker Street.

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