Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Winter Wonderment-land...

A belated Happy New Year to friends and readers, and at last time for me to catch up with Afric Pepperbird once again.

A bit too late to review of our trip to the London Jazz Festival in November, but just to say it was great - so much music packed into barely three days. Manu Katché, Stefano Di Battista, Eric Legnini (twice), Denis Colin's Societé Des Arpenteurs, Hadouk Trio, Brad Mehldau's 'Highway Rider' (with Joshua Redman and the Britten Sinfonia), and even Robert Glasper playing with a local youth band in the Barbican foyer as we sat around waiting for a tube to Kings Cross.

Katché played such a brilliantly relaxed set that it was an object lesson in how it should be done, whilst the Mehldau performance was very special (not least because of the vast scale of the work). Really enjoyed the French showcase at the Barbican on the Saturday afternoon. After being sent into the best possible kind of trance by Didier Malherbe's Hadouk Trio, a really tight visceral set by Denis Colin's band (pronounced Den-nee Co-lan, though not by the English M.C.) offered proof that there're more first-rank bass clarinet players in France than just Michel Portal and Louis Sclavis.

Having now finished the latest batch of reviews for the magazine, including a couple of ECMs (Giya Kancheli and Stephan Micus), the new Eric Harland and Stan Sulzmann's latest edition of the Neon Quartet, I'm sitting back listening to Mosaic's Larry Young set (wow). Hoping to do a small feature on Neon for the magazine soon, and it has to be said that Kit Downes and Jim Hart deserve their equal billing. They elevate the disc from what may have been just another Sulzmann set into something fresh and vital. My next batch includes Erik Truffaz's Istanbul excursion, a new disc by Danish saxophonist Marius Neset (with Jasper Høiby on bass), and two more that I've already managed to forget.

For now I'll simply leave you with a link to a few snaps taken on my new iPhone 4, which I finally succumbed to buying. Bought principally for its camera, I haven't been disappointed and it's great to have it in the pocket to capture those unexpected sights whenever I'm out and about. Not exactly the 'Leica' that Steve Jobs claimed it to be, but I've already got a Leica and it does a decent job nevertheless.

Good news that Mike Stern has replaced Kurt Elling in the double bill with Joe Lovano at this year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Louise is excited about Debbie Harry, of course, but I must say that Stern has started off a train of feverish anticipation in me...

Fred Grand