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.

Anita Wardell Trio - Octave Jazz Bar, 16 August 2007

On Thursday, August 16th I had a revelation. A good fifteen minutes before her trio started rompin’, Anita Wardell looked unflappable. Cramped on a chair in a remote corner behind the Octave’s unfathomable carpeted stage, the great UK-born be-bop vocalist was artlessly flipping over her music sheets like a conscientious student swotting for an impending exam. Even Lee Morgan, blowing ‘Moanin’’ from the venue’s deafening speakers, did not burst her impenetrable bubble of concentration. Suddenly in walked serene pianist Robin Aspland, soon followed by composed bassist Jeremy Brown; Anita reconnected with the world around her.

The Femi Temowo Trio - Tsolo Bar, London, 11 January 2008

Friday nights in Herne Hill may be mistaken for Friday nights in Harlem as long as this residency continues. What began in October 2007 continues to be a lively affair that is gathering pace. The Nigerian restaurant and jazz bar provides an intimate setting for an emotive jam session. With an intensive Tom Hanson on bass, a precise Saleem Raman on drums and an impassioned Femi Temowo playing the guitar, there is a definite chemistry.

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