Temporary halt to blogging

Those of you who have been following this blog regularly will probably have spotted that

  1. I’ve been posted less often recetly
  2. Much of what I have been posting has been information about forthcoming concerts rather than reviews of recent events or albums.

I’m afraid my health hasn’t been brilliant over the past couple of months and I’ve decided to take a break until I’m back to my normal self.

See you soon, I hope

Glasgow Jazz Festival 2013: full programme announced

The full programme for this year’s Glasgow International Jazz Festival, which runs from Wednesday 26th June to Sunday 30th June, was published yesterday. It’s a very interesting line-up: it’s rather short of big jazz names (the most famous guests are from the edges of jazz – The Blind Boys of Alabama, Georgie Fame, Burt Bacharach), but when you check out the list in more detail, there are some really interesting bands playing, including several from overseas which I know very little about. What does seem to be missing though, are performers from the mid-to-upper range of the London scene: no Liam Noble or Stan Sulzmann or Nikki Iles or Empirical or….

Anyway, the full list, including venues, times and prices, is on the Glasgow Jazzfest website, but here are some of the things which caught my eye.

Wednesday 19th.

  • Konrad Wiszniewski and Euan Stevenson, “New Focus”. Special pre-festival performance of music from their excellent recent jazz quartet plus string quartet album.

Wednesday 26th.

  • Leo Blanco. Jaw-droppingly good Venezuelan pianist playing a solo set based on his forthcoming “Pianoforte” album.
  • Carol Kidd and Friends – the friends being her regular band of Paul Harrison (piano), Nigel Clark (guitar), Kenny Ellis (bass) and Stu Ritchie (drums).

Thursday 27th.

  • Dutch-German duo of Stevko Busch on piano and alto saxophonist Paul van Kemenade. Their music is intriguingly descibed as including elements of both South African and traditional Russian music.
  • David Carnegie Trio – The Original Unit. Barbadian trio who apparently combine “elements of Caribbean music, straight-ahead jazz, soul, electronica and free improvisation”.
  • Laura MacDonald Quartet. First Glasgow gig in a while by the lyrical alto player, who’s also a fine composer and arrangment. She’s apparently got a new album coming out next year.

Friday 28th.

  • Kevin Brady Trio featuring Bill Carrothers. Irish drummer Brady with a band featuring US pianist Bill Carrothers, who’s one of those marvellously subtle players who doesn’t play anything flash, but can really dig into the heart of a song and find lots of new things to say with the material.
  • Snarky Puppy. Superhip jazz-funk band from North Texas. A major act in the making, or just flavour of the moment? Supported by Malcolm Macfarlane’s Grooveyard, who’ll be playing a set of 60s and 70s soul-jazz.
  • Chris Dave and the Drumhedz. More jazz-funk, this time led by a drummer who’s worked with Robert Glasper, Wynton Marsalis, Kenny Garrett, Adele and many others.
  • Pete Johnstone Trio. 2012 winner of the Young Scottish Jazz Musician of the Year, pianist and organist Johnstone is already very good and seems to get better every time I hear him.
  • Burt Bacharach. One of the great post-war songwriters. But jazz?

Saturday 29th.

  • Glasgow Improvisers Orchestra. Two workshops, one for young children, the other for all ages, plus an afternoon performance of pieces inspired by the work of poet Edwin Morgan.
  • The Ames Room. “Minimal Maximal Terror Jazz” if you’re any the wiser. My guess is they play noisy free jazz. They’re a sax, bass and drums trio from Australia.
  • Georgie Fame. Jazzy singing and organ playing from a legend of the British rhythm and blues scene.

Sunday 30th.

  • Brodie Jarvie Septet. Seven-piece led by a fine young bass player and very promising composer and arranger.
  • Spoken Mirror – Malcolm Macfarlane and Allon Beauvoisin. New duo project from guitarist Macfarlane and Brass Jaw baritone sax player Beauvoisin.
  • Matthew Halsall and GoGo Penguin. Double bill featuring two up-and-coming Manchester bands, one lead by trumpeter Halsall, the other an eccentrically-named piano trio.
  • Stan Tracey and Bobby Wellins. Quartet featuring two of the all-time greats of British jazz. Support set from the alto and piano duo of Paul Towndrow and Steve Hamilton.

Coming up: SNJO plays Kenton; Robben Ford; Gurtu/Fresu/Sosa

Three big gigs to look out for between now and the end of the month:

Scottish National Jazz Orchestra plays Stan Kenton

Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Saturday 27 April, 7.30pm. £17.50.
Kenton’s fans say that his 50s big bands expanded the possibilities of jazz through their use of string sections and extended musical forms; his detractors say that they were simply noisy and overblown. This is your chance to make your mind up for yourself. The concert’s almost sold out, so if you’ve still to get a ticket you’d better be quick. There’s a pre-concert talk at 6.45.

Robben Ford

The Arches, Sunday 28 April, 7.30pm. £25.
Blues-jazz-rock crossover guitarist Ford’s CV includes spells working with Miles Davis and Joni Mitchell. He’s in Glasgow tomorrow night with his own band.

Trilok Gurtu, Paolo Fresu and Omar Sosa

Old Fruitmarket, Tuesday 30th April, 8pm. £15.
Three giants of jazz and world music performing together: Indian percussion Trilok Gurtu, Sardinian trumpeter Paolo Fresu (who was excellent with SNJO a couple of months ago) and Cuban pianist Omar Sosa. They’re supported by the Scottish duo of Graeme Stephen (guitar) and Fraser Fifield (sax, whistles and pipes).

New Saturday afternoon sessions at The Halt Bar

Drummer Stu Brown, one of the people behind the long-running Jazz at the 78 sessions on Sunday nights, is launching a new series of Saturday afternoon gigs at The Halt Bar in Woodlands Road. They run from 3pm to 6pm and admission is free.

They’ll apparently operate on the similar basis to Jazz at the 78, with a house band drawn from a pool of musicians, and then a jam session towards the end of the proceedings.

Glasgow’s lacked a good weekend afternoon modern jazz session since Bar Brel stopped putting on live music early last year, and the Halt does have a bit of a jazz tradition: Bobby Wishart used to have a weekly residency there in the late eighties. I won’t make it along this week, but I hope to pop in at some point over the next few weeks.

The first gig in the series is today, Saturday 20th April.

Euan Burton: short tour of Scotland and Poland


In a few minutes, bassist Euan Burton will kick off a short series of dates with his new quartet which takes them to Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Poland.

Burton’s always well worth hearing: as well as being an excellent unshowy bass player, he’s a fine writer, as demonstrated on last year’s classy Occurrences album on Whirlwind Records. This current band also contains one of his regular playing partners, pianist Tom Gibbs, plus alto player Adam Jackson and drummer Alyn Cosker.

The first gig is tonight at the Jazz Bar in Edinburgh, starting at 9pm.

Tomorrow night (Thursday 18th) they’re at the Glasgow Art Club at 185 Bath Street. The performance starts at 8pm and tickets are £7 with £5 concessions.

After that, it’s off to Poland for a gig in Nowy Targ on Friday, followed by two in Krakow, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.

More details on Euan’s website.