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Bristol jazz week – 10 July

July 10, 2018

Brilliant night on Sunday at the Keith Tippett benefit – a full house, good music, and a decent amount raised for the great man. Nice to see the strength in depth of the Bristol scene (Paul Dunmall and Percy Pursglove are here so often they feel as if they can be counted in there), and two of our indefatigable promoters working together to make this happen.

The large ensemble (14 pieces including two drummers and two bass players confirming that strength in depth!) delivered convincing version of Tippett’s own arrangements. The quartet (Dunmall, Pursglove, Tony Orrell and the splendid Jim Dvorak on  trumpet and Don Cherry style pocket trumpet) played one of the best freebop sets I’ve ever heard. Dunmall’s stuff often puts me in mind of the best South Side Chicago players – Fred Anderson and Kidd Jordan for example. He’s got that ability to spin out the sparsest materials into convincing long improvisations that continually have you appreciating each new move.

Tony Benjamin was there, camera and notebook at the ready, so I’m guessing he’ll post a review soon. Meantime, here’s some video of the big band – not the finest quality but captures the atmosphere.


More normal fare this week, as already listed on Bristol247 here. Includes a chance to hear the scalding alto of James Morton down at Future Inns, which ought to pull in a few more people than usual to this sometimes sparsely attended regular gig.

And if you fancy a trip out of Bristol, there’s a notable premiere on Friday as the Cheltenham Music Festival nears its end. Eddie Parker has an intriguing project, Debussy Mirrored, which “takes Debussy’s music as a starting point and leads us on a fascinating journey”.

What that means will be explored by an ensemble that includes a bunch of top drawer jazz players (four flutes including Parker), and two vocalists – James Gilchrist and Brigitte Beraha. They blend well.

The project has its own website  too. It’ll be visiting St George’s later this year, and there are a couple of other autumn dates, but the first outing this week should be a bit special.


A bonus – Yunmi Kang & Sangyeon Park, St Stephens, July 6

July 8, 2018
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It was too hot to go out, but cool inside the old church – and worth the excursion to hear a lovely set by two visitors from afar. OK, Yunmi Kang (vocal, piano) and her partner Sangyeon Park (guitar) both studied in Europe (Germany, the Netherlands) but they hail from South Korea. Visiting Bristol, a mutual friend introduced them to trumpeter Dave Mowat – and presto, a trio gig.

It was all put together very quickly, with a consequently modest audience, but those who made it could hear why the three hit it off musically. They played all their own compositions, and all three lean toward the lyrical, with a melancholic strain often surfacing.

Kang’s voice is astonishingly good – I hate the thing where all singers are expected to dig into the standard repertoire but it does sound made for jazz standards. On her own pieces, and those by the others, it still shone, and her own piano comping and the guitar fitted her singing perfectly. The blend with Mowat’s clear-toned trumpet gave the whole thing something of the air of the great (most people think) Azimuth, with Norma Winstone and Kenny Wheeler. They turned the lofty space of St Stephens into a place of refuge and refreshment at the end of a searing, sun-scorched day.

The visitors promise a return in January, so worth looking out for dates in the new year for yet another pair of artists who prove that, these days, first rate young jazz musicians can come from anywhere in the world.


(pic appropriated from St Stephens Facebook here.

Late jazz announcement – Strigalev/Murray tonight

July 5, 2018

Here’s an unexpected opportunity to hear a rather remarkable player, albeit at almost no notice – That’s Zhenya Strigalev, who is phenomenal on alto sax. The duo he’s in here sounds pretty good, too.

Steve at Future Inns writes:

It is with huge apologies that Tomasz Bura has had to cancel his appearance tonight at Jazz at Future Inn, due to illness in the band. We are very lucky that ‘ZJ Duo’ have stepped in at the last minute to fill his place. 
“ZJ Duo” is a high energy and intense newly formed project, having just successfully played the Love Supreme festival and three nights at Ronnie Scott’s, this is a fresh exhilarating vibe not to be missed!
Jamie Murray (Drums/Percussion) is one of the great up and coming drummers on the scene. Having played with members of the Sunra Arkestra Knoel Scott & Cecil brooks, The Neo Soul group Native Dancer to modern jazz musicians such as saxophonist De Sean Jones, whose credits include (Christian Mccbride and Stevie Wonder). He was recently featured in the latest edition of Rhythm drum Magazine as a “Top drummer to watch”.
Saxophonist Zhenya Strigalev is a young virtuoso forging an increasingly high profile internationally. Strigalev has cut a dynamic path between the London and New York jazz scenes. He’s worked with some of today’s most forward thinking musicians and appeared at many of the world’s leading jazz festivals. 
They’ve been working with a high energy quintet – of which this duo appears to be an equally intense offshoot. There’s a tiny taste here on Facebook
And LondonJazzNews said of that set:
In parallel Beat Replacement, Jamie Murray’s drum led fusion powerhouse, rattled through a mesmerising set, pushing time signatures and crunching bass lines (6-strings! 4-string electric basses were like unicorns this year). They were particularly brought to life by the collaboration with Zhenya Strigalev, who danced round Murray’s percussion shadowed in a fascinatingly intense, winding and staccato performance – a real orchestrated duo moment.

Bristol jazz this week

July 2, 2018

The most important thing to note this week is the benefit for the great Keith Tippett (see previous post) – even if you can’t go you may still like to donate. Tony Benjamin concurs – both in this one-off preview and in his more comprehensive listing for the week.

There are more details here, where co-promoter Ian Storror has also written a nice piece about Keith’s long career. Keith often included his line on album releases that he hoped music “never becomes just another way to make a living”. Still, turns out it’s even harder to get by if you can’t make music, so this one deserves all the support we can muster. It should be musically pretty special as well… Ian has given some more details in his newsletter – thus:

First up will be a specially formed band, led by former Keith Tippett Seedbed Orchestra alumni Kevin Figes who has managed to uncover some original scores of tunes Keith used to teach the orchestra, written out by Keith’s own hand
Tunes such as A May Day, Madlobt, Film Blues, A Song (a beautiful tune), Thoughts to Geoff and the legendary Septober Energy
Played by a band of musicians who all have associations with playing with, or influenced by Keith and his music;
The Keith Tippett Appreciation Ensemble
Kevin Figes, Ben Waghorn, Jake McMurchie & Mark Langford  (Saxophones)
Nick Malcolm, Percy Pursglove, Pete Judge & Dave Mowat  (Trumpets)
Jim Blomfield  (Piano), Dominic Lash & Will Harris  (Double Bass)
Mark Whitlam & Tony Orrell  (Drums)
That will be followed by a short rendition of the poem ‘Jazz Burglar Blues’ written and performed by local poet Bob Walton taken from his recently released book; and accompanied on sax by Jake McMurchie in a repeat performance from the book launch earlier this year.
Seguing seamlessly into a strong contemporary/improvised set from a specially arranged quartet;
The Paul Dunmall Quartet
Paul Dunmall (Sax), Jim Dvorak (Trumpet), Percy Pursglove (Double Bass & Trumpet) & Tony Orrell  (Drums)
It will out there, free and explosive!
Mr Dunmall is a true saxophone giant, in fact a monster!
Jim’s coming down from London and Percy from Birmingham and Tony will be driving it all on!
Last men standing will be joined by the Ensemble plus Norma Daykin (Sax) to finish the night with an encore of a Dudu Pukwana tune ‘MRA’, for the special link Keith has had since the late 60’s with the South African exiles who moved to London during apartheid, so a real Township feel for nights end.

You can read about the rest of thew week’s goings on in Tony’s preview. But two other things. If you happened to get wind of the date for US trumpet star Keyon Harold at Walcot House in Bath on Thursday night, know that it’s now been cancelled due to flight scheduling problems as he leaves the country for dates in Europe.

But there is another extra, a charming sounding evening gig on Friday organised by Dave Mowat at St Stephens. He says:


Yunmi Kang, Sangyeon Park, David Mowat

Saint Stephen’s Church Garden BS1 1EQ

Friday July 6th 7.30pm TO 9.30pm

£8 entry

Bring your picnic drink and picnic rug ( garden use tbc, at any rate the church/café space if not). Mellow and original jazz by Mowat and Park with some American song book standards. Yunmi and Sangyeon are award-winning graduates of The Jazz Conservatoires in Amsterdam and The Hague respectively and superbly versed in the American jazz tradition, albeit with a stillness that speaks of their Korean roots.  David is a stalwart of the local scene known for his Milesian sound and   internationally travelled with various bands.

If the garden is used, it’ll be a lovely spot for some music on a Friday night.

Here’s a sample of the two Koreans playing together to whet your appetite.

Nice, eh?

John Coltrane in Bristol – (almost)

June 26, 2018

You might not notice, because it’s part of a festival (Doc’n Roll) whose title suggests a different musical mix, but there’s a screening of the excellent (reviews say) documentary about John Coltrane at Watershed next Sunday.

And what better use of a super-heated Summer afternoon that hiding in a cool cinema to watch the man on screen?

It features tributes from a host of worthy constituents (and Bill Clinton), and JC’s words voiced by Denzel Washington. The showing is a Bristol premiere, and falls perfectly in the festival brief – notable recent music documentaries that might not get an airing near you otherwise. There’s a centenary tribute to Ella Fitzgerald on Saturday, too.

Hope the festival gets good support on this first Bristol outing, and they come back next year with some of the other as yet unseen jazz documentaries – this recent film about Bill Frisell, for example, is wonderful.

Otherwise, the week’s live music is laid out for you by Tony Benjamin here, as usual. He’s been busy, as there are also great reviews up on the Bristol247 site of Dakhla and Jade at the Forge last Friday, and Get the Blessing with Bristol Symphony the following day in Clifton. I only caught the first of these, and it was a fascinating evening of sparkling new music. Dakhla’s new recording, as a six piece, is one to look forward to, as is the launch gig at the Wardrobe in November – when we’ll even be able to sit down, which – delightful as the Forge is – I think I’ll enjoy even more…

Finally, not so far ahead, make a date for July 8th, when Ian Storror and Jon Taylor are co-promoting a benefit gig for Keith Tippett at the Hen and Chicken. Keith is recovering from a heart attack, and this is one of several benefits ongoing. The Bristol one is a bit special as so many local musicians have played, or been taught by him, or both, over many years. It’ll definitely be worth going, but if you can’t make it, consider buying a ticket anyway as a small payback for all he’s contributed to the music.

Alternative – Martin Archer has pressed extra copies of Keith’s brilliant small group CD, Nine Dances, with all proceeds going to the benefit fund. His career has featured both big helpings of improv and gorgeous group and orchestral writing, like this.


We should get some of both at the gig.

Full details of the live show:


at THE HEN & CHICKEN (Bristol, BS3 1JF) at 8PM Tickets £15.

Paul Dunmall – Saxophones, Jim Dvorak – Trumpet, Percy Pursglove – Trumpet & Double Bass, Tony Orrell Drums
Kevin Figes, Ben Waghorn, Jake McMurchie & Mark Langford – Saxophones, Nick Malcolm, Percy Pursglove, Pete Judge & Dave Mowat – Trumpets, Jim Blomfield – Piano, Dominic Lash & Will Harris – Double Bass, Mark Whitlam & Tony Orrell – Drums
Bristol born Keith Tippett came to prominence in the late 1960’s with his Sextet and his astonishing 50 piece ensemble Centipede. He is widely recognised as one of the most distinctive and radical pioneers inBritish Jazz and the world of improvised music. The concert on 8th July at THE HEN & CHICKEN is his home town’s opportunity to show support at a time when Keith is unable to perform following a heart attack with complications. Tickets are £15 with all the proceeds going to Keith and his family.
Musicians taking part include Keith’s friends, old band colleagues, ex-students or just players who feel their careers have been inspired by Keith’s incredible music and want to show their support.
The evening will feature two bands – firstly a large ensemble of Bristol based musicians under the direction of Kevin Figes. Kevin worked with Keith in the Seedbed Orchestra, Tapestry and  Keith’s Octet. The ensemble will be playing several of Keith’s compositions based on his original scores. Then Keith’s close friend, musical associate and fellow member of Mujician (for 23 years) Paul Dunmall will perform with  a quartet formed specially for this benefit.

The concert has been organised by Ian Storrer of Jazz@ the Albert and Jon Taylor of Fringe Jazz and Treblerock Guitar Shop.


Stop the music! (not really): Bristol jazz week, June 18.

June 18, 2018

I’m having trouble keeping up with all the jazz events in town at the moment. Fortunately Tony Benjamin manages it – seeming to search out new bands and new venues every week. Here’s his listing for the week.

Also having trouble sampling more than a fraction of the music. Of the baker’s dozen of gigs he includes, there are at least four I’d really love to hear. They’re on consecutive nights as it happens, so possible to do them all, in theory. In real life, that’s not going to happen. The splendid double bill of Dakhla Brass and Nick Malcolm’s quartet Jade on Friday is a certainty. The others: well, I’ll just have to see. Sometimes even I have things to do that don’t involve listening to jazz…

Bristol (and Bath) jazz this week – June 12

June 12, 2018

The BeBop club now on a long Summer break, but still plenty going on, as Tony Benjamin details here.

His listing includes a delightfully unexpected one-off – a visit to Bath Spa’s Micheal Tippett Centre by Paul McCandless. It’s a little way outside the city at Newton Park, but I teach there occasionally so can say that if (like me) you are carless, there are plenty of buses from Bath bus station that ensure students get to and from their classes on campus, so pretty easy to get to. Don’t know anything about the Bath Spa big band but the university does run a jazz course so assume this draws on their students. The gig also features the US West coast trio Charged Particles, who have been playing with McCandless around the world. There’s a bunch of numbers on YouTube to sample beforehand, like this.

The Michael Tippett Centre is a pretty nice venue, too, so this should be an excellent evening –  and there are plenty of seats left at the time of writing – though there are worthwhile gigs in Bristol the same night if you don’t wish to leave town…