The Jazz Mann | Saturday at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 29/04/2017. | Feature | The Jazz Mann

Accessibility Menu

FEATURE

Saturday at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 29/04/2017.

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Saturday at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 29/04/2017.

Ian Mann on a full and varied day of music including performances by Trondheim Jazz Exchange, Phronesis, Orchestra Baobab, Lionel Loueke, Logan Richardson, Steve Gadd and Hans Koller.

Photograph of Steve Gadd by Tim Dickeson


Saturday at Cheltenham Jazz Festival, 29/05/2017.

TRONDHEIM JAZZ EXCHANGE

A very full day of music began at the decidedly un-jazzlike hour of 11.00 am at the Parabola Arts Centre with the annual Trondheim Jazz Exchange concert, sponsored by the Norwegian Embassy. Introducing the proceedings Tony Dudley Evans informed us that this was the ninth such event and that he very much hoped to be hosting the tenth anniversary in 2018.

The popular Jazz Exchange project features the playing and writing of students from two of Europe’s leading music education establishments. The Jazz Courses at the Trondheim and Birmingham Conservatories have both acquired substantial reputations and many graduates from both institutions have gone on to become respected professional jazz musicians.

Annual exchange visits are arranged between the two institutions with the students subsequently showcasing their work at the Cheltenham and Molde Jazz Festivals. Each year six students from each establishment pool their resources to form three quartets with each band containing two members from their respective countries. Prior to this performance at the Parabola the students had spent two days in intensive wood-shedding and rehearsals as they worked out their ideas. The three quartets also performed in public in Birmingham at the free early evening session held on the evening of Friday April 28th at the Café Bar in the foyer of Symphony Hall.

The first band to appear featured the Norwegian musicians Tore Hodneland (guitar) and Simen Bjorkhaug (tenor sax) together with the Birmingham based rhythm team of Alex Liebek (double bass) and Robert Harper-Charles (drums). They began with the jazz standard “I Love You” which featured the slightly acerbic tone of Bjorkhaug’s probing tenor sax and the elegant runs and sophisticated chording of Hodneland’s guitar.

This was followed by an untitled original from the pen of Hodneland. This was an impressive piece of writing possessed of a decidedly episodic quality. Building from a simple introduction featuring the composer’s guitar accompanied by the hand-claps of his colleagues the piece went through several different phases as Bjorkhaug’s sax picked out the theme before handing over to Hodneland whose dialogue with Harper-Charles’ cymbals led into a melodic but richly atmospheric guitar solo. Liebeck’s bass feature exhibited similar qualities but Bjorkhaug’s powerful tenor sax solo increased the energy levels prior to a closing drum feature from Harper-Charles.

This was an auspicious start with Hodneland’s piece by far the most satisfying of the two items that the quartet played. The guitarist emerged as the most distinctive instrumentalist of the group and his compositional skills also impressed. The Jazz Exchange event always throws up new names to look out for and Hodneland’s is one to add to that list.

It was the general opinion of most of the attendees at this year’s event that Group Two was the pick of the three bands. This quartet featured the Norwegian musicians Agata Ciurkot (piano) and Vetle Larsen (drums) together with their Birmingham counterparts Nick Brown (tenor sax) and James Owston (double bass).

They began with a storming version of McCoy Tyner’s ever popular “Passion Dance” with the impressive Ciurkot suitably ‘Tyner-esque’ and with Brown really digging in on tenor accompanied by busy bass and drums. Larsen enjoyed a closing drum feature before the piece segued via a passage of unaccompanied piano into an original composition by Ciurkot.

This exhibited similar narrative qualities to Hodneland’s piece for the first band as Brown, sounding more than a little like Jan Garbarek, joined Ciurkot for an absorbing piano / tenor sax duet. Owston’s bowed bass and the shimmer of Larsen’s cymbals added an appealing melancholic edge prior to expansive, but consistently melodic and absorbing, features for piano, saxophone and bass. If anything this was even more impressive than Hodneland’s original had been with most listeners picking out Ciurkot, the only female musician to feature, as the star of the entire event.

Band Two completed their impressive set with “Pier 39”, an original by Brown written in a broadly bebop style and featuring further excellent solos from both the composer and Ciurkot.

The third and final group featured Birmingham musicians Alex Stride (trumpet, flugel) and Noah Stone (drums) together with the Norwegians Vegard Bjerkan (piano) and Bjorn Petersson (double bass).

This group’s style was more firmly rooted in the bebop tradition although they began with Bjerkan’s original “New Boat”, a quasi-ballad featuring solos from Stride on flugel, the composer on piano and Ptersson at the bass.

“Tadd’s Delight”, presumably written by Tadd Dameron but played by both Miles Davis and Chet Baker, gave Stride the chance to demonstrate his bop chops on trumpet following Stone’s introduction on the drum kit. Stone was to feature again towards the end of the piece following the piano solo from Bjerkan.

As so often happens the event overran, no surprise really with the changeovers that have to be made, and I made my exit as the band prepared to play an original piece by Petersson segued with Kenny Wheeler’s “We Salute The Sun”.

Reviewing the event for London Jazz News Peter Slavid lamented the preponderance of material rooted in the bebop area and he certainly makes a valid point. The playing was excellent throughout, the students at both institutions are taught to an astonishingly high technical standard, but for me the most interesting pieces were the lengthy, almost cinematic compositions by Hodneland and Ciurkot which really saw the musicians, and the composers in particular, expressing themselves.

Minor quibbles aside the annual Trondheim Jazz Exchange is a great event and one that has become a regular fixture on many people’s Festival calendars. 

DECADE ZERO;
DAVE MARIC, PHRONESIS, & ENGINES ORCHESTRA

Led by the Danish bassist and composer Jasper Hoiby Phronesis recently celebrated ten years as one of the world’s leading jazz trios. Hoiby, pianist Ivo Neame and drummer Anton Eger have developed a phenomenal rapport over a series of acclaimed studio and live recordings and in 2017 their playing remains as sharp and distinctive as ever.

Initially a vehicle for Hoiby’s compositions the band has become a more democratic unit over the course of its development with Neame and Eger also now bringing compositions to the table. Never afraid to experiment Phronesis have also enjoyed a hugely successful collaboration with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band which saw saxophonist Julian Arguelles arranging a selection of the trio’s compositions for performance by Phronesis and the FRBB conducted by Arguelles. In 2015 the project made its British première at a highly successful show at the Milton Court Concert Hall as part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. An earlier performance in Frankfurt was recorded and recently released as the album “The Behemoth”.

Today’s performance represented Phronesis’ latest alliance with a larger ensemble. Hoiby and the contemporary classical composer Dave Maric have been friends for a number of years and Maric was jointly commissioned to write a piece for performance at the Cheltenham, Manchester and London jazz festivals with financial support coming from the PRS Foundation.

The resultant work, “Decade Zero”, was written in response to the challenges of the current political landscape for an ensemble featuring the three members of Phronesis plus eight musicians drawn from the ranks of the Engines Orchestra under the baton of conductor Phil Meadows. Rosanna Te Berg (flute), Katie Bennington (oboe), Gennie Joy (clarinet, bass clarinet) and Lois Au (bassoon) formed the woodwind section while the strings consisted of Katherine Waller (first violin), Scott Lowry (second violin), Alison De Souza (viola) and Zosia Jagodzinska (cello).

There were even band uniforms of a sort with Phronesis dressed all in white and members of the Engines Orchestra clad in band T shirts with an attractive Bridget Riley type design. These were also on sale to the public, so guess who just had to have one.

The first part of the concert featured performances of four items from the Phronesis back catalogue, each one presaged by a short orchestral introduction, each little more than a minute long, written by Maric.

The trio performances by Phronesis were typically excellent with the group exhibiting their tight and instinctive group interplay with Hoiby’s muscular but astonishingly agile bass playing driving the music alongside Eger’s dynamic, extrovert drumming. The group’s music is highly rhythmic with pianist Neame also getting in on the act as well as dealing with the harmonic complexities of the group’s tunes. I’ve written extensively about Phronesis’ recordings and live shows before so I don’t intend to give a blow by blow account of their set here except to say that it’s always a thrill to see the brilliant Phronesis perform and today was no exception, the only quibble being that the sound of Hoiby’s bass was rather muddy as it bounced around the walls of the cavernous Cheltenham Town Hall.The four Phronesis compositions that were played were “67000 MPH”, “A Silver Moon”, “OK Chorale” and “Rabat” with all the pieces sourced from the trio’s most recent studio recording, 2016’s “Parallax”. .

As enjoyable as all this was the two ensembles were acting as separate entities with Meadows actually departing the stage as Phronesis did their thing. The denizens of ‘scribblers row’ gazed bemusedly at each other thinking “is this it?” and wondered why the trio had bothered inviting along the orchestral players just to play a series of very brief introductions, ‘overtures’ would be pushing it, that functioned as little more than sketches.

However all became clear when Hoiby eventually picked up the vocal mic to introduce the five movement work “Decade Zero” which comprised the second half of the performance, clocking in at around the thirty five minute mark. It was only now that the jazz trio and classical octet became truly integrated with the string players deploying both arco and pizzicato techniques as Meadows and the eleven musicians constructed a complex web of interlocking rhythms, colours and textures.

There were moments when the orchestral players took the lead, with Phronesis effectively becoming ‘the rhythm section’. Elsewhere Hoiby’s arco bass joined with the other string players to form a ‘string quintet’.

Maric’s writing was dense but interesting with a strong focus on both melody and rhythm and despite the chamber music elements it certainly wasn’t lacking in energy with Eger’s drums coming to the heart of the music in the final movement as the music built to a climax prior to an unexpectedly sombre coda. 

The piece received a great reception from the audience and Dave Maric came onto the stage to accept the acclaim alongside conductor Meadows and the musicians.

In truth this was a performance that was only a partial success. I suspect that the audience would have got more out of the show if the format had been explained to them at the beginning i.e that there would be a set of Phronesis tunes followed by the Festival commission.

It’s always a treat to see Phronesis play but the real highlight was “Decade Zero” itself which offered something radically different and was never less than interesting. Overall it was less successful than the collaboration with the FRBB and there was very much a ‘first performance’ feel about the whole event. I suspect that by the time of the Manchester and London appearances any teething problems will have been sorted out and that these shows will be even more successful.

However there was still much to enjoy about today’s event and it will be fascinating to hear this music again when the concert is broadcast on BBC Radio 3’s “Jazz Now” programme at 11.00 pm on Monday 8th May 2017.


ORCHESTRA BAOBAB

The next obvious jazz choice would have been the performance by pianist Elliot Galvin and his trio at the Parabola Arts Centre. However as much as I love Galvin’s music I’ve written extensively about his recordings and live performances before and therefore knew roughly what to expect, so I thought I’d try something completely different. The opportunity to experiment is one of the benefits of being part of the aforementioned ‘scribbler’s union’.

Thus it was that I found myself inside the Big Top for the first time at this Festival to see and hear the music of the nine piece Orchestra Baobab. Instigated in 1970 and reformed in 2001 the Senegalese band are a world music institution for their blend of various African musics with the sounds of Cuba and even Portugal.

Boasting a line up of lead and rhythm guitars, electric bass, tenor and alto saxophones, plus the West African kora the band also features two percussionists and a lead vocalist. The Orchestra’s music is colourful and highly rhythmic with the exuberant singers and musicians encouraging the audience to participate in a highly energetic show. These WOMAD regulars are great crowd pleasers and had the audience onside from the off.

Alongside the showmanship there were plenty of fine moments from the instrumentalists with plenty of solos for the more jazz orientated listener to enjoy from the twin saxophonists and from the Orchestra’s kora specialist, his amplified instrument imbued with a particularly percussive sound. However my favourite soloist was the lead guitarist whose spiralling West African flavoured melodic inventions were a source consistent delight. For me he was by far the most imaginative musician in the group’s ranks.

But this was a show to enjoy rather than analyse, even in an unpromising early afternoon slot. One suspects that Baobab’s natural home is the late night ‘party slot’ at WOMAD. The group’s percussionists, including the impressive conganista doubling on drum kit, helped to give the music a formidable rhythmic drive as the hyperactive French speaking vocalist exhorted the crowd to “chant avec moi”. 

The music took in a variety of African styles from Senegal to the Congo but the influence of the sounds of Cuba was particularly strong, as the presence of a specialist conganista might suggest.
The Orchestra’s high energy, exuberant performance, which included an impressive display of dancing from the tenor player, went down a storm with a large and enthusiastic audience in the Big Top and although the music was well outside my usual listening zone I rather enjoyed it. It was hard not to be swept along by the energy of the performance and the enthusiasm of the audience response. 

Orchestra Baobab are currently still on tour in the UK and will appear on the BBC’s “Later with Jools Holland” on Friday May 5th 2017.

LIONEL LOUEKE TRIO

More music from West Africa in the Pizza Express Live Arena where Benin born guitarist and vocalist Lionel Loueke appeared with his long running trio featuring bassist Massimo Biolcati and drummer Ferenc Nemeth.

Now based in the USA Loueke studied at the famous Berklee College of Music in the late 1990s where he first met Biolcati and Nemeth. Since settling in the US Loueke has enjoyed a successful solo career and a long association with Blue Note Records, for whom he has recorded several albums. But he is perhaps best known for his sideman credits with artists such as Herbie Hancock and for his membership of the ‘supergroup’ Aziza led by bassist Dave Holland and also featuring drummer Eric Harland and Festival artist Chris Potter.

Loueke’s trio with Biocati and Nemeth is essentially a ‘fusion’ band with a mix of jazz and rock plus the sounds of the leader’s native West Africa. Their most recent recording is the ‘live in the studio’ session “Gaia”, Loueke’s fourth release for Blue Note Records and the source of much of today’s material.

The opening “Dreams” set the trio’s stall out with its mix of tender African vocals and rock influenced effects, the gentleness of the singing contrasting neatly with the ferocity of some of the playing as Loueke cranked up the volume for his guitar solo while deploying a range of effects more commonly associated with the sound of rock.

“Broken”, the opening track on the “Gaia” album juxtaposed contemporary odd meter rhythms with the sound of vintage fusion with Loueke adopting a guitar synth sound.

The plaintive “Veuve Malienee” featured a vocal representing a widow crying for the loss of her husband. Introduced by a passage of liquid solo electric bass from Biolcati the poignancy of the performance was spoiled by the leakage of sound from the Free Stage, a problem that has occurred in previous years but which seemed to be worse than ever this time round. It was a problem that recurred at the Live Arena throughout the weekend and is an issue that really does need to be addressed.

The trio turned up the volume for the rest of the set with Loueke continuing to deploy an array of rock inspired guitar effects. Nemeth’s solo drum introduction to the closing “Even Teens” was particularly impressive, a rousing introduction to a piece in a mind boggling 17/4 time signature that still produced some of the most incendiary playing of the set as Loueke’s guitar went toe to toe with Nemeth’s drums, the leader combining old fashioned bluesiness with futuristic guitar effects. 

Overall I was very impressed with Loueke’s set. He has a well developed understanding with the members of his trio and collectively they negotiated the considerable challenges and complexities of his compositions with ease. The leader’s vocals and West African heritage makes his trio stand out from similarly configured ‘fusion’ bands. Loueke has adopted a highly personalised approach to the music and his unique range of influences virtually establishes him as a sub-genre in his own right.

LOGAN RICHARDSON and SHIFT

Back to the Parabola for this hotly anticipated performance by the American alto saxophonist and composer Logan Richardson and his quartet. The Kansas City born musician had made a big impression at Cheltenham twelve months previously as a member of trumpeter Christian Scott’s group. That was Richardson’s first gig with the Scott band but by November and a sold out London Jazz Festival performance at the Scala venue Richardson was an even more integral part of the Scott ensemble.

Richardson’s work with Scott ensured that there was another full house at the Parabola to see him leading his own band, a quartet that he calls Shift, also the title of his latest album, a record that features the talents of superstar guitarist Pat Metheny, pianist Jason Moran and drummer Nasheet Waits.

Metheny & co weren’t present of course but Richardson still brought along a terrific band featuring the talents of guitarist Igor Osypov, drummer Ryan Lee and Max Mucha on electric bass.

The quartet commenced with an extended passage of uninterrupted playing and appeared to be a selection of tunes segued together and linked by solo instrumental passages. Richardson achieved a remarkably pure, but still innately powerful, sound on the alto, his lines consistently melodic but never bland. At times Richardson sounded like a 21st century Paul Desmond but this was music that had an unmistakably contemporary, hip hop influenced edge thanks to the efforts of a tightly focussed rhythm section who gave the music an urgent, urban feel with Mucha moving between electric and acoustic bass.

Richardson had an excellent foil in Osypov who undertook several excellent solos of his own and used his range of effects wisely as he complemented the sound of the leader with acumen and imagination. Meanwhile Lee’s drumming was crisp and razor sharp as he negotiated the contours of Richardson’s often complex composition with considerable aplomb. This was one tight band.

The opening segue came to a furious climax via Mucha’s monstrous electric bass groove, Lee’s dynamic drumming and the scorching dialogue between Richardson and Osypov. Only now, more than half an hour into the performance did Richardson speak, his good natured ramblings including a plug for Blue Note recording “Shift”, an introduction of the band members, the influence of Ornette Coleman, and a mention of a recent visit to the Congo that inspired the closing “Pygmy People”. This began in guitar trio mode with Osypov taking the first solo before Richardson cut loose on alto, his most impassioned playing of the set fuelled by the dynamic performances of his band mates. 

Following on from his impressive appearances with Scott this was an excellent performance from Richardson and his colleagues. The stellar line up on “Shift” suggests that Richardson is a talent to watch out for and today’s show more than confirmed that potential. Richardson is currently working on a new album with the putative title “Blues People” from which much of today’s material was sourced. On the evidence of today’s performance this should be a recording well worth looking out for.

Richardson and his band got a great reception from another large crowd at the Parabola and today’s performance was also recorded by BBC Radio 3 for transmission on the ‘Jazz Now’ programme at some point in the future. Keep an eye, and ear, open for that.

STEVE GADD BAND

If Richardson’s performance had been something of a Festival highlight it was rapidly followed by another as drum legend Steve Gadd appeared with his stellar five piece band at the Pizza Express Live Arena.

Revered by fellow drummers for his technique, groove and tastefulness Gadd is one of the most recorded musicians in history, a hugely respected session player who has played a myriad of jazz, rock and pop sessions with some of the biggest names in the business including Frank Sinatra, Quincy Jones,Chick Corea, George Benson, Eric Clapton and Paul Simon. My own personal favourite Gadd moment is his explosive performance on the title track of the Steely Dan album “Aja”, which teamed him with the equally venerable Wayne Shorter. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker always did have impeccable taste when it came to sidemen.

Besides his no doubt lucrative session career Gadd has always led his own projects and the superb quintet that he brought to Cheltenham included some of the best musicians on the Los Angeles music scene. This was Gadd’s regular working band and included Michael Landau (guitar), Jimmy Johnson (electric bass), Walt Fowler (trumpet & flugelhorn) and Kevin Hays on piano and keyboards, the latter in a role sometimes fulfilled by Larry Goldings.

My thanks go to Cheltenham Festivals’ press officer Bairbre Lloyd for squeezing me into this sold out gig. A show of hands before the show revealed a high preponderance of aspiring drummers in the audience and they weren’t to be disappointed as Gadd turned in a master-class of the percussive arts. He was greatly assisted by a terrific band and this show was even better than I might have anticipated.

To be honest I wasn’t expecting too much, the kind of fusion that Gadd purveys can sound too slick and over-produced on record but live it was a very different proposition as the legend and his band delivered the goods in spades.

From the outset there was the feeling that this was a real band, not just an all star aggregation of studio whiz kids. Composition were spread around the group with both Landau and Fowler contributing to the writing process.

However Gadd wasn’t afraid to make judicious use of outside material and the band kicked off with a joyous rendition of Keith Jarrett’s country-blues composition “The Wind Up”, using the piece as an introduction to the individual voices of the band with features for guitar, electric piano, flugel, and, of course, drums.

That said Gadd isn’t an egotistical drummer in the style of Buddy Rich. He’s more about groove and feel rather than sheer technique, although he clearly has the latter in shed-loads. Thus Gadd’s playing, impressive as it was, served the tunes and his solo features were concise and succinct, never overstaying their welcome, even though some of the other drummers in the audience might have welcomed more.

Landau’s atmospheric “The Long Way Home” was a subtle blend of funk and Americana with the composer’s Frisell like guitar combining with the subtle funk inspired grooves of Johnson and Gadd. The shades wearing Fowler began on muted trumpet before moving on to solo on flugel with Hays also featuring on electric piano.

Gadd’s own “Green Foam” honoured the material used to muffle the composer’s bass drum at a recording session, allowing him to get the all important sound ‘ just so’. The avuncular Gadd proved to be a pithy and witty between tunes interlocutor. The tune itself was perhaps the most demanding thus far as it moved through several tempo changes while encompassing solos from Hays on electric piano, Landau on blues drenched guitar and Fowler on trumpet as Gadd drummed up a storm behind them, driving each on to fresh heights of inspiration.

The leader’s drums introduced Wilton Felder’s “Way Back Home”, his seductive, insistent brushed grooves subsequently underpinning the solos from Fowler on flugel, Johnson on bass, Landau on guitar and Hays on acoustic piano. The piece ended as it began with a further solo feature from Gadd himself.

Fowler once worked with the late Frank Zappa and the trumpeter introduced his own “Duke’s Anthem”, a hymn not to Duke Ellington but to the recently departed George Duke, another Zappa alumnus with whom Fowler had once worked. This heartfelt ballad featured the warm tones of the composer’s flugel alongside Landau’s blues tinged guitar and Hays’ keyboards.

“Sly Boots” was written by the band’s sometime keyboard player Larry Goldings. This was a complex, angular, very contemporary composition that doubtless offered many technical challenges, which the musicians naturally tackled with ease with features from Fowler on trumpet, Hays on electric piano and Gadd at the drums. Goldings seems to inspire the same awe amongst organists (Ross Stanley is a massive fan) as Gadd does among drummers and Landau among guitarists.

“Blues For ...” was a vehicle for Landau’s expressive bluesiness on guitar as Gadd deliberately played it simple, serving the tune as ever. Hays also featured, this time on acoustic piano.

“We’re too old to walk off and walk back on again” quipped the 72 year old Gadd so the band’s last piece was an effectively an encore. This was something of a surprise, an arrangement of Bob Dylan’s “Watching The River Flow” which saw the song given a funk / shuffle treatment and featuring a vocal from Hays, who wisely avoided sounding anything like His Bobness. Hays also soloed on keyboards, sharing the honours with Landau’s blues drenched guitar.

Naturally the audience loved it all, especially the drummers, and overall the show was another definite Festival highlight. The playing was impeccable, and frequently inspired, the original writing good and the covers well chosen. And Gadd came across as genuinely nice guy, pleasingly unaffected by all the adulation that his talent has generated. I was encouraged to check out his solo back catalogue and would be more than happy to see this, or any other version, of the Gadd group perform again.

The only quibbles were that some listeners might to have liked to have heard rather more of Fowler as Landau emerged as the most prominent of the front line soloists.


HANS KOLLER QUARTET

Back at the Parabola the last gig of the day saw the German born pianist and composer Hans Koller leading his quartet. Long settled in the UK Koller divides his time between London and Birmingham and holds a teaching post at the latter’s Conservatoire.

Koller was leading a quartet of musicians with strong Birmingham connections featuring Percy Pursglove on double bass, John O’Gallagher on alto sax and Jeff Williams at the drums. Americans O’Gallagher and Williams have strong UK connections and both divide their time between the two countries.

2017 marks the centenary of the birth of Thelonious Monk and Koller’s set saw him honouring the memory of the great pianist and composer. However this was to be more than a mere run through the Monk repertoire as Koller performed his own Thelonious inspired compositions, pieces that he described as “Re-inventions”.

Beginning with a segue of “Re-inventions One and Two” Koller introduced us to the individual voices of the band as the leader shared the solos with the relentlessly inventive O’Gallagher.

Pursglove impressed with his melodic bass feature on “Re-Invention Five” as he followed Koller’s piano solo. Pursglove is also a highly talented trumpeter and has arguably become better known for his playing on this instrument in recent years. It was good to see him back on bass again.
Meanwhile Koller himself is also a multi- instrumentalist, playing valve trombone in the group Thelonious, a London based group also dedicated to exploring the Monk legacy.

“The Wheel” saw Koller duetting elegantly with O’Gallagher as Williams provided the subtlest of commentaries.

“Sixteen”, titled in honour of the Monk piece of the same name was perhaps the most obvious homage of the set with some typically “Monk-ish” piano. It was also the most energetic item in the repertoire and culminated in a blistering alto solo from O’Gallagher with the saxophonist accompanied only by the sounds of Williams’ now volcanic drumming.

“Lou Lou’s Birthday” represented Koller’s dedication to his young son, the piece based on the chord sequence of Monk’s own “Bo Bo’s Birthday”, Thelonious’ own dedication to his then infant daughter. Koller took the first solo followed by another powerful outing from O’Gallagher with Williams again providing vital support. By way of contrast Pursglove’s subsequent bass solo was accompanied by the patter of Williams’ bare hands on the drum kit.

On “Nedin”, a piece inspired by a Turkish poem, the composer’s lyricism at the piano contrasted well with O’Gallagher’s more robust approach on alto.

Also inspired by poetry the brief “Little Knowledge” had something of a valedictory feel but the favorable audience response saw the quartet return to play a tune with a German title translating as “1, 2, 3, 4, Animal”, based on a children’s song and featuring final solos from Koller and O’Gallagher with Pursglove and Williams offering vital support.

This was an enjoyable if rather low key set, arguably a little too academic at times, that included some excellent playing all round with several commentators singling out O’Gallagher’s contribution.

Overall the Saturday at Cheltenham Jazz Festival contained a rich variety of enjoyable and often brilliant music making with my personal highlights the performances by the bands led by Steve Gadd and Logan Richardson. 

 

   


blog comments powered by Disqus

JAZZ MANN NEWS

Christine Tobin announces UK tour for early 2018.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Vocalist Christine Tobin has announced a UK tour for January and February 2018 in support of her latest album "PELT". Press release including full tour details attached.

Comments (0)


Roundhouse announces first acts for In the Round 2018

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Now in its third year, the Roundhouse in Camden Town, London has announced the first wave of acts for In the Round 2018, including GoGo Penguin and Portico Quartet. Full details attached.

Comments (0)


“Save Swanage Jazz Festival” Kickstarter campaign.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Guitarist Nigel Price is single-handedly trying to save Swanage Jazz Festival from oblivion. To do so he has to raise £15,000 by 1st November 2017 and has launched a Kickstarter campaign. Details att.

Comments (0)


JAZZ GIGS & EVENTS

Ragtime Jug Orchestra at The Queens Head, Monmouth.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Charlie Wood Band at Colchester Arts Centre Jazz Club, Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester, Essex.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Malija at The Hen & Chicken, Bedminster, Bristol.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band “Reisezehrung”  at Barbican Hall, The Barbican Centre, London.

Monday, October 23, 2017

Tom Millar Quartet at The Spotted Dog, Digbeth, Birmingham.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

View more Jazz events


JAZZ MANN RECOMMENDS