Friday, 27 May 2016

Tom Thorp and The Taka Ensemble in Howden

From Tom Thorpe

An update about some exciting new projects I’m showcasing over the coming months.

Featuring some of UK’s most exciting improvisers, this brilliant new commission from Howden Minster Concert Series, sees the birth of a new Jazz/Classical Cross over group The Taka Ensemble. A stella line up of award winning Jazz and Classical musicians; Taka Ensemble will be performing some specially commissioned Chamber Music in the stunning setting of Howden’s early-medieval Minster. Blending classical chamber writing with Jazz improvisation, in a very special night of innovative new music.

With kind support from The Co-Operative and East Riding Arts Development

Tom Thorp - Saxophones/Bass Clarinet
David Austin Grey - Piano
Geth Griffith - Double Bass
Faz Shah - Violin
Graham Clark - Violin
Tim Rathbone - Viola
Mike Newman - Cello

Tom Thorp and The Taka Ensemble
Saturday 4th June, 7:30pm, Howden Minster.

Weave at Wakefield

Review  of  "The  Weave" at Wakefield Jazz 20th May 2016

There can't be many two-trumpet sextets in existence, but on this showing, it's difficult to understand why. What could offer a brighter prospect than the brilliant, piercing qualities that only the trumpet can deliver--doubled--and configured in ways that are a treat for everyone with musical imagination, composers and listeners alike? Add a top-flight and musically compatible rhythm section, and just about anything is possible.

This was good time music, though not in any superficial, 'easy listening' sense. No one could mistake the quality of the melodic invention and interplay of the two leads (Martin Smith and Anthony Peers on trumpets), or the keen and playful work of the rhythm section, but this was a wondrously upbeat, accessible, swinging performance.  No one needed to strain in order to feel the gravitational pull of New Orleans, or echoes of the blues and swing. And in some of the trumpet-piano exchanges, there was also the legacy of ragtime. Yet, the tunes were largely originals. For these musicians, the tradition amounts to inspiration, not homage.

Then again, there were passages during the two sets that seemed to come straight out of classic Blue Note recordings of the 1950s and 60s, much abetted by Tony Ormesher's clean, rapid guitar lines. In fact, because the guitar can act as both a harmony and a melody instrument, the sound of the band was particularly full and rich. The numbers allowed plenty of space for Rob Stringer (piano), Hugo Harrison (bass) and Tilo Pirnbaum (drums) to solo, but these were substantial, well crafted numbers, so there was no extended soloing around the simple statement of a theme.

Perhaps inevitably, the trumpets stood out; and it was fascinating to hear how they configured their written lines and improvisations, but as the evening progressed, the full meaning of 'weave' became apparent: the interlacing of melodies and harmonies was conceived and performed with the entire band in mind. There were no abstract flights of fancy, no freak-out moments: for all that this was serious music, it never strayed from tuneful, playful and accessible. Even the number closest to New Orleans funeral procession music (begun most affectingly on muted trumpets) delivered us to something quite uplifting by the end. Any music that restores our sense of beauty is itself beautiful music. Thank you, Weave.

J Whitman 22.05.2016

Ian Shaw at Wakefield ...

Super-star of the Jazz world Ian Shaw has recently been using his celebrity to draw attention to the plight of refugees stuck in “The Jungle” outside Calais. He has put his “action where his mouth is” and made numerous visits to the people in the camp with succour in various real forms. This is characteristic of the man who has always been known for his generosity to young musicians.
Apart from many high profile performances Ian often makes recordings themed around the work of a particular jazz composer – his latest celebrates Fran Landesman.

The sponsor of tonight's gig was particularly taken by Ian’s tribute to Joni Mitchell and so tonight’s performance will include a liberal sprinkling of the material from a previous CD “Drawn to all Things” (2006)

". . .the gifted, technically awesome and theatrically witty singer puts his improvisational skill and gambler's instinct to work on everything" The Guardian

Ian Shaw - piano and voice
Jami Saffarudin – piano
Miguel Gorodi - trumpet

Wakefield Sports Club (College Grove),
Eastmoor Road,

This is a sponsored gig - we are extremely grateful for our sponsor’s generosity

Sun Ra Arkestra coming to Leeds

The Sun Ra Arkestra directed by Marshall Allen is appearing at the Belgrave in Leeds on Monday, 08 Aug 2016 at 8:00 PM

Sun Ra was an American jazz composer, bandleader, piano and synthesizer player, poet and philosopher known for his “cosmic philosophy,” prolific musical output, and performances. He was inducted into the Alabama Jazz Hall of Fame in 1979.

From the mid-1950s to his death, Sun Ra led “The Arkestra,” an ensemble with an ever-changing name and flexible lineup, although certain core members remained with the group through its various incarnations.

The current band is led by saxman Marshall Allen.  Their music ranges from keyboard solos to big bands of over 30 musicians and touches on virtually the entire history of jazz, from ragtime to swing music, from bebop to free jazz

Tickets £22 + booking fee

Belgrave Music Hall & Canteen
1-1a Cross Belgrave Street
Leeds, LS2 8JP

0113 2346160

Oli Brice Quintet/Bravest Boat at Fusebox.

Olie Brice Quintet: Immune to Clockwork
George Crowley (tenor sax), Alex Bonney (cornet), Mike Fletcher (C-melody sax), Olie Brice (bass), Jeff Williams (drums).

The Olie Brice Quintet released its debut album ‘Immune to Clockwork’ in 2014.
The quintet was named as one of the ‘new bands 2014’ in the El Intruso Critics Poll, and was described by Richard Williams as “one of the most interesting and satisfying bands on the current UK scene”.

Bravest Boat
Stevie Jones (guitar), Jer Reid (guitar), Aby Vulliamy (viola, voice), George Murray (trombone), Rafe Fitzpatrick (violin).

Bravest Boat are a collective based in Glasgow and Bradford exploring structured improvisations, loose composition and prepared spontaneity. Some written bits, some not.

A love of raw sounds, field recordings and lifetimes participating in DIY music led Bravest Boat to record in locations of significance to them as a band and individual musicians, away from the recording studio. Kinning Park Complex, a community centre in an old Edwardian school that was reclaimed from property developers with a now legendary sit in in 1996, is a venue, rehearsal space and general headquarters for many of the band and other kindred spirits. The 1 in 12 club, a key venue in the 90s anarchist underground, re-opened as a collective, community led library, events space and social centre just as Aby and George moved back to Yorkshire. These places were inspirational to the band and offered unique, raw acoustics that helped define the sound of the debut album, Bowed Beam.

Doors open 8 pm, Music starts 8.30 pm. Admission price: £8/£6 on the door.At the Fox and Newt, 9 Burley Street, Leeds LS3 1LD (opposite Park Lane College) Tel: 0113 245 4527. Facebook

Saturday, 21 May 2016

Katie Rogerson and the NHS choir sing for the FA cup...

Katie Rogerson with Harriet Nerva

You may not be a footie fan but jazz dudes should tune in to BBC1 today to watch the FA Cup Final just to see Katie Rogerson leading the NHS Choir singing "Abide with me" (and the National Anthem). As well as being a NHS children's doctor, Katie is an dazzling jazz singer hailing from Leeds. It will make a nice change therefore for her then singing to an audience of half a billion rather than (say) 40...

With Harriet Nerva and Joe Blunden, Katie started a campaign to get an NHS choir to number one in the charts at Christmas and astonishingly succeeded (taking on Justin Bieber and Simon Cowell in the process). Aneurin Bevan would have been proud of them.

So tune in today the Katie and the choir to see the build up for the Cup Final and planning for the choir on BBC 1 today (21-05-16).

Or alternatively come over to Scarborough Jazz Club at the Cask on Wed July 27th and hear her sing some jazz.. probably to that audience of 40...

Sunday, 15 May 2016

Lunchtimes at the Lit and Phil

 Dean Stockdale - May 27

Here is some information about the lunchtime gigs for the next three months at the Lit and Phil in Newcastle.

May 27th - Dean Stockdale Trio

Dean Stockdale has remained a popular face on the Northern jazz scene in recent years and has recently been working with Manchester's leading players. For this concert he will appear with two of the regions best jazz exponents with Mick Shoulder bass and Adam Sinclair drums. New arrangements of classic jazz repertoire will feature alongside Dean's new material.

June 24th - James Birkett and Bradley Johnston Duo

From Eddie Lang, through Django Reinhardt, to Pat Metheny and beyond, the evolution of jazz guitar style and repertoire continues to have a wide appeal. James and Bradley present a programme of music by some of the most influential players of the last hundred years – taking the audience on a musical journey which moves from early jazz and blues, through swing and bebop, to cool and contemporary jazz.

July 29th - Paul Edis Solo

Pianist Paul Edis launched his new solo album at the Lit and Phil in November 2015. For this concert he returns to perform numbers from Not Like Me/Just Like Me alongside some new compositions and arrangements of familiar tunes. 'Brilliant young pianist' Alyn Shipton (Guardian)  'A new voice in jazz' Andy Hamilton (Jazz Journal)

All concerts  £4, 1-2pm

The Literary and Philosophical Society, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, Tyne and Wear NE1 1SE.

Saturday, 14 May 2016

Ilkley Jazz Festival line up announced

The Ilkley Jazz Festival takes place between Tuesday 16th and Sunday 21st August 2016.

Headline acts tis year include vocalist Tina May (Fri 19th August) and the Quentin Collins Brandon Allen Quartet (Sat 20 August)

Tuesday 16th August – Nicola Farnon – Monkmans 7.30pm - £TBA inc. meal
Bookings on 01943 817485
Thursday 18th August – Firebird quartet – Craiglands 7.30pm - Free
Friday 19th August – Emma Frisk – Monkmans 6.30pm - £TBA inc. meal
Bookings on 01943 817485
Friday 19th August – Tina May – Winter Gardens 7.45pm - £18
Bookings on 01943 602 319 or in person at the VIC
Saturday 20th August  - Jazz Workshop – Christchurch 11am - Free
Saturday 20th August  - Garry Potter – Christchurch 2pm - £5 (or £30 day ticket) Bookings on
Saturday 20th August  - Graeme Wilson 4tet – Christchurch 3.30pm - £5 (or £30)
Saturday 20th August  - Beverley Beirne – Christchurch 6pm  - £12.50 (or £30)
Saturday 20th August  - Quentin Collins Brandon Allen Quartet  – Christchurch 8pm -  £15 (or £30 day ticket)
Saturday 20th August  - Late Night Jazz Jam – Black Hat 11pm – Free
Sunday 21st August – Quentin Collins Brandon Allen Quartet masterclass – Black Hat 10am – Free
Sunday 21st August – Matt Holborn 4tet – Black Hat 12.15pm – Free

Tickets are available from:

For Monkmans Events - call  01943 817485

For Tina May - 01943 602 319 or in person at the Ilkley Visitor Information Centre

For Saturday day tickets here on the ticketing page or at the Grove Bookshop Ilkley (Music)

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Winners announced for 2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards

The winners of the 2016 Parliamentary Jazz Awards were announced last night on Tuesday 10 May. The Awards, organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG), are considered Britain’s premier ceremony for the UK jazz community.

Featuring a broad array of jazz talent from within the industry, the awards are once again sponsored by music licensing company PPL. The organisation is dedicated to ensuring that all those that invest their time and talent in making music are paid fairly for their work, licensing recorded music in public and broadcast on behalf of its performer and record company members – a number of whom are from the jazz community.

During the ceremony, award presenters comprised of a host of British politicians and home-grown UK jazz talent including; clarinettest and composer Arun Ghosh, PPL Chairman John Smith, luminary jazz vocalists Claire Martin and Jacqui Dankworth and, Member of Parliament Baroness Coussins.  Compére for the evening was editor and publisher, of Jazzwise, Jon Newey: “This has been a really strong year for the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in terms of talent and nominations. The well deserved winners are a veritable who’s who of names that have made a real impact on the music and helped make the UK one of the world’s leading jazz territories.”

The full list of winners is as follows:

Jazz Vocalist of the Year: Emilia Mårtensson
Emilia Martensson is a London based Swedish/Slovenian vocalist and has built a reputation as one of the most exciting young vocalists on the UK jazz scene.  Her critically acclaimed contributions to Kairos 4Tet helped them to bring home a 2011 MOBO Award, while her distinctive voice led The Observer to deem her “The new face of British Jazz 2012”.  Her most recent album Ana features her own songs and is an evocative reflection of her Swedish roots, bringing in folk and classical influences which prompted Jazzwise to write, “Exquisitely beautiful songs….Martensson has struck gold”.  In 2015, she was chosen to take part in the Take Five professional development programme run by Serious and commissioned by the EFG London Jazz Festivlal.

Jazz Instrumentalist of the Year: Alexander Hawkins
Alexander Hawkins is a British pianist, organist, and composer. In addition to work with his long-established Ensemble, he also leads the Alexander Hawkins Trio, and is a frequent solo performer. Through his work in the group Decoy, he has been called 'the most interesting Hammond player of the last decade and more', and has 'already extended what can be done on the instrument'. In 2012, Hawkins was selected as one the first group of young composers to be part of the London Symphony Orchestra's Soundhub programme, and has since been commissioned by the likes of BBC Radio 3, and the London and Cheltenham Jazz Festivals. Hawkins regularly performs across Europe and beyond, and has featured on upwards of 25 albums.

Jazz Album of the Year: ‘Let It Be Told’ Julian Argüelles (Basho Records)
‘Let It Be Told’ is Julian’s 12th album as a leader released April 2015. It is a collaboration with the HR big band with thrilling arrangements of powerful, vibrant compositions by exiled South African artists known as the Blue Notes, some of whom were living in the UK during the years of apartheid, and features Django Bates and Julian's brother Steve Argüelles. The arrangements on this album remain true to the joyful spirit of the original compositions, while giving them a harmonic richness and depth. Julian is undoubtedly one of our finest jazz artists, respected and recognised internationally. He has been an integral part of the UK jazz scene for over 3 decades now and worked with artists ranging from Dave Holland and Bill Frisell, to Kenny Wheeler, John Taylor, Carla Bley and John Scofield. He has received countless commissions and awards for his playing, CDs, composition and arranging.

Jazz Ensemble of the Year: Empirical
Talking to The Guardian in 2008, double-bassist Tom Farmer - a founder member of Empirical - remarked that ’empiricism is about observing and experimenting, not having a theory first and trying to prove it.’ At that time, all the band members were still conservatoire students, but they had already been hailed as ‘the most exciting band to come out of the UK’ by Courtney Pine, won the Rising Stars prize at Holland’s high-profile North Sea Jazz Festival, brought a Toronto concert-hall audience to its feet at an international gathering of jazz educators, and impressed the locals in that most demanding of jazz cities, New York. That year, trumpeter Jay Phelps and pianist Kit Downes left, and young vibraphone virtuoso Lewis Wright came in to join Farmer, saxophonist Nathaniel Facey, and drummer Shane Forbes. Since then, the membership has been constant, and so has the Empirical philosophy of curiosity, experimentation and development.  

Jazz Newcomer of the Year: Binker and Moses
Tenor saxophonist Binker Golding and drummer Moses Boyd startled the British jazz world last year when they released their debut album Dem Ones. Most young musicians would have opted for the more conventional trio or quartet setting, but this duo crackled with the kind of stark energy and daring ideas that one would expect from older players. However, both are graduates of the Tomorrow’s Warriors school who have made an essential contribution to the music of award-winning double bassist Gary Crosby, vocalist Zara McFarlane and pianist Peter Edwards. Binker and Moses have an impressive maturity well beyond their tender years.
Jazz Venue of the Year: Seven Jazz Leeds
Over the past nine years, Seven Jazz has evolved into a highly successful voluntary jazz promoter based in Chapel Allerton in Leeds. Since September 2007 they have hosted hundreds of concerts and stood the test of time through an ever changing city landscape. However it is the way they have built the club as a community for Leeds’ jazz scene that is most impressive. Steve Crocker and his team host two regular concert series, a small festival and a programme of education that unites jazz fans and musicians alike. The club allows the opportunity for anybody with interest an accessible way into the music and their varied programming allows a vast array of styles to their stages and their demographic (both age and diversity) in performers is well balanced.  

Jazz Media Award: Jez Nelson/BBC Jazz on 3
Synonymous with the cutting edge of jazz broadcasting for 18 years, Jazz On 3 is a veritable institution, and Jez Nelson, who presented the programme so engagingly, is an inspiring figurehead. Throughout its lengthy run the show provided a platform for many of the more challenging figures in improvised music, recording superb live sessions by anybody from Evan Parker to David S. Ware and Joe Lovano. Furthermore there was a range of excellent features on different aspects of both the history of jazz and the life of a jazz musician that greatly helped to demystify and ‘humanize’ the artform.

Jazz Education Award: Professor Dr Tommy Smith
Professor Dr Tommy Smith is a leading light in European jazz, first and foremost as one of the finest saxophonists of his generation, and latterly as the founder and current director of The Scottish National Jazz Orchestra (SNJO). These career-defining achievements are framed by his status as an international recording artist; a composer and arranger of extraordinary ambition; and not least, as a jazz educator. 

His tenure with the SNJO has seen critically acclaimed performances and recordings of programmed and commissioned works including hugely popular treatments of Ellington, Gershwin, Mozart, Weather Report and Miles Davis.  Tommy Smith is also founder/director of The Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra and is current Artistic Director of the first ever full-time jazz course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

Services to Jazz Award: Mary Greig
As a young woman in the the late 1970s - 80s, Mary Greig was intensely involved with the London jazz community - organising weekly jazz clubs and summer courses for Jazz Centre Society (the forerunner of Jazz Services and Jazz UK); representing jazz on arts funding panels; organising jazz-related events and working in a jazz record shop. Her passion for jazz led her to take up the production and publication of Jazz in London, a free monthly guide to live performance of contemporary jazz in London and the suburbs. 

Special APPJAG Award: Evan Parker
The standup comic Stewart Lee, an unexpectedly well-versed enthusiast for what’s sometimes dubbed ‘the sharp end’ of creative jazz, regards the now 71 year-old saxophonist Evan Parker as ‘the greatest living exponent of free improvisation’, and plenty of the jazz cognoscenti have shared that view as this unique maestro’s sound has liberated countless young saxophonists round the world, and the thinking of adventurous composers and bandleaders too.  

Special APPJAG Award: Michael Connarty
Michael Connarty was elected to Parliament in 1992 and quickly established himself as a fan and supporter of Jazz. Michael was Co-Chair of Parliament’s Jazz Appreciation Group (APPJAG) since 1997, working on jazz development and promotion with PPL of the Parliamentary Jazz Awards, Jazz Services, Yamaha, promoters Serious and the UK’s Conservatoires. He was a Vice-President of the UK Jazz Collective, a patron of the Yamaha Music Education Initiative. During his 23 years as an MP Michael led the successful campaign with the Musician’s Union to extend copyright payments across the EU for recorded music to 70 years – from 50 years.

Jason McCartney MP, APPJAG Co-Chairman, said: “The Parliamentary Jazz Awards are a great way for MPs and Peers of all political parties to show their support for British jazz by recognising and honouring the amazing musical talent we have in our country. From established stars to fresh new talent, the range and diversity of this year’s winners shows the vibrancy and creativity of British jazz. We are extremely grateful once again to PPL for sponsoring the Parliamentary Jazz Awards.”

John Smith, Chairman, PPL, said: “We at PPL have been exceptionally proud and honoured to have been able to support and sponsor the special Parliamentary Jazz Awards since their inception in 2005.  I would like to extend my personal thanks and appreciation to Jason McCartney MP and to Lord Colwyn for doing such a fantastic job in co-chairing and running APPJAG as well as my thanks to Chris Hodgkins. These Jazz Awards remain a special night for Parliament, the jazz community and award recipients as well as for PPL and the music industry generally.”

Back by popular demand at this year’s ceremony were special guest performances by James Pearson and The Ronnie Scott’s All Stars.

Saturday, 7 May 2016

Yorkshire Live Music Project Jazz at Odd Things

Tipping Point 6 July

Two upcoming jazz events in Walton, Wakefield promoted by Yorkshire Live Music Project

Declan Forde (piano) & Will Howard (sax) Wednesday 1 June 2016 
Start time 7:30 pm Finish time approx. 9:30 pm

Sublime melodies, lyrical moments, jazz pianist Declan Forde, Yorkshire Live Music Project Bursary recipient (2014 - 2016) and finalist in the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year Competition, (2015) with young Leeds saxophonist Will Howard. Declan has most recently been living and working in Berlin with performances at Galatea Wine and Music, The Hat Bar jazz club, Donnau115 jazz club and with the Far East Trio at The Brohan Museum.

Tipping Point: James Mainwaring (sax) Matthew Bourne (Fender Rhodes) Michael Bardon (double bass) Joost Hendrickx (drums) Wednesday 6 July 2016 
Start time 7:30 pm Finish time approx. 9:30 pm. Support from Jazz North's Northern Line.

Roller Trio's Mercury, MOBO and Jazz FM nominated James Mainwaring's new four piece, Tipping Point. "Playful, dark, skilful and spontaneous... a surefooted trip across many persuasions in contemporary music." - John Fordham, The Guardian **** "Moments of collective beauty" - Daniel Spicer, Jazzwise ****  "Adventurous, ironic, playful, and humorous" - Nick Stevenson, Jazzlines. Tipping Point influences include contemporary classical and North Indian classical music.
Tickets £6

Tickets £6 Purchase from Odd Things Shop, open Thursday to Sunday 10 am to 5 pm, 59 Oakenshaw Lane, Walton, Wakefield or email Cheques made payable to The Yorkshire Live Music Project C.I.C 59 Oakenshaw Lane, Walton, Wakefield, WF2 6NJ.

Venue: Odd Things Shop, 59 Oakenshaw Lane, Walton, Wakefield, WF2 6NJ
Ample free parking & interval drinks.

May and June gigs at Boston Spa

18th June – Big Easy Swing Band 

From Les and the Team

Something of a one off evening last Saturday with the Busquitos. The band spent almost as much time amongst the audience as on the stage - but good fun and something a little different! Thanks to those members of the audience who were targeted by the musicians and who responded in such a sporting fashion.

Apologies, too, for the lack of curtains in the Hall at present. We're obviously working on this - the curtains came down for the Hall redecoration but were found to be in poor condition and not worthy of being cleaned so we are in the process of replacement.

The programme to the end of the year is now on the website. No jazz next week or on 23rd of July and 12th December.

May 2016

21st – Salute to Satchmo – recommended to us by Tom Kincaid, here’s a Dixieland band based in Cheshire making a first appearance. Led by trumpet/cornet player Darren Lloyd, the band specialises in the music of Louis’ Hot 5 and 7 period plus other stars of the 20s and 30s. Sounds like a refreshing new group to enhance our programme.

28th – Jeff Barnhart’s Swing 4 – yes – he’s back! Our number one guest artist – this time with the delightful Anne Barnhart, the indefatigable John Hallam plus “Uncle” Graham Smith on drums. Musically superb, sheer enjoyment and a full house guaranteed. £10.

June 2016

4th – Chicago Teddy Bears Society Jazz Band – here’s a wonderful way to get the month off to a flying start with a rip roaring session of traditional jazz from the “Teds”. Always a full bore performance laced with Merseyside humour - a sparkling performance with never a dull moment!

11th – Spirit of New Orleans – and to follow a highly regarded Yorkshire based band with a delightfully relaxed, distinctive style. Excellent musicians all and led by trumpet maestro Dave Pogson, this band swings and entertains in equal measure. To a degree, its name belies the wide variety of musical styles. Not to be missed.

18th – Big Easy Swing Band - making a first appearance is this energetic group of young musicians from Leeds playing an extensive repertoire from the early days in New Orleans through to Jump Jive. This band has quickly established a first class reputation throughout the North so we anticipate an enjoyable, foot tapping session.

25th – Hot Antic Jazz Band – recommended to us and on tour in the UK, this is one of the premier French jazz bands based in Nimes. Founded in 1979 with the objective to play for fun, the band has since played all the major European and UK and USA festivals and specialises in hot jazz sounds from the 1920s onwards.  £10.

Jazz in the Spa – Village Hall, High Street Boston Spa, Leeds LS23 6AA. Weekly Live Saturday Traditional/Mainstream Jazz.

Situated just off the new section of the A1(M) at Junction 45 signed Wetherby and Otley.

Thanks for your support!

Josh Kemp Quartet with Liz Fletcher Wakefield Jazz review 6th May

Liz Fletcher

The audience could be forgiven for thinking that they knew what to expect; and as it happened, their eager anticipation wasn’t disappointed, but few could have expected such a range of styles and voices, all played with utter conviction. So it was that the band managed to find a coherent way of blending ‘Straight, No Chaser’ and ‘Sweet Georgia Brown’ into a single, rousing number; Liz Fletcher reached back decades into the catalogue of American songs and delivered them is a way that was comfortingly familiar, yet quite individual in their arrangement and delivery; and the moods and tempos ranged from the achingly poignant to roof-raising boisterousness.

Josh Kemp’s tenor playing eschews the ‘torrents of notes’ approach for well-crafted and clearly voiced lines, both in accompaniment and in his solos, with assured command of his instrument in every register. But he also delivers extended, fiery and fast-paced solos; and he has a particularly fine line in that fevered, rasping, bluesy quality so closely associated with the tenor saxophone.  His adroitness in shifting between styles and his ability to support Liz Fletcher’s vocals with nuanced playing were the marks of a truly gifted musician.

Bass player Pete Turner has a full, rounded sound; and there were moments when his playing seemed not only to anchor the music but to propel it. And by the time Dave Walsh was faced with the unenviable task of playing a drum solo on ‘Take 5’, we had already heard enough to relish the prospect.

If most of Liz Fletcher’s song choices were on the upbeat side—many of them allowing the band not only to stretch out but also to display its range—she saved something special for the penultimate number: a remarkable rendering of ‘Every time We Say Goodbye’, sustained through its opening half by Jamil Sheriff’s piano alone. Fitting though it might have been for a conclusion, the audience could hardly have departed on the quiet desperation of the lyric, so movingly performed.  So we ended on a party number—exhilarating music to round off a wonderfully exhilarating evening.

J Whitman 07.05.2016

White Swan two day jazz festival in Leeds

From Jami Sheriff at Leeds College of Music

This coming Monday and Tuesday, Leeds College of Music students will be performing back-to-back sets The White Swan, Leeds. Housed in one of Leeds city centre's favourite pubs, The White Swan, our festival will see two whole days of Leeds College of Music's best new jazz musicians and bands perform just next door to the iconic City Varieties venue. It's the end of the academic year and there's a lot of great projects to hear, so come down!

Monday 9 May
12:00pm Thomas Richard Smith
12:30pm Joel Fellick Organ Trio
1:00pm The Big Beat Quintet
1:30pm Crispy Others
2:00pm Martin Jones 
4:00pm Joseph Lloyd Egan
4:30pm Danny Sanders Quartet
5:00pm Daniel Shearer
5:30pm Laura Beth
6:00pm Jack Wilson Quartet
6:30pm Matt Simm Quintet
7:00pm Gordon King
7:30pm Alexander Warren
8:00pm Coulthurst Quintet
8:30pm Robert Ryan Fish
9:00pm Beta Quartet
9:30pm Dimitrios Tsiotas
10:00pm Lewis Michael Downs

    Latin Lumberjacks Tues 10 May 4.30pm

Tuesday 10 May
1:30pm Joshua Smout
3:00pm Minus
3:30pm Kieran Gunter Faction
4:00pm Jo Boyes Trio
4:30pm The Latin Lumberjacks
5:00pm The Andy Leggett Band
5:30pm Tim Malkin
6:00pm Gregory Gallagher
6:30pm YesNoMaybe
7:00pm DS Murray Quartet
7:30pm Fiorino Trio
8:00pm Daniel Brunskill
8:30pm The Stuart Wilson Group
9:00pm Helena Debono
9:30pm Laurie Covell
10:00pm Funky Junk

White Swan (next to Leeds City Varieties)
Swan Street 
0113 242 0187

NorVol Jazz celebrates “Great Jazz Festivals in the North”

We’ve long known that the North had all the best jazz festival and now NorvolJazz have designed and produced a lovely multi fold leaflet to show it!

“Great Jazz Festivals in the North” has been produced by NorVol Jazz and designed by Tony Jennings of JCB. Seventeen festivals are featured. The leaflet is designed to be month- rather than date- specific so that is should have a longer life. The seventeen festivals are:

Burton Agnes Jazz Festival
Chapel Allerton Leeds Village Jazz Festival
Cleethorpes Jazz Festival
Darlington Jazz Festival
Gateshead international Jazz Festival
Ilkley Jazz Festival
J Night – Hull Jazz Festivals
Lancaster Jazz Festival
Liverpool international Jazz Festival
Manchester Jazz Festival
Marsden Jazz Festival
Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Festival
Richmond Jazz Festival
Scarborough Jazz Festival
Southport Jazz on Winters Weekend
Whitley Bay/Keith Durham Jazz Festival
Wigan Jazz Festival

The leaflet presentation certainly brings home the depth of the Northern jazz scene, no need to travel far to see great jazz. Another success for the NorVol Jazz Network too!

Here's the place to view the whole leaflet:

If you want some copies contact NorvolJazz at

NorVol jazz meet up (and jam) at Ribble Valley

The NorVol Jazz committee met up at the Ribble Valley Jazz Festival in Clitheroe on 31 April 2016. It is such a friendly festival and we felt really well looked after by the festival committee and by members of Clitheroe United Reformed Church, who hosted us.

The meeting heard from Kim Macari about the Norvol Jazz’s first international tour featuring Canadian trumpeter Ingrid Jensen. Ingrid arrives into the UK on May 23rd and is touring many of the NorVol Jazz member clubs before moving on to Ronnie Scotts in London in June where she plays with Phil Meadows Engines Orchestra. The NorVol meeting unanimously thanked Kim for all her hard work in pulling the tour together and agreed to support a bid for a wider enhanced international touring scheme from 2017. The meeting also agreed to consult members about the possibility of NorVol Jazz applying to become a Regularly Funded Body under the Arts Council from 2017. The new “Great Jazz Festivals in the North” leaflet, produced by NorVol Jazz was circulated at the meeting to great acclaim. Seventeen Northern festivals are featured in the attractively designed leaflet. The NorVol Financial Report and the Club Roundup showed an organisation in a sound financial state and the membership in good heart with lots of examples of creativity and talent. One NorVol Jazz member Seven Jazz in Leeds had been nominated as UK jazz venue of the year in the 2016 Parliamentary jazz awards – another feather in the cap of a very healthy Northern Jazz scene.

NorVol Jazz members then led the Ribble Valley Festival Jam Session in the afternoon – Mike Gordon (Scarborough Jazz) on piano, Jazz at Heart/Orpheus trumpeter Kim Macari, Tom Sykes (Southport Melodic Jazz) on violin,Steve Crocker and Jean Watson (Seven Jazz) on bass and voice,  plus Steve Mullarky on drums. The jam session also featured one of the Festival stars clarinettist Arun Gosht who was really helpful and encouraging to people. It was hugely popular with many local people joining in and playing – the Festival asked if we would do it again in 2017!

The next meet up for the Northern promoters will be on Sat 24 September 2016 during the Scarborough jazz Festival - date for your diaries!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Norvol Jazz’s first international tour with Ingrid Jensen starts May 26th

Canadian trumpter Ingrid Jensen is our first featured artist for the Norvoljazz network international touring scheme. She arrives into the UK on May 23rd.

We are delighted to feature Ingrid as the first featured artist as part of the The Orpheus Project. Ingrid Jensen will be joined by three stellar UK musicians – Jez Franks on guitar, Andy Champion on double bass and Tim Giles on drums. In addition to the quartet tour dates, Ingrid will also appear as a guest soloist with Colin Byrne’s Leeds Jazz Orchestra, lead masterclasses with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and will close her time in the UK with a one-off performance at Ronnie Scott’s in London featuring the Engines Orchestra.

May 26th - Black Swan Bar & Venue, Newcastle 
May 28th - HEART, Leeds (also featuring Jamil Sheriff on piano)
May 29th - Seven Jazz at Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds (Ingrid appears with Leeds Jazz Orchestra)
June 1st - The Cask, Scarborough
June 3rd - Wakefield Jazz Club
June 4th - Workshops with NYJO
June 5th - Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, London (also featuring Phil Meadows Engines Orchestra)

Ingrid Jensen is the perfect musician to be featured in the Orpheus Project’s inaugural tour. Described as one of the most gifted trumpeters of her generation, she is an exceptional voice in modern jazz. The quartet will perform in NORVOL clubs across the North and provide a unique opportunity to see this calibre of group in small, intimate venues. By partnering with NYJO and Engines Orchestra, we’ve built a tour which displays her broad talents, not only for small group performance but her work with large ensembles and as an educator, too.

Norvol Jazz/The Orpheus Project are grateful for the financial support provided by Arts Council England through their Grants for the Arts programme.

The next Norvol Jazz headline touring artist will be announced soon!

Thursday, 5 May 2016

One Foot in the Groove in Undercliffe

Marlena Kelli is a young versatile vocalist on the Yorkshire Jazz scene who has appeared with a variety of blues, gypsy jazz and big bands including “One Foot in the Groove” and with Cornelius Corkery’s Gypsy Jazz Band. This young lady is the real deal. Described as Authentic by some of the top musicians and promoters today she has a full calendar and its easy to see why. Phenomenal vocals from gospel chops to soft rich jazz and filled with raw emotion. “Pretty as a picture without trying her down to earth ingénue persona is a breath of fresh air to the jazz diva stereotype

One Foot in the Groove are an organ led quartet well known in York, Led by pianist Bob Smeaton theses seasoned musicians excel at jazz with a funky twist. A mixture of Classic jazz standards and Jimmy McGriff Style funk.

Admission is free, as usual, and drinks are reasonably priced with a different guest beer every week. There is ample car parking space which is overseen by CCTV. Come and enjoy a relaxing evening of blues and jazz

Undercliffe Cricket Club
Intake Road,
Tel. 01274 637162


21st Manchester Jazz Festival rethinking jazz!

Thomas de Pourquery Sat 23rd

21st Manchester Jazz Festival, 22- 31 July 2016

The full programme for mjf 2016 is now live at  The festival line-up features 81 gigs, with approx. 550 artists from across the UK and abroad, performing in 9 venues – new for 2016 we are delighted to welcome HOME to mjf. They will be presenting Jazz Goes to the Movies, a season of jazz films running throughout the festival. 

The 2016 creative is based around RETHINK JAZZ, reaching out not just to jazz fans, but those who might think that they know what jazz is and it isn’t for them – well we would like to encourage them to think again.  

Some of the big names appearing include 

Sat 23rd Thomas de Pourquery: Supersonic Play Sun Ra

Sun 24th Tim Garland Electric Quartet

Tues 26th Impossible Gentlemen

Wed 27th Ben Cotterill New Seeing

Thus 28 Kit Downes & Tom Challenger: Vyamanikal + Empirical

Fri 29 Jeremy Sassoon’s Ray Charles Project + Jam Experiment

Sat 30 Perhaps Contraption + Abstract Orchestra

Plus Jazz goes to the Movies! all week

Details and tickets

Monday, 2 May 2016

President Obama nails it for jazz..

Brilliant hearing President Obama nailing it at The White House on International Jazz Day. Don't think we'll ever hear a speech like that from a UK politician!

Perhaps people will take it seriously as an art form now...

Sunday, 1 May 2016

Jazz at Band on the Wall in May

A couple of Jazz gigs at the Band on the Wall in Manchester during May

Arild Andersen Trio with Tommy Smith and Paolo Vinaccia Tue 17th May 2016
Widely regarded as one of the finest groups currently working in jazz, bassist Andersen’s trio with the Scottish saxophone virtuoso Tommy Smith and the sensational Italian drummer Paolo Vinaccia presents music that thrills and moves the listener in equal measure.
“Andersen himself opened the concert with a quite spectacular bass solo, full of drive and passion” – Jazz Journal on Arild Andersen at EFG London Jazz Festival 2015
£15.00 Advance

Espen Eriksen Trio Thu 26th May 2016
The jazz world is not short on piano trios, but it’s not every day one comes across a new trio with a personal musical language. The Norwegian Espen Eriksen Trio plays highly melodical and lyrical instrumentals with elements from Scandinavian folk and melancholia and shades of the deep woods. It’s definitely jazz, but their less is more approach is in contrast to most of their contemporaries, with structures almost like pop songs and with a strong focus on melodies and short solos. 
£12.00 Advance

Also in Greater Manchester
Cory Henry - The Revival Project at St. Philip’s Church, Salford
Mon 16th May 2016 19:30
£12.00 Early Bird
£14.00 Advance
Band on the Wall presents Cory Henry, The Revival Project. The Revival, his latest release and touring project, showcases Henry’s deep musical roots in gospel, jazz and soul. Although The Revival setlist draws from a well-known canon (from old gospels to Stevie Wonder), Henry stretches and pulls, driving the songs into unfamiliar territory and coming up with altogether new takes.


Lindsay Hannon at Bradford's JATP

06 May 2016 - The Lindsay Hannon Plus

The Lindsay Hannon Plus’ début album, ‘The Spy’, contains a variety of material from original pieces - ode ‘Heather forever’, original lyrics set to Joshua Redmond’s ‘Wish’, interpretation of Joni Mitchell’s lyrically complex ‘The Hissing of Summer Lawns’, to the tense, brooding title track. An engaging band with improvisational jazz roots, raucous barrel house blues & thoughtful, spacious ballads in a variety of grooves, creating an electric atmosphere.

Lindsay Hannon - v, John Pope - db, James Harrison - p, Tom Chapman - d

JATPjazz, at Glyde House, Bradford BD5 0BQ (tel 01274 271114 or 01274 543547)

Spring and summer at Hull Jazz

Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet
From Ken Ford

Hull jazz operates fortnightly at the Goodfellowship Inn

Wed 11 May Sirkis/Bialas International Quartet
Creative music with Asaf Sirkis drums and Sywia Bialas voice.
Sirkis/Bialas project is a collaboration between Israeli-UK-resident drummer/percussionist Asaf Sirkis, known for his work with the Lighthouse Trio and Gilad Atzmon as well as his own trio, and Polish vocalist extraordinaire Sylwia Bialas.

The quartet features American bassist and harmonica player Patrick Bettison and Frank Harrison on piano and keyboards. Expect soulful melodies, atmospheric sounds, a colourful style of jazz with an ethnic touch and some rarely used instruments. The quartet is currently on tour and preparing for their debut album recording.The quartet features American bassist and harmonica player Patrick Bettison and Frank Harrison on piano and keyboards. Expect soulful melodies, atmospheric sounds, a colourful style of jazz with an ethnic touch and some rarely used instruments.
Entry £12

Wed 25 May Players night - our open mic session. All jazz performers welcome, groups or individuals. Join the House Band or go it alone
Entry £2 everyone

Wed 8 June Luca Luciano clarinet
“Masterful Clarinet! Luca is a noted Italian clarinettist and composer who now makes his home in London, having developed an enviable reputation as an instrumental virtuoso around the UK and overseas via recordings and concert hall appearances
Tasty playing backed by Hulljazz Rhythm
Entry £10

Wed 22 June TBC

Wed 6 July Players night  £2

Hull Jazz is: The Goodfellowship Inn
Cottingham Road

Venue is on B1233, close to Hull's ring-road, 1/2 mile from Cottingham and 1/2 mile from Hull University (which is well signed from all approach roads).

Gigs 8:30 to 11:00pm

Contact 01482 346239 or send us an e-mail

Venue tel. no. is 01482 342858

Cullingworth Jazz's forthcoming gigs

Mellow Jazz 25 May

From Dave Lee

Updates from the Cullingworth Jazz Club jazz night on Wednesdays 9pm start - free

4 May Loretta Scott (vocals), Martin Longhawn (piano) Roz MacDonald (bass) Jon Taylor (sax) Dave Lee (drums)

11 May Joyce Bryant (vocals), Paul Conway (piano) Max Kahn (bass) Tony Siwek (sax) Steve Green (drums)

18 May Barbera Lavin(vocals), Dave Cook (piano) Max Kahn (bass) Steve Devine (sax) Dave Lee (drums)

25 May Mellow Jazz - with Barbera Coultas (vocals) Stuart Midgley (saxes and flute) Darren Dutson-Bromley (guitar) Martin Coultas: (double bass) Dave Lee (drums)

21/23 Station Road,
BD13 5HN

Tel: 01535 272432 ;

May gig list for North East

Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Gala Theatre, Durham DH1 1WA (May 12)

North east gigs – May 2016
All gigs Newcastle unless stated otherwise

May 1 Sean Noonan’s Pavees Dance Bridge Hotel NE1 1BQ
May 4 VEIN with Greg Osby Lit & Phil NE1 1SE
May 5 Matt Holborn Quartet Hamsterley Village Hall, Co. Durham DL13 3QF
May 5 Peter Gilligan Trio Empty Shop, Durham DH1 3NJ
May 6 Dave Rae’s Levee Ramblers Saltburn Community Hall & Theatre TS12 1JW
May 7 Jeff Barnhart & John Hallam (lunchtime) St Augustine’s, Darlington DL3 7TG
May 7 Mia Webb & Roy Willis New Ship, Cleadon NE34 8DG
May 7 Matt Holborn Quartet Holy Cross Church, Haltwhistle NE43 0BL
May 7 Budtet Jazz Co-op @ The Globe NE4 7AD
May 8 Matt Holborn Quartet Holy Trinity Church, Matfen NE20 0TF
May 8 Thermal Threshold/MacCalman&Collins/Diachronicx Bridge Hotel NE1 1BQ
May 12 Ronnie Scott’s All Stars Gala Theatre, Durham DH1 1WA
May 12 Roy Ayers Sage Gateshead NE8 2JR
May 13 Ruth Lambert Trio St Cuthbert’s Centre, Crook DL5 9DN
May 13 Simone Gubbiotti Trio Jazz Café NE1 5DW
May 13 Sue Ferris Quintet Traveller’s Rest, Darlington DL3 9ER
May 14 Anita Wardell Quartet Jazz Co-op @ The Globe NE4 7AD
May 15 Noel Dennis-Paul Edis Quartet Black Bull, Blaydon NE21 4JJ
May 19 BABMUS Jazz Café NE1 5DW
May 20 Lindsay Hannon Plus (lunchtime) Gala Theatre, Durham DH1 1WA
May 20 Big Chris Barber Band Middlesbrough Theatre TS5 6SA
May 20 New Century Ragtime Orchestra Caedmon Hall, Gateshead NE8 4LN
May 20 Strønen – Time is a Blind Guide Sage Gateshead NE8 2JR
May 20 Noel Dennis Trio Jazz Café NE1 5DW
May 21 Alan Glen Trio Jazz Co-op @ The Globe NE4 7AD
May 21 Mick Shoulder & Giles Strong Jazz Café NE1 5DW
May 22 Jazztones Quakerhouse, Darlington DL3 7QF
May 22 Hot 8 Brass Band Riverside NE1 3RQ
May 26 Strictly Smokin’ Big Band Millstone NE3 1QL
May 26 Ingrid Jensen Quartet Black Swan NE1 1SG
May 27 Dean Stockdale Trio (lunchtime) Lit & Phil NE1 1SE
May 27 Sue Ferris Quintet Ushaw College DH7 9RH
May 27 Boys of Brass Hoochie Coochie NE1 8SF
May 27 Alan Law & Rebecca Gregson Jazz Café NE1 5DW
May 28 Northern Monkey Brass Band (lunchtime) Plaza Whitley Bay NE26 1LX
May 28 Mammal Hands Independent, Sunderland SR1 3JE
May 28 Apollo Saxophone Quartet St Michael’s Church, Alwinton NE65 7BE
May 28 Alice Grace & Peter Gilligan Jazz Café NE1 5DW
May 30 Tyne Valley Big Band Bywell Hall NE43 7AD
May 31 Olie Brice Quintet Jazz Café NE1 5DW

Russell Corbett's North East news for May

Ingrid Jensen May 26th (Newcastle Arts Centre)

Following last month’s major festivals in Darlington and Gateshead the casual jazz fan could be forgiven for thinking that May would be somewhat quieter. Think again! The number and breadth of gigs on offer is as healthy as ever. Trans-Atlantic visitors, large scale concerts, small scale gigs, national touring musicians and first rate regional bands ensure the north east scene remains buoyant.

Canadian trumpeter Ingrid Jensen flies in for a short tour taking in gigs from Newcastle to Yorkshire and down to Ronnie Scott’s in London. Working with a hand picked band (Jez Franks, guitar, Andy Champion, bass and drummer Tim Giles) this is a rare chance to hear a significant voice on the international stage. Jensen’s Newcastle date (May 26)   at the Black Swan in Newcastle Arts Centre on Westgate Road is a Jazz North East co-promotion with the Jazz Café. Brooklyn drummer Sean Noonan returns once again with another project – this time Pavees Dance – at the Bridge Hotel (May 1) and fellow New Yorker Greg Osby plays a first gig on Tyneside with VEIN at the Lit & Phil, Newcastle (May 4). These Jazz North East promotions are of international dimensions but equally important are concerts featuring British musicians; a triple bill at the Bridge Hotel (May 8) of Thermal Threshold, MacCalman and Collins and the duo Diachronicx, and bassist Olie Brice plays a Schmazz gig at the Jazz Café (31).

The Jazz Café’s independent promotions include an intriguing prospect on May 13 when former AC Milan footballer turned jazz guitarist Simone Gubbiotti plays a trio gig in the atmospheric upstairs room on Pink Lane. Based in America, the Berklee graduate has an impressive cv having worked with some of the biggest names in jazz. Noel Dennis plays a return engagement on May 20. The Teesside based trumpeter will be in the company of pianist Paul Edis and Andy Champion (double bass). The following evening Giles Strong and Mick Shoulder will play jazz guitar together and a week later (May 28) Alice Grace sings accompanied by pianist Peter Gilligan.

The highlight of the Jazz Co-op’s May programme at the Globe is a return visit by Anita Wardell (May 14). Last year the vocalist led a successful two day workshop. This year’s event offers participants the option of attending a two day or three day workshop (Friday 13-Sunday 15). Jazz Co-op regulars Budtet have another gig at the Railway Street venue (May 7) and Modernists won’t want to miss jazz the Alan Glen Trio on May 21.

The County Durham jazz scene is in rude health. The big hitters arrive at the Gala (May 12) to celebrate Ronnie’s. Frith Street’s house pianist James Pearson brings in an all star band to tell the story of Ronnie Scott’s in Gerard Street and later Frith Street. USA piano maestro Jeff Barnhart plays a Darlington New Orleans Jazz Club date in the company of reeds virtuoso John Hallam. St Augustine’s is likely to be at capacity for this lunchtime date (May 7). Chris Barber is playing as well as ever and he’ll prove it on May 20 at the Middlesbrough Theatre - indestructible is the word! Sue Ferris has two gigs in the diary with her quintet; first at Opus 4 Jazz Club’s monthly session at the Traveller’s Rest, May 13, in Darlington and at Ushaw College, Durham on May 27. BBC recording artiste Ruth Lambert returns from the Beeb’s ‘Introducing’ stage at the Cheltenham Jazz Festival with a gig at St Cuthbert’s Centre, Crook (May 13) and vocalist Lindsay Hannon plays a Gala Theatre lunchtime gig on May 20. Darlington Jazz Club’s house band, the Jazztones have a gig all to themselves at the Quakerhouse on May 22.

Lunchtime gigs continue to be hugely popular across the north east. Barnhart and Hallam and Lindsay Hannon as listed, add the Dean Stockdale Trio (Mick Shoulder, double bass and Adam Sinclair, drums) on May 27 at the Lit & Phil and the Northern Monkey Brass Band playing on the seafront outside the Spanish City in Whitley Bay, May 28 plus five Dixieland sessions Monday to Friday every week, there’s no rest for the jazz fan.

Jazz goes to church! And the village hall…Hot Club exponents the Matt Holborn Quartet goes rural during the month. The first of three gigs at Hamsterley Village Hall (May 5) is a Highlights Rural Touring promotion, as are visits to Holy Cross Church, Haltwhistle in the Pennines (May 7) and Holy Trinity Church, Matfen, Northumberland (May 8). North Northumberland will hear tunes by Richard Rodney Bennett, Django Bates and Barbara Thompson on May 28 at St Michael’s & All Angels Church, Alwinton when the Apollo Saxophone Quartet performs for the jazz parishioner.

The Borough of Gateshead gets into the swing post-festival with Roy Ayers Band at Sage Gateshead (12) and Thomas Strønen (20) and, clashing with Strønen, is the New Century Ragtime Orchestra’s concert two minutes’ up the road at the Caedmon Hall. The Blaydon Jazz Club session at the Black Bull on May 15 is likely to attract a bumper crowd for the visit of the Noel Dennis-Paul Edis Quartet. ‘All star’ best describes this band with bassist Andy Champion and Russ Morgan (drums) completing the line-up.      

Finally, a non-jazz venue on Newcastle Quayside has booked the Hot 8 Brass Band (May 22). Riverside, adjacent to the Swing Bridge, is the place to be, as is Independent, another venue not noted for a regular jazz programme, on May 28. A Sunderland city centre rock and indie hangout, Mammal Hands (signed to Gondwana Records) have secured a gig at the venue. It will be interesting to see if an audience turns out for this one.      


Review of Clark Tracey Quintet - @Wakefield Jazz 29-4-16

When a band opens with a powerful, musically thrilling performance, it’s fair to wonder how they’ll manage to sustain that edge-of-the-seat excitement over two sets. The Clark Tracey Quintet has its own answer: first-rate musicianship, combining individual skill and tight group cohesion; compelling tunes and shrewd programming; and a judicious blend of scorching, up-tempo numbers with ballads of exquisite tenderness. In short, this was an all-star band that played as a band.

Yet for all the power of the band as a whole, each of the musicians deserves special mention.  Many pianists have a technique and voice that is always audible, however adaptable they are. But Harry Bolt would have won notice in any of the countless musical styles he delivered—sometimes, within a single tune. He ranged from ferocious octave playing and sharp attack to moments when his sensitivity of touch and responsiveness were breathtaking.

The two front-line instrumentalists—Chris Maddock on alto and tenor; Henry Armburg Jennings on trumpet and flugelhorn—were exponents of the passion that can be expressed through those instruments, but they also had great articulation. Each had a ballad—Maddock on alto, re-investing ‘Sophsticated Lady’ with its languorous, sweet melancholy; and Armburg Jennings drawing on the darker hues of the flugelhorn for a heart-felt rendering of ‘Polka Dots and Moonbeams.’ And together, whether playing in unison or trading phrases, they were a force to be reckoned with.

As well as playing superbly throughout, bass player Daniel Casimir turned in some remarkable solo turns. These were not a ‘me, too’/‘my turn’ obligatory nod to a band member, but musical showcases in their own right. It’s not often in a bass solo that so much musical sensitivity and aplomb is invested in the phrasing of a note; and in the  slower and more spacious passages, with the band down to a hush, advanced technique and musical inventiveness  were combined perfectly. Audience members could be seen grinning and shaking their heads in pleasure and wonder.

And of course, leading and propelling the band was Clark Tracey, whose power on drums has its complement in attentiveness, finesse and spot-on musical judgment. His own solos were what everyone familiar with his musicianship has come to expect—and then some.

Smart and experienced bands know to keep the best material or the strongest performance for last; however, the best bands start strongly and just keep getting better. After the last, sensational number it was hard to imagine that they could play an encore to match, let alone surpass it. But this was the Clark Tracey Quintet.

J Whitman 30.04.2016