The names have been revealed for this year’s 10th edition of Jazz Voice, the EFG London Jazz Festival‘s opening night vocal jazz extravaganza, at the Royal Festival Hall on Friday 10 November. Reaching across jazz, funk, soul and pop worlds British guest singers include acclaimed jazz vocalist Liane Carroll, soul-jazz singer Mica Paris, R&B singer Tony Momrelle and Incognito’s lead vocalist Vanessa Hayes, chart topping vocalist Seal and charismatic Wes Coast Get Down bassist/singer Miles Mosley, who first gained global recognition for his Hendrix-style double bass playing as part of LA sax titan Kamasi Washington’s band. All these names will be backed by composer/arranger Guy Barker‘s specially convened London Jazz Festival jazz orchestra, a 40-piece ensemble combining strings, brass section and core jazz group comprised of many of the UK’s finest musicians. Watch this space for additional names to be added to the Jazz Voice line-up.
This show is one of over 300 taking place during the 10-day citywide festival, highlights of which include: Keith Tippett Octet with Matthew Bourne (Kings Place, 10 Nov), Michael Janisch Quartet with Rez Abbasi, Henry Spencer’s Juncture, Zhenya Strigalev Trio (Rich Mix, 10 Nov); Tomasz Stańko’s New York Quartet (Cadogan Hall, 10 Nov); Zakir Hussain’s Crosscurrents with Dave Holland and Chris Potter (Barbican, 11 Nov); Andy Sheppard Quartet (Kings Place, 11 Nov); John Surman and John Warren’s The Traveller’s Tale (Kings Place, 12 Nov); Miles Mosley and the West Coast Get Down (Islington Assembly Hall, 12 Nov); Brad Mehldau/Chris Thile (Barbican, 12 Nov); Led Bib, Schnellertollermeier and WorldService Project (Rich Mix, 12 Nov); Marcus Miller (RFH, 12 Nov); Richard Pite’s 1957: A Jazz Jukebox (Cadogan Hall, 12 Nov); Herbie Hancock (Barbican, 13-14 Nov); Knower (Scala, 13 Nov); Courtney Pine’s Black Notes From The Deep (Bridge Theatre, 13 Nov); Trombone Shorty (Shepherd’s Bush Empire, 13 Nov); Paolo Conte (RFH, 13 Nov); Abdullah Ibrahim/Hugh Masekela Jazz Epistles (RFH, 14 Nov); Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles (KOKO, 14 Nov); Jaimeo Brown’s Transcendance (Rich Mix, 14 Nov); Justin Kauflin Trio plus Airelle Besson and Vincent Segal (Wigmore Hall, 16 Nov); Nik Bärtsch (Wigmore Hall, 17 Nov); Darcy-James Argue’s Secret Society (Kings Place, 17 Nov); Jay Rayner’s Quartet (Cadogan Hall, 17 Nov); Pharoah Sanders’ Quartet, Denys Baptiste’s The Late Trane band and Alina Bzhezhinska’s Quartet with Tony Kofi (Barbican, 18 Nov) and Terrence Blanchard with the BBC Concert Orchestra (Barbican, 19 Nov), among many others. Jazzwise is media partner for the festival.
– Mike Flynn
Full listings and tickets at http://ift.tt/1nWcZgL
by John M. Borack THE PENGWINS – Volume 4 (Boxed Set) Those power poppin’ Pengwins boys from down Texas way have been doing that thing they do for damn near 40 years now, and on their latest boxed set they …
Au Gres du Jazz Festival takes place in the beautiful setting of the tiny village of La Petite Pierre (59km from Strasbourg) in the Northern Vosges National Park region of Alsace. The 10-day festival features two main open air concerts on the weekends and one during the week. There’s also an ‘Off Festival’ featuring two or three performances per day from local and regional artists in and around the village of La Petite Pierre. For such a small place (population around 600) there are a large number of hotels, restaurants and B&Bs. These of course do not cater purely for the jazz festival but for the many cyclists and ramblers who come to this area of the National Park to enjoy its outstanding natural beauty and the miles of trekking and cycle routes to be found here.
The main shows are staged in a large raked courtyard between the old village and the manor house that seats around 1,200, which is perfectly suited to jazz as it feels very intimate and, for an outdoor venue, the sound is exceptional. This year for the 15th edition of the festival, the main stage concerts were of a very high standard, with the likes of Avishai Cohen, Yaron Herman Trio, Jean-Luc Ponty/Biréli Lagrène/Kyle Eastwood, the Biréli Lagrène Acoustic Quartet and Shai Maestro all performing before we arrived.
Our first evening was the Hiromi/Edmar Castaneda Duo. The compactness of the setting certainly enhanced the atmosphere: the audience almost in the pockets of the two performers. Apart from a massive downpour which halted the concert for around thirty minutes, the duo kept the feeling and spirit of the show alive and no one left despite the atrocious conditions. The festival does have a ‘Plan B’ in case of inclement weather: a village hall that can squeeze just under 1,000 people inside. Following another rainy session with singer Hugh Coltman the following night the next three days were all inside.
We were extremely lucky that in this location we saw two outstanding shows. The first featuring Jan Garbarek (above) and the second with Nils Petter Molvaer (top). Garbarek playing with percussion maestro Trilok Gurtu, pianist Rainer Brûninghaus and electric bassist Yuri Daniel was just brilliant. His style of filmic music starting with ‘Molde Canticle’ was perfectly suited to the rammed hall and the atmosphere was fantastic. Not stopping to speak to the audience once the concert flowed effortlessly with virtually no break. Gurtu’s solo slot towards the end ‘Nine Horses’ (which when I heard this in the the vast open spaces of an arena seemed a little tedious) was in this situation exciting and spellbinding – the audience hanging on every note as he worked his way through a plethora of bells and gongs.
Each musician was given an extended solo slot and as well as Gurtu’s tour de force, bassist Daniel’s solo ‘Tao’ also a treat giving the audience a masterclass in bass styles from Pastorius to Haden. Nils Petter Molvær brought his ‘Buoyancy’ project to the festival which is his homage to all things diving and underwater. The trio featuring guitarist Eivind Aarset and electronics and percussionist Vladislav Delay were as enthralling as Garbarek had been two nights previously. The CD features more musicians, so live percussionist Delay has to double up as an electronics wizard – his stage set a mind boggling mess of cables and control switches.
The music of course was far from chaotic, superbly orchestrated by Molvaer the music ebbed and flowed like the waves in his original idea – haunting, threatening and serenely beautiful his interjections on trumpet inspired and moving. He segued into ‘Nature Boy’ surely a nod towards Esbjörn Svensson. A brilliant two hours of music.
Rising star French trumpeter Airelle Besson (above) featured in two shows, firstly, with her own quartet which features Isabel Sörling on vocals sounding not too dissimilar to Anne Paceo’s Triphase and secondly, with pianist Edouard Ferlet and bassist Stéphane Kerecki which was a more interesting set. Heavily influenced by Delta blues (and Dr John in particular) singer Marion Rampal was very entertaining. Anne Paceo on drums and pianist Pierre Francois Blanchard made up the trio which is quite quirky but well worth catching.
The last big night featured Archie Shepp and Joachim Kuhn (above). The two masters of jazz played a wonderful concert each with such deep understanding of the other. Shepp undoubtedly took the lead. Shepp’s playing was on top form and his inventive soloing a joy to listen too. Kuhn is a master, supporting Shepp throughout then when taking his own solos, he would slide off on his own improvisational take on the tune ultimately returning for Shepp to finish it off. It’s rare in jazz to see a gig where the artists are older than the audience and this was one and a very special gig at that.
La Petite Pierre is a mature, laid back, but very well organised festival. Its setting in a rural location would suit any jazz fan who also has a love of walking or cycling – there are other places to visit nearby – the Lalique museum and the start of the Alsace wine route being two and there are plenty of options for accommodation in the area. For next year’s festival dates and more information check the festival website http://ift.tt/2uEHpkj
– Tim Dickeson (Story and Photos)
Empathy Test are two childhood friends, Isaac Howlett and Adam Relf, based in London UK, that have been writing and recording electronic pop music as Empathy Test for about four years. To date, they have successfully self-released a string of EPs and singles. Described by Clash Magazine as “gorgeous, sumptuous future pop”, their music has received both critical acclaim and a growing worldwide fanbase.
The band came to PledgeMusic through Tiinu, the online music service that helps emerging and developing artists looking for management, publishers, record labels or beyond. Empathy Test’s PledgeMusic Campaign sees them releasing not one, but two debut albums(!) and has been an outstanding success, reaching their targeted aim within hours of launch. PledgeMusic recently spoke to Empathy Test’s Isaac Howlett.
Tell us about your PledgeMusic project?
We’ve been holding off releasing an album for some time, waiting for a suitable record label to pick us up. We got a few offers, but not from anyone we would consider signing with. In the end, we thought we have a big enough fan base now, let’s just fund and release it ourselves. We had three years’ worth of material, so we decided to release two albums at once. It has been a bit of a nightmare getting all the music and artwork finished, but the funding has been effortless. We were 100% in less than 10 hours. We’re now 500%+ funded and counting.
How did you first hear about PledgeMusic?
We’ve known about PledgeMusic for a long time but haven’t used it until now. It has always been synonymous with funding for musicians, in our minds. It’s great for fans to be able to help make things happen and also pick up stuff like handwritten lyric sheets and signed items, stuff that they wouldn’t normally get. The team at PledgeMusic has been really helpful. We were reminded of its existence when we were checking out Tiinu.
What’s the last album you bought and the first that you purchased with your own money?
The last album I bought was Levin Goes Lightly’s Ga Ps. They’re a post-punk band from Stuttgart, who deserve a lot more attention…. lots of Joy Division-esque vibes and drum machine rhythms. The first album I bought with my own money was Echobelly’s On.
What album in your collection would you save in a house-fire/what album has survived all your house-moves?
There are a fair few CDs that have survived various house moves and culls, but if I had to rescue just one, it would probably be Paul Simon’s Graceland. One of my earliest memories is dancing around the living room to that album when I was very little. As an album, it has stayed with me my whole life. I used to put ‘Call Me Al’ on the jukebox in my favourite pub in Norwich, when I was at uni. It’s a little passe now though.
What one question would you ask your musical hero and who is that person?
I would probably ask Robert Smith of The Cure how the hell he has kept going all these years and how he stays creative. I seem to spend all my time online, promoting Empathy Test and interacting with fans, it’s hard to remember sometimes that you’re supposed to be a musician. I guess he never had to deal with all that stuff.
If not Empathy Test, which band would you most like to have been in and why?
Making electronic music and playing to a click track can feel quite restrictive at times – sometimes I yearn to be playing in a guitar band where I could really let rip. I imagine it must have been fun being in a band like The Libertines and really living the rock ‘n’ roll dream.
Perfect gig – what makes it for you as performers?
It’s definitely about the audience. I think my last favourite show we’ve played was a one-day festival called ‘Planet Myer Day’ in Leipzig, Germany. It was back in January of this year. We weren’t the headline act, but we had a lot of people there to see us, a lot of people wearing our t-shirts. It was a relatively small venue, the sound system was loud and the place was packed. When our drummer and keyboard player went out onto the stage, there was a huge, huge cheer – they cheered when the first track started and they cheered when I walked out onto the stage. Those are the kind of gigs where you’ve got nothing to worry about. The audience feed off you and you feed off them. It’s a glorious feeling.
Keep up-to-date on all things Empathy Test on their Official Site.
Belgium is a crossroads country, with its capital Brussels not only the European Union’s heart, but a national mid-point between Dutch-speaking Flanders to the north and the rest of French-speaking Wallonia. As the Belgian Jazz Meeting, held in the capital for the first time, notes in its programme: “the slightly surreal construction that our small country represents… has always been fertile soil for the whimsical genre that jazz is”. Over three days of Trappist beer-oiled networking between international guests and notably idealistic managers, PRs, DJs, promoters and musicians, and a dozen diverse gigs, Belgium’s position as an outsized jazz powerhouse was amply confirmed.
The Belgium Jazz Meeting began life as the Flemish Jazz Meeting, and Mik Torfs, from Flanders’ Jazzlab initiative, reflected on a nation with two cultures which are growing apart. “There are separate Culture Ministers and a completely different cultural policy in Flanders and Wallonia,” he said. “The Flanders government is much more positive towards jazz, small initiatives and more experimental things.” Wallonia is far less generous with grants, a situation partially improved by concerted pressure from the new jazz umbrella body Museact. Torfs has watched other differences deepen. “Five or six years ago, all musicians met here in Brussels and played together, and all the bands were a mixture. But since then it’s grown apart, because of increasing differences in culture, and grants. Now there are very strong scenes in Ghent and Antwerp, and so Wallonian musicians don’t play with those in Ghent any more.”
Animus Anima (pictured top), who I’d recently seen play driving jazz-rock at the Gaume Jazz Festival deep in rural Wallonia, focused on their more contemplative new concept album Residencé sur la Terre. Padded conga-beats and muted-trumpet animal cries lent atmosphere to rolling psychedelic drift. A long conversation with their saxophonist-composer Nicolas Ankoudinoff as the bar closed late on the final night revealed the struggle of pressing his band onward for a decade, as Belgium’s small scene keeps musicians stretched thin over many bands and neighbouring countries. Belgium is a little village, others noted, which you have to break out of to survive. Another saxophonist, Manuel Hermia, spoke feelingly to me after being presented with the €10,000 Sabam Jazz Award of the opportunity it offered to keep a consistent line-up together long enough to grow. His trio Hermia/Ceccaldi/Darrifourcq (below) earlier showed a lucidly imaginative, woozy intensity, as he met drummer Sylvain Darrifourcq and cellist Valentin Ceccaldi‘s ominous, pulsing textures on an intricately loaded high-wire at dizzying speed.
Mattias De Craene III (below) dealt in a similarly heady atmosphere. An upturned spotlight turned dry-ice red as saxophonist De Craene plotted an exploratory path over mantric double-drum thunder. Linus – Ruben Machtelinckx‘s baritone guitar and banjo and Thomas Jillings‘ tenor sax and alto clarinet – also suited a late-night campfire or shadowy bohemian café with their pastoral, inviting intimacy. Steiger occupied nearby territory, with proggy keyboards, jerky time-signatures and a sense of avant-classical conceptual composition, though their pieces pressed on into shapelessness. Jozef Dumoulin‘s solo Fender Rhodes improv electronica was abrasively ugly too often for my taste, but spoke his own language. The rubbery polyrhythmic pulse of ‘BRZZVLL’ was their best feature, while veterans Trio Grande offered more in instrumentation – a Jew’s harp’s Spaghetti Western twang, Belgian bass-drum and sousaphone, for instance – than their stiff, antic playing.
Compared to a UK scene whose current pathfinder is the dance music-inflected Shabaka Hutchings, Belgian jazz still looks to rock for external energy. Dans Dans guitarist Bert Dockx gleefully shredded over the floating heaviness of bass and drums, suggesting a grunged-up Link Wray rumbling in an early 1960s British ballroom. Drifter‘s muscular jazz-rock anthems seemed less interesting than Lorenzo Di Maio‘s guitar/bass reverie and high-energy, sharp-edged, expansively optimistic sound. Antoine Pierre Urbex, an octet deploying a bank of brass for big band punch, also opted for the epic.
“The musical differences between north and south are cultural,” Torfs added, offering context. “The south looks more to France, and for some reason is much more straight jazz, like Lorenzo di Maio and Urbex, and also tends towards rock. In Flanders we have much more experimental things going on with electronics and modern classical music, and look northwards to the Scandinavian countries – Linus really have that Scandinavian atmosphere, and even play with Norwegian musicians. There’s also a tendency towards rock, like Dans Dans.” For all he’s said of two tribes pulling apart, their connection continues in jazz’s open community. “Because we’re a small scene, even if the influences are different, these guys play together, and they mix it into something really Belgian.”
– Nick Hasted
– Photos by Massimo Municchi
Discogs sponsored Crate Diggers Record Fair makes its London debut on September 30th, 2017 at Oval Space! Sandwiched between its second event in Berlin, and its first appearance in Amsterdam, Crate Diggers is the ultimate event for record collectors, vinyl junkies, and music fans! The day begins with a record fair featuring 30+ vendors and 6 local DJs, then moves into an all-night after […]