For some reason (could it be the name?) American guitarist John Abercrombie has never really received the same kind of attention as his contemporaries John Scofield, Pat Metheny, Bill Frisell and Mike Stern. His career has been modest and craftsmanlike in comparison, starting out, in his words, as a ‘John McLaughlin rip-off’, playing on ‘some […]

It’s somewhat of a surprise that it’s taken this long for a movie about Jaco Pastorius to be released. There have been major biographies of the bass master before – Charles Shaar Murray presented a spirited two-part tribute on BBC Radio, while Bill Milkowski’s book was exhaustive and well-researched but controversial in its unflinching detail. Then, around […]

1997’s One More Angel was a stunning album in which Patitucci finally left behind the influences of his mentor Chick Corea and found a composing style all his own. A period of great upheaval and tragedy in Patitucci’s private life, outlined in detail in the CD’s liner notes, was transformed into some absolutely beautiful music. Featuring […]

A cursory scan through David’s career confirms that he was a big jazz fan. His first instrument was the sax (he had some lessons from Ronnie Ross, later employed by David to play the famous solo on Lou Reed’s ‘Walk On The Wild Side’) and he loved Mingus, Parker and Coltrane. Check out this interview […]

‘Pocket’ is hard to define but you know it when you hear it. Something akin to a drummer’s ‘feel’, musicians often say that you’re either in the pocket or you ain’t, and as such the expression is mostly used in association with great US groovemasters like Richie Hayward, James Gadson, Bernard Purdie and Andy Newmark. […]

The November 2015 issue of JazzTimes magazine featured a long-overdue interview with master-drummer Dennis Chambers. I’ll never forget first hearing his playing on the title track of John Scofield’s brilliant Blue Matter album as a highly-impressionable 15-year-old. I had never heard anyone play a kick drum like that. His grooves were tasty, funky and solid, […]

Like a lot of people, I must confess to an ambivalent attitude towards the whole New Year’s Eve thang. But all that changed around five years ago when, at the behest of good friend/good pianist James Hayes, I began doing a yearly NYE gig at Coq D’Argent, a beautiful restaurant sitting atop 1 Poultry, one of […]

They’re the ‘singer-songwriters who love jazz’, as described by guitarist and occasional collaborator Lee Ritenour. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker AKA Steely Dan have been pushing the musical boundaries for five decades now, marrying jazz chords to funk/R’n’B backbeats, rock guitars and classic pop songcraft. Although sometimes neglected, coming as it does between the ‘Rikki Don’t […]

Here’s a real curveball that gives a new meaning to the word ‘fusion’. The James Taylor Quartet have always been known for their reliable brand of Brit jazz/funk but now they’ve come up with one of the most surprising and impressive releases of the year. Jazz has been fused with all kinds of music styles […]

Stretch/GRP Records, released 1994 Most solo albums by sideman drummers are disappointments – not this one. It goes way beyond the call of duty. Vinnie’s obviously been a great listener during his time playing with Frank Zappa, Joni Mitchell, Sting and Chick Corea because he’s assimilated their compositional styles, analysed what works for him and […]

There’s still time to see a rare exhibition of David Sinclair’s jazz photography at the Royal Albert Hall. It is showing as part of the London Jazz Festival and runs until Saturday 28th November. He is possibly best-known for his striking black-and-white photographs which make the most of light and shadow, such as the image […]

It isn’t easy to make a documentary about jazz these days, and that’s an understatement. BBC Four will very occasionally shoehorn some jazz into their output, usually a bought-in product from the States or something from the vaults, but the chances of getting the funding for a new documentary are slim or none. After ‘Whiplash’ […]

The vacuum left by North London genius Lewis Taylor‘s virtual disappearance from the music scene has left space for various young blue-eyed soulsters (Bo Saris, Allen Stone, Mayer Hawthorne, The Stepkids et al), but Jarrod Lawson has surely emerged as the pick of the bunch. His assured, ambitious and well-received 2014 debut album announced a […]

Settled band line-ups in jazz are pretty rare. The Duke Ellington Orchestra, Dave Brubeck Quartet, Modern Jazz Quartet, Thelonious Monk Quartet (1964-1968), Medeski, Martin And Wood and The Bad Plus spring to mind. But now master guitarist John McLaughlin’s 4th Dimension quartet, also featuring Gary Husband on keys/occasional drums, Etienne M’Bappe on bass and Ranjit […]

Does humour belong in jazz? It’s a tough one, whichever way you slice it. Jazz and comedy were certainly frequently intertwined in the ’30s. Later, Spike Jones‘ incredible bands often featured jazz musicians and consistently tickled the funny bone though rarely at the expense of jazz itself – he mainly used the virtuosity of his […]

When we think of ‘groove’, we probably think of funk or soul music. But jazz can groove too, and the new Christian McBride Trio live album grooves like a mother. 43-year-old bassist McBride is of course something of a prodigy, already a world-renowned bandleader and collaborator with Dr Billy Taylor, Sting, Pat Metheny, Wynton Marsalis, Chick […]

So we finally get a sneak preview of the new Miles Davis movie ‘Miles Ahead’, which wrapped in August 2014 and gets a worldwide release in January. It has also just closed the New York Film Festival and the reviews are in. First, the positives – Don Cheadle, who also directed, co-wrote and co-produced, has […]

You could count on one hand the number of jazz writers who also happen to be great players, and you’d probably have several fingers left over. Let’s face it, it’s not an easy gig. But a few months ago I came across a podcast called The Third Story that immediately intrigued me. For a start, […]

Excerpts taken from my liner notes for the new Working Week live album: Does jazz go into pop? Judging by the current music scene, the answer would appear to be an unequivocal ‘no’, but, for a golden period in the early-to-mid ’80s, it seemed as if the two styles could happily co-exist. Artists like David […]

It’s not easy to write about an album that’s so much part of your musical DNA that it haunts you in the middle of the night and yet reveals fresh nuances each time you listen to it. Wayne is one of my all-time musical heroes and has been since I was a teenager when his […]

John Taylor, the gifted pianist, composer and educator who has died aged 72, was one of the key British jazz musicians of his generation, a versatile sideman and occasional leader whose work featured on many key albums of the last 40 years. Born in Manchester in 1942, he also featured in not one but two […]

‘But Beautiful’ by Geoff Dyer Geoff Dyer is probably best known as the witty, urbane writer of ‘Jeff in Venice’, ‘Paris, Trance’ and ‘Yoga For People Who Can’t Be Bothered To Do It’, but he started off his career with this stunning series of vignettes based on the lives of jazz greats including Chet Baker, […]

  Drummers and bassists: this album’s for you. And it’s for guitarists/percussionists/fans of great music too. Put simply, Steve Khan’s hard-to-track-down Casa Loco has enthralled me and a whole generation of jazz and jazz/rock aficionados for over 30 years. The compositions and performances of guitarist/leader Khan, bassist Anthony Jackson, drummer Steve Jordan and ex-Weather Report […]

Ornette Coleman’s sad recent passing reminded me of an amazing, almost totally forgotten ‘documentary’ that is begging for a DVD re-release (though it may be available in the US). Shirley Clarke’s 1985 film ‘Ornette: Made In America‘ centres around Coleman’s 1983 return to his hometown of Fort Worth, Texas, to receive the keys to the city from […]

If 1959 is generally considered jazz’s annus mirabilis, you could make a pretty good case for 1973 as fusion’s apogee with key releases from Mahavishnu, Santana, Zappa and Herbie’s Headhunters. But for sheer energy and wow factor, drum master Cobham’s Spectrum might just trump them all, and he celebrated the classic album with this vigorous […]