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Bristol jazz this week – Nov 23

November 23, 2015

A late posting this week (my fault, not Tony Benjamin’s) – due to delightful weekend distractions of the London Jazz festival. But for those in need, here are Tony’s notes on the forthcoming week’s jazz in Bristol.

Jazz Week Nov 23-29

Freedom is in the chilly November air, it seems, and a wave of top improvising musicians descend on the city … well, there’s a couple of good gigs, at least: Wednesday’s Fringe @ The Mall (25) welcomes the heavily seasoned Paul Dunmall Trio, the mighty saxophonist (and bagpiper) joined as ever by John Edwards (bass) and Mark Sanders (drums). Years of collaboration have honed this to one of the best improvising outfits in Europe. Equally enticing – it’s billed as ‘not for the fainthearted’ – is the Ape/The de Selby Codex double bill at The Exchange the following Saturday (28). Scheduled for lunchtime the de Selbies are a six-piece that includes Fringe free jazz regulars Langford, Gibbs and Anstey with Spaceways’ drummer Roger Skerman, while Ape is the more intimate duo of Mike Walter (sax) and Paul Shearsmith (pocket trumpet).

If you want something a bit more nailed down, however, then there’s plenty of choice: the John Pearce Quartet comes to the Old Duke (Wed 25) with mighty drummer Ian Matthews likely to lay it on the line, while guitarist Mike Lawrence’s Groovelator (Canteen) will be fusion-frenetic on the same night. Sunday’s Alma Tavern session (29) has classy local tribute band Milli-Meters playing classic swampy New Orleans funk-jazz. There’s a couple of vocalists on offer, too, with young soul-jazz singer Holly Wellington in duo with guitarist Alun Elliott-Williams (No 1 Harbourside, Thursday 26) and the meticulous swing swinger James Lambeth Quartet at the Colston Hall Foyer (Friday 27) – the same night as the annual Harbourside visit from the Spiegeltent kicks off with the self-explanatory White Mink Electroswing review.

But the two top (un-free) highlights must be local quintet Sefrial (Future Inn, Thursday 26) and visiting Danish guitarist Kristian Borring (Bebop, Friday 27). The former are a band that continues to reshape and develop, now playing mostly original stuff of an individual contemporary jazz-rock kind, while the latter is a fine composer of rhythmic and attractive jazz delivered with ‘crisp coolness’ on guitar with regular sidemen Arthur Lea (piano), Mick Coady (bass) and Jon Scott (drums).


And one more from me. Trumpeter Dave Mowat‘s multinational Bristol European Jazz Ensemble debuts a potentially intriguing new collaboration with Dutch singer Anne Chris on Saturday 28th at St Stephen’s Church – there’ll be tickets on the door or you can buy in advance from St Stephens Cafe or Bristol Ticket Shop. You can hear some of her style in this clip.



Bristol jazz week – Nov 15th

November 15, 2015

OK, the big jazz festival is under way now in London (from which I’ve just returned), but plenty of good music in Bristol this week – and some of it, as with Bela Fleck tonight at St George’s , from people who have gigs as part of the London extravaganza.

That includes the mesmeric Sons of Kemet at the Cube cineplex on Wednesday – Sax player Shabaka Hutchings‘ excellent, rhythmically oriented quartet with two drummers in lockstep and bass register taken care of by punchy tuba lines. The personnel has seen some changes: the band concept remains fresh and powerfully listenable.

Likewise featured in London are genre benders Pinski Zoo, who make a welcome appearance at the Hen and Chicken on Sun 22nd. Details here, and a preview of their London date here.

Yet another strong offering from Fringe Jazz at the Mall on Wednesday, with Theo TravisDouble Talk. The saxophonist’s stellar quartet is completed by ace guitarist Mike Outram, Pete Whittaker on Hammond organ and Nic France on drums.

Then Thursday’s session at Future Inns features highly-rated singer Becki Biggins, and the following night at the BeBop club you can catch a newcomer to Bristol, Dutch pianist Daan Temmink, leading a quartet with  Nick Dover on sax.

That’s all I have to hand for a hasty Sunday night post. Do add other dates in the comments if I’ve missed anything.

Bristol jazz week, Nov 8

November 8, 2015

Just off the plane from Delhi, so hoping to hear some of these – jet lag permitting – especially Maciek Pysz…

Thanks for details for Tony Benjamin, as usual.

Nov 8-15

Ah – a busy week perhaps, especially for those far-sighted enough to get in early for tickets for boiling saxophonist Kamasi Washington and cool soul-jazz vocalist Andreya Triana, both of whose Lantern gigs are well sold out already. But never mind if you missed them – there’s still plenty of fun to be had, starting at the ever-impressive Fringe @ The Mall Wednesday session. This week promoter Jon Taylor’s increasingly star-studded programme brings Polish-born guitarist Maciek Pysz in his trio (Wednesday 11) with the ever watchable percussionist Asaf Sirkis and his regular bass partner Yuri Goloubev. It’s a fine threesome of top class improvisers en route to the London Jazz Festival. A more groove-oriented visiting combo plays the Thekla on Saturday (14) when Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles come to town. Henry is the keyboard player from Snarky Puppy, hipper-than -hip big band of the moment and the band promises to be a high-energy funk-meets-jazz fusion experience.

Closer to home there’s much celebration of women in jazz this week, starting on Monday (9) when Dakhla saxophonist Sophie Stockham leads an all-female evening of the Canteen Jazz Session with Ruth Hammond and Tammy Payne on keyboards and drums respectively in the house band. Tammy shows up again on Thursday (12) as one of the Jazz Dames , an eclectic evening at St George’s showcasing Bristol’s best female jazz vocal talents that also features Emily Wright, Lucy Moon, Molly King, Nadine ‘Lady Nade’ Gingell and Katya Gorrie. Backed by pianist George Cooper’s trio this event is also the launch of the 2016 Bristol International Jazz & Blues Festival. Katya will also be bringing her fantastic Swordfishtrombone project to Canteen (Friday 13), recreating some of Tom Waits dark and imaginative music with real style.
Thursday’s Future Inn session sees the return of the popular Sound of Blue Note, a tribute to the back catalogue of a defining era of modern jazz while on Friday (13) the Bebop Club welcomes a perennial favourite: featuring Ben Waghorn (sax), Jim Blomfield and Mark Whitlam as well as bass player Rian Vosloo, a highly skilled London-based player who has often visited in the past and seems, happily, to be rejoining the Bristol scene. And, finally, the Alma Sunday session is one of those Denny Ilett & friends resident evenings when the well-connected guitarist gets a predictably smart bunch of players together for some classic tunes.

Bristol jazz week, Nov 2

October 31, 2015

Here are Tony Benjamin‘s notes on gigs this coming week in Bristol. I’m actually posting this from India, so nothing to add, except that I appear to have an invitation to the Pune Music Society tomorrow. Have a good musical week wherever you are!

Jazz week: November 2­

Well if you haven’t already got a ticket for the Hot 8 Brass Band (Lantern, Tuesday 3)

then it’s too late as it sold out a while back. You may need to get your skates on for

Wednesday’s gig at the Fringe @ The Mall, too: gospel/soul vocalist Celestine is pretty

popular in her own right, but her ‘special guests’ include fabulous jazz­rock guitarist Tony

Remy, piano luminary Jason Rebello and Kasabian’s Ian Matthews on drums so advance

sales could well be brisk for what should be a dazzling evening. If something calmer is

required, however, the electro­acoustic Fitkinwall are playing over at the Michael Tippett

Centre in Bath Spa University (Wednesday 4). The duo of composer Graham Fitkin and

harpist Ruth Wall blends harps and synths into hypnotic and subtle ambient music.

Thursday’s Future Inn session sees the interesting combination of Craig Crofton (sax),

Guy Calhoun (guitar) and Jonny Henderson (Hammond) in Blue Mambo, a new quintet

with percussionists Ivan Moreno and Euan Leslie giving a Latin feel to classic Blue Note

material. Finally, the Bebop club welcomes the Bristol European Jazz Ensemble (Friday 6),

trumpeter Dave Mowat’s multi­national collaboration playing their original modern jazz

material with world music influences.

Bristol jazz week, 26 Oct

October 26, 2015

This week’s regular jazz dates get off to a good start on Wednesday with the ever-popular Moscow Drug Club returning to Fringe at the Mall – get there early or book to get a decent seat. Gypsy jazz quintet Maniere des Bohemiens grace the Canteen stage the same evening.

Then Future Inns on Thursday follows last week’s rather brilliant trio set from guitar star Dan Messore and messrs Moore and Brown with Dom Franks’ Strayhorn Quartet. Franks is a former young jazz musician of the year and his sax-led quartet features Alex Steele on keys and “leading Bristol musicians”. Well, there are certainly some familiar faces here…

Nicholas Dover brings his sax/piano duo to No 1 Harbourside on Thursday, too, and you can expect a stirring evening as usual from James Morton and Friends at the Gallimaufry on Gloucester Rd.

Friday at the Be-Bop Club has ex-pat sax wizard Ben Clatworthy on his annual visit to the UK, backed by Jim Blomfield, Dave Guy and Mark Whitlam.

If you’re in Cardiff, or fancy a trip across the Severn, Julian Arguelles’ Tetra are at the RWCMD on Friday, too. Their freshly minted CD confirms their perhaps the best sax-led quartet currently operating in the UK, and they ain’t coming to Bristol so this would be a great chance to hear this tremendous band.

Finally, fans of swing and trad will want to note the welcome advent of a new Bristol venue – Speakeasy Jazz at the Brunswick Club, at the highly civilised time of 3.00-5.30 on Sunday afternoons. It’s an offshoot of the popular Speakeasy club in Portishead. The next monthly session at 15-16 Brunswick Square is on Nov 1 and features Welsh and West Country 8-piece Jazzmaster.

I’m out of town all week, but I hope there’s something there for you…

Bristol jazz week – 18 October.

October 17, 2015

As expected, that was quite a week. Hot on the heels of Andy Hague‘s excellent big band gig (reviewed by Tony Benjamin here) we had another Bristol special with Andy Sheppard‘s choral spectacular at St George’s. Tony reviewed that too, as well as catching Matthew Halsall at St George’s on Thursday. I didn’t catch that, but managed one set of superb music (half the evening, after which we were too tired to hear any more – wouldn’t it be nice if some weeknight jazz club gigs started before 9.00 pm?) from Ian Ballamy and Percy Pursglove at The Fringe on Wednesday, and a full helping of a truly unusually good show from Joel Harrison’s Spirit House at the BeBop club on Friday.

However (deep breath) the jazz continues. And here, with the usual thanks for meticulous compiling and sage commentary, are Tony’s gigs of note for the coming week. Maybe  not quite as spectacular, but still plenty to choose from here!

October 19-25

There’s a brash start to things this week: Canada’s Souljazz Orchestra (Lantern, Monday 19) are a kind of timeless world-jazz fusion, full of energy and tight arrangements made for dancing and well-matched local support act Matuki should find a bigger audience through the gig. Another similarly groovy local outfit – George Mabuza Group – will be at The Old Duke (Thursday 22). The week’s most enticing visitor comes to the Bebop (Friday 23) in the shape of the prodigious young Misha Mullov-Abbado Quintet, another project from the thriving scene that brought us trombonist Tom Green’s excellent septet. Misha is an award-winning bass player composing interesting and eclectic tunes and the band is a real firecracker. Finally – outsiderness – you might want to head over to Bath for the Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet (Burdall’s Yard, Friday 23), which unites percussion master Asaf Sirkis with extraordinary Polish vocalist Sylwia Bialas and also features bassist Patrick Bettison’s jazz harmonica.

Otherwise it’s a fine array of local favourites, though guitarist Dan Messore (Future Inn, Thur 22) is no longer of this parish. His trio with Dan Moore (keys) and Matt Brown (drums) should have a distinctive sound thanks to Messore’s original approach to playing that references both Bill Frisell and American primitive John Fahey. The indomitable violin/piano pairing of John Pearce & Dave Newton are at the Fringe @ The Mall (Wednesday 21) on the same night as contemporary quintet Bristol European Jazz Ensemble appear at with the energetic Brass Junkies also playing that venue on Friday (23). On Saturday (24) there’s a revival of the highly successful When Ella Met Frank, an evocation of those two great singers by Celestine Walcott-Gordon and Denny Ilett with a slimmed down version of the Bruce-Ilett Big Band. It’s a fund-raiser for next year’s Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival and happens at the Redgrave Theatre in Clifton, and on your way home from that you could pop into No 1 Harbourside and catch the John Pratt 4tet. John’s playing in Afrobeat outfit No Go Stop has marked a growing confidence and maturity that is revealing much more of his ability.

Bristol Jazz week, Oct 11

October 11, 2015

We appear to have hit peak jazz in Bristol this week, festivals aside – let Tony Benjamin explain.

October 12-18

Well it’s one of those weeks from hell, I’m afraid, by which I mean there’s far too much happening for a normal human jazz-loving being to keep on top of things without losing at least some of their marbles on the way. Impossible, really, to pick a ‘top tip’ gig so you’ll just have to make your own mind up between:

Andy Sheppard ‘The Divine Paradox’ (St George’s, Tuesday 13) – a specially commissioned choral work with Andy, Will Harris and Italian percussion wizard Michele Rabbia;

Ian Ballamy Quartet(Fringe @ The Mall, Wednesday 14) featuring Percy Pursglove’s trumpet/bass virtuosity alongside Iain’s sumptuous sax playing;

the hipster-friendly, Alice Coltrane inspired, modal Indo-jazz of the Matthew Halsall Gondwana Orchestra (St George’s, Thursday 15);

the passionate sax playing of Sam Crockett (Future Inn, Thursday 15) in a quartet with Jim Blomfield;

US guitar star Joel Harrison’s Spirit House (Bebop Club, Friday 16) direct from New York and featuring Jeremy ‘Bean’ Clemons drumming.

See what I mean? And there’s even The Grandmothers of Invention (Fleece, Sunday 18) reviving the music of Frank Zappa or Denny meets the Hammonds (Alma Tavern, Sunday 18)if you’re still standing by then. The former is a bunch of ex-Mothers players, the latter Mr Ilett hooking up with keyboard player Ruth and drummer Scott of that ilk.


That’s quite a calendar for a medium-sized city, especially coming on top of memorable gigs from Aaron Parks at St George’s and Andy Hague’s 50th birthday big band celebration the day after, among others. I’ll be starting with the Bristol Green Capital commission from Andy Sheppard on Tuesday because my usual gig companion is in the massed ranks of the choir who will be realising Andy’s work. It’s quite tricky, I gather…  Tony’s previewed it for Bristol247 here.

Then we’ll have to see, although the idea of the quality of US players Joel Harrison brings to town performing in the BeBop club is, as always, rather amazing. I reviewed Harrison’s latest CD here – same name fore the band, different line-up, but some fascinating music.


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