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Bristol jazz diary – Feb 1-7

January 30, 2016

Here’s all the jazz info you need for the coming week, courtesy of critic about town Tony Benjamin, including a useful radio tip this time. The final Hen and Chicken gig in Ian Storror’s January feast is tomorrow, and looks another excellent prospect. Last week’s Atzmon/Barnes double act certainly sparkled. Read Tony’s Bristol247 review here, and Mike Collins’ appreciation of the same evening here.

Jazz week Feb 1-7

No doubt promoter Ian Storror will be looking forward to a well-earned breather after January’s highly successful run of weekly jazz gigs that all attracted audiences of 100-plus to the Hen & Chicken for some cracking evenings. It was a tantalising glimpse of what Bristol still needs – a weekly top-class jazz club able to rely on a large enough audience to pay for great acts.

That’s not to disrespect the Bebop, Fringe or Future Inn sessions but it has to be recognised that their scale and finances put a limitation on what can be booked. What the Bebop has always done brilliantly, however, is to showcase the best local musicians who are making original music, something exemplified by the club organiser himself. For over a decade the Andy Hague Quintet (Bebop, Friday 5) has been rewarding audiences with a combination of great individual and group musicianship and Andy’s ear-catchingly crafted tunes and arrangements. The Fringe this week celebrates another enduring favourite of the Bristol scene in the James Morton Band (Wednesday 3), a grooving quartet that puts the flamboyant alto player in front of guitarist Jerry Crozier-Cole, Jonny Henderson’s Hammond and the mighty drumming of Ian Matthews, while frequent Morton collaborator Gary Alesbrook brings his R’n’B fusion outfit The Duval Project to Future Inn (Thursday 4). The band has a new line-up, with Arge McGee replacing the over-busy Danny Cox on drums and Dan Waldman joining on guitar. Fronted by the ever-impressive vocals of Marie Lister the band are currently working on new material for an album.

Things are pretty well-established at the Old Market Assembly now, with the fortnightly Old Market Jazz Session led by bass player Greg Cordez (Monday 1) opening a week that also hosts the Jonny Bruce Quartet playing for the swing dance night (Wednesday 3) and trumpeter Jonny returns to the venue with the  good time contemporary New Orleans style Brass Junkies (Saturday 6). There’s more swing business with Hot Clubbers Schmoozenbergs at No 1 Harbourside (Sunday 7) and swing-jazz vocalist Molly King brings her Molly & The Kings project to The Old Duke (Wednesday 3) – the same evening that Canteen hosts pianist Andy Christie’s Quartet .

Those finding themselves with the Sunday twitches might do well to head past the Hen & Chicken to the Tobacco Factory for the Dave Perry Trio (Sunday 7), a tight threesome led by the diffident craftsmanship of saxophonist/composer Dave, whose classic tune writing and economically judged solo playing are always a treat. If that doesn’t tempt you there’s also the farther-out attractions of Japanese sound artist Ryoko Akama appearing at the Cube with sonic improviser Joseph Clayton Mills and Dominic Lash’s solo bass interpretations of avant-garde composer Alvin Lucier.

Finally – if you find yourself with 45 minutes to while away the BBC Radio i-player should still offer Blood Count, a rather compelling afternoon play from Radio 4 looking at the creative relationship between Duke Ellington and Billy Strayhorn with Dave Newton Andrew Cleyndert and Alan Barnes making some fine Ellington-esque music throughout.

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