Skip to content

Hot jazz

June 21, 2017

Too hot to go any gigs just now, I reckon. However, (in the absence of a listing elsewhere so far this week ignore that – here it is), it’s probably worth being a bit sweaty to hear the superb Iain Ballamy play at the Fringe tonight.

A cooler venue (in at least one sense) is Future Inns, who present Matt Hopkins’ Metheny project – well reviewed last time out – on Thursday. It’s a great band that includes Will Harris, Dave Newton, John Pearce and Emily Wright, with Mark Whitlam on drums completing a stellar line-up. Pat Metheny’s songbook is huge, so the band have a lot of scope to explore great compositions.

It was good, incidentally, to see a decent audience down there last week for Alison Rayner‘s quintet, getting a good dose of the excellent Steve Lodder on rather brilliant form. A fun band, with some nice original tunes, including Lodder’s OK Chorale – no relation to the Phronesis number of the same name, but just as interesting.

The weather will have turned by Sunday night, but it’s likely to be pretty hot in The Hen and Chicken, I imagine, when there’s a welcome appearance by Andy Sheppard’s Pushy Doctors trio with Tony Orrell and Dan Brown. This standards-with-a-twist outfit play jazz, rock and pop tunes as the fancy takes them, and are always outrageously enjoyable. They used to be regulars in pubs and clubs across Bristol and Bath but now Sheppard has moved abroad this is a rare chance to see them reunited.

Sheppard is actually in town for a grander project, which sees him appear at Clifton Cathedral the night before with the 70-strong Bristol Symphony Orchestra, for a programme of Copeland (Fanfare for the Common Man), Gershwin (Porgy and Bess), and Bernstein (west Side Story), finishing with Terry Riley’s “In C”. Should be fascinating. Details and tickets here.


Bristol jazz week – free music abounds

June 13, 2017
tags: ,

Here’s Tony Benjamin’s meticulously compiled list this week’s interesting musical offerings around town on Bristol247.

Plenty to choose from, and can’t help noticing that there are three pay-to-enter gigs and, buy my count, more than twice as many that are free for punters.

All a testament to the musical vitality of the city. But if you enjoy one of the freebies, do donate to the bucket – or whatever receptacle is on offer – won’t you? It’ll help ensure the music goes on…

One other date to note – If you’re in reach of Portishead, Dave Mowat’s Bristol European Jazz Ensemble have a date at the Speakeasy Jazz Club in the High Street on Friday.

Bristol jazz week (with bonus Tuesday gig)

June 6, 2017
tags: ,

Another bumper week of gigs – they just keep coming. Tony Benjamin has all the details here on Bristol247.

The all day feast of improvisation on Saturday at St Stephens is the standout, as he says (see previous post here). Also worth noting the unusual appearance of an early evening foyer gig tonight (Tuesday) at Colston, when Jake McMurchie’s quartet will pull in some homebound commuters, I hope.

And don’t forget the BeBop club on Friday, where their season closer features Nick Dover and Nick Malcolm‘s quartet. Haven’t made it down there much recently, but that’s not because the quality of the music on offer isn’t consistently high. Look forward to seeing who they line up when the club returns in September.

Tony also has a generously proportioned review of the excellent double bill at Colston on Sunday, although he’s more polite about Jay Phelps‘ winsome vocals than I would manage to be. They nearly had us heading for the doors before the second set was properly under way. Glad we didn’t though, as the instrumental numbers – especially the set closer and the encore – were excellent. And the wonderful Mark Lewandowski, soon to join the Julliard ensemble, really did sound like the next Dave Holland. The last bass players who enthralled like this on first hearing were Jasper Hoiby and Percy Pursglove. He’s one of a select group who I’m sure I’ll go on listening out for as long as I can.

Bristol Jazz diary

May 31, 2017

Late link to Tony Benjamin’s weekly previews, including welcome news that the rather brilliant Dan Messore is visiting the Canteen tonight (Wednesday).

He’s also done a separate piece for Bristol247 interviewing Jay Phelps, to whet the appetite for the Sunday night gig previewed in the last post here. He’s also heard the new album (I hadn’t), so looking forward to hearing Phelps’ new stuff even more now. (I really hope the singing isn’t like Chet Baker’s, though).

Preview – Zoe Rahman and Jay Phelps

May 28, 2017

Much of the best music at this year’s Bristol jazz festival came off in Colston Hall’s smaller space, The Lantern, where a clutch of our best contemporary groups did their thing – the quality was confirmed when two of those sets, from Jasper Hoiby’s Fellow Creatures and Yazz Ahmad were aired on Radio 3.

There’s a double bill in the same venue next weekend which would have added even more lustre to the festival but is now a mouth-watering prospect as a free-standing event.

Pianist Zoe Rahman has had some fine appearances in these parts – she contributed crucially to a performance of Duke Ellington’s sacred concert music at the first Bristol festival four years ago, and I have great memories of an energised trio set at Wiltshire Music Centre a little more recently.

She hasn’t been seen playing her own stuff quite so much lately, having been touring extensively with Courtney Pine – as you’ll know if you caught their recent duo gig at St George’s. So it will be excellent to hear her play solo piano again. Her solo CD release from last year blends her own tunes with influences from Bengali music, Ellington and Abdullah Ibrahim. Live her playing should be as rewarding as one of the other standout festival sets, the solo excursion from Jason Rebello.

Here’s a lovely sample of her presence and poise.

But that’s only half the evening. The programme also includes expatriate Canadian, former Tomorrow’s Warrior and founder-member of Empirical, trumpeter Jay Phelps. He’s been travelling extensively, and working up to a new recording which is about to launch. Not sure what to expect from the music, although this excellent interview on LondonJazz gives some clues. As he says there, “I like playing creative music; to people who know why they are there and at least respect the fact that someone is pouring their heart and soul out to them.” His quartet, including the brilliant Mark Lewandowski on bass (as seen at The Fringe the other week), John Scott on drums, and up and coming piano star Rick Simpson are of like mind. And that’s why one goes to jazz gigs, isn’t it?

Brief taster here…


Jazz diary – May 22 and into June

May 23, 2017

The weekly Bristol jazz listing from Tony Benjamin is rich indeed this week. Read it here.

Aside from the usual local sparklers, there are three visits from touring bands on successive nights, any one of which would be a must-hear in a quieter week. I’m especially looking forward to Mark Lewandowski‘s “Waller” trio with the brilliant Liam Noble and Paul Clarvis on Wednesday. They’ve made a really superb recording and the live reports from the tour are very enticing, too. Always love projects that dig into classic jazz repertoire and put a new twist on it, and I’ve rarely heard that done better.

Jonathan Kreisberg at the Hen and Chicken on Friday is a mouth-watering prospect, too, and the band that Simon Spillett is bringing to Future Inns on Thursday is ridiculously good – Alec Dankworth and John Critchinson on that room will make it a jazz club of rare quality for the evening.

Plenty of other stuff going on, but don’t forget the regular Friday date at the BeBop club, which this week features vocalist Ros Cuthbert.

This flurry of quality bookings calls for planning, so worth noting two forthcoming dates which I’ll say more about nearer the time. There’s a fine double bill at the Lantern on Sunday June 4th featuring solo piano from Zoe Rahman and trumpeter Jay Phelps (with Mark Lewandowski again). And the following Saturday (June 10th) Bristol player and organiser Dave Mowat has put together an enterprisingly unusual day at St Stephens Church, with a gaggle of excellent improvisers playing in various combinations from 10 in the morning until late. Trevor Watts, Keith Tippett and Maggie Nicols are just some of the names who will be assembling to create “music from another dimension”. Full details of who is playing when are here but it’s all on one (cheap!) ticket. Sounds like it will be an excellent day to dip in and out of.

Has a rather lovely poster, too…mowatfest.jpg


Bristol jazz diary

May 16, 2017

can be found here.

no time to say more this week…