Tony Kofi’s Homage to Ornette Coleman, 2nd December 2016

Tony Kofi’s Homage to Ornnette Coleman, 2nd December 2016

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Josh Kemp Organ Quartet, 25th November 2016

In 1922, the composer Paul Hindemith attached an extraordinary marking to a movement of one of his sonatas for solo viola: ‘Raging tempo. Wild. Beauty of tone is of a secondary consideration.’ There was certainly nothing left to chance in the tone of Josh Kemp’s tenor playing, but it was hard to escape the feeling…

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…