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...