Bristol jazz this week – 20 April

Here’s Tony Benjamin‘s careful compilation of jazz gigs in Bristol this week – in full for a change.

Jazz pick of the week: April 20-26

There’s no doubting who’s this week’s big name: Polar Bear come to the Lantern (Thursday 23) with their new California Desert inspired album Same As You to showcase. Good news for their many fans but a shame for EMU who also appear at Future Inns that night as the Manchester band (formerly known as Kerfuffle) are interesting visitors, making a busy electric jazz somewhat reminiscent of mid-period Weather Report. They may well be jostling vans with Glowrogues on the M6, too, as they’re another Manchester nu-jazz combo with a distinctive contemporary sound who are Thursday’s band at Canteen. Ah: choices, choices … hopefully youthful trad/swingers The Rhythm Pencils will bring their usual exuberant posse with them to the Coronation Tap, whatever.

It’s quite a jazzy week at Canteen, in fact, with London’s New Orleans piano rollers Professor Nohair & The Wiglifters playing on Tuesday, Sophie Stockham’s excellent contemporary sextet Sefrial on Wednesday and cafe swingers The Schmoozenbergs doing the Sunday afternoon spot. Somehow they managed to miss out James Morton there, but then again he’s got a busy week too with appearances at The Fringe (Wednesday 22) and the Alma Tavern (Sunday 26) as well as his regular Thursday night Groove Den at the Gallimaufry. The Fringe gig has an intriguing line-up including both Mike Willox and Anders Olinder on keyboards – something Willox has explored with Jonny Henderson to great effect. A more traditional organ trio line-up will be appearing at the Old Fish Market (Sunday 26), however, when John paul Gard’s masterly Hammond jousts with Ben Waghorn’s fluent tenor sax.

The Bebop Club will be welcoming Mark Lawrence back (Friday 24) for what should be a great gig with his Quartet. Mark is an excellent fusion and jazz guitarist in the McLaughlin/Scofield mould the band includes Andy Novak (keys) with the impressive young rhythm section of Zak Lanyard (bass) and Tom Gilkes (drums).

Gig pick of the week: Polar Bear/Leafcutter John (Lantern, Thursday 23)

Drummer Seb Rochford took off to the Mojave desert to get latest album Same As You together and the post-hippy Californian influence shows in a more reflective sound, less attention-seeking than previous waxings yet somehow more persuasive. It’ll be interesting to see if that restraint manages to hold them down in the live setting.


And one more from me, for those free to rove. There’s a great prospect in Cardiff on Tuesday when the superb Huw Warren offers an evening’s solo piano in a “Back to Bach” series on offer from the University. He says he’ll play

a variety of improvisations based on classical music, and pairing some Bach piano preludes with Brazilian and Bulgarian music; as well as performing some new music for the first time.

Sounds good to me…  Details here.

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