Nice to be back in London again for a few days last week - here are the links to my reviews:
John McLaughlin & Hedvig Mollestad
Kenny Barron & Dave Holland
Regina Carter & Yazz Ahmed
Thursday, 27 November 2014
Sunday, 1 June 2014
Just to show that this blog still is still alive, albeit with a very weak pulse, here are a links to a couple of live shows recently seen and heard at the magnificent Sage Gateshead:
(Photo credits not known, but all respect to the photographer)
Been busy moving house, a job which is nearing completion, so hoping to start work on my interviews with Joakim Milder and Rudy Royston in the near future.
Not sure if I'll get to any festivals over the summer, but if the line-up is good then the free festival at Canary Wharf in August is a strong possibility. Last year was my first visit and it's such a relaxed event, unlike any other I've ever been to. Until then...
Wednesday, 9 April 2014
Over the week-end I was asked if my blog was still an ongoing concern, and I couldn't quite work out how to answer what was a perfectly clear and unambiguous question. It's not officially dead because I haven't deleted it, but posts are fewer and further between and it now seems to be less significant to me than it once was.
Partly responsible is the fact that most of my writing now goes straight to Jazz Journal and appears either in the magazine or on the web-site. I don't really want to close the blog because it's good to have a permanent archive of posts to look back on from time to time, yet I'll never have the time and energy to do a Peter Bacon, a Lance Liddle or a Sebastian Scotney.
So, for the time being it stays. There will be periodical updates, but probably too periodical for most to ever get into the habit of becoming regular visitors. Let this be the first post in a series which may signal some kind of resuscitation, although I wouldn't bank on it.
This year's GIJF was packed with inspiring moments, and a personal highlight for me was getting the chance to sit down and interview Rudy Royston (drummer with Bill Frisell, JD Allen, Dave Douglas, Ben Allison and many more). I first came across in the '90s when he was a member of Ron Miles's group, appearing on one of my favourite albums of all time (My Cruel Heart, Grammavision). After that I dug out some obscure sessions led by Fred Hess, and have been seeking out his work wherever I find it. He has only just released his first album as leader, 303 (Greenleaf Music), and it's one of my favourite releases in recent times. Hopefully you'll hear more of what he had to say in an upcoming Jazz Journal profile.
Below are the links to the 3 separate reviews of this year's event, and above is a wonderful photograph by John Watson of Rudy in action at the final show of a memorable week-end.
Oh, and I also interviewed the great Joakim Milder, another player I've admired since the '90s. Remember the sessions with Lars Danielsson, Palle Danielsson and Tomasz Stanko's Litania? Here's a photograph of me in rather sedentary action, backstage:
Until next time, goodbye and goodnight.
Until next time, goodbye and goodnight.
Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Review of Leo Blanco's sensational gig at Sage Gateshead last weekend is now available online at Jazz Journal.
I'd been a bit ambivalent about going along until Rob Adams dropped me a line a couple of days beforehand. I'm glad I did, because it was easily up there with the most absorbing and sustained solo piano performances I've ever seen - right up there with memorable sets by Joachim Kühn, Marilyn Crispell, Keith Tippett and Michel Petrucciani for sure.
|Image courtesy of leoblanco.com|
Couldn't resist weaving in that reference to José Mourinho in the closing paragraph - I gather that Leo has been branded a George Clooney lookalike in the past, but for my money the special one seems far more fitting.
I've finally filed my Soweto Kinch interview, which I hope will be in the August edition of Jazz Journal, and next I'm psyching myself up for the marathon of transcribing my recent 70 minute conversation with Verneri Pohjola. Turning such an interesting and wide-ranging conversation into an article worthy of his considerable talents won't be easy, but I can think of far worse things to be doing...
Tuesday, 16 April 2013
Here's a quick link to my round-up (and what an epic it is!) of this year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Lots of great music, mostly a result of its Northern European theme, and I bagged interviews with Soweto Kinch and Verneri Pohjola which I'll be writing up for Jazz Journal in due course.
Pohjola was by far and away the revelation and star of the festival for me. I'd listened to his ACT discs, and actually reviewed his Ilmiliekki Quartet several years ago. None of that had really prepared me for the deep and fully rounded artist that I heard here, and his performance with Jens Thomas on the Saturday evening has had a bit of a depth-charge effect and now seems strangely better than the the riveting performance I saw at the time.
Still horrendously busy - hence the lack of new posts - my work-related college course does at least end in about 6 weeks time, which should free up some time again. A premature celebration to mark the passing of the last ever course of study that I agree to undertake will be marked at Ronnie's in early May when we'll take a trip to catch Mike Stern with Bill Evans...
Monday, 19 November 2012
After fearing at one stage that I'd have to miss the 2012 LJF completely, we managed to cram in an overnight stay and three very different gigs (all at the Barbican).
Neil Cowley ran through 'Mount Molehill' again, this time with one of the largest string sections I've ever seen. Along with a superb light show, Cowley really rocked the house. On the free (as in not paying) stage there was then the absolute treat of a very rare UK visit by Juhani Aaltonen's quartet (with Iro Haarla and Uffe Krokfors). Aaltonen's 50 blissful minutes of smouldering (musically free) balladry seemed completely effortless, and is almost certainly the best thing I've seen all year.
After that it was time for the main headline event of the day Chick Corea, which I reviewed for Jazz Journal (you can find the review here). Festival organisers Serious certainly obliged with some top seats, and Corea obliged in turn with a riveting performance.
We didn't bother catching anything on Sunday - Yaron Herman at the South Bank may have been nice, but it would have been too tight to get back to Kings Cross in time for the train.
It's Jack DeJohnette at The Sage on Wednesday, and then back to humdrum normality for a while. I won't be reviewing Jack, and merely want to sit back and enjoy one of my all time favourite drummers. You can however read a review of my last visit to The Sage (Kairos 4tet and Ayanna) here...
Tuesday, 30 October 2012
As we move ever closer to that exciting time of the year when The Sage announce the line-up for their Spring Jazz Festival, next week brings a timely reminder of a couple of the highlights of the 2012 event.
Returning to Gateshead are cellist/vocalist Ayanna, who offered a captivating festival curtain raiser when she supported Roberto Fonseca, and messrs. Ivo Neame and Jasper Høiby, who wowed the crowd when they performed before a packed Foundation Hall with Marius Neset's 'Golden Xplosion'.
I'm particularly excited to be able to catch Høiby and Neame again, particularly as I was fortunate enough to have interviewed the bassist (along with Neset) for what subsequently became a couple of features for Jazz Journal. This time the pair appear with Adam Waldmann's 2011 Jazz MOBO winning Kairos 4tet, and we can expect intelligent but accessible contemporary jazz with with genuine cross-over potential.
Ayanna has cemented her reputation working alongside such notable artists as Courtney Pine, Nitin Sawhney, Jason Yarde and Robert Mitchell. It'll be great to hear her in the more intimate surroundings of the Foundation Hall. The even - a co-production with my old friends Jazz North East, who seem to have gone into overdrive since the alarmingly gloomy prognosis for their financial future was issued earlier this year - kicks off at 7:45.
Although I didn't expect to get to this year's London Jazz Festival, I've managed to free up some time and we'll go down to review Chick Corea with Brian Blade and Christian McBride at The Barbican. Appearing in the building during the same afternoon are Neil Cowley and Juhani Aaltonen, and the whole thing is starting to look like quite a prospect...