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…

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…

Dennis Rollins Organ Quartet,7th February 2017

To hear Dennis Rollins perform is to wonder afresh why the trombone is not more routinely in the spotlight in small ensemble jazz. A musician of Rollins’ caliber exploits the unique expressive qualities of the trombone to the full: glissandos taken out of their caricature, comical role and invested with the emotional weight of a…

Seamus Blake Band, 10 February 2017

It is sometimes said of symphonic works that the power of music is in the writing, not the size of the orchestra—and much the same applies to jazz ensembles, but with the emphasis on the improvisation. By any measure, the Seamus Blake band is a ‘power trio’—and powerful in all the ways that make for…

Derek Nash Acoustic Quartet, 3 February 2016

It was a full house and then some—so the anticipation was keen; and it was electric from the off. Derek Nash began with playing of a passionate intensity that many an able player would hold back for the end of the set—and that was just the start. This was a Master Class in the saxophonist’s…

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…