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…

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…

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…

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…

Chris Ingham Quartet, 9 February 2018

As Chris Ingham explained in his articulate and elegant interludes, it is a sad and surprising curiosity that the film celebrity of Dudley Moore has eclipsed his music to the degree that it has all but dropped from sight. What this splendid quartet has been able to achieve is not merely to bring the music…

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,…