Nigel Price Organ Quartet, 19th November 2016

The best small-group jazz always exhibits a tension between the strengths of the individual players and the group sound. Much of the power in this kind of music—and this was certainly a ‘power quartet’—comes as much from sensitivity and responsiveness as from instrumental virtuosity. But in the Nigel Price Organ Quartet, we had an abundance…

The Lilli Unwin Band, 11th November 2016

It’s a privileged moment to witness a young band transition from ‘promising’ to ‘established’—and that’s what Lilli Unwin and her trio delivered. The promise alone was considerable: Unwin is a rising star, with a fine voice, capable of the expressive requirements of a very wide range of material; and in these parts, pianist Matt Robinson…

John Etheridge and Christian Garrick, 4th November 2016

There is scarcely a musical culture anywhere that has not adopted and adapted the violin: folk, dance and sacred musics of every kind have extended its geographic range and its musical expressiveness. At close quarters and when not embedded in orchestral settings, it is even possible to hear more than one of its many voices…

The Impossible Gentlemen, 28 October 2016

‘All-star band delivers all-star music’ would be a truthful headline, but by the end of the evening, the only impossibility left standing was finding superlatives adequate to two thrilling hours of music-making. There was scarcely a passage that on many a gig wouldn’t count as one of a few highlights. And riotous applause aside, has…

Brass Jaw, 21st October 2016

In jazz circles, there are few things more emphatic than opening a number with a bass line delivered by a baritone saxophone. Whatever follows has to be robust and compelling—and as often as not, a complement to its surprisingly fleet, dance-like rhythms. The line-up of Brass Jaw—three saxophones and a trombone—might have puzzled anyone who…

Jeff Williams Quartet, 14th October 2016

The absence of a piano in a drummer-led quartet is certain to shape the music, but for able and compatible musicians the format opens up an inexhaustible range of expressive possibilities. The Jeff Williams quartet was certainly up to the challenge. Their two sets were fiery, passionate displays, and a study of the way in…

Malija, 7th October 2016

None of the players who comprise this outstanding trio is a stranger to Wakefield Jazz, but this wasn’t ‘familiar faces in a slightly altered context.’ It was an intriguing prospect: three master musicians playing original numbers, but without the support of a drummer. The absence of a drummer in small-group jazz is still relatively rare;…

Ingrid Jensen Band, 3 June 2016 at Wakefield Jazz

One of the great delights of jazz is the way well-turned improvisations, even on the most familiar melodies, have a way of surprising us. But a live performance can also confound our expectations. What might we have anticipated from a professor of jazz trumpet at the Bruckner Conservatory of Music in Austria? Masterful control, of…

Ian Shaw, 27th May at Wakefield Jazz

Because Ian Shaw has such a commanding stage presence and is so engaging and entertaining, this could easily have been knock-about cabaret, punctuated with music. It wasn’t; and that’s because the man exudes music—and every number was shot through with his seemingly endless musical invention and an expressive range that is as astonishing for its…

The Weave, 20 May 2016 at Wakefield Jazz

There can’t be many two-trumpet sextets in existence, but on this showing, it’s difficult to understand why. What could offer a brighter prospect than the brilliant, piercing qualities that only the trumpet can deliver–doubled–and configured in ways that are a treat for everyone with musical imagination, composers and listeners alike? Add a top-flight and musically…

The Lindsay Hannon Plus, 13 May 2016

This was wonderfully vibrant and robust music-making from start to finish—a real delight, in part because it was abundantly clear how much fun the band was having, even while they delivered a musically intense and highly varied programme. Lindsay Hannon’s voice is strong and clear, and she is remarkable for her tonal modulation and stylistic…

Josh Kemp Band with Liz Fletcher, 6 May 2016

The audience could be forgiven for thinking that they knew what to expect; and as it happened, their eager anticipation wasn’t disappointed, but few could have expected such a range of styles and voices, all played with utter conviction. So it was that the band managed to find a coherent way of blending ‘Straight, No…