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23 September 2021Percussionist's amazing Ice Music makes its UK debut in November

The astonishingly innovative Norwegian percussionist, Terje Isungset brings his Arctic Ice Music to the UK for the first time in November.

 

Marking twenty years of his pioneering project that has produced forty commissions for jazz and music festivals, nine albums, a Greenpeace film and a live stream from an igloo, Isungset plays four dates with a group featuring himself on ice instruments.

 

He is joined by Sami singer Sara Marielle Gaup Beaska, singer Maria Skranes, trumpeter Lyder Øverås Røed and video artist Anastasia Isachsen; Sweden’s Viktor Reuter on double bass; Inuit throat singers Akinisie Sivuarapik and Amaly Sallualuk plus Tuvan throat singer and member of acclaimed band Huun Huur Tu, Radik Tyulyush.

 

Isungset’s instruments are crafted from solid blocks of pure ice. He has also created instruments made from other natural elements such as arctic birch, granite, slate and sheep bells. His Greenpeace film, Ocean Memories was performed on instruments made from arctic ice on location at Spitsbergen/Svalbard.

 

His group appears at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds on Tuesday, November 16; Lakeside Arts Centre, Nottingham on Wednesday November 17; St George’s, Bristol on Thursday, November 18; and Kings Place, London on Friday, November 19.

21 September 2021American stars and local heroes lined up for Glasgow fest

Nashville-based singer-songwriter Diana Jones, American folk roots performer Cahalen Morrison, Tennessean troubadour Nathan Bell and Long Ryders frontman Sid Griffin are among the musicians set to appear at the 15th instalment of Glasgow Americana from 29th September to 3rd October.


 
Festival organiser Kevin Morris is presenting nine shows at six different venues over the 5-day period and is proud to have together a strong line-up at short notice in these trying times.

 

UK-based Australian singer-songwriter Emily Barker opens the festival, with support from Scottish singer-songwriter Kirsten Adamson at Cottiers Theatre. Local favourites Jill Jackson, Roseanne Reid and David Latto also appear in a programme that includes Man of The Minch, The Coaltown Daisies, Kirsteen Harvey, and husband and wife team, My Darling Clementine.

 

“The fact that a festival like Glasgow Americana can still exist, in what has been such a strange time for musicians, venues and promoters alike, makes me happy,” says Morris. “I would also like to thank Creative Scotland for their continued support in allowing the festival to go ahead."

 

Nathan Bell (photo by Marco Bakker)

 

 

 

16 September 2021Historic Jazz Messengers recording set for November release

Blue Note Records releases a previously unknown recording by one of the great line-ups of legendary drummer Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers on November 5.

 

First Flight to Tokyo: The Lost 1961 Recordings captures the Messengers – Blakey with Lee Morgan (trumpet), Wayne Shorter (tenor saxophone), Bobby Timmons (piano), and Jymie Merritt (bass) – playing jazz staples including Charlie Parker’s Now’s the Time and Thelonious Monk’s Round About Midnight and Messengers hits Moanin’, Blues March and Dat Dere.

 

The Messengers were among the first modern jazz groups to tour Japan and received a rapturous welcome from adoring fans.

 

"I was amazed at the reception when we finished, not just the whole concert, but each thing we played,” remembers Wayne Shorter who went on to visit Japan regularly with Miles Davis, Weather Report and his own groups. “Every time we went on, we knew we were being appreciated in ways we never had been in America."
 

The album, which is released in deluxe 2-LP and 2-CD editions with elaborate booklets, was co-produced by David Weiss and Zev Feldman, who commented: "My heart leapt from my chest when I heard that these previously unknown tapes of Art Blakey performances from his first Japanese tour existed."

 

The Japan tour turned made the band whose style was established by Blakey and pianist Horace Silver into a worldwide phenomenon following the 1958 European tour by the Benny Golson edition of the Jazz Messengers - a phenomenon that remained a big international attraction up to the time of Blakey’s death in 1990.

15 September 2021Eick and Taborn release new albums on ECM Records

Norwegian trumpeter Mathias Eick and Minneapolis-born pianist Craig Taborn have albums in the latest series of releases from ECM Records.

 

Eick, whose wistful sound and melodic compositions have won international acclaim, releases When We Leave on September 24. As with his previous album, Ravensburg, he is joined by Håkon Aase (violin, percussion), Andreas Ulvo (piano) Auden Erlien (bass) Torstein Lofthus (drums), Helge Andreas Norbakken (drums, percussion), with a new addition, Stian Carstensen (pedal steel guitar).

 

Taborn’s solo piano album Shadow Plays follows on October 8 and was recorded in the Mozart-Saal of the Wiener Konzerthaus. Although released ten years after his Avenging Angel album brought strikingly fresh ideas to the solo piano idiom, he regards Shadow Plays as part of the same continuum. “Unlike Avenging Angelng, this one is live,” he says. “But that process of spontaneous composition goes onward.”

08 September 2021Saxophonist Tommy Smith goes solo in Dunblane Cathedral

Internationally acclaimed saxophonist Tommy Smith continues his series of solo concerts in venerable churches when he plays in Dunblane Cathedral on Sunday 26th September at 3pm.

 

The Edinburgh-born musician has recently played in cathedrals in Aberdeen, Edinburgh and Lichfield and has wanted to play solo in Dunblane Cathedral since he appeared in a duo there with classical pianist Murray McLachlan some twenty years ago.

 

As with his recent solo concerts, Smith plans to play tunes from the jazz, folk, Gaelic singing and praise song traditions, choosing the repertoire in the moment and letting the music breathe and develop in the naturally bright ambience.

 

“I see these church concerts as a celebration of melody,” he says. “They might also be seen as a chance for contemplation as people think about what we’ve been through over the past eighteen months and get to enjoy the possibility of being able to share live music events again after the enforced silence. There won’t be any amplification, just the natural sound of the saxophone. I’m really looking forward to playing in the cathedral because I remember it having such a wonderful atmosphere.”

 

There are no tickets on sale for the concert but there will be a retiring collection. Attendees will need to pre-register on Dunblane Cathedral’s website (here). This is required for NHS Test and Protect.

 

Tommy Smith (photo by Derek Clark)

07 September 2021Aberdeen Jazz Festival goes live from September 30

Norwegian pianist Espen Eriksen’s trio, Jazz FM Awards 2021 double nominee, pianist Fergus McCreadie in a duo with vocalist Irini Arabatzi, singer, violinist and broadcaster Seonaid Aitken’s new string group with guest soloist, saxophonist Helena Kay, and a special tribute to the late local drummer Bill Kemp are among the live attractions scheduled for Aberdeen Jazz Festival from Thursday, September 30 to Sunday, October 10.

 

Following an on-line event in its regular March time slot and an extraordinary solo concert by saxophonist Tommy Smith in St Machar’s Cathedral in July, the festival is bringing live events to the city once again, with concerts in the Blue Lamp, Queen's Cross Church, Spin, Revolution de Cuba, the Lemon Tree and Aberdeen Art Gallery. There will also be an on-line version of the festival featuring eleven of the eighteen concerts from October 15 to 22.

 

Scottish Jazz Award-winning soul-funk-nu jazz group corto.alto, a new twin-tenor saxophones-led band featuring Matthew Kilner and Matt Carmichael, the irrepressibly energetic Tom McGuire & The Brassholes, singer Niki King, saxophonist Paul Towndrow, trumpeter Colin Steele, and a special celebration of big band drummers with Aberdeen Jazz Orchestra and the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra’s master drummer, Alyn Cosker also feature in the programme.   

 

 

 

 

05 September 2021New Dundee jazz session brings Sunday afternoon swing to the Caird

A new weekly jazz session in Dundee begins in the Caird restaurant and cocktail bar in the city’s Nethergate on Sunday September 12.

 

Running from 12:30pm to 3:30pm, the sessions open with the nationally popular, locally based Havana Swing who bring their high energy, swinging guitar music to the Caird’s Capone downstairs bar.

 

Future attractions include the trumpet and saxophone-led Sellars Bros band on September 19, East Coast Jazzmen on October 3 and singer Sheila Gaughan on October 10.

 

Guitarist Kevin Murray, who is programming the series, says the emphasis will be on music that swings in a variety of tempos and showcases musicianship and creativity.

 

The Caird occupies the imposing, free-standing mansion originally built as the family residence of William Brown, of J and W Brown, flax spinners, in 1840.

02 September 2021Pianist Fergus McCreadie receives two nominations in Jazz FM Awards

Scottish pianist Fergus McCreadie is among the nominees announced for the Jazz FM Awards 2021 with nominations in both the Album of the Year and UK Act of the Year categories.

 

McCreadie’s latest release, Cairn, issued on Edition Records, shares the Album of the Year category with artists including saxophone legend Pharoah Sanders, trumpeter Matthew Halsall and rising star of the UK scene, saxophonist Nubya Garcia.

 

The awards, organised with PPL and PRS for Music, recognise an array of artists from the UK and abroad who have made a significant impact on jazz and associated musics. This year's ceremony will take place at Under the Bridge in West London on October 28th and will be available to livestream via Jazz FM. The Awards celebrate music created and released between January 1st 2020 and the end of May 2021 to reflect the jazz community's enduring creativity and innovation during the pandemic.

 

As announced in a special Jazz FM programme hosted by Anne Frankenstein, nominees this year include chart-topping singer Celeste, London soul collective SAULT, US pianist and singer Jon Batiste, fast-rising trumpeter Emma-Jean Thackray, the outstanding blues singer Ruthie Foster, neo-soul singer-songwriter Ego Ella May, revered British-Italian singer Georgia Mancio, and the legendary alto saxophonist Gary Bartz. The recipients of the special award categories - Lifetime Achievement Award, Gold Award and Impact Award - will be announced in due course.

 

The full list of nominees is as follows:


BLUES ACT OF THE YEAR

Eric Bibb

Marcus Bonfanti

Ruthie Foster

BREAKTHROUGH ACT OF THE YEAR

Jas Kayser

Nathaniel Cross

Secret Night Gang

 

THE DIGITAL AWARD

Bandcamp Fridays

jazz re:freshed

Kansas Smitty's

 

THE INNOVATION AWARD sponsored by Mishcon de Reya

Blue Note Re:imagined

EFG London Jazz Festival

SAULT

 

INSTRUMENTALIST OF THE YEAR

Amanda Whiting

Daniel Casimir

Ed 'Tenderlonious' Cawthorne

 

INTERNATIONAL JAZZ ACT OF THE YEAR sponsored by Travelzoo

Christian McBride

Gary Bartz

Maria Schneider

 

SOUL ACT OF THE YEAR

Ego Ella May

Jon Batiste

Omar

 

VOCALIST OF THE YEAR

Celeste

Ego Ella May

Georgia Mancio

 

PUBLIC VOTE CATEGORIES

ALBUM OF THE YEAR

Fergus McCreadie: Cairn

Floating Points, London Symphony Orchestra, and Pharoah Sanders: Promises

Jon Batiste: WE ARE

Matthew Halsall: Salute To The Sun

Nubya Garcia: SOURCE

SAULT: UNTITLED (Black Is)

 

UK JAZZ ACT OF THE YEAR

Archipelago

Emma-Jean Thackray

Fergus McCreadie

 

30 August 2021Bassoonist Sara Schoenbeck puts her instrument on the line

Bassoon innovator Sara Schoenbeck releases an album of duets on Pyroclastic Records on October 22.

 

The eponymous album shows Schoenbeck continuing to forge a path for the instrument as a vehicle for improvised and composed contemporary music in a series of duets.

 

Her wide-ranging collaborators include flautist Nicole Mitchell, guitarist Nels Cline, saxophonist Roscoe Mitchell, pianist Matt Mitchell, and bassist Mark Dresser. 

 

Each piece on the album is tailored to Schoenbeck’s duo partners, ranging from compositions to free improvisation to songs that fit the individual and the collaboration between them.

 

“Collaboration is so central to my musical life,” says Schoenbeck, “that when I was offered the opportunity to record as a bandleader I wanted to make a bit of a survey of the people that I've loved playing with and have made an impact on my musicianship.”

 

Her duet partners on the album and the music involved are the result of this survey.

 

Sara Schoenbeck (photo by Evan Eisenstadt)

25 August 2021Vocalist-composer Jazzmeia Horn releases new album

Jazzmeia Horn (photo by Jacob Blickenstaff)

 

The outstanding young American vocalist and composer Jazzmeia Horn releases her new album, Dear Love on September 10.

 

Horn, who made a huge impression when she toured Scotland with the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra in November 2019, teams up with a big band and strings on the album to address three specific aspects of her life: her community, her lover and herself.

 

It’s the winner of the Sarah Vaughan International Jazz Competition and the Thelonious Monk Institute International Jazz Competition’s third album, following the success of her previous, GRAMMY winning releases, A Social Call and Love and Liberation.

 

Dear Love is infused with poetry and spoken word through letters of encouragement and is a rare example of a black female vocalist writing and fronting an orchestral album in its entirety.

 

The making of the album has been filmed for a documentary to be shown in 2022 and Horn is planning to tour the album, with dates in Europe as well as the U.S.

 

You can read more about Jazzmeia Horn here

 

23 August 2021Pianist Satoko Fujii builds music from her own "Legos"

Japanese pianist Satoko Fujii releases a solo album with a difference, Piano Music, on Libra Records on September 17.

 

Fujii, who recently took part in a transglobal online spontaneous music session with the Edinburgh-based Playtime quartet, has gathered a series of short improvisations on prepared piano into two extended pieces of otherworldly music for the album.

 

"Putting together the small parts into a larger picture was just like improvising," says Fujii, who recorded short improvisations on single themes before transferring them into a music editing app in order to structure the two seamless longer works.

 

The pianist calls the short snippets she creates her “Legos” and uses ideas including plucked strings, rubbing the piano’s low strings with a big felt mallet and dropping chop sticks onto the strings.


“I would like to be free in the music to do whatever I want and I made this music in a way I have never done before,” Fujii says. “Of course, I love playing piano more conventionally, but I think it’s not the only way for me to make music.”

 

 

22 August 2021Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra gets back into the swing

Fife Youth Jazz Orchestra restarts rehearsals in person at The Lochgelly Centre on Thursday 30th September at 7.15pm.

 

Following months of online band sessions, when the orchestra’s membership expanded to over sixty, including international participants, the orchestra’s long-serving director, Richard Michael goes into FYJO’s forty-sixth year with his customary enthusiasm.

 

“I’m proud to say FYJO never stopped all through lockdown,” says Michael. “We’ll be continuing our Jazz Teenies session, which begin half an hour before the main band, every week online and we’ll have online sessions for everyone who joined during lockdown on the last Thursday of each month from October.”

 

For more information go to https://fyjo.org.uk/

 

Richard Michael

 

20 August 2021NYOS applications open for young classical and jazz players

Applications open to today for the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland’s 2022 classical and jazz courses.

 

Following a period when getting together to rehearse and perform has been impossible due to circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, young musicians will be able to meet again in person to learn, collaborate, play, and perform in prestigious venues across Scotland.

 

Classical highlights planned include saxophonist and BBC Young Musician 2016 finalist Jess Gillam joining the NYOS Symphony Orchestra for spring concerts presented in partnership with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra.

 

And as well as marking NYOS Jazz Orchestra’s 30th anniversary, the jazz course returns to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig on the Isle of Skye for a week of collaborations, informal performances and listening parties.

 

Instrumentalists with Scottish connections - born in Scotland, living in Scotland, studying in Scotland, or with Scottish Family – can apply. There is no cost to audition and bursaries are available. The closing date is Tuesday 28 September.

 

13 August 2021Wellington Jazz Festival sends new music to Europe

Three musicians whose new albums were launched at the recent Wellington Jazz Festival have combined to promote their own music in Europe while championing the current strengths of the New Zealand jazz scene.

 

Jasmine Lovell-Smith (photo by Hayden Hockly)

 

Pianist Ben Wilcock, who releases The River Tethys on August 13th, and saxophonists Jasmine Lovell-Smith and Jake Baxendale, whose Sanctuary follows on August 20th, have already received praise for their new recordings in the birthplace of the Count Basie Orchestra, Kansas City, Missouri. Radio presenter Joe Dimino, of KC’s Neon Jazz, interviewed Wilcock and Baxendale at length after being impressed by Wilcock’s sci-fi inspired album and Baxendale & Lovell-Smith’s debut as co-leaders of an eleven-piece ensemble.

 

“It was great to receive an endorsement of our music from somewhere with such strong historical links to jazz,” says Baxendale, whose other group, The Jac won the Best Jazz Artist title at this year’s Aotearoa [New Zealand] Music Awards. “It’s always good to win awards at home but to be recognised internationally is a particular boost and lets us see that we are creating music that can travel.”

 

New Zealand has produced a number of well-regarded jazz musicians in the past, among them pianists Mike Nock, Dave MacRae and Alan Broadbent. Mike Nock, who has recorded for ECM Records, lived and worked in New York for many years. Dave MacRae toured with Buddy Rich before becoming established on the European scene with Ian Carr’s Nucleus, and Alan Broadbent is now a Grammy-winning arranger and composer. Jasmine Lovell-Smith herself studied and played with saxophone master Anthony Braxton while living in the U.S. a few years ago.

 

“Having such examples definitely helps in giving musicians something to strive for,” says Baxendale, whose own CV includes two years in Germany where he played with the Berlin Big Band and composition studies with trumpeter Dave Douglas in New York. “It’s also significant that musicians like Ben and Jasmine have worked abroad – Ben in London; Jasmine in Mexico as well as New York and Connecticut – and brought the experience they’ve gained back to New Zealand to share with the next generation of players they’ve taught at the New Zealand School of Music.”

 

Wilcock, Baxendale and Lovell-Smith, whose compositions and arrangements on Sanctuary have been likened by reviewers to Vince Mendoza and Maria Schneider’s work, are keen to highlight other recent releases from New Zealand that are making waves at home and are deserving of international attention.

 

Saxophonist Lucien Johnson’s Wax///Wane earned him the Best Jazz Composer title at the APRA AMCOS Awards 2021. Cory Champion, who played drums on Johnson’s album, has a recording with his own group, Clear Path Ensemble, and pianist Jonathan Crayford’s Dark Light and saxophonist Nathan Haines’ The Poet’s Embrace are others to look out for.

 

“We’d all love to be touring our music internationally or welcoming visitors to Wellington Jazz Festival next year,” says Baxendale. “It’s uncertain if that’s going to be possible but if people can make it to New Zealand, they’ll hear a lot of good homegrown jazz.”

 

Jake Baxendale (publicity photo)

12 August 2021American troubadour Nathan Bell opens autumn tour in Glasgow

Tennessee singer-songwriter Nathan Bell appears at the Admiral Bar in Glasgow for the Fallen Angels Club on Thursday September 30 as part of a UK tour in support of his new album, Red, White and American Blues (it couldn't happen here).  

 

Known for his straightforward yet poetic lyrics, and superb acoustic guitar work, Bell has built a loyal audience on this side of the Atlantic through his compelling and always believable performances.

 

The album comprises thirteen original songs and features guest appearances by Patty Griffin, Regina McCrary and Aubrie Sellers as it takes the listener on a journey from South Texas blues, through swamp music, American roots rock, and West Coast spoken jazz poetry to the folk stages of London.

 

It was recorded in 2019 in Capitola, California and having been delayed for two years will be released on October 1.

 

Nathan Bell (photo by Marco Bakker)

 

 

11 August 2021Mystery recording by singer Sheila Jordan sees release after 61 years

A previously unreleased album of recordings by singer Sheila Jordan is due for release by Colorado-based Capri Records on September 21.

 

Recorded in June, 1960 at New York’s Olmsted Sound Studios for the little-known Chatam Records, the recently discovered studio date presents the then still developing but instantly recognisable Jordan on a set of standards.

 

Released as Comes Love: Lost Session 1960, the collection includes the Duke Ellington classic It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing), the Gershwins’ They Can’t Take That Away from Me and Rodgers & Hart’s Glad to Be Unhappy as well as the title track, which has been recorded by artists including Billie Holiday, Sam Cooke and Joni Mitchell.

 

Jordan, who became friends with her biggest influence, Charlie Parker, studied harmony and music theory with Lennie Tristano and Charles Mingus. She went on to record for leading jazz label Blue Note and at ninety-two remains a compelling and totally individual performer. She has no recollection of recording the session for the album and has been unable to identitfy her accompanists.

 

The tracks on Comes Love were discovered by record dealers Jeremy Sloan and Hadley Kenslow of Albuquerque’s SloLow Records, who purchased it among a large collection of acetates several years ago. Knowing of Capri Records owner Tom Burns’ acquaintance with Jordan, they forwarded the surprise discovery to the Capri founder.

 

“Whoever is playing on it is really good,” says Burns. “The group seems to have an empathic relationship with Sheila; I don't think it was just some pick-up band. But while it’s troublesome that I can't distinguish the musicians, I really thought this was a recording that should be out there because there's so much good music on it.”

 

Sheila Jordan (photo by Juan-Carlos Hernandez)

10 August 2021Live 2CD recording of Chick Corea's Akoustic Band set for September release

Concord Jazz releases a live 2CD set by the great pianist Chick Corea’s Akoustic Band on September 24.

 

The release comes eight months after Corea died, aged seventy-nine, from a rare form of cancer, leaving an extraordinary legacy of recordings and memories of thousands of live performances.

 

Entitled Chick Corea Akoustic Band LIVE and featuring Corea alongside bassist John Patitucci and drummer Dave Weckl, the album is the first Akoustic Band outing in more than twenty years.

 

It was recorded on January 13th 2018 at SPC Music Hall in St. Petersburg, Florida and features more than two hours of music.

 

 

10 August 2021Pianist releases poignant debut solo recording

New York-based pianist and composer Falkner Evans releases his debut solo recording, Invisible Worlds on Friday August 13.

 

It’s an album the Tulsa-born musician never planned to make as it is both a celebration of his wife, Linda and an integral part of the healing process he has gone through after Linda took her own life on May 19 last year.

 

Composing the album’s music became the means by which Evans returned to the piano after three and a half months spent unable to even approach the keyboard. The result, he explains, is not meant as a tribute to but a “snapshot” of his beloved wife through his own lens.

 

“I was trying to capture the spirit of who Linda was,” Evans says. “She had a very childlike spirit and a real curiosity about life. And she was incredibly intelligent. We were together for almost 30 years and I knew her better than anybody. So this has been something of a catharsis for me and something that I'm really proud that I was able to do.”

 

Invisible Words is via Consolidated Artists Productions.

 

Falkner Evans (photo by John Abbott

Falkner Evans 

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