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Bristol jazz week 13 April

April 13, 2014

(venue links on RH of the page)

The James Gardiner-Bateman trio are at the Alma Tavern tonight (Sunday), for “a night of smooth jazz”. Not to0 smooth, I hope. Emily Wright and the Royals bring some swing to the Sunday  night session at the Tobacco Factory.

Bristol Composers’ Collective present their monthly night of new music at the Wardrobe Theatre (White Bear, St Michael’s Hill) on Monday. The brilliant guitarist Dan Messore is presiding this time, I think – though you may like to check the website or twitter for confirmation.

One to make a special effort for on Thursday, when Evan Parker brings his trio with John Russell and John Edwards to the Fringe. Only a few tickets left, they say… It’ll be be quite something hearing Parker in that small room. Last time I heard him in Bristol they were queuing to get into the Cube which is quite a bit larger.

Reeds player John Martin is joined by Andy Nowak, piano, Will Harris, bass and Andy Tween, drums – who reminded us all how good he is at the Bear the other week with Chris Biscoe – at Future Inns on Thursday. And there’s a band I’ve not come across before, Niyi and Co, at the Canteen, who blend “rolling African rhythms, lazy jazz guitar and bass to make a soulful setting for Niyi’s socially aware lyrics”…

You can start the holiday weekend with the excellent Moonlight Saving Time, who have the Good Friday slot at the BeBop club at the Bear. Or you can catch acid jazz heroes The James Taylor Quartet at the Tunnels – details here

Finally, rootsy outfit Appalachia play for free in Colston Hall foyer next Saturday (19th) at 6.30.

Recent CD reviews (and one gig)

April 10, 2014

Seem to be posting more for LondonJazzNews than I am here at the moment – possibly *slightly* more readers…

For anyone who cares, and for my own future ease of reference, here are the last few CDs I’ve written about.

Andreas Shaerer‘s Hildegard Lernt Fliegen (as unusual as it sounds)

Larry Bartley and Just Us! (the great bassist, just seen in Bristol with Jean Toussaint)

Regina Carter - the violinist goes South

Dominic Lash quartet – Bristol improviser’s outfit

Christine Tobin - Her Leonard Cohen set, as marvellous as everyone says

And one gig review, which was actually in London…   Joe Lovano, Jack DeJohnette and the Spring Quartet at the Barbican.


Bristol Jazz Week, 6 April

April 5, 2014

(venue links on RH side of the page)

Big start to the week with Jean Toussaint at the Hen and Chicken tomorrow (Sunday) with a fine quartet – see the previous post. So good I’ve booked to hear them even though we’re off to London the day after to catch Joe Lovano

Guitarist Neil Smith guests at the Jazz rendezvous session at the Fringe in Clifton earlier on Sunday (4.00-7.00).

If you fancy a small trip East, the splendid Ivo Neame‘s quintet tour calls at Baker Street in Swindon on Tuesday (free entry).

Kevin Figes (sax) and George Cooper (piano) do the duo thing at No 1, Harbourside on Tuesday WEDNESDAY night, and the fiery James Morton is down there on Friday. Vocalist Celestine has James Morton in her band at the Corrie Tap on Tuesday, too.

Kevin is over in Bath on Thursday, playing at St James Wine Vaults, the ever comprehensive tells us.

And busy man James Morton’s  band are also at Fringe Jazz in Clifton on Thursday (and you should probably book now if you want to catch Evan Parker there next week, on April 17th).

Craig Crofton and Martin Jenkins‘ excellent quartet Freight are at Future Inns the same night. They’ve now instituted a small entry payment (£5), but it’s a cover charge, redeemable for food or drink, so still a pretty good value gig…

Dick Hamer‘s quintet feature at the Be-Bop club in Hotwells on Friday. Their info says:

Saxophonist Dick Hamer and trumpeter Gethin Liddington are two of the finest and most popular jazz artists living across the bridge in South Wales. Dick has worked alongside major names including Stan Tracey, Pete King, Bobby Shew, Scott Hamilton, and on the non jazz side everything from Martha Reeves and the Vandellas to the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Besides running his own band Good Katz, Gethin teaches at the Royal Welsh College and Bath Spa University. The two are travelling across to play with the top class Bristol rhythm section of Vyv Hope-Scott – piano, Greg Cordez – bass and Andy Hague – drums.

When I started this I was thinking it was a quiet week, but having checked all the websites (I do it so you don’t have to, folks), I’m reminded we don’t really have those any more. As usual, do add anything I’ve missed in the comments and I’ll update/tweet as necessary. It is also worth tweeting to the @BristolJazzFest account if you want notice of a gig retweeted, incidentally…


Gig of the week – Jean Toussaint, Hen and Chicken April 6

April 2, 2014

The great saxophonist Jean Toussaint’s quartet are visiting Bristol to play for Ian Storror – and all of us – on Sunday night. I could tell you lots of good things about them. As it’s the final night of a CD tour that has gathered some exceptional reviews, and I’m short of time, I’ll let other people do it instead.

John Fordham reckoned his last (live) CD worth five stars, as “one of the year’s best documents of a contemporary small band skilfully chancing its arm”. Review here

Derek Briggs went to the gig they just played in Cheltenham for the Gloucestershire Echo, and concluded that “Toussaint is a genius”, “a commanding, emotive and rhythmic player”. More here.

Full details of Toussaint’s career and who is in the current quartet from Ian Storror here

And I reckon full, blow by blow, review of the band’s sets in Shrewsbury by Ian Mann seals the deal.

(There’s also a podcast interview with the leader here on LondonJazzNews, which I’ve not listened to as I prefer to read, but I imagine is quite good… and a nice crit of the CD from Adrian Pallant here)

Bristol Jazz Week, March 30

March 29, 2014


(Venue links to left of this page)

A special fundraiser tomorrow (Sunday) night at St George‘s: The London Swing Orchestra play a benefit concert for the Tressell Trust, which runs four food banks in  Bristol. There’s a sentence I never imagined having to write, but that tells you all you need to know about the government someone seems to have elected a few years ago…  Oh no, we didn’t, really, did we? Go along, enjoy the music, or do your bit to get this lot out next year. Better still do both!

Politics done with, for now, some other gigs:

There’s blues at the Alma Tavern in Clifton Sunday night with Matt Woosey, “a young contemporary blues artist from the West Midlands, who combines an explosive slap-and-pick right hand guitar technique with big-range blues vocals”.

The very wonderful Dakhla Brass – even brassier now they’ve added a trombone to the two sax and trumpet front line – appear at the Coronation Tap the same night.

Kevin Figes guests at the monthly free jazz session at the Fringe in Clifton on Monday, and Greg Cordez‘s excellent quintet (with Jake McMurchie, Nick Malcolm, Jim Blomfield, Mark Whitlam) play there on Thursday.

New line up with familiar faces at the Canteen on Wednesday. The Play have Seb Gutiez, guitar, Martin Jenkins keys, Tom Allen, bass and Matt Brown, drums, and play “stoner jazz” which somehow sounds right for the venue… See a bit of them here:

John Pearce‘s band, with the great Dave Newton on piano,  play Future Inns on Thursday and Cathy Jones’ Balanca bringing a Brazilian flavour to the BeBop club on Friday.

Final mention – an unusually strong free improv evening programmed at the Cube in Stokes Croft on Thursday, with four different line-ups. Details here


Bristol Jazz Week, 23 March

March 22, 2014

A slight slowdown now, after the hubbub of the jazz festival and a three week run of outstanding gigs at St Georges, culminating in the excellent Bristol debut of Gregory Porter last Thursday – perhaps the most resonant male voice I’ve heard since Willard White sang gospel in Bath a few years ago.

Still, the regular weekly jazz spots have some goodies, starting with the Jonny Bruce Band at the Alma on Sunday evening. Trumpeter Bruce shone in numerous ensembles at the festival, and always puts on an exuberant show. The Canteen have “gypsy jazz” from violinist Matt Holborn‘s quartet on Sunday afternoon, following which the same band head over to the Tobacco Factory for an evening session.

Also Sunday is singer Lizzie Dean at the Corrie Tap, with a powerful band including bassist Jeff Spencer, Jerry Crozier-Cole on guitar, Rich Laws, keyboardist Anders Olinder and James Morton on sax. (Look out for Bristol favourites Dakhla at the Corrie next Sunday – Mar 30th – by the way)

The excellent, Monkish, Freight feature at the JazzFunkSoulSoc session at the Big Chill bar on Tuesday.

On Wednesday at the Canteen you can hear Phatic, a new quartet featuring James Ladd’s guitar and Mike Willox’s keyboard along with Dave Johnston’s bass and Justin Fellows on drums. Sample their work on soundcloud here.

Thursday’s booking at the Fringe in Clifton is the Andy Sheppard -Denny Ilett band, with trumpeter Dan Reid appearing at Future Inns. I’ve not had the pleasure but they say:

Dan Reid is a fantastic young trumpet player who has been developing his style into something fully formed and unique. He likes to play very quietly and he has exquisite control – difficult for a trumpeter at low volumes. A cross between Chet Baker and Clifford Brown this is a quality performer who is quickly gaining a reputation for intimate and engaging shows. He brings with him the wonderful Greg Cordez on double bass, Trevor Davies on drums, and George Cooper on piano.

Friday’s at the BeBop club sees a visit from Chris Biscoe, whose career has produced a vast amount of fine music. Their blurb:

Chris Biscoe is one of the UK’s finest alto sax players, who has long associations with legends such as Mike Westbrook and Harry Beckett. More recently Chris has been examining the music of Charles Mingus, releasing the CD Profiles of Mingus in 2010 with an all-star cast including trumpeter Henry Lowther.  For tonight Chris is bringing some of his Mingus arrangements, some originals and some Woody Shaw to play alongside Andy Hague – trumpet, Jim Blomfield – piano, Greg Cordez – bass and Andy Tween – drums. The last gig Chris did for us in 2012 was brilliant, so don’t miss. To check out his extensive and impressive discography visit

Biscoe’s last two CDs, one devoted to Mingus, the other a tribute to Eric Dolphy, were both superb tributes to their inspirations – and his playing really shows the benefits of all his decades of experience in jazz.

Finally, if anyone fancies going a bit further afield, or this blog has any readers in the neighbourhood, there’s a notable gig at the Stratford Jazz Club, Stratford-on-Avon on Wednesday, with guitarist Maciek Pyszs trio featuring fellow virtuosi Yuri Goloubev and Asif Sirkis, often seen in these parts with John Law’s trio. It’s part of an extensive CD launch tour (there have been a slew of excellent reviews of the recording) so if you can’t make it to the Midlands, there are also chances to catch this excellent sounding outfit at Dempsey’s in Cardiff on April 2 and the Queen’s Head, Monmouth the following day – excellent venues both – though not, alas, in Bristol. Maybe next time?

Bristol jazz week – March 15

March 15, 2014

(Venue links at RH of this page)

Good prospects at all the regular weekly jazz spots, plus three standout dates at venues where jazz is more occasional…

The first of those is Renato D’Aiello at the Hen and Chicken tomorrow night (Sunday). Let Ian Storror tell you about it:

Born in Naples Italy; Renato began to study the saxophone at the age of 20, with virtuoso sax player Antonio Andolfi, then with Sal Nistico, Steve Grossman, and Tony Scott. He started his professional career playing with Giovanni Tommaso big band in 1986/87. In 1987 he received a full tuition scholarship from Berklee college of Boston.

International tours followed in 1991 with Tony Scott and in 1992 Renato toured Japan with Yoshida Masahiro trio and again in ’93 & ’95. European tours withArt Farmer and Rachel Gouldfollowed in 1996/97.

His composition credits include music for an opera entitledSeven Red Doors by writer Oberto Airaudi and several co-productions for IRMA Records as sax player and producer. In1999 became resident in UK…

For this tour he’s fronting a quartet completed by three musicians who I don’t think have been heard in Bristol before -

Bass Player Dario studied and played in the States and Italy with the likes of Lee Konitz, Kurt Rosenwinkel, Kenny Barron, Steve Swallow and George Garzone, while drummer Caroselli travelled to learn drums and percussion in probably one of the best spots to learn in the world, namely Havana, Cuba with Omar Rojas, Enrique Pla and playing with Chucho Valdez.

Renato’s forays into Europe have allowed him to form musical associations with many artists and in Paris he found Japanese pianist Hiroshi Murayama (living and working in the French capital). He plays tonight while visiting the UK for a week with Renato’s band

The competition on Sunday comes from the Arabella Sprot quintet at the Coronation Tap, as mentioned last week, and the John Pearce Band  at the Alma Tavern in Clifton.

Bristol Composers Collective have their regular session at the Wardrobe Theatre, at the White Bear, St Michael’s Hill on Tuesday Monday!, this month featuring  new compositions by bassist Jeff Spencer played by Nightjar (Jeff Spencer, James Maddren, Alice Zawadski, Joe Wright). That’s quite a line-up for such a small, informal gig.

The regularly busy night on Thursday has dates for Gary Alesbrook’s Duval Project at Future Inns and always impressive pianist Jim Blomfield at the Fringe in Clifton. It also has the other big one, the toweringly soulful Gregory Porter making his Bristol debut at St George’s. Porter has delighted crowds all over the place for the last couple of years – it is basically illegal to hold a jazz festival without booking him at the moment, it seems, and he’s already on the bill for Cheltenham, A Love Supreme and Brecon this year. So something of a coup for the folks on Brandon Hill, this. The sound of his voice ringing out over the St George’s stalls is, as they say, eagerly awaited.  Not surprisingly, it’s already a sellout. Good work, people.

In the waker of the jazz festival, the audience at the BeBop club last week was in the small but appreciative zone for the excellent Tori Freestone’s trio. Never mind, there’s another promising line-up on a jazz services tour this week. In fact, it sounds like a pretty stellar band – viz:

Portuguese guitarist Vitor Pereira has lived in London since 2004, and released his first album Doors on the F-IRE label in 2012. “Pereira merges technique and creativity to hit the target” – All About Jazz. Despite its obvious jazz roots, this music unveils a vast background of musical influences. The abundance of energetic and catchy riffs has drawn comparison to bands like ‘Led Bib’ or ‘Trio VD’ but they cover a full spectrum of textures dropping down to quieter and mesmerising atmospheres creating a unique and dynamic sound capable of captivating even the most reluctant listener. The band features some of London’s most highly regarded players. Vitor Pereira – guitar/compositions, Chris Williams [Led Bib] – alto sax, George Crowley – tenor sax, Ryan Trebilcock – bass and Dave Hamblett – drums. See

Finally, head-turner number three, the superlatively talented drummer Seb Rochford‘s Polar Bear are touring a new CD, and appear at Thekla on Saturday. Details here, for what I’m sure will be a first rate jazz/rock/new music/electronic extravaganza


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