Category Live Reviews

Wayne Shorter @ Barbican, 8th October 2011

The sturdy saxophonist plays a rapid, angular five-note motif and then takes the soprano out of his mouth as if immediately reflecting on what’s just transpired. It wasn’t a blues lick or a ‘jazz’ lick. It sounded possibly Eastern or African. Japanese? It’s probably best to classify it as a Wayne lick. As the bass player […]

Roy Ayers @ St Saviour’s Church, 21st July 2011

The pupils of St Saviour’s C of E Primary in Little Venice, West London, were treated to an amazing 30-minute show at the local St Saviour’s Church by the legendary vibraphone player, singer and songwriter Roy Ayers. St Saviour’s Head Lindsey Woodford has long championed the importance of music in young people’s lives. She said before the show, ‘We […]

Steinway Piano Festival @ Pizza Express Soho, 26th March 2011

Judging by the first night of the Steinway Piano Festival, British jazz piano is in good hands. This was the third annual celebration of the world-famous family of manufacturers, and although jazz piano duets have never particularly been in vogue (apart from some much-heralded ‘70s collaborations featuring various permutations of Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Keith Jarrett), the […]

Jim Mullen @ 606 Club, November 2011

Glaswegian guitarist Jim Mullen is a hero to a generation of Brit jazz/funk fans mainly thanks to his work with late great saxophonist Dick Morrissey. Morrissey Mullen had some success in the late ‘70s and mid-80s, giving The Crusaders, Ronnie Laws and Don Blackman (not to mention Shakatak) a run for their money. Since then, Mullen has […]

Janek Gwizdala/Gary Husband @ Hideaway, 14th November 2011

Old-school fusion is alive and well and coming to a venue near you during this week’s London Jazz Festival. In the vacuum left after Tribal Tech‘s extended sabbatical in 2000, a number of units have emerged to take on the Miles Davis/Weather Report/Herbie Hancock template and run with it. The latest is this powerful group led by London-born, US-based […]

Robert Mitchell @ Ray’s Jazz, 10th February 2011

Robert Mitchell is one of the most original pianists on the UK scene. Mainly known for his Panacea group, he has also worked with US saxophonists Greg Osby and Steve Coleman and in a duo format with violinist Omar Puente. But this solo gig was the first in a new series at Ray’s Jazz Cafe in Foyles bookshop on London’s Charing Cross Road, a delightful place […]

Kenny Wheeler @ Pizza Express, 18th February 2011

Kenny Wheeler is one of the most inspirational and treasured players on the world jazz scene. The Canadian-born, England-based trumpet and flugelhorn player has enjoyed a long and varied career playing in quintets, quartets, big bands and with strings. He’s probably best known for his classic solo albums Gnu High (which featured Keith Jarrett on piano) and Deer […]

Little Axe @ The Star Of Kings, September 2011

The death of Sylvia Robinson this week brought to an end the era of Sugar Hill Records, the groundbreaking label that showcased some of the key rappers and one of the hottest rhythm sections of the last 30 years. Ohio-born guitarist and vocalist Skip McDonald was part of that unit and has since forged a formidable career playing with […]

Brecon Jazz Festival 2010

Taking place in the intimate, rural atmosphere of Mid-Wales near Hay-on-Wye, the Brecon festival crams an amazing amount of world-class artists into such a small area. And this year the variety didn’t just apply to the music on offer (or, unfortunately, the weather) – it was also a treat to see such a wide range […]

Stevie Wonder @ Hyde Park, 26th June 2010

I parked the car behind the Albert Hall and set out across Hyde Park, almost bumping into Kate Middleton in dazzling red dress (yes, really…). What kind of omen was that for Stevie’s gig? The general consensus was that his last shows in London at the O2 a few years ago had been a bit long on […]

Charlie Wood @ 606, 13th June 2010

There’s nothing quite like the 606 on a Monday night. Things are a bit more sedate, you can unwind at the bar, find your favourite perch, take the weight off. And when an artist of the calibre of Charlie Wood is providing the entertainment, you know everything’s going to be awright. Wood is a Memphis-born singer, songwriter and pianist who […]

Soweto Kinch: Tribute To Joe Harriott @ QEH, 29th July 2011

Jamaican-born Joe Harriott died in 1973 at the age of just 44. Though he shook up the UK jazz scene in his lifetime, garnered comparisons to Ornette Coleman and Charlie Parker, pioneered Indo-jazz fusions and, in Kinch’s words, ‘scared the hell out of people’ with his prodigious technique, he died almost penniless. And due to the BBC’s policy […]

Tomorrow’s Warriors/Steve Williamson @ Purcell Room, 28th July 2011

Three generations of great British jazz were celebrated this week at the Southbank Centre in a series of concerts marking the 60th anniversary of the Festival of Britain. One of the recent homegrown heroes is Steve Williamson, the mercurial saxophone talent who burst onto the scene in the late 1980s in bassist Gary Crosby OBE’s enormously influential […]

John McLaughlin @ Barbican, 23rd April 2010

What is the role of the electric guitar in jazz music? Since Charlie Christian‘s revolutionary bebop permutations in the ’30s and ’40s, the guitar has undeniably held a fascination for jazz fans specifically and music fans in general. And when volume levels were increasing and minds expanding in the mid-to-late 1960s, in some ways John McLaughlin […]

George Duke @ Ronnie Scott’s, 12th May 2010

Fusion is no longer a dirty word – it’s everywhere on the jazz scene in many different guises, from Led Bib to Jamie Cullum. But George Duke was one of the genre’s originals and part of a generation of musicians – including Tony Williams, Stanley Clarke and Airto, for example –  for whom mixing styles was completely natural. A quick glance at Duke’s sideman gigs […]

Pamela Rose: Wild Women Of Song

Pamela Rose‘s new album Wild Women of Song: Great Gal Composers Of The Jazz Era makes a compelling case for the enduring contributions of women to America’s treasure trove of popular music. It features the music of women songwriters – particularly those of the Tin Pan Alley and Blues eras – whose contributions Rose was […]

Dominic Miller @ 606, 21st April 2010

Guitarist Dominic Miller dropped in to the 606 last night for a rare London gig. Famously Sting‘s right-hand-man since 1990, Miller was also the original guitarist in Level 42 after hooking up with keyboardist Mike Lindup and drummer Phil Gould during his time at the Guildhall School of Music. He joined Lindup again here to perform tracks from recent album November which also features […]

Soweto Kinch @ Ealing Jazz Festival, 31st July 2003

Soweto saunters into West London on something of a roll – his highly-rated debut album Conversations With The Unseen has been nominated for the Mercury Music Prize, and he has also just received a Best Jazz Artist nomination for the MOBO awards. In short, Soweto’s presence is quite a coup for this free festival in […]