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Bristol (and Cheltenham etc) jazz this week – 30 April

April 30, 2018

As Tony Benjamin notes in his weekly rundown, it’s Cheltenham Jazz Festival week. He’s got a full festival preview here, too. And a great programme it is this year, with plenty of those difficult clashes that typify a real festival. Roller Trio or Jason Moran? Donny McCaslan or Christian McBride? I’ve plumped for Moran and McBride, but wistful about the two I’ll miss there… But really it’s good all the way, right through to Empirical on Bank Holiday Monday evening.

Tony also wrote a particularly nice review of the marvellous gig by Martin Speake and Ethan Iverson at St George’s last week – as did Mike Collins. Audience was bit thin, sad to say – maybe everyone was saving themselves for Cheltenham. Huw Warren, presenting a satisfying solo set in Cardiff on Saturday, found a nice way of dealing with this. Fifty-odd people is a decent turnout on a Saturday night when the city was awash with rugby fans but not enough to populate Cardiff University’s nice concert hall. Put them all on the stage, however, and you have a different atmosphere, and a special vantage point to watch a musician at work. You can see him again in Cardiff in a couple of Saturday’s time when a quartet that is a bit of a supergroup (Warren, Iain Ballamy, Martin France, & Steve Watts) present his Dylan Thomas project at the RWCMD. This premiered memorably at Brecon a few years ago, and is still developing.

And what about Bristol? Plenty going on here as well, needless to say, with another difficult choice on Friday between Matana Roberts with Kelly Jayne Jones at the Cube and George Crowley at the BeBop Club. (The latter will definitely feature a guest appearance from fellow sax player Sam Crockatt, incidentally, as guitarist Rob Left is otherwise engaged at Cheltenham). Crowley was on great form at Bristol Jazz Festival in Ivo Neame’s quartet, and has new music off his own to present. Roberts, who I tried to write about last time she came to town a year ago, is quite unlike anyone else. Tough choice! On the other hand, if you like trains Crowley’s tour also calls at Cardiff next week, when he plays the Flute and Tankard (who have taken over where Dempsey’s left off) on Tuesday.





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