Author Archives: Matt P (movingtheriver.com, soundsofsurprise.com)

Book Review: Stan Levey: Jazz Heavyweight by Frank R. Hayde

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, […]

Manfred Eicher awarded Royal Academy of Music Honorary Fellowship

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 […]

Book Review: Forces In Motion (The Music And Thoughts Of Anthony Braxton) by Graham Lock

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 […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Jason Rebello’s A Clearer View (1990)

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 […]

When Wayne Met Allan

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 […]

Three Views of the Piano @ London Jazz Festival 2017: Monk’s Centenary, Nik Bärtsch and Kate Williams

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 […]

Album Review: Courtney Pine’s Black Notes From The Deep

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 […]

‘Brass Eye’ Meets Mr Bungle: Shatner’s Bassoon

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 […]

Rescued From The Vaults: That’s The Way I Feel Now

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 […]

Tony Williams: Creature Of Conscience

It seems as if the second chapter of Tony Williams’ Blue Note solo career (1985–1992) has been rather forgotten. But listening back again after quite a few years, it’s striking how different those six albums sound to most acoustic jazz records being made these days. Though no fan of the whole ‘Young Lions’ neo-traditionalist thing […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Johnny Guitar Watson’s Ain’t That A Bitch

As well as being a blues pioneer, Johnny Guitar Watson was steeped in bebop and swing; one listen to his version of ‘Witchcraft’ or brilliant guitar solo on ‘Telephone Bill’ should prove that. But there was a lot more to Watson, who died in 1996. Frank Zappa said that listening to ‘Three Hours Past Midnight’ […]

Album Review: Roscoe Mitchell’s Bells For The South Side

The trio is of course one of the staples of jazz. But legendary Art Ensemble Of Chicago/AACM (Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians) co-founder, saxophonist and composer Roscoe Mitchell has come up with an ingenious concept on his new ECM double album: he leads four separate trios, then mixes and matches them. Sometimes he […]

Album Review: The Joe Harriott Story

Jamaica-born alto saxist Joe Harriott was one of the UK scene’s most original, inventive and under-appreciated jazzmen of the late-‘50s and ‘60s. Although he died almost penniless in 1973 at the age of just 44, his work is now being reappraised and he’s being cited as a major influence on today’s younger players. Young UK jazz […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Terje Rypdal’s Waves

Terje Rypdal has enjoyed a very long and varied career with ECM Records. His guitar style is an in-your-face mixture of Hank Marvin-influenced wang-bar melodicism and jagged, dramatic lines that would seem more likely to come from a cello or violin. And whilst probably too much of a mysterious presence to be described as a […]

John Coltrane 1926-1967

The great Trane died 50 years old today. John William Coltrane (23rd September 1926 – 17th July 1967)

Geri Allen 1957-2017

Pianist, composer and educator Geri Allen, who has died at the age of 60, had her own sound. Just a few bars gave her away. Her close-interval chord voicings and soaring single-note lines couldn’t be anyone else. Influenced by Herbie Hancock, McCoy Tyner, Monk, Tommy Flanagan, Bud Powell and Cecil Taylor, she explained her style […]

Scott Henderson & Bruce Forman’s New Podcast

The podcast revolution shows no sign of letting up, and its effect has been felt in the jazz world too. I’ve come across a couple in the last year or so that I return to on a regular basis – The Jazz Bastard features two ‘strikingly-handsome, middle-aged men’ kvetching very amusingly about their musical peccadilloes […]

Album Review: Richie Beirach/Gregor Huebner Live At Birdland New York

Fans of over-the-top piano playing: this album’s for you. Richie Beirach should probably be a far bigger name than he is. A classically trained virtuoso, he has worked with Stan Getz and Chet Baker and also enjoyed fruitful collaborations with guitarist John Abercrombie and saxophonist Dave Liebman, whilst also focusing his own deeply personal solo […]

Harvey Mason @ Ronnie Scott’s, 13th May 2017

Who’s the most-recorded drummer in music history? Steve Gadd, Bernard Purdie, Jeff Porcaro and Hal Blaine would make pretty good bets, but I’d raise you Harvey Mason. He’s played on some of the all-time-great jazz/funk sides: ‘Westchester Lady‘, ‘Chameleon’, ‘Some Skunk Funk‘ and ‘Breezin‘; played pure jazz with Chet Baker and Gerry Mulligan and smooth […]

When Miles Met James Baldwin

‘I Am Not Your Negro’ is a fascinating recent documentary about the writer and activist James Baldwin. In 1979, Baldwin wrote a letter to his literary agent outlining his next project, ‘Remember This House’, a personal account of the lives and assassinations of three close friends: Medgar Evers, Malcolm X and Martin Luther King. At […]

Rescued From The Vaults: Yellowjackets’ Greenhouse

It’s always a treat when an established ‘jazz’ band makes its artistic and/or commercial breakthrough after years of service. Weather Report of course did it with Heavy Weather, and Yellowjackets did something similar with their 1991 release Greenhouse.  Greenhouse was their eighth studio album. After several lineup changes – though always sticking to core unit […]

Book Review: Pressed For All Time by Michael Jarrett

It’s a conundrum: how to preserve for all time something as quintessentially ephemeral and improvisatory as a jazz performance. So-called ‘red-light fever’ – the terror of preserving a take for eternity when the ‘record’ button goes on – has haunted the careers of a fair few jazz masters. And yet the music is littered with […]

Sonny Rollins: Saxophone Colossus

Every serious jazz fan seems to have a favourite Sonny Rollins story. One whose origins I forget – but it may be recited in Ken Burns’ ‘Jazz’ documentary – concerns a late-night Carnegie Hall New Year’s Eve concert sometime in the 1990s. Rollins embarked on a typically Herculean solo at around 11:30pm. This went on […]

Larry Coryell 1943-2017

On 8th November 2016, the day after America voted to make Donald Trump the next president of the US, guitar legend Larry Coryell – who has died of heart failure – told Downbeat magazine’s Bill Milkowski: ‘Now that Trump is in, we’re going to make good on our promise to move to either Germany or […]

Steve Khan returns with Backlog

Steve Khan is one of jazz’s most underrated and distinctive guitarists. His unique chord voicings, intriguing melodic sense and subtle use of effects have illuminated work by The Brecker Brothers, Steely Dan, Billy Cobham and Joe Zawinul. Khan’s many solo albums across a 40-year career showcase his enormous versatility, from overdubbed guitar tributes to Thelonious […]