by Ian Mann
May 09, 2021
With performances covering almost the entire range of jazz genres there literally was “something for everybody” and in the true tradition of the Festival there were exciting new discoveries to be made
Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Jazz Stream 2021, Day Two
Sunday May 2nd 2021
I explained the circumstances behind CJF’s decision to present an entirely digital festival as part of my first day coverage, so for this second five hour online jazz extravaganza I intend to go directly to the music. Meanwhile my Saturday coverage can be accessed here; https://www.thejazzmann.com/features/article/cheltenham-jazz-festival-jazz-stream-2021-day-one-saturday-may-1st-2021
The day’s events were hosted from his home in Bakersfield, California by vocalist Gregory Porter, a regular performer at Cheltenham and a great favourite with UK audiences.
Porter explained that Cheltenham is one of a number of festivals aiming to achieve a 50% gender balance in its programming and today’s Jazz Stream included a number of exceptional performances, both vocal and instrumental, from female leaders.
A case in point was this opening performance, a solo set from the Newcastle based Faye MacCalman who appeared on saxophone, clarinet, electronics and vocals.
The event was the first of a series recorded at The Cube venue in Bristol as part of the regular Ankh Sanctuary livestream sessions hosted by the Bristol based sax/drums/electronics duo Run Logan Run.
I was previously familiar with MacCalman’s playing from her work with the electro-jazz trio Archipelago alongside John Pope (electric bass, FX, vocals) and Christian Alderson (drums, percussion) and with Pope’s own acoustic quintet.
Today’s set, with its extensive use of electronics, was not a million miles away from the music of Archipelago and commenced with “Shimmer”, introduced by the sound of heavily echoed solo tenor saxophone. MacCalman subsequently deployed live looping and other electronic effects to sculpt and layer her sound, sometimes using the bell of the sax as a form of auxiliary percussion. This enabled her to create interlocking melodic lines and motifs, these subsequently enhanced by vocals, wordless at first but later featuring lyrics. These included the lines “these leaves have stories yet to tell” and “the unknown flight of birds”, the words clearly inspired by the beauty of nature.
MacCalman moved to clarinet for the song “Lost Souls”, which again deployed live looping techniques to create a suitably atmospheric soundscape that included the sound of the clarinet approximating bird calls. MacCalman has worked with the folk vocal trio The Unthanks and this song introduced a recognisable folk element, expressed in MacCalman’s singing. Once again her lyric writing exhibited a strong poetic quality with lines such as “stop trying to outrun the sun, you only know yourself when you get burned”.
The folk influence continued into the final solo piece, with MacCalman switching back to tenor sax for “The Waves”, a fable about an “imaginary fish”, which also included an incisive tenor solo above a self constructed looped and layered backdrop.
At this juncture MacCalman, who now moved back to clarinet, was joined by the members of Run Logan Run for a group improvisation based around her composition “Blackout”, with Matt Brown at the drums and Andrew Neil Hayes, usually a saxophonist, on keyboards and electronics. This was a performance that was simultaneously richly atmospheric and strangely rousing.
The Ankh Sanctuary series is supported by Arts Council England while MacCalman is a Jerwood Jazz Encounters Artist, supported by the Jerwood Charitable Foundation, so thanks are due to both these bodies for making today’s streamed performance possible.
More female artists were featured in the next performance from the sextet Rise Up, described as “a brand new, all female jazz ensemble”.
The creation of the ensemble was made possible by Jazzlines, a charitable offshoot of Town Hall / Symphony Hall, Birmingham.
The personnel of the group was selected by an all female panel of jazz musicians including saxophonists Trish Clowes and Alicia Gardener-Trejo and trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and is led by pianist and educator Rebecca Nash.
Nash introduced the performance which was filmed on the stage of Symphony Hall and featured an ensemble comprised of;
Rebecca Nash – piano
Sarah Lopez – vocals
Elinza Dunhill – trumpet
Jasmine Belle – alto sax
Amy Coates – double bass
Scarlett Churchill – drums
The film included interviews with Nash and with and her younger bandmates, all aged in their late teens and early twenties. All were highly eloquent and clearly enthused by the prospect of playing in an all female band, after having been previously heavily outnumbered by males during their short musical careers to date.
They also discussed their influences, which predictably included most of the acknowledged jazz greats, both and female, plus more contemporary figures such as Laura Mvula and Shabaka Hutchings. Some of the musicians had been classically trained before turning to jazz, with Coates citing orchestral double bassist Phoebe Russell as a particularly significant inspiration.
Also up for discussion were their previous performance histories, ranging from classical concerts to the Mostly Jazz Funk & Soul Festival to the Peaky Blinders première.
The musical performance began with an announced bossa nova item featuring Perez’s vocals and increasingly confident instrumental solos from Dunhill on trumpet and Belle on alto, with something of a cameo from bassist Coates at the close. At the piano Nash was content to anchor the ensemble, leaving the solo slots to her younger colleagues.
I was on surer ground with “Lullaby Of Birdland”, with Perez’s singing of the lyric again complemented by solos from Belle and Dunhill.
Finally we heard an intriguing arrangement of “All Of Me”, which included Perez exchanging scat vocal lines with Churchill’s colourful drum breaks. This episode was followed by more conventional jazz solos from Coates on bass, Dunhill on trumpet and Belle on alto, the last named arguably the stand out instrumentalist. Perez then returned to sing the lyric as the performance drew to a close.
Under Nash’s direction this was an enjoyable performance from a young band exhibiting a wealth of potential. The project was overseen by Jazzlines administrator Mary Wakelam-Sloane and trombonist and educator Richard Foote, so thanks are also due to them, in addition, of course to the musicians themselves.
The first “Throwback” performance from the second day featured blues guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Eric Bibb from the Henry Weston’s stage.
I recall enjoying a CJF solo concert set from Bibb back in 2010 and I had earlier seen him with a full band at the Huntingdon Hall venue in Worcester.
Today’s offering featured Bibb singing his song “With A Dollar In My Pocket”, the story of a young man’s forced economic migration from the American south to Chicago, performed in the company of slide guitarist Michael Jerome Brown. It was a tale that seemed to have gained an even greater relevance in the wake of recent events.
Bibb sung and played with his customary class and assurance while Brown added stinging slide guitar lines that gave the narrative even greater bite.
SOWETO KINCH and PLAYERS FROM THE ROYAL CONSERVATOIRE, BIRMINGHAM
Making his second appearance of the weekend was saxophonist and rapper Soweto Kinch, who had delivered an absorbing set with his regular trio on the Festival Saturday.
In keeping with CJF’s ongoing commitment to musical education and the granting of opportunities to the jazz stars of tomorrow this performance saw Kinch leading a group of students from the RBC, where he has a role as a visiting tutor.
The ensemble line up as follows;
Soweto Kinch – alto sax
Edi May – tenor sax
Luke Chakrabarti – alto sax
Charlie Humphrey Lewis - trumpet
Cameron Sheedy – piano
Torin Davis – guitar
Matt Hollick – double bass
Andrew Duncan – drums
Once again the show was filmed at Eastside Jazz Club, the RBC’s purpose built jazz performance space.
The introduction to an unannounced opening segue featured a rich blend of horns, the sound of which reminded me a little of Miles Davis’ landmark recording “Birth of the Cool”. The ensemble intro subsequently led to fluent and lyrical solos by Chakrabarti on alto and the consistently impressive Sheedy at the piano. Kinch and May then exchanged ideas in an extended improvised dialogue that provided the link into the next piece, a more forceful and direct item that featured powerful soloing from May on tenor and Davis on guitar. Meanwhile, the rousing ensemble playing saw the group generating a remarkably big sound for an octet.
Finally “Triangle” commenced with interlocking band vocals, part sung, part spoken before taking off. with the punchy ensemble sound embellished by powerful solos from Chakrabarti on alto and Davis on guitar, with further features for Hollick on double bass and Duncan at the drums.
“We’ll be signing CDs in the foyer”, joked Kinch as the ensemble signed off.
This was a powerful set that saw Kinch and his students tackling some pretty complex material with skill and aplomb. All in all this was a highly impressive and hugely enjoyable performance.
TOMORROW’S WARRIORS 2 – MADDY COOMBES
There was also a second feature of the weekend from the Tomorrow’s Warriors organisation, with today’s performance featuring a quintet led by tenor saxophonist and composer Maddy Coombes.
Coombes is currently studying at London’s Guildhall School of Music & Drama where her tutors include fellow saxophonist Binker Golding and flautist Gareth Lockrane. Her influences include such tenor sax giants as Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane and Don Byas plus more contemporary figures such as alto player Melissa Aldana and vibraphonist Joel Ross.
Today’s show saw Coombes leading a quintet of fellow TW luminaries featuring Sultan Stephenson (keyboard), Francisco Garcia De Paredes (guitar), Menelik Claffey (double bass) and Harry Ling (drums).
Filmed in a moody blue light the quintet commenced their performance with Coombes’ composition “Tunnel Vision”, a lithe slice of post bop featuring agile soloing from Paredes on guitar and Coombes herself on tenor. The leader possesses a big, round toned tenor sound, clearly rooted in the tradition of Rollins and Coltrane and she enjoyed taking the opportunity to stretch out here. Perhaps even more importantly she is also a composer with plenty of potential, as was demonstrated here, with the impressive Ling seeing things home at the drums.
“Still Solitary” represented a Coombes ‘contrafact’ based on the Duke Ellington composition “Solitude”. This was less frenetic and was ushered in by a dialogue between tenor sax and double bass. Subsequent solos came from Stephenson, now adopting an acoustic piano setting, the majority of it played utilising just the right hand. Further solos came from the leader on tenor, Paredes on guitar and Claffey on double bass. Coombes, already a highly fluent soloist, concluded the piece with a solo tenor sax cadenza.
During a visit to New York Coombes was privileged to perform with the Mingus Big Band. This experience inspired her to conclude this short set by tackling the Charles Mingus composition “Dizzy Profile”. Stephenson, a bandleader in his own right, ushered the piece in with a passage of unaccompanied ‘acoustic’ piano. Coombes then stated the theme on warm tenor, accompanied by the sounds of piano, guitar, double bass and brushed drums. Ling switched to sticks as the music increased in tempo, sparkling solos from Coombes on tenor, Stephenson on piano and Paredes on guitar, plus a drum feature from Ling at the close.
This was a confident and impressive set that emphasised Coombes’ abilities as saxophonist and a composer. I think that we can expect to hear a lot more from her in the coming years, and also from her colleagues, who impressed both individually and collectively. Stephenson already leads his own trio and is beginning to build an impressive reputation in his own right.
RACHAEL COHEN TRIO
Originally from the Shetlands alto saxophonist Rachael Cohen is a graduate of the Jazz Course at Birmingham Conservatoire and is now based in London.
In 2014 she made her recording début as a leader with the excellent “Halftime”, released on the Whirlwind Recordings label. Review here;
She continues to be an important figure on the UK jazz scene but is yet to release her follow up.
Today’s performance saw her teamed with a trio featuring Joe Downard on double bass and Jason Brown, making his second appearance of the Festival weekend, at the drums. Brown had previously appeared in a similar trio format with saxophonist Soweto Kinch.
Although influenced by fellow alto players such as Paul Desmond, Art Pepper, Lee Konitz and Martin Speake Cohen is also inspired by the saxophone trios of tenor specialist Sonny Rollins.
Today’ s set commenced with the Cohen composition “Fish Under Water”, which featured her expansive, but always intrinsically melodic, alto soloing above an elastic groove, the fluid rhythms allowing Cohen the space required to stretch and soar. As the piece gathered momentum, anchored by Downard’s bass, Brown’s polyrhythms coalesced to create a gently rolling thunder above which the leader’s alto continued to dance.
Cohen clearly has a way with titles and “Save The Snakes” explored similar territory, the pulse now more urgent and complex with Brown periodically closing his eyes as if lost in a trance as he continued to generate sophisticated rhythmic patterns. The piece was also notable for a powerful and dexterous bass solo from Downard, a rising star of the British jazz scene and a bandleader in his own right.
Cohen’s admiration for Rollins was expressed in a performance of the ballad from his “Freedom Suite” with the leader adopting a particularly warm and lyrical tone on alto, soloing above Downard’s bass pulse and the gentle sound of Brown’s brushed drums. The performance also included another bass solo from the excellent Downard.
The set concluded with Cohen’s own composition “The Village”, an altogether more vigorous affair with a bebop like theme. This was introduced by bass and drums and saw Cohen adopting a more incisive tone on the alto as she soloed in declamatory fashion above a free-wheeling rhythm featuring the sizzling of Brown’s cymbals. The drummer finally grabbed his chance with a dynamic drum feature as this hugely impressive set drew to a close.
The saxophone trio is one of the most challenging formats in jazz but Cohen and her colleagues rose to that challenge brilliantly in a superb set that represented one of the highlights of the Festival.
With some excellent new original material featuring prominently in today’s set let’s hope that she gets the opportunity to return to the studio and record her second album.
GARY HUSBAND plays CHICK COREA
One of the highlights of the Festival Saturday was the “Lockdown Throwdown”, a film documenting the online collaboration between the British born multi-instrumentalist Gary Husband and the late, great Chick Corea which took place during the summer of 2020.
The “Lockdown Throwdown” piece found Corea and Husband bouncing ideas off each other and deploying a whole raft on keyboard instruments, with a focus on vintage synths, plus other instruments such as drums, marimba and Spanish guitar. It was a highly convincing piece of music and a delightful tribute to Corea and his life in music.
Sunday saw Husband paying further tribute by playing two of Corea’s most famous and popular pieces, “500 Miles High” and “Windows”.
“500 Miles High” was part of the repertoire of the first Return To Forever group, the version of the band that featured vocalist Flora Purim and percussionist Airto Moreira. Husband’s arrangement saw him deploying similar methods to the previous day’s lockdown piece as he overdubbed himself on a variety of keyboards plus drums, percussion and Spanish guitar. It was good, but with nobody else to bounce ideas off it didn’t quite have the sparkle of the duo collaboration with Corea himself.
“Windows”, a piece that has become something of a modern standard, saw Husband collaborating with the German musician Fiete Felsh, alto saxophonist with the acclaimed NDR Big Band based in Hamburg.
For this performance Felsh was featured on flute in an intimate duo performance that teamed him with Husband’s acoustic grand piano. The two musicians performed remotely, listening to each other on headphones with Felsh impressing with his virtuoso flute playing and Husband offering a reminder that he is as brilliant a pianist as he is a drummer. It’s a real rarity for a musician to be equally accomplished on two completely differently instruments.
This was another worthy tribute to Corea’s genius and there was to be a third later on as saxophonist Tim Garland linked up with pianist Jason Rebello to perform a mix of their original compositions alongside music written by Corea.
Another artist to appear on both days of the CJF Jazz Stream was saxophonist and sound artist Lara Jones. She had appeared the previous day as part of a one off collaboration instigated by beat boxer and live looper SK Shlomo that had also featured vocalist Cleveland Watkiss. It was an event that was dominated by Shlomo and was rooted in EDM and rave culture, and although Jones made her presence felt it was still very much Schlomo’s show.
Today Jones was very much in charge and her performance drew on elements from her acclaimed 2020 début album “Enso”. It was the third ‘saxophone and electronics’ performance of the weekend and was the hardest hitting of the three. Jones’ beats were more hard edged and aggressive than those deployed by Xvngo and his electronicist partner Maria Osu, while her dystopian urban soundscapes were very much in contrast to Faye MacCalman’s bucolic, folk informed visions of a return to some kind of ‘Lost Eden’.
A graduate of Leeds College of Music Jones is a member of the bands Beyond Albedo and the all female trio J Frisco, but she also works as a solo artist and released the highly personal “Enso” in 2020.
Whereas the relentlessly upbeat Shlomo had invited us to party Jones’ solo set took us to an altogether darker and more personal space, deploying glitchy EDM rhythms, keyboard stabs and the incantations of soprano saxophone above unsettling ambient soundwashes.
This was a compelling set that also incorporated the sound of sampled voices from what sounded like a railway station, this picking up on the theme of travel, one of the interlocking strands that informs the “Enso” recording.
Jones’ blend of spacey electronica and industrial strength beats evoked online commentators to compare her music with that of Aphex Twin, with Jones adding her electric hooked saxophone and her own looped wordless vocal into the mix. It was all a lot less frenetic, and a lot more varied, than her collaboration with Shlomo and Watkiss, but was all the better for it. This was music with atmosphere and depth, with a very personal story to tell.
Jones’ set was another that had been recorded at The Cube in Bristol as part of Run Logan Run’s Ankh Sanctuary series and the performance concluded with a blistering improvisation featuring Jones’ soprano sax and electronics alongside RLR members Andrew Neil Hayes on tenor and Matt Brown at the drums.
I was both impressed and intrigue by Jones’ distinctive blend of jazz and electronica in this compelling but uncompromising set. She’s an animated performer and a musician whose work has the potential to appeal to club audiences, but also to a more serious ‘listening’ crowd. Straddling the boundaries between genres she’s certainly a musician I’d be keen to hear more of and this set represented one of the day’s major discoveries.
CANDE Y PAULO
Cheltenham has always prided itself on being an international festival and following online performances from Portugal, France, Cuba and the USA on the first day we were now joined from Argentina by the duo of Cande Y Paulo.
Cande Buasso (double bass, vocals) and Paulo Carrizo (keyboards) came to the attention of an international audience in 2017 with their performance of the song “Barro Tal Vaz”, which became a huge Youtube hit and saw the couple signing to Decca Records. They recorded their yet to be released début album in Los Angeles with producer Larry Klein, who has previously worked with such luminaries as Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock.
This intimate performance, recorded at the duo’s home studio commenced with that big hit, with Cande’s softly sensual Spanish language singing complemented by her assured double bass playing, both with and without the bow.
At the keyboard Paulo moved between electric and acoustic piano sounds. The duo’s version of George Gershwin’s “Summertime” featured a solo in acoustic piano mode with the duo augmented by drummer Santiago Molina.
A short set was concluded by “Deja Atras”, a Spanish language of the Burt Bacharach / Hal David song “Walk On By” with Paulo soloing on Rhodes and Cande singing and again playing both pizzicato and arco bass.
Cande y Paulo’s eponymous début album will be released on June 4th 2021. The duo exude an easy Latin charm and I predict that it will do very well. They already appear to have built a very substantial audience for their intimate, classy and highly accessible music. Cande’s vocals have an easy going, conversational quality that is also softly sensual and quietly exotic, at least to English speaking listeners. She is also a highly accomplished jazz double bassist, and comparisons with Esperanza Spalding are likely to be made.
Cande y Paulo were one of the most popular acts of the day and I wouldn’t rule out a trip to the UK and a visit to CJF in 2022. Their standards based set was a little too bland and mainstream for my personal tastes, but I can readily understand their appeal to others.
RUN LOGAN RUN
After hosting the appearances of others and making cameo improvised appearances with both Faye MacCalman and Lara Jones it was only fair that Run Logan Run should perform a set of their own.
With their duo line up of sax and bass it’s tempting to think of RLR as a Bristolian equivalent of Binker and Moses but with their extensive use of electronics and rock rhythms they are less beholden to jazz traditions.
RLR have described their sound as being “heavy spiritual jazz” and as featuring “pounding tribal drums” and “screaming guttural saxophone”.
These instrumental components were very much in evidence on an opening improvisation that featured Andrew Neil Hayes on electric hooked tenor sax and Matt Brown at the drum kit. Emerging out of a brief but atmospheric intro their first piece combined muscular sax riffing combined with thunderous, rock influenced drumming, these outbursts of aural violence punctuated by gentler, more reflective episodes. Extreme dynamic contrasts are something of a feature of RLR’s music. Hayes’ approach to his electrified saxophone reminds me of that of Pete Wareham, of Acoustic Ladyland and Melt Yourself Down fame, direct and powerful, a weapon of mass communication. At the drums Matt Brown fills the Seb Rochford role, a versatile player with great technical ability who is capable of moving seamlessly between jazz and rock rhythms.
Their second offering, sourced from a different session in their still ongoing Ankh Sanctuary online series, featured Hayes on heavily echoed sax, manipulating his sound via a variety of electronic effects as Brown proceeded to drum up a storm at the drum kit. Hayes’ shrieks and foghorn blasts eventually coalesced into an electronic drone that formed a backdrop for Brown’s drum feature, the sax eventually re-emerging to engage in a powerful dialogue with the drums. Hayes also made use of a floor mounted FX unit, deploying its pedals and dials to distort his sound even more as Brown provided drum colourations, these evolving into a full on drum feature.
RLR concluded their set by lowering the volume and placing a greater emphasis on atmospherics, a visit to the chill out zone, if you will. This was a piece that revealed the influence of minimalism, with recurring looped motifs providing the layered backdrop for Hayes’ alto improvisations and Brown’s drum colourations.
I was impressed with RLR’s energy and their control of dynamics. This is an act that is capable of appealing to younger audiences and of appearing at rock and club venues, but there is also a strong jazz component in their music that can reach out to more conventional jazz listeners.
There’s a lineage that runs back through Acoustic Ladyland, Polar Bear, Led Bib and the other ‘punk jazz’ bands that emerged during the noughties and then on to the prog rock electric sax innovators of the 70s such as David Jackson, Ian MacDonald, Andy MacKay, Ian Underwood and others. These in turn were inspired by Rahsaan Roland Kirk, which places RLR very much within both the jazz and the rock traditions.
I very much enjoyed this short set and would relish the opportunity of seeing the duo in an authentic live environment at some point in the future.
As with Quiet Man on the Saturday the pre-Festival publicity for Marisha Wallace left me fearing the worst. QM had been touted as a ‘crooner’, Wallace as a ‘Broadway star and actor’ and as a ‘star of musical theatre’, all words that discouraged me in the extreme.
But, as with Quiet Man, I found myself thoroughly enjoying Wallace’s set. It’s true that she has appeared in such productions as “Dreamgirls”, “Book of Mormon” and “Disney’s Aladdin” but today’s performance eschewed lush stage trappings and presented her in a pared down setting with only her pianist for company. This only served to emphasise the extraordinary power of her big, soulful voice, a sound surely rooted in gospel music and the church.
She began with “Miles and Miles”, followed by the ballad “Rainbow”, with its sensitive piano accompaniment. This was a particularly moving performance of a song that one could also imagine being delivered by Tom Waits with his trademark growl.
The closing “Hosanna” took Wallace back to her gospel roots and introduced a choir of female backing singers, who complemented Wallace’s joyful, and immensely powerful, lead vocal perfectly.
Wallace proved to be one of the most popular performers of the Festival and with THAT voice it was easy to see why. I was impressed, and enjoyed it far more than I thought I would.
CJF had suggested that she perform a duet with host Gregory Porter, but in the current circumstances this proved to be impossible to organise. This was a shame as it would have been something that many fans would have loved.
Meanwhile UK audiences will hopefully get the chance to check out Wallace for real when she tours the UK later in 2021.
Ill Considered is a London based improvising ensemble that has released no fewer than nine digital albums in the last three years, the majority of them recordings of live performances.
The band line up fluctuates but is centred around the nucleus of saxophonist Idris Rahman and drummer Emre Ramazonoglu. Today these two were joined by Led Bib bassist, solo artist and producer Liran Donin.
Donin was playing the Japanese instrument the taishogoto (or Nagoya harp), which seemed to combine bass and drone functions. I had never seen Donin play the instrument before, or indeed seen it played at all come to that. In the sonic maelstrom that was Ill Considered it wasn’t always easy to pick out the details of Donin’s contribution, but it certainly contributed fully to the sound of this musical white knuckle ride.
The publicity for this stream promised us “aggressive jazz fusion and avant garde free jazz jams”, which is pretty much what we got, along with a side order of electronica and the exotic sounds of the taishogoto.
An atmospheric intro quickly gave way to a freely structured passage featuring Ramazonoglu’s fluid drumming and Rahman’s powerful tenor sax. Rahman eventually picked out an incisive melodic motif, his playing displaying a discernible Middle Eastern influence as his sax began to wail in increasingly impassioned fashion, supported by Ramazonoglu’s dynamic polyrhythms and the eerie sounds of the taishogoto. Bursts of kinetic energy were punctuated by more loosely structured reflective episodes, but overall this was a blistering set fronted by Rahman’s channel shifting tenor, with the saxophonist hunching into a crouch during the most powerful and dramatic moments. Ramazonoglu was a force of nature throughout, a drummer with both the power and the technique to keep pace with Rahman’s outpouring of ideas. Donin represented the wild card, adding a touch of Eastern exotica to this dynamic set, which was delivered as a single improvised performance.
Combining a high level of musical skill with an adventurous outlook and an impressive energy Ill Considered are a band to look out for. There were similarities here to Run Logan Run, but the greater experience of Ill Considered saw them raising the bar even further. Another band who must surely constitute a hair raising but exhilarating live music experience.
TIM GARLAND and JASON REBELLO
The weekend’s final tribute to the late, great Chick Corea came from the duo of saxophonist and clarinettist Tim Garland and pianist Jason Rebello in a set recorded at Garland’s Oak Gable home studio.
Garland worked regularly with Corea and spoke fondly of his former employer as well as paying musical tribute, both with his own composition “The Traveller” and with the second version of the day of the Corea classic “Windows”. Performing on Oak Gable’s splendid grand piano Rebello brought a piece of his own to the proceedings, written in memory of Corea.
The performance began with “The Traveller”, a dedication to Corea the title alluding to this globe trotting musician with a truly international reputation. Featuring the composer on soprano sax this was an appropriately sprightly tune that seemed to incorporate allusions to a number of Corea’s own compositions, I’m sure I heard a snatch of “Open Your Eyes, You Can Fly” in there.
Garland’s mercurially dancing soprano solo was followed by a similarly vibrant solo from Rebello at the piano. Having first played together as students back in 1988 Garland and Rebello have developed an impressive chemistry over the years, allied to a mutual musical maturity that found expression in today’s performance.
Rebello introduced his own composition “As Free As The River”, a tribute to Corea composed specifically for CJF and written following the encouragement of Garland. This proved to be a beautiful ballad, a lament even, featuring the wistful, subtly probing sound of Garland’s tenor sax and Rebello’s own lush piano lyricism.
Garland moved back to soprano for the duo’s interpretation of “Windows”, a more vigorous interpretation than that of Husband and Felsh, with Garland’s soprano dancing lithely above Rebello’s buoyant and joyous piano rhythms.
This performance was a true celebration of Corea’s life and music and included some truly inspired playing from both Garland and Rebello.
CJF’s Bairbre Lloyd commented that Rebello was her favourite pianist and that she had promoted a gig by his band in Cardiff back in the day.
The young London based drummer, composer and bandleader Jas Kayser is something of a rising star on the international music scene. She was educated at the famous Berklee College of Music in Boston, MA where her mentors included fellow drummers Terri Lyne Carrington and the late Ralph Peterson. She has also spent time in Panama City working with pianist Danilo Perez and has appeared alongside guitarist and vocalist Lenny Kravitz in the video for his song “Low”.
As a bandleader Kayser draws on influences from both jazz and Afrobeat and the group that she presented today was a highly rhythmic ensemble featuring the talents of Jamie Leeming on guitar, Daisy George on double bass and Joao Caetano on percussion.
This was another performance that was recorded at Kansas Smitty’s and commenced with the lively “Stupid On The Beat”, distinguished by its its combination of Latin and African rhythms and steered by Kayser’s crisp, authoritative and brightly detailed drumming. The piece also featured the guitar pyrotechnics of the impressive Jamie Leeming, a highly versatile musician who had previously caught the eye at Cheltenham in 2019 as a member of Alfa Mist’s band.
Dedicated to the enduring legacy of Fela Kuti Kayser’s composition “Fela’s Words” reached even deeper into the rhythms of “Afrobeat” with Leeming’s pointillist guitar skilfully navigating the forest of rhythms generated by Kayser, Caetano and George. The leader’s musical relationship with Caetano was particularly impressive, the pair exhibiting a sense of shared purpose and mutual co-operation even during their drum / percussion ‘ battle episodes’.
We only got to hear two numbers, but this was a welcome and impressive introduction to Kayser’s talents. Hers is a star that is surely destined to continue to rise.
As I opined in my Saturday coverage the 2021 Cheltenham Jazz Festival Jazz Stream was a fully professional production that captured the variety and vitality of the physical Festival magnificently.
With performances covering almost the entire range of jazz genres there literally was “something for everybody” and in the true tradition of the Festival there were exciting new discoveries to be made.
British jazz, including some of the vibrant regional scenes in cities such as Birmingham, Bristol and Newcastle were well represented, but there was also an international presence with performers from Portugal, France, Argentina, Cuba and the US also represented, very much in keeping with the Festival’s international ethos.
It is remarkable that these ten hours of excellent music should be streamed for free on Youtube and the performances are still available to watch until May 31st 2021 via the Cheltenham Festivals website at https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/jazz/
Donations are welcomed to help enable the Festival to return in its traditional form in 2022.
In the meantime Cheltenham Festivals hope to stage a number of live jazz performances by British artists at various venues in the town during July 2021, following the intended easing of Covid restrictions.
Prior to that congratulations are due to all involved with CJF for this excellent online Festival which produced ten hours of varied and exciting music and which provided a tasty reminder of the kind of thing that we can expect when the Festival finally returns for real.
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