Like most good ideas, it’s a very simple one; an A-Z guide to the Great American Songbook from a jazz perspective – who wrote the tunes, why they wrote them and a roundup of the best versions. Gioia, a highly respected jazz writer and author, comes up trumps with ‘The Jazz Standards’, a well-researched, witty, […]

These two giants of their instruments – Tyner on piano, Hubbard on trumpet/flugelhorn – crossed paths many times in the 1960s, particularly on three of the latter’s most famous Blue Note albums. (Tyner of course is probably best known for his work with the fabled John Coltrane Quartet.) So it was only natural that they […]

Even amidst this digital revolution, there are still classic jazz and fusion albums which just resolutely refuse to appear on streaming platforms, due to copyright problems, label problems or whatever. Eddie Gomez’s excellent late-1980s albums Mezgo (later rereleased as Discovery) and Power Play are cases in point, recorded for the Japanese arm of the Epic […]

Gil Scott-Heron’s work could hardly be more relevant as we move into 2022. The singer, songwriter, musician, novelist, poet and activist, who died in 2011, was arguably one of the most influential recording artists to emerge since the 1960s. Malik Al Nasir, the poet, musician and activist formerly known as Mark Watson, has quite a […]

It’s somewhat surprising that Solo Live is Venezualan pianist Edward Simon’s first unaccompanied recording, after a stellar 30-year career in the bands of Greg Osby, Kevin Eubanks, Bobby Watson and Terence Blanchard, and 15 albums as leader. It’s also a testament to the format’s challenges – not all pianists relish having to be the whole […]

Jazz books written by ‘jazz widows’ are pretty rare. Only a few come to mind: Laurie Pepper’s ‘Art: Why I Stuck With A Junkie Jazzman’, Jo Gelbart’s ‘Miles And Jo: Love Story In Blue’ and Sue Mingus’s ‘Tonight At Noon’. But, as Val Wilmer’s ‘As Serious As Your Life’ demonstrated some 50 years ago, behind […]

‘Level 42 – Every Album, Every Song (on track)’ is the first in-depth study of the jazz/funk/pop supergroup’s illustrious catalogue.

It features recording information, musical analysis, studio gossip, full credits, stories from the road and contributions from head honcho Mark King and key past members Gary Husband and Phil Gould.

  Pop/jazz keyboardist/producer/impresario David Foster recently remarked in a podcast that the best jazz players seem to have the ‘big picture’ in mind when they start a solo, with a natural sense of storytelling/structure. It rang a bell when listening to a recently rediscovered 1994 solo concert from piano master Tommy Flanagan, now released by […]

They say that if you want to understand why an instrumentalist plays the way he or she plays, listen to them speak. That makes total sense when hearing Wayne Shorter or Ornette Coleman being interviewed. And now, courtesy of Ben Sidran, there’s never been a better chance to hear other examples of this. Sidran is […]

In the late 1980s, some ‘long-lost’ cult tracks took on almost mythical status amongst my musician friends and I. There was Frank Zappa’s ‘The Black Page’, Rush’s ‘YYZ’ and ‘La Villa Strangiato’, UK’s ‘In The Dead Of Night’ and Bill Bruford’s ‘Five G’ and ‘Travels With Myself And Someone Else’. Guitarist Allan Holdsworth, who died […]

1986 was a watershed year for the so-called ‘1980s Jazz Revival’. Indeed it was one of the few positives in a fairly duff year for music. Style magazines like The Face were on board and DJs such as Baz Fe Jazz, Patrick Forge, Gilles Peterson and Paul Murphy were spinning Blue Note sides for a […]

One of the most memorable music documentaries broadcast in Britain during the late 1980s was ‘Speaking In Tongues’, directed by Doug Harris for German TV and originally shown in 1982. It began with John Coltrane’s funeral on 21 July 1967, featuring music from drummer Milford Graves, trumpeter Donald Ayler and saxophonists Ornette Coleman and Albert […]

The ‘political’ jazz concept album has a rich history, taking in Max Roach’s We Insist! and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra through to Sonny Rollins’ more recent Global Warming and Darcy James Argue’s Real Enemies, amongst many more. But multi-award-winning composer/arranger Maria Schneider’s latest collection and critical smash Data Lords could hardly be more timely, […]

Even as the streaming revolution sweeps all before it, there are a few aspects of physical music that seem to be thriving: vinyl and the ‘historical discovery’. Bass superstar Jaco is now a worthy recipient of both, courtesy of Truth, Liberty & Soul, a complete gig recorded at the Avery Fisher Hall in New York […]

Five seconds of silence and then a slowly-building synth, like the spiralling of winter ghosts, accompanied by a cello-like lead guitar and flat ride cymbal: it could only be the new album by Norwegian six-string pioneer Terje Rypdal. He has forged a unique chamber-jazz/rock sound, strong on atmosphere and melancholy, an instantly recognisable blend of […]

The NCT would seem a natural fit for the live DVD format with their witty stage repartee and unusual blend of rock, minimalism and jazz piano. And this Montreux Jazz Festival gig (which followed Tony Bennett in the Miles Davis Hall) doesn’t disappoint. The band take to a stage lit with eerie cobalt blue, the […]

What exactly does a record producer do? Of course the role covers a multitude of aspects but generally falls into two categories – the techie or the psychoanalyst. Tommy LiPuma was definitely in the latter camp, a five-time Grammy winner, label boss (courtesy of his cult imprint Blue Thumb) and bona fide music fan who […]

For such a key figure in the jazz pantheon, Ornette Coleman has arguably been under-represented in print. Certainly this writer’s touchstones have been short-form pieces – Gary Giddins’ extended essay from ‘Visions Of Jazz’; Francis Davis’s ‘No Success Like Failure’; Richard Williams’ ‘The Skies Of America’; Art Taylor’s groundbreaking interview in ‘Notes And Tones’. So […]

When you think Bryan Ferry, you probably think white tuxedo, Jerry Hall, that beautifully fragile croon and pop/art gems such as ‘Love Is The Drug’ and ‘Let’s Stick Together’ – you probably don’t think jazz. But look deeper into his career and there are many hints of a latent jazzophilia, from Andy Mackay’s snaky soprano […]

It’s taken this writer two months and countless listening sessions to put pen to paper on the subject of Is That So?. But, as the cliché goes, it’s a lot easier to write about something you hate than something you love. Six years in the making, this spellbinding album may just be the most cohesive musical […]

An all-jazz residential UK festival – who’d have predicted it? Spread over an idyllic estate in Glynde, rural East Sussex, Love Supreme’s USP was a wholesale celebration of the music’s huge range, from straightahead to avant-garde, and it certainly delivered on that score. Jazz’s liberation from the club and concert hall also seemed to liberate […]

To paraphrase Keith Jarrett, the piano perhaps isn’t the most natural instrument for playing jazz, so conquering the beast with 88 teeth remains a huge challenge and this annual festival of duets always throws up an intriguing potpourri of styles. Bath residents Jason Rebello (pictured) and Dave Newton kicked things off with an engaging if […]

Blue Note’s mid-’80s resurgence was driven by shrewd management of its established stars and also a willingness to expand into various fusions. Some projects of the era have dated well, others not so well, but Biréli Lagrène’s debut Inferno (1987) and follow-up Foreign Affairs (1988) were successes. It’s fair to say that many excellent jazz […]

It’s always interesting to hear jazz away from a club or concert hall, and both the unique location and musical content made this a very interesting evening indeed. The always-interesting Tomorrow’s Warriors started off the second night of Wayne Shorter’s Barbican residency with a mixture of the saxophonist’s early compositions for Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers […]

Look up ‘uncompromising’ in the dictionary, and there’s a good chance you’ll see a photo of guitar great Scott Henderson. If he’d wanted to, he could have enjoyed a long, fruitful career as sideman to the stars – Joe Zawinul, Chick Corea and Jean-Luc Ponty were a pretty decent start – but in the early […]