Portico Quartet plus Basquiat Strings - Union Chapel, London Friday 22 February

Basquiat Strings take the starkness of modern classical music and wrap it around a subtly pervading jazz beat.  But while they maintain the haunting quality of classical string music, they generate an atmosphere which is constantly disconcerting and pleasantly surprising.

Stan Tracy Big Band and Octet - plus Keith Tippet - The Barbican 30 Jan 2008


At 81 this year, it is easy to understand why pianist Stan Tracey is so widely considered the elder statesman of British jazz.  Although his age may well be a factor in this sort of categorisation, tonight’s Barbican performance proved that his position at the top of the jazz food chain is rightly due to the sheer breadth and quality of his compositions. 

The Blessing, Matt and Phreds Jazz Club, Manchester, 30 January 2008

Word had clearly got around that this visit to Manchester from Bristol based
quirksters The Blessing was worth checking out and being favoured by luminaries including Portishead and Robert Plant no doubt assured a degree of interest from outside the usual jazz rank and file. I caught The Blessing down in Bath a few weeks ago and was very impressed but uncertain whether they could whip up a similar storm on an away match.

Los Mercenarios, CCQ, Dr Meaker / Monk Liberation Front, Dylan Howe's Subterraneans - 24-25 November

An epic musical journey from downtown Bristol to fashionable Shoreditch via London’s South Bank, this could definitely be regarded as a full weekend. Saturday November 24 saw three of Bristol’s finest live acts and numerous DJs swarm to The Attic in Stokes Croft, a new underground venue starting to attract a lot of talent. A tight set from the scorching Latin funk outfit Los Mercenarios opened proceedings.

The Vocal Jazz Summit - The Spice of Life, Wednesday 21 November - London Jazz Festival

My vain expectations of a manly explosive vocal brew left me with a half-empty stomach last Wednesday at the Spice of Life. Tastefully accompanied by double bassist Steve Watts and drummer David Wickins under the dedicated eye of Paul Pace, the backstage venue’s heartbeat, the Vocal Jazz Summit (Pete Churchill pictured right, Iain Mackenzie, Anton Browne) served the audience with a refined, yet overly traditional, three-course bill.

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