Jazz week Bristol (and Cheltenham)

Here are Tony Benjamin‘s local – and regional – gig highlights for the coming week. His great review of last week’s standout  performance of Polar Bear at the Lantern is on Bristol247 here, too.

Jazz week April 27-May 3

Well of course it’s all about Cheltenham, isn’t it? The Bank Holiday fest (Wednesday 29 – Monday 4) is upon us with its established mix of the crowd pleasing (Van Morrison, Rumer, Gregory Porter et al) the classic (Joe Lovano, Lee Konitz, John Scofield) and the hip’n’happening (Hackney Colliery Band, Gogo Penguin, Phronesis). Hot news is that the last minute cancellation of the Sun Ra Arkestra gig now means that the great Archie Shepp’s quartet will be playing (Saturday 2) – an impressive piece of substitution, you’ll agree.

Impressive, yes, but it isn’t actually ALL about Cheltenham as the Fringe @ Mall session (Wednesday 29) has guitarist Mark Lawrence with Tony Roberts, the fusion sax player whose career stretches back to Tubby Hayes band and includes Kenny Wheeler, John McLaughlin and many other luminaries of the jazz-rock world, most notably Ian Carr’s Nucleus. The quartet also includes John paul Gard (keyboard) and Tony Orrell (drums) and should be a blast. More contemplative pleasures (though far from placid ones) are on offer at Future Inns (Thursday 30) when pianist John Law explores music from his critically acclaimed These Skies In Which We Rust album with Jake McMurchie, Will Harris and Mark Whitlam. John’s music is a uniquely complex mixture of jazz, classical and rock inspirations and he is a remarkably gifted improvising musician.

Freeness abounds at The Fringe itself (Monday 27) when Hugh Kirkbride (bass) and Roger Skerman (drums) pitch in with the house trio for the monthly improvised music night, and the Canteen has its regular jazz jam session the same evening. That venue hosts promising young jazz funkers Plume on Wednesday 29, too. Thursday sees Brass Junkies bring that New orleans street-hop sound to the Coronation Tap and on Friday night the Grain Barge welcomes an intriguing new Meters tribute project The Milli-Meters, featuring a class quartet of local funksters.


This blog’s own Cheltenham highlights, by the way, are Phronesis in the dark (Fri), Joe Lovano, Dave Douglas and Lee Konitz, (Sat) and Julian Arguelles (Sun). There’ll be reviews of all these and more for LondonJazzNews as soon as the terrific Cheltenham schedule allows me to get them done.

It would be great to hear John Law at Future Inns again – the venue suits him – but I can’t make it alas, so will have to make sure I get along to catch Tony Roberts on Weds at the Mall…

Oh, and if you’re not Cheltenham bound, there’s a promising date at the BeBop club on Friday for the visiting Paul Riley quartet. They say:

London based alto saxophonist Paul Riley is touring to promote his debut CD Into View on the Jellymould Jazz label, and his band features some of the brightest young stars of the moment. “Riley plays alto and soprano saxophones on this album, his sound modern and contemporary without resorting to grandstanding effects, maybe a little David Binney-like on alto; on soprano the slightly more diffident sound approaching Tim Garland’s sound a little more. There is a lot of personality in the writing however complicated the metrical challenges throw up, the band developing their own magnetism the more you listen, sticking with a blueprint that plots out something more substantial by the end. All 11 tunes seem to fit as individual parts of a bigger vision. The chief plus point here is how well the quintet gel, the writing dependent on making melodic and metrical connections along the way that tease out new angles for listener and musician alike. A stirring debut all in all: Riley and his bandmates pushing hard to explore new space they map out on the outer fringes of bop-derived forms.” – Marlbank Jazz Review site. Paul Riley – saxes, Nick Costley-White – guitar, Matt Ridley – bass and drummer Will Glaser. Really strong melodic compositions, beautifully performed. Have a listen here  www.paulrileysax.com

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