Dave O’Higgins Quartet, 9 November 2017

Across Dave O’Higgins’ many appearances at Wakefield Jazz over the years, the distinguishing feature of his tenor playing is how well constructed his playing is, whatever the material or tempo. While his playing also delivers plenty of fire, his deep and expressive musicianship is most clear in the inventiveness and clarity of his lines. This…

Jamie Brownfield Quartet, 3rd Nov.

Chamber jazz this wasn’t—and all the better for it: robust, rollicking and hugely entertaining, this is a band that really knows how to put on a show. Jamie Brownfield is a fine trumpeter, with a technique that was able to give expression to that instrument’s many incarnations, from New Orleans to be-bop; and although there…

Christine Tobin Trio, 27th Oct 2017

However compelling the material and accomplished the performers, a jazz trio comprising only voice, guitar and bass needs to have everything—programming, instrumental/vocal balance, pace and mood—well thought-out and in good order. The options are as numerous as for a larger ensemble, but the stakes are higher; and all three needed to be on top form….

New Focus Quartet, 20 October 2017

New Focus wasn’t far into the first set before it became obvious why their latest album is entitled On Song: their emphasis on the melodic, lyrical qualities of the music they play, whether their own or others’ compositions. In one sense, there’s nothing novel about this—the Great American Song Book, Broadway tunes and decades of…

Alan Barnes Octet + 1: ‘A Fish Tale’

The combination of jazz and poetry has a long history and it’s not difficult to appreciate why: the open-ended rhythmic possibilities which lie at the heart art of both. In addition to verses being put to music, there is also a tradition of ‘jazz suites,’ in which jazz and poetry are complementary, the resonances of…

Denys Baptiste Quartet – The Late Trane, 2 June 2017

Denys Baptiste – tenor saxophone Nikki Yeoh – piano Gary Crosby – bass Rod Youngs – drums Even fifty years after his death, the John Coltrane legacy looms over jazz—and although his influence has become more diffuse over time, the original recordings have retained their utterly remarkable, startling impact. So any tenor-led quartet with a…

Dominic Galea Quintet, 26th May 2017

Once a protégé of Stan Tracey and now a musician of considerable standing, it was a delight to be able to hear Dominic Galea in one of his rare UK appearances. Star billing should also be accorded to his compositions, which stood at the intersections of lyrical and romantic—a truly inviting and spacious arena for…

Jonathan Gee Quartet ft. Tim Whitehead, 19th May 2017

Wakefield Jazz was delighted to welcome back the Jonathan Gee Trio for this, its 30th Anniversary gig. Jonathan has made appearances at the club over nearly 20 years, always to sustained acclaim, but his return on this date was particularly apt and keenly anticipated because five years previously, on the Club’s 25th Anniversary, he had…

Pete Oxley/Nicolas Meier Group, 31st March 2017

What’s new in the world of guitars? Can an instrument now so ubiquitous, its many styles so familiar and an endless parade of fine practitioners offer something fresh and exciting? One answer to that is that at its finest, the simple majesty guitar music has no need of unending novelty; and as Chopin expressed it,…

Zoe Rahman, 24th March 2017

One of the delights of seeing Zoe Rahman perform with her band is to witness her alertness and responsiveness to fellow band members: clearly, she is in her element by surprising (or perhaps, being surprised by) fellow musicians—and much of the fun is seeing and hearing this added element to collective jazz improvisation. So, it…

Talinka Quartet, 17th March 2017

For anyone with a concern to keep music in neat categories, jazz in all its splendid variety is the irrepressible resistance. Improvising musicians can start anywhere, with any material and with any combination of instruments and create sounds that are at once familiar and recast afresh. While it’s true that the viola da gamba is…

Tom Rivière’s Family Band, 24th February 2017

This was passionate, committed and imaginative playing from a young band that displayed all of the qualities one might normally look for only in seasoned, high profile groups. Their format—a piano-less quartet comprising tenor, trumpet, bass and drums—immediately called to mind the classic formulations of Ornette Coleman, but the Family Band has its own voice and…