Tuesday 8 December 2015

Top ten albums of 2015 (continued!)

"Symbiosis" Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio:

One of the constantly under estimated talents on the British jazz scene, Rollins has produced a series of albums that merit attention. This 2015 selection is a terrific example of both solo-ing and a group playing together who have a complete understanding of what Rollins, as leader, is trying to do and showcases his trombone playing really well. If you get an opportunity to see this band on the road - take it!

"New Ansonia" Misha Mullov-Abbado:

Abbado is the bass player on this album, but it's a real group effort, with Tom Green counterpointing the alto sax playing of Matthew Herd. All the tracks are his own compositions except for the version of Earth Wind & Fire's "September" and they are terrific. The album was co-produced by Julian Joseph and it's difficult not to hope that a follow-up happens sooner, rather than later.

"All in" Beats and Pieces Big Band":

This 13 piece band not only managed to produce this album, but also toured with it. It's a regret that I didn't get to see them because the album is such a splendid example of just how good British Jazz is in 2015. There's a huge variety of styles on the album and Ben Cottrell who is named as 'Director' manages to allow space for a goodly amount of solo-ing, as well as some really great ensemble playing. It's out on the Efpi label, and is well worth hunting down.

"Floating Points" Elaenia:

  An album that appeared with some help from the Momentum Music Fund through the Arts Council of Great Britain. It straddles a range of what used to be called 'styles' but in the 21st century could be described as classical jazz electronica- but even that doesn't do it justice. It's this years left field choice on the list, and is largely the work of Sam Shepherd with help from a whole diversity of sources.  So no apologies for it making the top ten, it's an album that I've listened to consistently since I got it, and fits a plethora of moods.

"Strata" Ivo Neame:

If you're familiar with his existing back catalogue you'll find this an album that pushes the boundaries further out. Neame is joined by an interesting array of musicians including vibes player Jim Hart and sax player Tori Freestone. The result is a mixture of the unexpected all based on strong tunes all written by Neame himself. It's a fascinating expansion of boundaries, an indication of even more exciting work to come and is a very satisfying and enjoyable album.

So you think that's the end?

Shocked by the fact that there's not an American in sight in the top ten (John Scofield nearly made it!) I'm allowing myself an eleventh, which is actually a bit of a cheat. I have a friend called Ian who travels extensively abroad (and I mean extensively!) and is kind enough to bring me back CD's he's browsed, usually in transit lounges, but this next one I didn't get 'til this year, although it was probably released on the German 'Pirouet'  label in 2014 It's thoroughly recommended;

"Ramshackle Serenade"  Goldings, Bernstein and Stewart:

Comfort music if you like, but a trio that are so clearly at ease with each others playing that it mixes up some seamless self compositions with other tracks by artists as diverse as Horace Silver and Antonio Carlos Jobim. They all allow each other space to develop solidly constructed solo's. I have no idea whether it's readily available in this country or not, but it is worth seeking out.

That's it then! 2015 in eleven albums that have consistently blown me away, and probably bear no relation to any other top 10 albums of the year - but hey! It's my list. Enjoy!

Monday 7 December 2015

Edge of Jazz Top Ten Albums of 2015:

These are in no particular order, but are the albums that I've enjoyed the most during 2015, and in a couple of cases that listeners have said that they really enjoyed as well. Trying to explain why I like some of the chosen ten is almost as difficult, because sometimes with music it's all in the notes....

"Skyline" Tom Green Septet:  

Difficult to think of an album that I've played more than this one (perhaps with the exception of the next one!). This album is a stunning example of what British jazz is about in 2015. Even with the difficulty and expense of keeping a seven piece on the road, Tom also played some blinding live gigs - one of which I was able to attend- and live the band surpassed the sound that they achieved on this magnificent album.

"Outsiders Insiders" Emily Saunders:

I did wonder after the long wait after "Cotton Skies" whether Emily could deliver anything that would better it. This did it in spades. Helped by an empathetic backing 'band' the album contains a series of songs that were, from my point of view, unsurpassed in 2015. Working on the assumption that the south-west might provide a somewhat better summer in 2016 than it did this year, this will be a window open-must play album for next summer- and probably until she tells me the follow up is ready to go.

"You've got to dig it to dig it, dig?" Derek Nash Acoustic Quartet:

This crept out right at the end of the year and is a wonderfully paced set of tunes that are lovingly and creatively crafted by the whole quartet to follow up their previous album "Joyriding" and actually includes "Morning Glory" from that set as a bonus track. You can hear the premise on which the tunes were created by listening to my 1st December show on the Phonic.FM Mixcloud page - and hear two of the tracks as well.

"String Theory" Partikel:

Since the series of dates that they did touring to promote the album they seem to have spent a lot of time abroad (including a visit to China). This remains a favourite, possible as a result of seeing them at my 'gig of the year' at St Lawrence's Chapel in Ashburton [venue of the year bar none!] The whole concept is a strong one, and the string quartet is both empathetic and supportive to what the band are trying to achieve.

"Fables" Girls in Airports:

This the fourth album from the Danish band was the first to have an international release. One of my younger listeners e mailed me to say "Cool-jazz for people who don't know they like jazz" It's difficult to top that description, but this meld of two saxes, a rhythm section and Mathias Holm's keyboard playing certainly has a novel and at times haunting sound.

The remaining six albums follow!!!

Wednesday 25 November 2015

The Uncommon Orchestra - " A bigger show"

 I've just received my copy of Mike Westbrook's Uncommon Orchestra's new album "A bigger show live". It was recorded at the Barnfield Theatre in my home town of Exeter on 30th July 2015, and in order to fund it Mike Westbrook asked individuals and organisations to become patrons to allow the work to be recorded. The resultant double CD was recorded 'live' by Miles Ashton and Jon Hiseman, and is a pretty faithful version of the events of that night (or so I'm told!).
  Thankfully there is audience noise, but (also) thankfully it's devoid of the kind of whooping and hollerin' that seems to mar so many U.S. based live recordings. It must have been a fairly difficult event to engineer given the size of the venue and the fact that 22 piece jazz orchestras tend to take up an enormous amount of space and require careful balancing of the disparate instruments. The result is out there, and if you weren't one of the patrons I'm sure that if you get in touch with Mike at www.westbrookjazz.co.uk he'd be more than willing to sell you a copy. I'm pleased that The Edge of Jazz is a patron, and if the opportunity arises again to sponsor another 'live' album by one of our local bands the show would be happy to oblige. Indeed at the time of writing we're just setting up a series of sessions for broadcasting on Phonic.FM which we hope will capture some more of the local jazz musicians, or some of the transitory talent that floats through Exeter from time to time - this in conjunction with our friends at Sound Gallery Studios just down the corridor from us in the bowels of the Exeter Phoenix.
 Finally, I thought it was going to be a fairly easy task to choose the Top 10 albums of the year, but at the time of writing material that is begging for inclusion continues to flow in. I've already said that the show of the year for me was Partikel at St Lawrence's Chapel in Ashburton, and that against the background of the plethora of talent that was at The Love Supreme Festival, and my carefully chosen gigs from the London Jazz Festival. Strange it should have been in my own backyard!
 Next time the album list, and if you're wondering to whom it matters, the answer is "Me"!

Thursday 12 November 2015

Mid November already!

I love it that 20 miles from where I live in the centre of Exeter there are the stirrings of what could be a really exciting arts development. Ashburton is currently home to one of the most diverse musical "scenes" that you could wish to find. It already has a very small, but beautifully formed venue in St Laurence Chapel, and there a mighty attractive set of smaller events (often on a Sunday afternoon) at the lovely Royal Oak pub. However, tentative plans are afoot to buy and covert the wonderful Methodist Church that sits on the main road through the town. At the moment the plans are embryonic, but developing, and the Congregation are keen that the building should continue to be a community asset.
It really is worth putting "Ashburton live" into a search engine and finding out more (they also tweet @ashburtonlive). I think it would be really exciting if it gets funding and gets off the ground. As an aside the best gig (bar none) that I've been to this year was the Partikel gig at the Chapel.
There have been a plethora of new albums in the last month, and finding time to fit them all into the show has, at times, been problematic. I'll write a little more about some of them ahead of the annual task of trying to build a top 10 albums of the year. I'm pleased to say that I think the majority will be either British of European in origin, which either says something about the relative paucity of new U.S. Jazz musicians, which I think is unlikely- I think it must be that the major labels are abandoning anybody that doesn't fit the cloning instincts of their accountants!

Wednesday 14 October 2015

Colin Towns:

It was great to talk to Colin on the show on 13th October. You'll soon be able to hear it on the Phonic FM Mixcloud page. It was good to talk not only about the new double CD "Drama", but also to ask him about John Fordham's assertion in a recent "Guardian" review suggest that "Town's other life makes him an unjustly peripheral figure in the UK jazz world- he deserves to be right in the middle of it".
  The answers were pertinent and punchy and might be a starting point for a further dialogue with some other interviewees about the state of British jazz, which in so many ways seems to be in a healthier state than for a long time. Does the reality prove otherwise, and if it does, what are the reasons?

Wednesday 30 September 2015

Ooh vinyl! Who'd have thought it?

It was about 1997 when I finally stopped taking vinyl to gigs and shows and relied on CD's instead. I stowed all the albums and 12" singles in the cellar and thought "someday I will sell them". Of course I never did, and with dust gathering on them they were a constant reminder of a time I never thought I'd see again. I also laid my Technics 1210's to rest, and discovered when I looked at the recently that the sylii had been modified so that one of them could play double groove 12" single (remember them?). Recently I dug out one of the 12" single boxes and picked out a few well worn favourites from the past- the Blue Note Rare Groove series featured strongly, but I also found a Benny Golson 12" single, "The brand new Killer Joe". Wonderful! I even decided to invest in a new headshell and stylus so that I could start playing them again.
  About two weeks ago I received the first "vinyl only" material that I'd received in over a decade, and in the same week got sent a copy of the brand new Tim Garland album "Return to the Fire". Luckily the studio at Phonic has a couple of Technics decks that are attached to a sub-mixer in the studio. We used to have headshells with them as well, but they kept disappearing at a rate of knots. So I bought another new one, and this week on the show played two tracks that were on vinyl. They were "Love me or leave me" by Nina Simone and "Round Midnight" by Sun Ra's Astro infinity Arkestra.*  As far as I know no-one noticed, and I had to relearn the skill of cueing up vinyl. So next week I'll be playing the aforementioned Tim Garland album, and since receiving that I've been sent another couple of vinyl only releases. Who'd have thought it?
*PS. The Sun Ra album was recorded in 1958, and is one of the 71 that he (allegedly?) recorded for the Saturn label. How I got it, I can't remember. but it must have been second hand when I bought it - and it's in remarkable condition for its age.

Wednesday 16 September 2015

                         Playlist for "The extra hour" 15th September 2015

I took the opportunity of an extra hour between 13:00 and 14:00 to play some tracks that in normal circumstances I'd struggle to fit into the 3 hour format the list together with some context is listed below;

"Not you again"; John Scofield.

From one of my favourite Scofield album "Works for me". This 7 minute+ track is a splendidly worked out blend of all the great musicians playing on it. If you don't know the album, do check it out.

"Maurizius"; Various Artists.

An album that contains a 30 minute track as well as several that clock in at over 10 minutes can be difficult to schedule, but the ECM album "Hommage a Eberhard Weber" is a stunningly recorded set of live recording that, as the title suggests bring a luminary set of performers together to pay homage to the 75 year old performer and composer. I'm thinking of how I can fir another track into my normal 2 hour show!

" What a diff'rence a day makes"; Esther Phillips.

From her 1975 album of the same name, chances to play the long version of this are few and far between, and in any case always provoke the debate "Is Esther a jazz singer". Don't care! It's my show and I love nearly all her work, even the later uneven output, all of which contain nuggets.

" A place in the queue"; Theo Travis.

This is the longest (10 minute plus) track from the quartet album "Transgression". Theo is a favourite artist of mine, and I love all his solo stuff as well as collaborations with people like Robert Fripp. This album takes of in a different set of directions, and he's promised that when he's finished being out on the road with the David Gilmour Band he'll do another interview on the show.

"Some days I forget"; Gwyneth Herbert.

This is the mysterious track from the album "All the Ghosts" that doesn't end quite when you think it will. I think that's enough to say about this album which you certainly ought to check out. If you get the chance to see her live - grab it. On her last visit to Exeter she came into the Sound Gallery Studio and recorded some material for the Edge of Jazz, and proved what a consummate artist she is. A new album is eagerly anticipated.

"The Cherry Orchard"; Colin Towns Mask Orchestra .

"Drama", which is out on October 2nd is a series of pieces that Colin Towns wrote for a number of theatre companies, most notably Theatre Clywd Mold. It's a double CD, and some of the tracks are very long. Since I had to start somewhere with the huge work I chose a 10 minute outing. The band and the arrangements are stunning and need extended closer investigation.

"Equilibrium"; Tom Green Septet.

It's difficult not to think that "Skyline" will make my end of year top 10 jazz records for 2015. This, the longest track at 10 plus minutes was the only one from the album that I hadn't played and it seemed like a good opportunity to redress that omission. The ensemble playing is fabulous and I have played the album at home and in the car dozens of time. It always reveals more.

Tuesday 8 September 2015

Playlist 8th September 2015:

1.  Soulful strut                                Grover Washington Jnr                      Soulful strut
2.  Naima                                         John Coltrane                                    Giant steps
3. Carapace                                      Get the blessing                                 Astronautilus (out 18th Sept)
4. Island Fever                                 Ahmed Jamal                                     In search of
5. Na baixa do sepateiro                  Joyce Moreno                                    Raiz
6. Happy times                                Various Artists                                   Griffith Park Collection
7. Feeling good                                Roswell Rudd                                    The incredible honk
8. Trieste                                          MJQ with Laurendo Almeira            Collaboration
9. Rendezvous                                  Ronny Jordan                                    At last
10.Parts and holes                            Robert Walter                                    Cure all
11.September                                   Misha Mullov-Abado                        New Ansonia
12.I don't know what the
    weather will be                            Laura Mvula                                      With Metropole Orkest
13.Gospel                                        Jimmy McGriff                                   One of mine
14.The long night of
     Octavia E Butler                        Sons of Kemet                                    Lest we forget what we
                                                                                                                   came here to do (out 25th
15.Le mal de vivre                          Cecile McLorin Salvant                    For one to love
16.Mugshot                                     Russell Malone                                 Sweet Georgia Peach
17. 'Til my back ain't got
      no bone                                     Esther Phillips                                   From a whisper to a scream
18.Benny's bugle                            Mike Gibbs with the
                                                        NDR Big Band                                  Play a Bill Frissell set list
19.Skyline                                       Yelena Eckemoff                              Everblue
20.Compared to what                      Les McCann                                     Les McCann

I'm loving the Cecile McClorin Salvant album, a sensible move to get backing from a 4 piece in which Aaron Diell really shines. The Misha Mullov-Abado album continues to give great pleasure (special shout out to Tom Green- hear my interview with him on the Phonic.FM Mixcloud page) and some more listening is needed for Get the Blessing and Sons of Kemet - only got then yesterday!).A couple of great oldies today, as well with the Jimmy McGriff transcipted off a 1964 Sue album and Esther Phillips giving it heaps! Should be back to normal for the playlist next week- fingers crossed!

Tuesday 1 September 2015

So this is the playlist for Tuesday 1st September for the Edge of Jazz;

Dingbat blues                               Blue Mitchell                         The Cup bearers
Teddy                                          Bobby Hutcherson                Enjoy the view
Standing outside                          Keith Jarrett                          The mourning of a star
So close, so far                           Ollie Howell                          Sutures and stitches
Cade voce
(Max Cole & Beatnik remix)       Sabrina Malheiros                 Vibrasons
Horace                                       Fourplay                                Silver
Subconscious Lee                       Mike Gibbs
                                                  & N.D.A. Big band                Plays a Bill Frissell Playlist
Raise Four                                  Thelonious Monk                   Underground
You don't know me                     Madeleine Peyroux                The Blue Room
Rain that falls                               Slowly Rolling Camera          Slowly Rolling Camera
Wham ban thank you Ma'm         Charles Mingus                     Oh yeah
Lacamento                                  Leo Gandelman                    Vip vop
Change                                       Donald Byrd                         Places and spaces
We were dancing                        Jacob Young                         Forever young
Domingo de Manha                    Joyce Moreno                      Tudo
Yola                                           Girls in Airports                     Fables (out 18th September)
Falling                                        Julien Lourau                        Groove Gang
I don't want much                       Mose Allison                        Hello there Universe
Shake it down                            Dennis Rollins                       Badbone & Co
The funky monkey                     Jeff Herr Corporation            Layer Cake
Dog walk                                  Lou Donaldson                     Midnight sun
Ode to King Michael                Misha Mullov-Abbado          New Asonia

Finally a reminder that this is where you'll find the playlist for September 8th next week before it (should) all get back to normal for the 15th, and these will be found in the archive section. Well that's the idea!

Friday 28 August 2015

Update to main website:

Because of some changes that I'm making to the main part of the website the weekly playlist will be appearing as part of the blog on 1st September & 8th September. They will then be displayed as part of the "archive" on the site in the normal way. I'm sorry if this causes difficulties, but I'm a slow and only partially proficient web builder! In the meantime look out for some more albums that seem likely to be challenging for a place in the end of year Edge of Jazz Top 10. Normally there's a real dearth of new releases during July and August, but 2015 has proved to be exceptional.

Thursday 6 August 2015

August album update

Rather more quickly than expected, here are the albums released since April 2015 that'll be helping to shape the Edge of Jazz end of year playlist. Elsewhere in the blog you can find out what was making it in early 2015- and these are current "likes";

"All in" Beats and Pieces Big Band: 

In this day and age it's incredibly difficult to get together and record a big band album that gets taken out for promotional gigs. This band has done both and is an excellent reminder of why big bands can be so exciting to listen to (and watch). All the tracks are written by Ben Cottrell the musical director, except for a versi9on of David Bowie's "Let's dance". It's an aural treat and one that deserves to be listened to in full at one listening. Very impressive!

"String Theory" Partikel;

The three piece are an impressive unit on their own, but on this album they've recruited a string quartet to fill out the sound. It changes the ambience completely and works really well. I saw the group with just Benet McLean who wrote the arrangements playing violin. Considering that he says that piano is his first instrument it's a real testament to his ability that it's all so seamless. I interviewed Duncan eagles about the album and the playing and you can find it on the Edge of Jazz Mixcloud page. Very impressive!

"Flow" Drifter:

Quite how this band ended up on Edition records is a story in itself, but the quality of the writing and playing makes it both easily accessible and also quite challenging. The quartet (with the exception of drummer Teun Verbruggen) wrote all the material and interplay between piano and saxophone is tight and interesting. It rewards repeated plays.

"Strata" Ivo Neame:

Those familiar with his existing catalogue of work will find this an album that pushes some boundaries further out. Neame is joined by an interesting array of musicians including vibes player Jim Hart and sax player Tori Freestone. The result is an intriguing mixture of the unexpected and strong tunes, all written by Ivo himself.  It's a fascinating expansion of boundaries, an indication of even more to come and a very enjoyable and satisfying album.

" Fist full of notes" Indigo Kid II:

Quite why guitarist Dan Messore allowed this album to appear under a nom-de-plume is difficult to fathom. That it demonstrates a whole slew of differing facets of his outstanding ability and draws together an excellent group (which includes Trish Clowes on Tenor Sax in a much more relaxed frame of mind than on her recent album) is self-evident. It's a work that repays several listens, and hopefully presages more to come from the enigmatic guitar player.

"Welcome to my World" Joyce Elaine Yuell :

Listeners will know my predilection for what used to be called soul, and when it's got elements of jazz added in, and contains such strong material it's likely to get heavy play on the show. The fact that it was recorded in Italy, with Italian musicians doesn't detract from the fact that this Cuban born singer has an excellent voice and some wonderful phrasing as well. All the material, irrespective of writers, is in English, and it's a wonderful antidote to all those (mainly British female singers) who claim to have 'soul'. Well worth a listen!

There will undoubtedly be more albums to pick from as the Christmas period approaches, but this year has been a particularly strong one for releases and long may it continue.

Tuesday 4 August 2015

Crikey! It's been a long time, for which I can only apologise. There's been an enormous amount happening as well as some stunning events, and at the time of posting, they just keep coming. There's also been some stunning new music, as well as some very welcome re-releases of material I never thought I'd see again.
It seems pretty pointless in reviewing Love Supreme 2015, so I'd just advocate that if its possible you make plans to go in 2016, and advance tickets shoild be on sale really soon.
I also "discovered" another favourite venue, and it's close to us here in Exeter. I was invited to see Partikel at St Lawrence's Chapel in Ashburton. Not only was the concert excellent - even if they only had one of the four players who appears on the album "String Theory" playing at the date. The whole concert was recorded and has become available (though only in part and there is more to follow) on Soundcloud. They have a whole slew of events that are coming up between now and the end of the year, and if you look for "Ashrton Live" on a search engine or follow on @ashburtonlive on Twitter you can find out more. Even more exciting (potentially) is that the Methodist Chapel in Ashburton is up for sale and there is a group of people who are looking to purchase it. Further details of this as it becomes available.
As for the music I'm playing and have really enjoyed- that will have to wait until my next posting (assuming that it's rather less delayed than this one has been!). In the meantime a reminder that I tweet @phonicjazz, and that some (not all) programmes can be found in full on the Mixcloud website by following links to the Edge of Jazz or by going to the Phonic.FM page and finding what else gets broadcast on the station.

Thursday 30 April 2015

2015 continues to rush by at a frantic pace. There's so much activity at the moment that I'm finding it difficult to keep up-to-date with the website, listen to all the glorious music that 2015 has brought about and plan for the summer ahead. At the time of writing after two glorious weeks in mid-April the weather seems to have decided to return to its normal late April/early May mixture of sunny showery days and cold nights...but hey! that's not why you're here! Five albums to mention as being early contenders for my Top 10 albums of 2015; they are in no particular order;

"Slow Eastbound Train" by Daniel Herskedal.

Never really thought of the tuba as a jazz instrument, but Daniel Herskedal does away with any preconceptions from Track One. Accompanied by Piano and percussion, with contributions from "The Trondheim Soloists" he lays out a fascinating sound that contains lots of layers, and apart from a Mussorgsky tune, are all his own compositions. This is certainly not an album to leap about to, but it does contain some of the best jazz that I've heard in 2015.

"Skyline" by Tom Green Septet.

Tom was a guest on the Edge of Jazz, just before this album was released and the interview can be found on my mixcloud page www.mixcloud.com/edgeofjazz As he admits he was lucky to be able to hold together such a talented crew for the album launch tour, but the result is a great example of great compositional skills and wonderful arrangements. Unusually I've played every track on the Edge of Jazz and have revisited "Sticks and Stones" not only on that show, but also on my monthly "Exeter Talking" Show.  If I just said "listen" would that be enough to convince you how good it is?

"Rhodes ahead Volume 2" by Marc Cary.

Somewhere along the way I seemed to have missed Volume 1, although around 2011 I did have a Marc Cary Trio album, which was, as the name suggests, a three piece. This is much more adventurous, with brass, percussion including Djembe and Cary himself pushing out material not only playing the name checked Rhodes, but also a Hammond B3 and some other synthesised sounds. The result is a rolling, unfolding wall of sound that explores all sorts of traditions. Recommended track if you have any doubt about the is recommendation is "Spices and Mystics".

"Symbiosis" by Dennis Rollins Velocity Trio. 

Lots of trios seem to be the excuse for the leader to boss the whole album and subjugate other members to a real sidesman role. What I've liked about Rollins is his willingness not only to allow space for the others to explore their own territory, but his ability to fit in, often unobtrusively, with what's going on. That is not to say that Rollins plays any sort of subservient role, and his playing is, as always,dynamic and adventurous. Big up for Ross Stanley, but credit to Dennis Rollins for another staggeringly good album.

"Insiders outsiders" by Emily Saunders.

Who'd have thought that after "Cotton Skies" the next album would be such a diverse and wonderful sounding amble through a range of totally unexpected styles, both vocal and musical. I spoke to Emily about the album on the show, and her interview is also at www.mixcloud.com/edgeofjazz but the best thing that I can advise, if you haven't heard the album yet is to pick out just one track and play it loudly whilst sitting down and imbibing a drink of your choice. She's subsequently intimated that she's busy writing material again, and I hope to catch up with her when she visits Devon later in the year.

These are by no means the only albums that I've listened to and liked, but they are five that stand out as being likely to stand the test of time (whatever that is!) I haven't time at the moment to write about what I'm looking forward to during the coming months, but I'll be back soon with talk of the "Love Supreme" Festival, and nearer to home a couple of local clubs that deserve support, as well as straying slightly off -piste to talk about The Branscombe Festival, The Respect Festival here in Exeter, and the Sidmouth Fringe.



Thursday 5 March 2015

So that was 2014!

Not quite sure where the first couple of months on 2015 have gone, but there's been lots happening, and a lot about to happen in Exeter because once again it's...

Vibraphonic Festival 2015

If you're really interested in the events it's probably best to go the website at www.vibraphonic.co.uk
because it will display the full array of what's happening. However, this year, there is a lot of jazz, and evidence of a growing local 'scene' in and around Exeter. It all kicks off on 12th March with the
Exeter University Jazz and Soul Choir who will undoubtedly sell out the Phoenix led by the 25 piece band they play a bewildering array of styles and genres. Next up that the Phoenix are Troyka on 19th March who were lovingly described by "Time Out" magazine as "King Crimson for the 21st century" Unmissable! The next day local jazzer Pete Canter will lead "Off the Cuff" and impromptu performance  partly scored and partly not with a band that seems to grow by the day, though currently it's a 10 piece. On Wednesday 25th March it's a performance by Go Go Penguin Mercury Prize nominated three piece whose influences range across the whole spectrum of classical and progressive pop music. In addition to all that's going on at the Phoenix there are also jazz nights at the Bike Shed Theatre with Philip Clouts  and Annika Skoogh. There's more than enough there for the most discerning jazz fan.

CD releases:

It's often quite quiet as far as releases are concerned in the post-Christmas period, but this year has proved otherwise. There are already some strong contenders for this year's top 10. My own favourites (although it has to be said that sometimes releases that do not have instant appeal sneak up and invade my brain after repeated playing. One of my favourites has been Tom Green Septet album "Skyline". It's unusual for such an ensemble not only to record but also to tour to promote it. I spoke to Tom on the show, and the interview is on the Edge of Jazz Mix Cloud page. Likewise I  interviewed  Emily Saunders ahead of the release of her album "Outsiders Insiders" which I think is excellent, although quite different in conception and execution from her previous album "Cotton Skies" Just two more albums to mention (though I will return to update my choices early next month) I have really enjoyed Maurizio Minardi and his album "Piano Ambulance" which is as well constructed a piano album as I've heard in a long time. I've also enjoyed the innovative nature of Laura Jurd and the album "Human Spirit" which pushes the boundaries beyond straight ahead trumpet playing. Finally whilst talking about CD's I'm really quite excited by some of the re-releases by Dream Covers Records who finally delivered me a copy of "Midnight Sun" by Lou Donaldson some 55 years after it was recorded. It also has a bonus album "Blues Walk", but the playing on Midnight Sun is amazing!

Looking forward:

I'm looking forward to listening to the new Julia Hullsman album, which features Kurt Weill songs. (It arrived today and I'm listening to it as I type!) and also to welcoming Meet Your Feet" a Bristol based 9 piece female band who will be playing in a Phonic.FM benefit gig on Saturday 11th April and spreading some sunshine. You can go to the Exeter Phoenix website for further details at www.exeterphoenix.org.uk  For the moment however it's anticipation of the Bristl Blues and Jazz Festival this weekend.