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. 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 and originals […]

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 […]

If this was John’s final London gig, what a way to go out. Though the audience’s response was at times reverential and/or strangely undemonstrative, the outpouring of emotion at the conclusion was heartfelt and seemed to come as quite a shock to the performers too. It’s hard to think of another ‘jazz’ band which has […]

Mention the name of flautist Hubert Laws to jazz fans of a certain bent and it’ll elicit an expression of appreciation and affection – his name is synonymous with the kinds of cool jazz/Latin/funk exemplified by the CTI label, where he made a few fondly remembered albums, as well as making key contributions to Gil […]

Will Downing’s string of three fantastic albums from 1990 to 1995 (A Dream Fulfilled, Love’s The Place To Be and Moods) are almost completely forgotten now – a real oversight. Downing came out of the New York mid-’80s session scene, singing on countless jingles and short-lived studio projects, but hit on a formula of sorts […]

You know the guy: long, bushy hair, beatific grin, jeans, sneakers, long-sleeved T-shirt, usually rhapsodizing intensely via some kind of guitar gizmo. Despite his many stylistic detours, Pat Metheny is a brand all right, and his music inspires a devotion and attendant sales profile that has rarely – if ever – been afforded to ‘jazz’ […]

If this is indeed McLaughlin’s final album, as some recent interviews have intimated, it’s a pretty remarkable one to go out on. There are various reasons for this; it’s the first bona fide full-scale return to Mahavishnu Orchestra material since the final incarnation of that band waved goodbye in 1975; it was recorded live on […]

If Martin Scorsese ever gets round to making his jazz movie, he could do a lot worse than a Stan Levey biopic. Levey, who died in 2005, was one of the first great bebop drummers. Completely self-taught and an early master of fast tempos, he played with Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie, Art Tatum, Miles Davis, […]

On Monday 12th February, ECM founder and producer Manfred Eicher was presented with a Royal Academy Of Music Honorary Fellowship, an award bestowed on ‘only 100 distinguished individuals who have rendered signal service to the institution or to the music profession in general’, in the words of the RAOM’s website. After the ceremony, Eicher joined […]

Is it possible to enjoy a non-fiction book about a musician whose work you’ve never heard? I would probably have said not before I read Graham Lock’s excellent ‘Forces In Motion’ recently. Concerning the music, life and philosophy of Anthony Braxton – possibly the most recorded solo artist in jazz history – the book mainly […]

This is a fabulous Wayne Shorter-produced album by a London-based piano prodigy who I believe was just 20 when it came out. Rebello’s compositions are certainly influenced by the sax master – anyone who’s spent any time trying to decode the Atlantis album will relish hearing a slightly more accessible version here. But Jason’s touch […]

Allan Holdsworth and Wayne Shorter: two of my all-time favourite musicians who, on the face of it, don’t seem to have much in common. But on further inspection, maybe they do – independence, innovation, integrity. Also neither were much given to making guest appearances on other artists’ albums, at least in the second half of […]

The sumptuous Cadogan Hall hosted the fitting finale to this year’s London Jazz Festival, a recreation of Thelonious Monk’s famous New York Town Hall concert of 28th February 1959. Charles Tolliver, who had attended the original concert as a teenager, conducted and added occasional trumpet. In a neat touch, the band set up in the […]

A new Courtney album is always a cause for celebration. Since his big-selling debut, 1986’s Journey To The Urge Within, he’s relentlessly pursued sounds of the Black diaspora (jazz, reggae, calypso, drum’n’bass, ska, hip-hop, soca) and also become a respected educator and broadcaster. And yet the London saxophone legend is still somewhat of a divisive […]

Music videos and jazz: they don’t make for natural bedfellows. A few record companies dipped their toes into the medium in the 1980s with predictably uneven results – Miles’s Tutu videos were ‘interesting’ and worth a look but Chick Corea’s ‘Elektric City’ is probably now an embarrassment to everyone involved, even the brilliant IDJ Dancers. But […]

Most jazz players don’t really seem to ‘get’ the music of Thelonious Monk. Decent cover versions are hard to come by, of course with some notable exceptions (Steve Khan, Kenny Kirkland, Lynne Arriale, Paul Motian and probably a few more). During the centenary of the genius’s birth, it seems as good a time as any to […]