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Bristol jazz week – July 6

July 4, 2015

Tony Benjamin’s  takes advantage of the Summer lull to be even more comprehensive than usual in his appreciated-by-millions weekly gig roundup (below). That takes in a couple of venues new to me (the Steam Crane, anyone?), so do read to the end.

Before the new week gets under way, don’t forget that tomorrow (Sunday) you can hear the Westbrooks‘ latest big band project in the Hen and Chicken in Southville. It should be a memorable night

Jazz week July 6-12

There’s slim pickings on the Bristol jazz front this week (though we shouldn’t forget that in many other cities even our slack weeks would be impressive). So let’s give thanks for The Canteen, splendid survivor of the ‘gig every day’ culture, this week offering jazz on four nights out of the seven. Not everybody’s favourite venue, admittedly, as it can be hard to get a respectful audience attention but it can also have great atmosphere. Sunday afternoon (12) is a good opportunity – plenty of people lunching and a more hungover calm and this week it’s the excellent Eyebrow duo providing the soundtrack of Pete Judge’s ambient processed trumpet and Paul Wigens’ impeccable dance-referenced drums. Could be the gig of the week.

Other Canteen events start with the fortnightly Canteen Jazz Session (Monday 6), co-ordinated by Craig Crofton’s versatile Coltrane-inspired saxes and then there’s the saxophonist-led Julien Alenda 4tet (Wednesday 8) which also features the fine guitar of Dan Waldman and finally Andy Hague’s salsa-jazz octet Conjunto Gringo (Thursday 9).

There’s an all-star line-up at the Fringe @ The Mall (Wednesday 8) with Jonny Bruce’s Tribute to Trumpet Kings bringing Messrs Waghorn, Ilett and Cooper with Dave Guy (bass) and Matt Brown (drums), while the Future Inn session (Thursday 9) features popular jazz and swing violin hot-shot John Pearce ‘and friends’ (as they say). And if you take a leisurely stroll Cliftonwards after the Eyebrow gig you can catch the powerful swing/jive vocals of Kirris Riviera and The Damn Busters at Alma Tavern in the evening (Sunday 12). Vocalist Victoria Klewin brings her swing outfit The Truetones to the Old Duke (Wednesday 8).

Don’t forget the other weekly items – Thursday’s Groove Den at Gallimaufry, Sunday’s jazz trio gig at the Old Fishmarket – and the Steam Crane in Southville holds its monthly Jazz Band Night on Wednesday. Or, of course, you could head down to Swanage on Friday and spend the weekend at – always a pleasant experience by the seaside with Gilad Atzmon, funky Dennis Rollins, Tom Cawley’s radical trio (Curios) and Phil Robson’s organ trio among the many acts appearing.

Bristol jazz week – 29 June

June 27, 2015

I’m out of the country, but such is this blog’s dedication to it’s loyal reader(s?) what I’ll tell you what’s happening in Bristol anyway. Well, actually, I’ll let the all-seeing Tony Benjamin do it. Thanks TB.

Jazz week June 29-July 5

Two absolute crackers – albeit of a very different kind – are coming our way next weekend, with Soil & Pimp Sessions at The Lantern (Saturday 4) and Mike Westbrook & Company at the Hen and Chicken (Sunday 5). The dubious sounding S&PS are an anarchic-looking six-strong bundle of young Japanese modern jazz energy. They throw themselves into their music like it’s the last chance they’ll ever get to play it, yet there’s always a strong discipline at work holding things very much together. By contrast, Mike Westbrook puts all the energy into the scores he writes, trusting his 22-strong Uncommon Orchestra to release it. He’s been one of the country’s most influential and impressive jazz composers for fifty years, combining a contemporary classical approach with modern jazz themes and ideas, always playing with instrumental textures. The Bristol gig will be showcasing his fairground-themed ‘jazz/rock oratorio’ A Bigger Show.

Tenor sax player Gianni Denitto is another intriguing visitor: one of Italy’s top-rated players with a melody-driven hard-bopping style he’s also a great experimenter with sax-generated electronics and loop technology, creating layered ambient music. It’s not clear which mode will be presented in Gianni’s set at Future Inn (Thursday 2) but there’ll be no doubting the funk energy over at the Coronation Tap the same night when Jaws make their debut. Not to be confused with the Brummie Smiths-alikes outfit this local foursome features dubstep bass-player Will Cartwright and Anders Olinder on keyboards.

There’s two good doses of Fringe jazz this week, too, starting with the Fringe Free Music session at The Fringe itself (Monday 29) with the regular quartet of Gibbs, Langford, Anstey and Helson – all seasoned maker-uppers. Round the corner at The Mall (Wednesday 1) they’re hosting the Matt Hopkins Quartet with the super-fluent guitarist joined by the aforementioned Anders Olinder plus Duval Project trumpeter Gary Alesbrook and Andy Tween on drums for what promises to be a grooving evening.

Finally – apologies for missing out the Naturist Foundation Jazz and Real Ale Festival from last week’s listings: its Kentish location made it a bit off my radar. Would love to know about John Etheridge, Art Themen and other performers’ view of their audience. I found it mentioned in the extensive listings of the website which may well be an essential reference point in my future holiday planning strategies.


That Westbrook gig deserves a few more words, I think. Far from resting in retirement after relocating to Dawlish some years ago, the great man has gathered West country musicians and a few others together to form a completely new touring big band, for whom he and partner Kate continue to write new work. It looks like an amazing line-up, with some names that will be familiar to long-time aficianados of British jazz – Alan Wakeman, a key Westbrook soloist since the ’70s, Lou Gare, Dave Holdsworth – and a host of less familiar players. Can’t wait.

And another big band gig for those prepared to roam: Edward Leaker’s Swing Machine play Wedmore Arts Festival in Somerset with guest vocalist Clare Teal on July 2. Details here.


Bristol jazz week – 21 June

June 21, 2015

We’re getting into Summer lull now, but some good things still happening. They included Huw Warren at the Hen and Chicken last Sunday (my review for ListomaniaBristol here) and Dakhla‘s well-attended album launch at Future Inns (Tony Benjamin’s review for Bristol247 here.) And you really ought to be booking a seat to catch the Mike Westbrook big band show on Sunday July 5, again at the Hen and Chicken – a rare treat for Bristol, and a complete new Westbrooks’ show which is touring the West Country and recording soon.

Meantime, here’s what Tony has scouted out for the week coming. Not a bumper week, to be honest, but you’ll find something here worth catching I’m sure.

Jazz week June 22-28

Like Brigadoon the remarkable Bristol Composers Jazz Collective project will be surfacing at The Fringe in Clifton (Monday 22), though hopefully not to disappear for too long afterwards. Co-ordinated by Kevin Figes, this flexible assembly allows local jazz composers like Greg Cordez, Jake McMurchie, Jim Blomfield and others to think beyond the limitations of their usual bands and write more experimental music. The results are always intriguing and – as in the case of Kevin’s Octet, can be the seeds for something more ongoing.

The other Fringe session (the one at the Mall) features the ever-popular cabaret-swing sound of Moscow Drug Club (Wednesday 24), while Future Inns welcomes Dutch pianist and composer Dan Temmink (Thursday 25). Now relocated to Bristol Dan’s contemporary jazz trio includes Greg Cordez (bass) and Tony Randall Phillips (drums), and Greg’s own quartet with Loop Collective saxophonist Sam Crockatt will also be appearing in the Colston Hall Foyer early evening slot (Friday 26). Later that night John Paul Gard’s Hammond-led JP Trio will be boogalooing at the Bocabar.

Down South in Bedminster it’s worth keeping a jazz-minded eye on The Steam Crane at the beginning of North Street: on Monday (22) the pub will be hosting a Jazz Jam and on Friday (26) saxophonist Dino Christodoulou’s Greek-inspired modern jazz quartet Milon will be playing there.

The regular fortnightly Canteen Jazz Session will be at Hamilton House (Monday 22), and the Gallimaufry’s weekly hosting of  James Morton’s Groove Den  will be on Thursday (25), the same night as the opening of the four-day Upton Jazz Festival just up the Severn in Gloucestershire featuring Alan Barnes, Craig Milverton, Moscow Drug Club and a whole lot of trad and New Orleans act in a bucolic setting. Check the link for details of the Old Fish Market session down on Baldwin Street (Sunday 28)

Bristol Jazz week – June 13th: The music goes on…

June 13, 2015

Looking forward to the always excellent Huw Warren in a Brazilian-flavoured piano trio outing tomorrow night at the Hen and Chicken, and to Dakhla‘s album launch later in the week. Meantime, I’m listening to lots and lots of Ornette Coleman, and remembering the last two occasions we heard him – at Meltdown an unbelieveable six years ago, and at the London Jazz Festival a couple of years later. Both are memories I treasure – the reviews I did at the time are here and here if anyone’s interested. A very great man who enriched my life immeasurably.

Details of Dakhla and Tony Benjamin‘s other highlights for the coming week below.

Jazz week June 15-21

There’s a resounding void against Friday 20 in the Bristol jazz diary, marking the first week of the Bebop Club’s annual summer break and giving cause for a resounding chorus of gratitude to club organiser Andy Hague. As ever, the tiny backroom of The Bear has seen excellent gigs combining great visitors from the national scene and the best local modern and contemporary jazz outfits – top quality stuff. Though sometimes playing to woefully small audiences. It’s clearly a case of ‘use it or lose it’ so let’s be resolved to get there more regularly when it resumes in September.

In the meantime, however, all is not entirely lost and there’s a few eye-catchers this week, starting with a regrettable saxophone face-off on Wednesday 17 when the Kevin Figes Quartet plays at the Fringe @ The Mall session and Greg Cordez & Sam Crockatt bring their quartet to the Canteen. Kevin’s versatility and melodically memorable compositions always emerge afresh, not least thanks to his long-standing partnership with Jim Blomfield’s distinctive piano playing. Local bass player Greg Cordez’ links with Loop Collective saxman Sam Crockatt is a much more recent development that should be very interesting. Both are excellent players, naturally, but also highly structured composers who weave improvisation into quite disciplined pieces.

Even more tightly structured music follows at Future Inn on Thursday night (18) as the ebullient Dakhla Brass launch Gorilla Gorilla Gorilla, their new CD and the first to celebrate the fulsome 5-piece line-up since trombonist Liam Treasure joined the band. Their blend of influences from Africa to New Orleans and even Brighouse & Rastrick remains joyously unique, while the equally joyous Brass Junkies have a closer link to US brass outfits like Youngblood, Hypnotic 8 and others. They are appearing at Plantation (Friday 20) which means you can dance and get great plantain flitters as well!

Pushy Doctor keyboardist Dan Moore and Brackish guitarist Luke Cawthra both used to be in the much missed soul-jazz outfit Phantom Limb, and they have teamed up with Tom Kuras (bass) and Dakhla’s drummer Matt Brown to become Milli Meters , a tribute to a certain New Orleans jazz-funk outfit of renown. That’s a very enticing line-up so their gig at the Alma Tavern (Sunday 21) should be a cracker. Jazz-funk fans should also check big-sounding and brassy Wasabi at Canteen on Thursday 18

The Gallimaufry’s having a good week, too, with the regular James Morton’s Groove Den session on Thursday (18) slightly upstaged by Tuesday’s soul-jazz spectacular featuring the vocal talents of Mos Def diva Terri Walker and local boy Jay Wilcox and a classy jazz’n’b line-up behind playing material from her new album Entitled.

Bristol Jazz week – June 8

June 8, 2015

A few goodies coming up this week…

The BeBop club has its final session before Summer break on Friday and finishes with a bang with young New Orleans band The Session, who many will remember played two rafter-lifting gigs in Bristol last year. The club has seen some lean audiences this season. It deserves a full turnout for this one.

Then on Sunday brilliant North Wales resident pianist Huw Warren brings his Trio Brasil tour to the Hen and Chicken. He’s joined by Zoot Warren, drums and Dudley Philips, bass. Warren senior has a special feel for Brazilian music – check out his wonderful album tribute to Hermeto Pascoal. Expect tunes by Pascoal, Jobim, Gismonti and others, and superb improvisation.

Before then, the other regular jazz nights feature Nick Dover‘s Fault Lines at the Mall in Clifton, with George Cooper, pian0, Dave Guy, bass and the unfailingly exciting Matt Brown on drums, and the Sound of Blue Note Quartet, joined by Andy Hague on trumpet, offer spirited treatments of the legendary label’s classics at Future Inns on Thursday.

Also worth noting: Kevin Figes Quartet at the Canteen on Wednesday, Brass Junkies at No 1 Harbourside on Friday.

And for planners ahead: don’t miss Dakhlas new album launch on Thursday 18th, down at Future Inns again.



Jazz planner – June

June 1, 2015

Our favourite local jazz observer’s weekly preview now currently appears here rather than on Bristol247. They are still carrying a monthly round-up of interesting forthcoming gigs, though. If you want to plan ahead, the ones to note for June are here.

Bristol jazz june 1-7 (a quiet week)

May 30, 2015

Here’s what Tony Benjamin has sniffed out in the way of jazz in Bristol this week.

Flaming June arrives with a burst of free-thinking improvisers roaring into town. The Bebop features a rare double bill of Entropi and Quadricaratops, two bands from London’s LUME improvisers club night. The former quintet is led by saxophonist Dee Byrne and features Bristol-born pianist Rebecca Nash, while the heavier sounding outfit is Cath Roberts genre-bending seven-headed behemoth. It’ll be a great night that should fill the room so get there early. Even further ‘out there’ pleasures follow at The Exchange on Sunday when veteran improvisers Dunhill and Gibbs share the bill with eccentric art-posters the De Selbey Codex for an afternoon matinee performance. Future Inn features the Dave Newton Trio (Thursday 4), with Dave’s ever-stimulating playing some of the finest crafted jazz to be heard hereabouts, but otherwise it’s a quiet spell with a week off for the  Wednesday Fringe session at The Mall. Classy Gypsy swing outfit Schmoozenberg are at No 1 Harbourside on Wednesday, the same night as Nuevo Tango is celebrated at Canteen by Tangle Club and swing-soul vocalist Victoria Klewin appears at Plantation (Saturday 6). The grooving boogaloo sound of Organ3man will be at the Steam Crane, Bedminster on Friday night – it’s becoming a regular groove jazz venue, joining James Morton’s Groove Den on Thursdays at Gallimaufry and Sunday’s Old Fish Market session down by Bristol Bridge.


And one addition – the quiet week for Fringe at the Mall means you can go to the Heritage Blues Orchestra for what should be a satisfying night at St George‘s on Wednesday. There are a few seats left…

I can also recommend the BeBop club bill on the strength of Entropi’s new CD, New Era, which arrived in the post to early subscribers a couple of weeks ago – It’s a notably fresh sounding contemporary jazz session that is repaying repeated listening.


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