Greg Abate with the Pete Rosser Trio, 9th November 2018

Greg Abate – sax Pete Rosser – piano, Ed Harrison – double bass John Settle – drums There are good reasons why a ‘classic’ jazz configuration—in this case, alto sax plus piano trio—remains classic: because the power of the music constantly shifts between the cohesion of the four instruments and the contributions the individual musicians…

Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat, 2nd November 2018

Emma Johnson – tenor sax Calvin Travers – guitar Sam Jackson – bass Alasdair Wells – drums Emma Johnson’s quartet reminded us that although jazz has a history and plenty of familiar forms,  serious improvising musicians don’t do ‘conventional’—there are always delights, surprises, and forms of originality arising both from the individual players and the…

Paul Edis’ Ushaw Ensemble, 19th October 2018

Paul Edis – MD, composer/pianist Graeme Wilson – tenor sax, bass clarinet, flute Graham Hardy – trumpet, flugelhorn Emma Fisk – violin Richard Brown – percussion Andy May – Northumbrian pipes Paul Susans – double bass The risks of a hybrid jazz ensemble are obvious enough—a possible clash of musical cultures; not entirely compatible improvising…

Nic Meier ‘Infinity’ Group, 12th October 2018

Nicolas Meier, acoustic and glissentar guitars Kevin Glasgow, bass Demi Garcia, percussion Richard Jones, violin There were so many moments in this performance that would ordinarily be described as ‘show stopping’ as to render the term meaningless—that’s the surest measure of what a thrilling performance this was. At turns vibrant and dynamic, hard-driving, beautifully melodic,…

Loz Speyer’s Inner Space, 8th June 2018

Loz Speyer, trumpet and flugelhorn Chris Biscoe, alto sax and alto clarinet Rachel Musson, tenor sax Ollie Brice, bass Gary Wilcox, drums A pianoless quintet poses some interesting writing, arranging and performing challenges. Maintaining the momentum and vitality of the songs without relying on continuous front-line playing or leaning too heavily on bass and drums…

Kate Williams’ 3 Plus 4 with Georgia Mancio, 1st June 2018

Kate Williams, piano Oli Hayhurst, bass) Dave Ingamells drums John Garner, 1st violin Julian Fish, 2nd violin Francis Gallagher, viola Sergio Serra, cello Georgia Mancio, voice On a view of this rather unusual line-up, it could have been supposed that we were in for an evening of lush, soft-focus lounge jazz: familiar standards played in…

Sam Leak’s ‘Adrift’, 18th May 2018

John Crawford, piano Guillermo Hill, guitar Richard Adler, bass Andres Ticino, percussion Simon Pearson, drums What we have come to think of as jazz is a hybrid of diverse musical cultures; and the key to its longevity and vitality is that it has become one of the world’s great improvising traditions, always keen to venture…

Sam Leak’s ‘Adrift’, 18th May 2018

Sam Leak, piano Simon Read, bass Dave Smith, drums  ‘Adrift’ is the title of a suite composed by Sam Leak, which featured in the second set, but the entire gig might more accurately have been described as ‘The Art of the Song.’ Whatever the character and tempo of the individual numbers, the emphasis throughout was…

Printmakers, 4th May 2018

Norma Winstone, vocals Nikki Iles, piano Mark Lockheart, saxophones Mike Walker, guitar Steve Watts, bass Asaf Srkis, drums Norma Winstone has more than a signature style: the reason her singing is immediately recognizeable is because she routinely meets musical challengesthat few others would attempt, let alone carry off with such ease and assurance. Her interval…

Perpetual Motion Machine, 27 April 2018

Sam Dunn, guitar Jamie Taylor, guitar Ben Lowman, tenor saxophone Garry Jackson, electric bass Steve Hanley, drums Sometimes, the configuration of a band or the way the musicians interact in performance dissolves the usually obvious divide between the ‘front line’ and the rhythm section. And since that was the case with Perpetual Motion Machine, it…

Kristian Borring Quartet, 13 April 2018

Kristian Borring, guitar Rick Simpson, piano Dave Whitford, bass Jon Scott, drums There’s group chemistry—and then there’s alchemy. This was a particularly fine display of the ways in which every instance of individual musical expression can serve to enhance the group sound.  There is no shortage of piano trios and guitar trios, so what was…

Ubunye, 16th March 2018

Dave Evans – piano and songwriting Nik Rutherford – guitar Kenny Higgins – bass Jonah Evans – drums Thandanani Gumede – voice and songwriting Nokuthula Zondi-Kamudyariwa – voice Xolani Mbatha – baritone voice The full house seemed to sense that something special would be forthcoming, but no one who hadn’t heard them perform before could quite anticipate…