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Bristol jazz this week – 39 Aug

August 30, 2014

Sunday at the Alma in Clifton has the Henderson-Willox quartet “with Lisa Cherian and Matt Jones playing groovin’ Soul Jazz including covers of Stevie Wonder songs”.

Marie Lister and James Ladd are at the Canteen earlier in the day. They say:

Duval Project vocalist Marie Lister somehow catches all the soul of great R’n’B in the most stripped down acoustic setting, thus blending perfectly with the gumbo savour of bluesy N’Awlins that wreathes around James Ladd’s rolling guitar and downtown voice.

The peerless Dave Newton (really enjoyed his recent duo set with Don Weller in Brecon Cathedral) graces the jazz club at Future Inns with his piano playing on Thursday, while Moscow Drug Club bring their atmospheric jazzy cabaret songs to the FringeJazz in Clifton (Jon Taylor’s sessions starting their final month in the current venue before a big move in October, of which more later).

James Morton is at No 1 Harbourside on Friday  (and probably several other places during the week…   including the regular session at the Gallimaufry on Thursday)

Things starting to wake up a bit now September’s here. Andy Hague‘s Silverado have a date for Ian Storror at the Hen and Chicken on Sunday 7th, and the Be-Bop club season opens on Friday 12th with Dave Newton, this time leading a quintet. But that’s all I have for this week.


Bristol jazz this week, August 24

August 24, 2014

The Old Duke Jazz Festival got under way on Saturday, and continues today and tomorrow. They’ve eschewed the outdoor stage, I noticed in passing yesterday, and the bands are playing from inside the pub, looking out. I guess that’ll keep them dry if/when it rains!

Pianist Andy Christie is at the Canteen on Wednesday night, with Gary Alesbrook (trumpet), John Short (bass) and Greg White (drums) to showcase material from a new album ‘Imaginary Friends’.

The always popular Pushy Doctors (Andy Sheppard, Dan Moore, Tony Orrell), enliven the Fringe in Clifton on Thursday night. There’s a familiar/unfamiliar offering at Future Inns the same evening. Familiar because the band is trading as Sound of Blue Note. Unfamiliar because the players are new to Bristol, I think. (A couple of changes of personnel since I said that! – see below).  The venue says:


James Morton and friends now have a Thursday night residency at the Gallimuafry on the Gloucester Rd prom. With the Friday night jam session a Tart a few doors away my own neighbourhood in BS6 is getting jazzier…

And something out of the ordinary next Sunday (30th). It would have been Sun Ra‘s 100th birthday, and the date is being celebrated with film and music at the Exchange in Old Market – as detailed here. Rather wonderfully, the Sun Ra Orchestra, now led by Marshall Allen who is a mere 90, are live at the Chicago Jazz Festival that day. Can’t go of course, but still have fond memories of seeing them at the Croft in Bristol not that many years ago. An amazing evening!

New jazz season at St George’s

August 23, 2014

Autumn at St George’s on Brandon Hill, recently celebrating funding success which will help start some ambitious improvements to the building but already a wonderful listening venue, has many fine things. Among them are four notable jazz dates.

Bill Laurence is the pianist with the popular Snarky Puppy, who have brought impressive audiences to their exuberant jazz rock sets (seen last year at Colston Hall). His new project features that band’s bassist and drummer, so the vibe should be intact, but this piano trio are joined by a string quartet. The Bristol gig, on October 4, is the first night of a short UK tour promoting Laurence’s first solo album, Flint – released back in May and a big seller on iTunes.

Expect a mix of jazz/funk/classical, and a big crowd. There are videos of most tracks on youtube, and you can listen to the whole thing here on bandcamp to whet your appetite.

The next date also has strings, but will have a very different flavour. Gilad Atzman, who can make his alto sound more like Charlie Parker than anyone you’ve ever heard, brings his Gilad with strings project on October 23. He has a good following in Bristol, with repeated appearances for Ian Storror, so it is nice to see him get a night in the grander venue. This date combines  his regular Orient House Ensemble with the Sigamos strings to perform some of the celebrated arrangements Parker recorded, along with new pieces of Gilad’s. He’s an electrifying performer, and tours indefatigably, and they’ve been doing this music since 2010 – as this comprehensive review from Ian Mann attests. They are going to play acoustically and I know I always say this but it should sound fantastic at St G’s.

The same applies to the sax/piano duo of Tommy Smith and Brian Kellock on November 20. Smith is more often seen leading the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra or in superstar trios with the likes of Arild Anderson, but this pairing with fellow Scot Kellock goes way back. They released their third album this year, and it is the kind that justifies exploring standards (think American song book) because the players are so good and have such rapport. Listening to them is a pure pleasure.

Then on December comes the one I personally look forward to most. This is an adventurous booking, featuring Swiss trio Vein, who you may  not have heard of, and the great saxophonist Dave Liebman. I didn’t know them either but sound samples sound excellent. Besides, if Liebman is crossing the Atlantic to tour with them that is recommendation enough – there’s a recording planned, too. Liebman is one of the great post-Coltrane sax players: it is customary to mention his lengthy stint with Miles Davis but he has done so much more since. He’s a formidably accomplished player, on tenor and soprano, composer, arranger, organiser, educator, and everything he does simply glows with musical intelligence.

There’s one more jazz date to note, which didn’t make it into St George’s seasonal brochure – JoKleBa, described as “the legendary supergroup of Norwegian jazz” appear on a Norway music day featuring the splendid FIona Talkington and an evening show from Ketil Bjornstad. They are playing in the afternoon of Sat Nov 22nd – details here.

And the reader(s) of this blog should also make a date with the unclassifiable and unfailingly appealing Three Cane Whale who play a “seasonal” show on Dec 12th. No telling what that will mean but it will surely be excellent. Review from their magical show last time out at St George’s is here.


Bristol jazz this week – Aug 17th

August 17, 2014

Wonderful days of music in Brecon last weekend. My brief review will appear in Jazzwise next month. Meanwhile Mike Collins’ impressions are on their website, and if you want to know more Ian Mann gives his usual very thorough rundown here.

Looking ahead rather than back, Kevin Figes’ band plays the Alma tonight (Sunday), and there’s the usual jam session at the Canteen on Monday.

Violinist Graham Clark leads a quartet at Fringe Jazz in Clifton on Thursday. Apparently he has long=standing Bristol connections so this is a meeting of old friends:

Back in the 80’s Graham was one of the regulars at Gorge Jazz at the Avon Gorge Hotel along with Andy Sheppard, Jerry Underwood, Paul Dunmall, Tony Orrell, John Walter, Bob Helson, Mark Langford, Tim Richards and many other great musicians and it will be great to see him back in Bristol. The rhythm section is headed up by the wonderful Jim Blomfield and Andy Sheppard will be making a guest appearance. This will be the first time in over 20 years that Sheppard and Clark have played together.

Graham Clark – Violin, Andy Sheppard – Sax, Jim Blomfield – Piano, Greg Cordez - Double Bass and Andy Tween – Drums.

The listing in the Post implies that fellow violinist John Pearce will be there too but this seems unlikely as he has his own gig the same evening at Future Inns – with unknown but doubtless also classy band members. So violin wherever you go, basically. (I like violin).

Lady Nade and the Silhouettes are at the Golden Lion on Gloucester Rd, also on Thursday.

Funk/jazz/dub outfit Los Mercerianos play the Canteen on Friday. I don’t have the full personnel but James Morton is definitely in the picture so it is bound to be good.

The Old Duke festival (outside the pub on King Street) is a charming Bristol fixture – three days (I think) of jazz with mostly trad bands but the odd helping of more modern sounds along the way. There’s nothing listed on their website for Saturday as I write, but maybe there is by the time you read this.

Bristol jazz this week Aug 11

August 11, 2014

No time to do a proper listing this week because of Brecon taking up the weekend (and then some), and very pleasurably too. I think It is fairly quiet around  town. Here are a couple of easy to paste in things to be going on with. Feel free to add more in the comments…

ANDY SHEPPARD & DENNY ILETT QUARTET are at FRINGE JAZZ, Thursday 14th August at 8PM. Tickets £9.

Andy Sheppard – Sax, Denny Ilett – Guitar, David Guy – Double Bass and Dylan Howe – Drums.
After series of diary clashes – THEY’RE BACK !! A band ‘born’ at Fringe Jazz whose gig back in March created the biggest audience feedback and rave reviews we’ve had in our two years of gigs at The Bristol Fringe. NOT TO BE MISSED

Future Inns, Thurs 14th – Molly and the Kings:

Making tidal waves on the Bristol Jazz scene, Molly Miranda King is an extremely vibrant singer with a natural talent and unique tone, drawing on Soul and Gospel to enhance her distinctive traditional Jazz sound.

Since the age of seven Molly has owned a four track, allowing her creative imagination to run freely, constantly experimenting with harmonies and different vocal techniques and styles. As a result, she has developed an astoundingly acute ear, giving her perfect intonation and breathtakingly clear tonality.

Influenced from an early age by such Gospel greats as Lauren Hill and Whitney Houston, Molly has developed a unique voice full of soul which continues to grow with rich textures, drawing likeness from more modern artists such as Melody Gardot and India Arie.

Molly performs a range of songs from contemporary soul and classic R&B to stunning ballads with a modern twist and is complimented beautifully by George Cooper on piano, Sam King on drums and Mike Isaac on Bass.

(She’s also at the Canteen next Sunday…).

All for now. Back soon with a preview of the new season at St George’s.

John Law trio, Future Inns, July 31

August 4, 2014

Here’s a treat for a Thursday evening in the quiet stretch of mid-Summer: John Law launching a piano trio set with a determinedly rhythmic Straight, No Chaser. I’m not sure I’ve heard him play a Monk tune before, but this is the common language of jazz club sets and this trio have not played together before – drummer Andy Tween and Law are old friends but bassist-about-Bristol Greg Cordez is a new acquaintance. The three mesh immediately, responding to Law’s left hand punching out the time with an emphasis so strong it is almost but not quite eccentric. Monk would have approved.

They then move onto more expected terrain – a Jarrett piece, one by Chick Corea, an arrangement of You Don’t Know What Love Is. The last dances gently against an unusual rhythmic backdrop that lends new life to the tune. We don’t hear any of the restlessly creative leader’s large book of memorable  compositions this evening, but each of these is very fine.

Set two continues in the same vein: Herbie Hancock’s Dolphin Dance (an oblique response to a request for On Green Dolphin Street), then two choices that became the portion of the evening where everything really works perfectly and the music takes on a richer patina – Michele Petrucciani’s joyful Looking Up and that new almost-standard Nick Drake’s mysteriously melancholic River Man. Then a new Law arrangement of Kenny Wheeler’s gorgeous Heyoke (Jarrett territory again there – he played piano on the original recording of the piece in his last ever sideman gig), and a finale of My Favourite Things leading into another Jarrett tune.

Altogether a great advertisement for the breadth of jazz repertoire now available to players of this calibre. I don’t know if this particular formation will perform again, but they could record tomorrow and produce something worth preserving for posterity.

They could have done with a bit more of an audience last week, though. It was a pretty quiet night down in Future Inns basement, though the bar above was annoyingly noisy at times (not busy either, just noisy).  Maybe everyone is on hols…   Here’s hoping the place picks up as they carry on through August. I would say, though, that the current admission arrangements are a bit odd. A fiver to go in is very reasonable, but also asking for tips for the band is a tad confusing. Better to set a price and pay once, surely? Or – to steal an idea tried in Derby a while back – why not have a “one note” policy on the door: pay any note you like, a fiver for casual punters, a tenner for enthusiasts, or twenty if you are feeling flush and want to support creative music. How about it guys?

Jazz this week, 3 August

August 3, 2014

Young New Orleans’ hot shots The Session at the Hen and Chicken tonight (sunday) – also at Dempsey‘s in Cardiff on Wednesday, incidentally – and Brecon Jazz Fest coming up at the end of the week, as detailed in the previous post.

And a fair few other gigs this week, it turns out.

Emily Wright and the Royals will be swinging at No 1 Harbourside on Sunday evening as well.

Molly King sings, with George Cooper on piano at No 1 Harbourside on Wednesday.

The Canteen have two excellent dates this week. Bath-based pianist (and very knowledgeable jazz blogger) Mike Collins brings his quartet on Wednesday, with Lee Goodall on sax.

The following night (Thursday) sees the first Bristol date for a while for the superb Dahkla, now augmented by trombone to add to the three horn and drums line-up they have developed so successfully into a unique, danceable jazz sound.

Also Thursday we have the formidable trio of John Pearce (violin), James Morton (alto sax) and Dave Newton (piano) at the Fringe in Clifton, and an equally impressive line-up down at Future Inns, where drummer Paulo Adamo proposes an evening of Monk, featuring Nick Malcolm on trumpet, Nicholas Dover on tenor sax, George Cooper on piano and Pasquale Votino on bass.

Finally, Friday has a welcome Bristol visit for Gary Crosby’s Jazz Jamaica, playing the Trinity Centre. Support from Bristol Reggae Orchestra (note, not at the Alma Tavern as suggested in this week’s listing in The Guardian)..


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