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Decisions, decisions… Bristol Jazz Oct 3

September 28, 2013

Thursday nights in Bristol are beginning to get busy, jazzwise. As well as the regular gigs at Future Inn and the Fringe in Clifton (I haven’t checked who’s on, but usually somebody good**), next week sees two notable visitors in venues not often troubled by this blog.

The redoubtable World Service Project bring their latest “Match and Fuse” tour to the Attic in Stokes Croft. Match and fuse means they tour with a different European outfit each time, play a set each, then all get together. I’ve not heard of their tour mates this time (that’s kind of the point), but last time out they played with the excellent Norwegian Quartet Pixel. The video link in the press release below suggests they’ve chosen well this time, too.

World Service are a blast, too, and just back from a marathon tour of the US, so should be on good form.

Equally promising is a gig at the Old Duke the same night – departing from their usual fare to offer Dorset-based pianist Philip Clouts’ quartet, who are touring their well-reviewed new CD. I don’t know their stuff, either, but by all accounts it is well worth catching.

Either might be a gig of the week, but I can’t decide which. The choice will probably depend on the mood of the moment, or maybe a coin toss. If you might feel the same, the bands’ press releases are pasted below in case that helps…



The bookings for those two venues are John Pearce with Mike Willox at The Fringe, celbrating its anniversary, and Brazilian jazz group Balança – Cathy Jones, vocals and percussion, Tristram Cox, Guitar, Thad Kelly, Bass, Andy Tween, Drums Kevin Figes, Flute and Saxophone – at Future Inns, which may make it harder to decide…

Other details of the first two:

WorldService Project  …acid-fried funk  Time Out

with Ozma (France) enough raw energy to power a small city Irish Times

2 October        LONDON, The Vortex, Gillett Square Dalston N16 8AZ  8pm£10/8

3 October        BRISTOL, The Attic, 1 North St, Stokes Croft, Bristol  BS1 3PR1 8pm, £7/5

4 October          LONDON, Workshop with kids in Edmonton

5 October        NOTTINGHAM, Cafe Bar Contemporary, Weekday Cross, NG1 2GJ  FREE 9pm

Ozma are Adrien Dennefeld guitar; David Florsch saxophones; Edouard Séro-Guillaume bass;  Stéphane Scharlé drums.   10 years of Ozma’s post jazz riffs, counterpoints, explosions of sound… full of influences: Jimi Hendrix, Radiohead, King Crimson, Sonic Youth, Dave Holland, Alas No Axis, Esbjörn Svensson, Mark Turner and Air.

And if you haven’t heard WorldService Project yet, imagine a four-way cage fight between Frank Zappa, Loose Tubes, Stravinsky and Meshuggah… in a Monty Python universe.




Released on POINT RECORDS 23 Sept 2013

Cat no: PCD026

UK Tour   October/November 2013

Following the success of the previous album Sennen Cove, Point Records is to release pianist and composer Philip Clouts’ new album The Hour of Pearl on September 23rd.

Clouts is steeped both in the music of his native South Africa and in a diverse range of world musics which he has explored to critical acclaim with his larger outfit ZubopGambia (featuring BBC World Music award winner Juldeh Camara) and which continue to inspire his compositions.

Saxophonist Carlos Lopez-Real has developed a solo voice which builds on the work of M-Base founder Steve Coleman and maverick genius Dave Liebman, who himself has said of Carlos “he plays with a sound that comes from his soul.” Lopez-Real is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music, a founder member of e17 jazz collective and active with F-IRE collective bands as well as leading his own group Mandorla.

Drummer Jon Desbruslais is a recent addition to the quartet who brings a fresh vitality due to his vast experience of playing folklorist Latin music in such bands as Viva La Revolucion! and Son de Cuba. Completing the rhythm section on double bass is Alex Keen who works with Dom Pipkin, Tim Whitehead and Jim Mullen.

The new CD The Hour of Pearl takes its title from a poetic extract from Cannery Row, a novel by the American author John Steinbeck:“a time of great peace, a deserted time, a little era of rest…the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.”

Tour Dates

1 October   St Ives Jazz Club St Ives

3 October The Old Duke Bristol

4 October Bridport Arts Centre Bridport

9 October Queens Head Monmouth

10 October Players Theatre Davenham

11 October Number 39 Darwen

12 October Marsden Jazz Festival Marsden

19 October Marine Theatre Lyme Regis

9 November (1pm) Pizza Express Dean Street London Album Launch

17 November Teignmouth Jazz Festival Teignmouth

Philip Clouts Quartet    The Hour of Pearl   Liner Notes by Selwyn Harris

Musicians often express something about their environment as well as emotions. This is especially relevant when it comes to talking about the work of pianist-composer Philip Clouts. His last album Sennen Cove, released in 2010 with an acoustic quartet formed three years previously, was inspired by the sights and sounds of his new surroundings on the West Dorset coast in the Jurassic village of Charmouth, having moved there from London in 2006.

The new recording The Hour of Pearl takes its title from a poetic extract from Cannery Row, a novel by the American author John Steinbeck: ‘the grey time after the light has come and before the sun has risen…a time of great peace, a deserted time, a little era of rest…the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself.’ Clouts’ yearning for a sense of the eternal in the world in which we live comes across vividly in the folky-themed dreamscape of the title track.

But as it is with the celebrated American author of The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men, Clouts turns not only to the natural world; a belief in the culture and spirit of community also resonates throughout Clouts’ music. His original compositions on The Hour of Pearl draw on some of the earthier, more convivial groove-like episodes of jazz history ranging from 1960’s soul jazz and bluesy west coast cool through to the afro-centric modal jazz of Charles Lloyd and the gospel-fuelled music of Keith Jarrett’s European quartet.

There is also an ongoing engagement with global sounds ranging from East European folk music and klezmer to folklorist latin; here the addition to the quartet of new drummer Jon Desbruslais brings a fresh vitality with it due to his vast experience of playing that music in such bands as Viva La Revolucion! and Son de Cuba. Additionally, the influence of African music, especially Township jazz, points to Clouts’ place of birth in Cape Town in 1960. Although his family moved to London only a year later, it has had a wide-ranging impact on his music to date, most vividly in his early world-jazz ensemble Zubop that formed in the 1980s and its offshoot ZubopGambia, in collaboration with BBC World Music award winner Juldeh Camara and other Gambian master musicians.

For The Hour of Pearl this influence extends to the Subcontinent. Take the opening track Riptide. It evolved from the composer singing a melody over an Indian fixed drone he played on a harmonium. The dark watery stream of notes in Clouts’ piano accompaniment mirrors the ocean current of the title and shades a simple yet characteristically very strong melody from Clouts that’s played with bittersweet lyricism by Carlos Lopez-Real, his regular alto and soprano saxophone sideman. Lopez-Real, of English-Spanish extraction, has been making a mark on the London jazz scene as director of the dynamic young E17 Jazz Collective and is a highly engaging leader-saxophonist in his own right. Clouts follows with a solo that has an attractively crisp, bluesy clarity that’s punctuated by the kind of evocative block chord impressionism made popular by the great Bill Evans.

It was John Steinbeck’s writing again, this time about “being at home”, that stimulated the joyously gospel-jazz flavour of On West Hill, named after the street on which Clouts now lives in Lyme Regis.  Flamingo-ing shifts the tone to a Sonny Rollins-type calypso but Clouts’ jazz sensibilities mean he challenges listeners to hear the familiar in an unfamiliar way, here with a surprisingly natural sounding 7-to-a-bar groove. Clef Mona draws from the composer’s Jewish background blending indigenous east European folk music, klezmer and even a touch of flamenco. As Evening Falls says all you need to know about this dim-the-lights, Mediterranean jazz number, that the composer says reminds him of “Italian film music from the 1960s”.

Delta highlights the delight in making unusual connections between folklorist musical cultures from across the diaspora. From the Delta of the Nile to the Mississippi, from middle eastern music to the blues – “I quite like a discovery I made after writing the piece that the Abakua culture in Cuba which gave us the guaguanco rhythm originated in the Efo culture of the Cross River Delta in Nigeria.”  Lopez-Real’s snaky modal minor sax theme takes off from a hypnotic, African-jazz piano vamp as long-time sideman and double bassist Alex Keen’s subtly funky bass digs in. Then a shift of gear to a bouncy latin groove with Desbruslais superbly demonstrating how he is able to turn his skilful resources as a latin percussionist into a drum solo.

The final track Nyasa Lullaby is also about reinvention. Taken from Clouts’ 2004 piano trio album Direction South, it’s become a live favourite with Lopez-Real’s whirling, mantra-like soprano sax evoking both the joy and peace at the very centre of The Hour of Pearl.

  • Philip Clouts (piano, composer)

  • Philip Clouts was born in South Africa and brought to Britain as a baby. His father, the poet Sydney Clouts, was a great fan of South African music and throughout Philip’s childhood the house resounded to the strains of Hugh Masekela, Miriam Makeba and township jazz. It was the pianists who particularly caught Philip’s ear, especially Abdullah Ibrahim and Chris McGregor, and that’s where it all started.

  • Philip Clouts is founder member, composer and pianist in Zubop ‘that spirited, hugely enjoyable jazz outfit, which takes the whole world of music as its home territory’ (The Observer). 4 CDs have been released on 33 Records and performances have been in a wide variety of venues and festivals in the UK and Europe, including WOMAD, Glastonbury, Berlin Worldbeat Festival, Brewery Arts Centre, Exeter Phoenix, Frankfurt Sinkkasten, London Vortex.

  • Zubop developed into ZubopGambia, a collaboraton with BBC World Music award winner Juldeh Camara and other West African master musicians, which has done two major UK tours and headlined at festivals. A concert at Ronnie Scott’s, London, where they “managed to raise the roof” (fRoots magazine) was released as a live album.

  • Other work has included playing with virtuoso folk fiddler Chris Haigh in Klezmania, a group playing Klezmer music with elements of jazz improvisation, and touring with singer Gary Howard of the Flying Pickets.

  • Philip has released a trio CD of his compositions entitled “Direction South”which was praised in Jazz UK as “An enormously enjoyable set of accessible but distinctive originals. Like the compositions, Clouts’ solos are thoughtful and persuasively structured”

  • Since starting to work with Carlos Lopez-Real, the Philip Clouts Quartet has been a major focus of his composing and playing, and the CD “Sennen Cove” was released in 2010

  • Carlos Lopez-Real (saxophones)

  • Carlos performs with his own group Mandorla, featuring John Turville, Jon Scott and Oli Hayhurst/Dave Manington

  • He has been involved with the F-IRE collective over a number of years, having recorded and toured with many bands such as Justin Quinn’s Bakehouse (featured on their award-winning album ‘Before I Forget’), Tom Arthurs’ Centripede, Jonathan Bratoeff’s Quintet, Barak Schmool’s Meta Meta, and the F-IRE large ensemble for whom he composed several tunes. Additionally, he has collaborated with Zoe Rahman, Gary Husband and the Nicolas Meier Group, and held the sax chair in John Mayer’s classic band Indo-Jazz Fusions, as well a featuring with Roberto Pla’s salsa band.

  • He is the founder of e17 jazz, the East London-based collective spawned out of both F-IRE and LOOP associations, whose members include Brigitte Beraha, John Turville, Adam Bishop, Will Collier, Jez Franks and Dave Manington

  • He is a professor at the Guildhall School of Music in London.

  • ‘Lopez-Real set the pulses racing’ John Eyles,

  • ‘He has a nice line in Lee Konitz smokiness but also its opposite, a raw and  explosive multiphonics.’ John Fordham

  • Alex Keen (double bass) works regularly on the London jazz scene with names such as guitarist Jim Mullen, pianist Dom Pipkin and saxophonists Tim Whitehead and Julian Costello.

  • Jon Desbruslais (drums) has performed with Buddy Greco and in many latin bands including Viva La Revolucion! Allstars and Son de Cuba, and was a finalist in the Worshipful Company of Musicians Jazz Medal 2012.

Philip Clouts Quartet: Press Quotes

“Philip Clouts is an accomplished leader.” THE INDEPENDENT

“They cook up some nice, tricky rhythms to keep you alert, and control an impressive range of dynamics…Clouts makes the piano sound exactly right for each piece” THE OBSERVER

“Dorset’s coastline, added to Africa Latina flavours, inspires much attractive writing and cogent, punchy quartet playing” JAZZ UK

“Consummate musicianship” THE MUSICIAN

“Clouts swings with rhythmic deliberation and a crystal sense of phrasing. Saxophonist Lopez-Real shares Clouts’ inclusive, outgoing multi-cultural angle on jazz and leaves exuberant sounds ringing in your ears. The title track makes Sennen Cove sound like a place of fun as well as adventure with its Afro-Cuban lilt on this refreshing and most enjoyable album” JAZZWISE

“Bright and accessible yet contains enough subtlety to reward repeated exposure to its refreshing variety of rhythms, textures and moods” CHRIS PARKER

“Joyous and celebratory…wonderfully unfettered playing” IAN MANN

“Great playing, interesting compositions” RADIO BREMEN

“It positively reminds me of some of the African-inspired things Don Pullen did, but with a very unique lyrical quality.”Götz Bühler Byte FM

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