Below are Tony Benjamin’s notes on this week’s gigs in town. Plenty of variety. For me, though, it’s a piano-players’ week, starting with Kit Downes at Hen and Chicken tomorrow (Sunday), and then Aaron Parks at St George‘s on Thursday. The latter is my unmissable gig of the week, not least – as noted – because the incomparable Billy Hart is on drums. If you want to sample Parks before booking, there’s a whole live trio set on his bandcamp page here. And very nice it is, too. (Snarky Puppy, for what it’s worth, seem a bit dull to me, but lots of people seem to like them…)
Over to TB:
After last weeks Beats & Pieces gig this weeks hipster magnet is sure to be Snarky Puppy (Monday 5) making the almost unprecedented move (for a jazz band) to the O2 Academy. It’s a well-deserved recognition that the energetic big band catches an enthusiastic young audience better suited to the O2 than St George’s. The latter venue makes a welcome return to the jazz diary, however, with the visit of New York’s Aaron Parks Trio led by sparky and smart pianist Parks and also boasting veteran drumming legend Billy Hart (who played on On The Corner, among many other credits).
There’s also a New York drumming connection to what should be another standout gig this week, however, with Colin Stranahan coming to the Hen & Chicken (Sunday 11) as part of the Michael Janisch Paradigm Shift. UK-based US bass player Janisch has just produced a brilliant double album of his own new compositions plus a few from the sextet, which also includes the stylish saxophone of Jason Yarde. The music is packed with ideas and action with great ensemble arrangements.
The Fringe @ The Mall session (Wednesday 7) welcomes one of the British scene’s greats – guitarist Jim Mullen, picking up local rhythm duo Anders Olinder and Andy Tween for an organ trio workout of his latest CD ‘Catch My Drift’. The next night (Thursday 8) Peggy Lee-influenced vocalist Catherine Sykes, who has also fronted the Glen Miller Orchestra, makes her debut at Future Inn. Sunday’s slot at the Alma Tavern will be featuring the increasingly adventurous post-rock jazz quintet Sefrial.
There’s a lot of new young jazz talent around Bristol, much of it graduating from Bristol University’s superbly lively Jazz Funk and Soul Society, and this week sees the Trad-enthused Rhythm Pencils (Friday 9, Old Duke), jazz-funk and hip-hop from Feelgood Experiment (Saturday 10, No 1 Harbourside) and assured jazz and Latin vocals from Ayesha Akkari (Wednesday 7, No 1 Harbourside).
However this week’s big gig, for the Bristol jazz fan, must be the celebration of a (slightly) older generation brought together by Andy Hague in his Big 5-0 Band (Friday 9, Cresswell Theatre, Bristol Cathedral School). Not only is it a great 16-strong line-up of our favourite local heroes (Bruce, Malcolm, Waghorn, McMurchie, Blomfield etc) playing a mix of Andy’s new big band compositions plus many old favourites but also it’s the Bebop club main-man’s 50th birthday and if anyone deserves celebrating for their role in keeping top quality jazz available in Bristol over the last 15 years Mr Hague must be one of those people.