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Bristol jazz this week – Sep 18

September 18, 2017

The regular weekly preview on Bristol247 has turned into a 3-week selection today (here). Understandably, that means it’s not as complete as usual (there’s a lot going on). So I’ll do a smaller one-week list, as best I can, until normal service there is – I hope – restored.

So in the next 7 days we’ve got the intriguing prospect of Dave Newton‘s piano and vibes trio at the Fringe on Wednesday. The last time I heard him was in the same room, as part of Art Themen’s quartet, and he played as well as I’ve ever heard him, which is very well indeed.

After last week’s last-minute gig for John Martin, Future Inns spring another surprise this Thursday with a double bill of piano trios. Gabriel Latchin is visiting to promote his debut CD, which he launches at the Pizza Express in London on Monday 18th. The recording shows great promise, with a nice mix or originals and standards (Lover Man, Lush Life, Stomping’ at the Savoy), so expect the same mix in his live set. As well as name-checking all the piano greats on the CD, one of the self-penned tunes, Blues for Billy, is dedicated to peerless drummer Billy Higgins, so you know his heart’s in the right place.

He’s joined on Thursday by Tom Millar, who launches his CD at Pizza Express on Wednesday. In fact, he’s around half way through a more extensive tour with a quartet that includes prodigiously talented bassist Misha Mullov-Abbado (yet another recent CD debutant), Alex Monk on guitar and Jon Scott on drums. This looks like gig of the week, if only because if you don’t care for one band you’ll probably like the other. They even have a decent piano at Future Inns, so do try and make it if you can.

The night after Andy Hague‘s own quintet of local first-division players graces the BeBop club on Friday. There was a good crowd there for John Law’s band last week, and Andy’s crew deserves no less, with the long understanding between all involved – Jim Blomfield on piano, Rian Vosloo on bass and Mark Whitlam on drums your guarantee of a first rate evening’s music.

Finally, saxophonist Josephine Davis‘ trio Satori plays the Hen and Chicken on Sunday 24th, with the ace rhythm team of Dave Whitford on bass and the brilliant Paul Clarvis on drums. All details here. They sound like this.

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Other people’s music

September 16, 2017

Two contrasting sets of people playing others’ music this week – different selections, for different reasons, but excellent results in both cases.

Thursday at Future Inns solved a late-gap-in-the-programme problem by booking saxophonist John Martin. He now lives near Bath, and joined three Bristol stalwarts – Rian Vosloo on bass, Matt Brown on drums, and Anders Olinder on keys for the evening. “This is billed as my quartet, but really we only just met”, said Martin, disarmingly, and confirmed this by getting Matt’s christian name wrong on first try.

So what to play? Well, the obvious answer for a crew like this: a selection from the large repertoire of modern jazz standards. So we had Sam Rivers’ beautiful Beatrice to open – a tune that always puts me in mind of Joe Henderson’s titanic State of the Tenor session and that is somehow the prolific Rivers only contribution to the common songbook. Then a Chick Corea piece, Benny Golson’s swinger Along Came Betty, and Shorter’s Ju-Ju, with Martin switching to soprano. Four tunes with solos for all made a decent set. These are jazz tunes from jazz composers, and suited all four to a T. By the end of the first one, they sounded like a band – and were up for Martin’s penchant for suddenly pushing into more adventurous areas just as everyone expects the piece to end.

The same was true in the briefer second set, opening less promisingly with All Blues, so often played it’s hard not to make it sound cliched, then Steve Swallow’s lovely Falling Grace, popularised by Gary Burton and Mike Gibbs, and Herbie Hancock’s Dolphin Dance.  It was enough to gratify the modest crowd, with some sparkling piano from Olinder and Martin making good use of the multiphonics he has studied extensively to add drama. He’s a really excellent player with the talent to develop real story-telling solos, and it’ll be worth looking out for future visits.

Like Martin, our near local (Frome) piano luminary John Law has plenty of music of his own. But he’s chosen to explore others’ tunes in his latest quartet, for which he’s recruited neighbour Sam Crockatt on sax and the new rhythm team of James Agg on bass and Billy Weir on drums. They’ve already made a terrific CD and played a few gigs and are a superb working unit playing anything they fancy. They do some of the same modern standards. I’ve heard Law play a set much like the one above at Future Inns. Indeed, Falling Grace opens the CD and on Friday at the BeBop club, there were a couple of Monk tunes – Straight, No Chaser to open and an outrageously funked up Well, You Needn‘t in the second set. But the bulk of the set is devoted to having fun with pop tunes with great hooks – like Pink Floyd’s Money, Stevie Wonder’s I Can’t Help It. It’s the kind of thing that has worked so well for Andy Sheppard in the Pushy Doctors, but Law’s arrangements are trickier. The fun of the thing was epitomised by a version of Summertime re-worked to sound, at first, like Bach. It would have segued into a rocking treatment of Mungo Jerry’s In the Summertime but this band were having such a good time they’d lost track of time and BeBop club emcee Andy Hague had to call a halt for the sake of the neighbours. Never mind, you can hear a live recording here.

Here’s hoping this band gets the attention they deserve and lots more gigs. Law in “everything’s an anthem if I say so” mode is superb, Crockatt’s contributions are consistently compelling and the young rhythm section were energetically inspired. They’d be a good festival bet, I reckon, for people booking the likes of Michael Wollny. Meantime, look out for more local outings, and get hold of the CD. It’s great.

Bristol jazz week, Sep 12

September 12, 2017
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Weekly pointer to Mr Benjamin’s comprehensive jazz previews on Bristol 247, which I link to so blog followers don’t have to go looking for it. This week’s is here.

As he says, the date for John Law at the Bear is an enticing prospect. Sam Crockatt’s recent appearances in Bristol have shown us a superb player, and hearing him in one of Law’s quartet’s will be great. They’ve already made a lovely CD, which is sampled below. Here, they’re delving into Brad Mehldau territory with a reading of Nick Drake’s River Man. There are a couple of other tracks on youtube, which are also worth your time, as well as a more recent, live performance of this tune.

Looks like it’s going to be an evening of favourite songs played by favourite musicians.

Bristol jazz week, Sep 5

September 5, 2017
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Weekly pointer to Mr Benjamin’s comprehensive jazz previews on Bristol 247, which I link to so blog followers don’t have to go looking for it. This week’s is here.

As he says, all our regular venues are now back in action after the Summer break, so there’s plenty to choose from. Looking forward to resuming the Bristol habit after an excellent weekend at the new festival Ambleside Days (with Dave Holland, Gwilym Simcock, Mike Walker, Joe Locke…). Mike Collins is reviewing it in several parts here. Bring on the Autumn Jazz 🙂

Bristol jazz week, Aug 28

August 29, 2017
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Weekly pointer to Mr Benjamin’s comprehensive jazz previews on Bristol 247, which I link to so blog followers don’t have to go looking for it. This week’s is here

Last week’s Fringe gig with Greg Cordez was a resounding success, as TB also recounts in detail here. Two of the band, drummer Matt Brown and trumpeter Pete Judge, return there this week with the excellent Dakhla, who ought to fill the place again.

And while I’m linking to reviews, Mike Collins wrote this nice notice of Sam Crockatt‘s trio the other week, which I missed last the time. Crockett will be back in Bristol soon with John Law – one to look forward to.

Bristol Jazz this week – Aug 21

August 22, 2017
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Weekly pointer to Mr Benjamin’s comprehensive jazz previews on Bristol 247, which I link to so blog followers don’t have to go looking for it. This week’s is here.

Greg Cordez has an excellent collection of new music he’s recorded in a session in New York, so it’ll be interesting to find out what his Bristol bandmates make of it at on its first live outing on Wednesday. You can hear the new album on his soundcloud page here. Hope there’ll be a CD release at some point, too,.

Epoch/Greg Sterland – Salt Cafe Friday

August 20, 2017

A short post to review the venue as much as the music. We’re not short of jazz spots in Bristol, and they all have their pros and cons (I write as one who didn’t manage to get a seat for Andy Sheppard at the Fringe last week…). Never mind, there’s always another gig. This one featured Matt James on guitar, playing a pleasing selection of other people’s tunes (Ellington, Wheeler, Shorter, Parker and a particularly nice treatment of Coltrane’s Syeeda’s Flute Song). He’s a fluid soloist in what I think of as the Berklee School style (Mick Goodrick to Wolfgang Muthspiel), and finished with an intriguing composition of his own, Andromeda Collides (?) that took things in a slightly different direction.

I don’t know how often this trio gets together but the set was lifted by the understanding between Pasquale Votino on bass and Paulo Adamo on drums, who I think must play together pretty well every night. They also gave great support to young tenor player Greg Sterling in the first set. I missed most of that so won’t say more except that he’s obviously someone to listen to properly another time.

And the venue? Salt Cafe is a stroll from the centre, and it’s just a very nice room to relax and listen. Much as I enjoy the music in other places, they aren’t rooms you’d visit for any other reason. So it’s nice to be sitting somewhere of an evening where you think it would be a good idea to come back during the day just to grab a coffee or a snack.20245379_2032592603635388_814340919758304812_n.jpg

It only seats a couple of dozen downstairs but that doesn’t seem a problem yet. They do food when there are evening events, and seem to feature jazz every now and again, so worth keeping an eye on their events page if you fancy a change of scene from those rooms tightly packed with chairs of questionable origin, where you have to put your pint on the floor and try not to kick it over during the music…