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…

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…

Andrew McCormack’s Graviton, 2nd February 2018

  There was nothing unconventional about the line-up, but while the music was firmly rooted in the traditions of jazz, nearly everything about it was surprising and very often, thrilling. Wordless vocalise is not new to jazz, but Neomi Nuti didn’t merely thicken melodic lines or add embellishments: her voice was the front-line instrument, in…

Zoe Gilby Quartet, 26 January 2018

Zoe Gilby, voice Mark William, guitar Andy Champion, bass Richard Brown, bass It takes a certain stage presence and deft awareness as well as musical talent for an ensemble comprising only voice, guitar, bass and drums to hold an audience rapt for two hours. This was a jazz performance, but of the most intimate kind—and…

Ronnie Bottomley’s All-Star Jazz Orchestra, 19 January 2018

Over the last two decades or so, big bands have had quite a resurgence—not a 1930s and 40s revitalisation, but quite innovative explorations of the possibilities that jazz ensembles of a certain size can bring to modes of expression in jazz. These are no longer popular dance bands, of course—but they don’t produce chamber music,…

Matt Holborn Quartet and Gary Potter, 12 January 2018

Matt Holborn, violin Gary Potter, guitar Kourosh Kanani, guitar Dave O’Brien, bass The full span of contemporary jazz reflects our intensely globalized world: it seems that no combination of musical cultures, instruments and styles is beyond the reach of experimental improvisation. So there are many thrilling departures in the way of unusual time signatures, surprising…

Kate Williams Quartet, 8th Dec. 2017

However a jazz quartet is configured, it is not a simple matter to predict how they will programme their music and divide the work. And so it was with the Kate Williams Quartet: piano-led with flute embellishments? A piano trio with the flute as the front-line instrument? Or a tight, well-integrated quartet in which the…