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Bristol jazz week, 27 Sep

September 27, 2014

Definitely getting harder to keep track of everything at the moment…

So (deep breath).

SaturdayJason Rebello and Empirical, Wiltshire Music Centre, Bradford on Avon – rare opportunity to hear one of Brit jazz’s most accomplished groups.

SundayCloudmakers Trio, Hen and ChickenJim Hart, vibes, Dave Smith, drums, Michael Janisch, bass (on great form with the amazing band he played with in Cardiff last week). Playing stuff from a new CD, which is reviewed by John Fordham here and previewed below. (CORRECTION: We’ll be hearing James Maddren  on drums, always a welcome presence on stage).

Victoria Klewin sings at the Coronation Tap on Sunday evening, with Jim Blomfield, piano, Greg Cordez, bass and Eddie John, drums.

Monday has the regular free improvising  session at the Fringe in Clifton (thanks for posting details in the comments), featuring Nick Malcolm, trumpet, and Hannah Marshall, cello
with Paul Anstey, double bass, and Bob Helson, drums
(Free admission with retiring collection – I love that, it sounds like a church service).

Monday also sees Claire Martin at Colston Hall’s Lantern, with cellos…  which should be great. Also at the Lantern, on Wednesday, are Neil Cowley’s trio who I would love to hear…   but have been tempted by Kathryn Tickell at St George’s that night.

The university Jazz/Funk/Soul society are back in action with a weekly jam session at The Big Chill Bar on Tuesdays.

Thursday sees the first session in the new venue for the sessions formerly run at the Fringe, now at the Mall pub in Clifton. It’s a bigger and better room, and will allow the audience to grow – which if all goes well will allow more ambitious bookings – look out for the great Iain Ballamy in a couple of weeks. First date there is high energy violinist John Pearce’s tribute to Charlie Parker. Andy Christie with singer Jane Christie perform at Future Inns the same evening. The Thursday jazz sets at the Gallimaufry on Gloucester Rd are in the hands of singer Celestine and friends.

Friday sees Bill Laurence, bring his piano trio – the core of band of the moment Snarky Puppy – with strings to St George’s, while trombonist Ian Bateman‘s quartet feature at the BeBop club.

I think that’s it. Venue links down the page. Please add any I’ve missed in the comments…

Jazz this week in Bristol, and beyond… Sep 20

September 20, 2014

And…    it gets busier. More to choose from than usual in Bristol in the next week or so, and a couple of tempting offerings not too far away, one in Cardiff, one in Bradford on Avon.

Bristol starts busy at the weekend, with Moscow Drug Club playing a date at the Alma (in the Theatre upstairs, not the bar) on Saturday night. Then on Sunday the Johnny Bruce- Denny Illett quintet are at the Canteen in the afternoon, with a session where Emily Wright and the Royals play for Bristol Swing Dancers (and anyone else who facies it) down at No 1 Harbourside a little later. They do have a new recording, too, but word is it may not be quite ready on Sunday. You know how it is…

Then on Tuesday there is a startlingly good band making their only out of London foray at Dempsey’s in Cardiff. It’s one of bassist Michael Janisch‘s many projects, a quintet called City of Poets led by French pianist Cedric Hanriot. The rest of the band, who have had a short tour in the US and are recording live at the Pizza Express in London on Monday for Janisch’s label, are US heavyweights, trumpeter Jason Palmer, drummer Clarence Penn and the world class saxophonist Donny McAslin, often seen with Dave Douglas.

On the other hand, Tuesday also sees a surprise session at the Fringe in Clifton – almost but not quite the last one before Jon Taylor’s enterprising gigs move to the Mall nearby – featuring ace guitarist Tony Remy. And Lulo Reinhardt offers guitar in the style that name calls to mind at Colston Hall‘s Lantern.

Thursday has hard choices. James Morton, on blistering form last week, leads his regular Thursday night session at the Gallimaufry on Gloucester Road. Bassist Tim Thornton‘s quartet are at the Coronation Tap with another great alto player, James Gardiner-Batemen. Johnny Bruce revisits the trumpet kings in the final Thursday Session at the current venue the at the Fringe, and ace guitarist Jerry Crozier-Cole is at Future Inns, with John Paul Gard on piano, Will Harris, bass and Eddie Johns, drums.

Friday at the Be-Bop Club features the fine local quartet Freight: Martin Jenkins, piano, Craig Crofton, sax, Greg Cordez, bass and Matt Brown, drums. Polar Bear are in Cardiff at the RWCMD that evening, incidentally.

Then next Saturday promises a special night at the lovely Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford-on-Avon. They have had the excellent idea to give SW resident Jason Rebello a residency, and his first date features Empirical, the all star quartet that is Nathaniel Facey, sax, Lewis Wright, vibes, Shaney Forbes, drums and Tom Farmer bass.

And since I’ve got to next weekend, also worth mentioning that the “literary music festival” Off The Page comes to the Arnolfini from Fri 26th- Sunday 28th, and looks well worth checking out. And on Sunday 26th, Ian Storror is presenting the Cloudmakers Trio at the Hen and Chicken – with the indefatigable (we trust) Michael Janisch heading out West again…

So if you make a fair proportion of these, there is basically a decent jazz festival’s worth of music to enjoy over the next ten days. Wishing good audiences all round…




Bristol jazz week – 13 September

September 13, 2014

Bristol European Jazz Ensemble appear at the Canteen on Wednesday, doubtless showcasing material from their very nice recent “live at the Fringe” CD. They are: Dave Mowat, trumpet, Julien Alenda, also sax, Anders Olinder , keys, Pasquale Votino, bass and Marco Anderson, drums. Mike Collins has just reviewed the recording here. It made him want to hear them live…

A special night at the Fringe in Clifton on Thursday. Improvising pianist Pat Thomas, recently seen to good effect with Steve Williamson, journeys from Oxford to lead a quintet, also featuring Geoff Hawkins – Tenor Sax, Aaron Hawkins – Alto Sax, the brilliant Bristol resident Dominic Lash – Double Bass and Tony Orrell – Drums. Thomas has worked with a vast range of free players in the UK and Europe since the 198os. Some career details here. This is a rare opportunity to see him in Bristol.

Gary Alesbrook’s Duval Project return to Future Inns the same evening.

James Chadwick‘s Wakahume play the BeBop club in Hotwells on Friday. They say:

Guitarist James Chadwick approaches his music in a distinctive and thoughtful way, blending ever evolving melodic lines with inventive and measured harmonic treatment. He eschews flashy technical runs for angular Monk-ish lines with an ethereal sound reminiscent of Bill Frisell. The rich warm toned trumpet of Ben Thomas provides the perfect foil for James’ guitar, and they are joined by Aeddan Williams on bass and multi-instrumentalist Lee Goodall playing drums for this performance.

Eclectic Django Reinhardt leaning string quartet Gypsy Fire light up the Lantern at Colston Hall on Saturday 20th.

Finally, advance notice that next Sunday (21st) sees a swing dance night with Emily Wright and the Royals at No 1 Harbourside. Rumour has it there may be a new recording ready, too.

Don’t forget the various jam sessions (Canteen on Monday, Tart Gloucester Rd Friday) and regular dates (James Morton, Gallimaufry Thursday). Others? Do bung them in the comments.

Bristol jazz this week, 7 September

September 6, 2014

Reminder for this Sunday (7th). As mentioned last week, Silverado are at the Hen and Chicken (down in Southville a short walk from the Tobacco Factory), playing – you guessed – Horace Silver tunes. Arrangements by Andy Hague, horn playing by Andy, Ben Waghorn and Kevin Figes.

Bristol Composers Collective might be returning on Monday. Anyone know? No info at the moment…

Guitarist Matt Hopkins leads his trio (Anders Olinder – Keyboards,  Andy Tween – Drums) plus guest John Pearce on violin at Fringe Jazz in Clifton on Thursday, while keyboard man about town Dan Moore leads a trio with Greg Cordez (bass) and Matt Brown (drums) at Future Inns.

An excellent line-up to launch the Be-Bop club‘s new season in Hotwells on Friday – Dave Newton leading a quintet from the piano, with Andy Hague – trumpet, Ben Waghorn – tenor sax, Will Harris – bass and Mark Whitlam – drums.

There’s something rather special earlier that evening, too. Colston Hall has a strong autumn jazz line-up, with gigs coming up from Lulo Reinhardt, Claire Martin, Neil Cowley and The Necks.

One you may have missed is this free foyer date from Blue Eyed Hawk. Who are they? It’s a starry young quartet, featuring the striking singer Lauren Kinsella, who writes most of the lyrics, the much lauded trumpeter Laura Jurd, Alex Roth on guitars and Corrie Dick on drums and keys. The Bristol set is part of a short tour to mark release of their fine CD Under the Moon, which is insistent and dreamy by turns and packed with interesting music and lyrics, including a unique take on Somewhere Over the Rainbow. Really unusually good. More details here.


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.



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