I’ve just had the pleasure of writing the liner notes for a new Tony Williams 3-CD collection, focusing on the mid-to-late 1970s, a period when the jazz/rock drum legend made some of the most electrifying music of his career. The albums Believe It, Million Dollar Legs and The Joy Of Flying showcase some brilliant drum […]

‘Round Midnight’ turns 30 today, and its status as one of the great jazz movies was confirmed at a birthday screening last night at the Cine Lumiere in South Kensington. Whilst the recent ‘Whiplash’ and ‘Miles Ahead’ were moderate commercial successes, they were subject to withering criticism in some quarters – I was with the […]

The ‘cry’ takes many forms – you can hear it in Aretha Franklin, Carlos Santana, Miles, Albert Ayler and reedsman David Murray too, and it was very much in evidence during Saturday’s electrifying London Jazz Festival gig at the Cadogan Hall. What initially seemed a strange choice of venue for this bass-less supergroup turned out […]

Mention the name Bennie Maupin to a certain generation of jazz fans and you’re likely to get a raised eyebrow followed by a sharp intake of breath. He’s pure class. His baritone, soprano and tenor sax work on seminal Miles Davis albums Bitches Brew and Big Fun as well as Herbie Hancock‘s Head Hunters would be […]

What makes a good jazz club? Clear sightlines, decent acoustics, a varied program and cosy atmosphere are surely required. The 606 in the heart of Chelsea has always scored highly on these and a few more too, and the club is currently celebrating its 40th birthday with a fortnight of triple-headers featuring an impressive line-up […]

They were one of the bands who, along with Chick Corea’s Return To Forever, Herbie Hancock’s Headhunters and John McLaughlin‘s Mahavishnu Orchestra, took Miles Davis‘s late-’60s jazz/rock blueprint and ran with it, progressing from playing nightclubs to concert halls and football stadiums. Their famous credo – ‘we always solo and we never solo’ – was […]

Drummer/percussionist Andrew Cyrille has been busy mapping out his own musical territory during an illustrious career spanning over 50 years. Across a dozen solo albums and in collaboration with Cecil Taylor, Anthony Braxton, David Murray, Geri Allen and Charlie Haden, he has been one of several key players who freed the jazz drummer from the […]

Going solo is never a clear-cut thing for a ‘jazz’ bassist. And if you play electric bass, the issue becomes even murkier. Do you go the chops-infused ‘fusion blowout’ route, or put composition first and place yourself in a variety of group environments a la Victor Bailey, John Patitucci, Jaco et al? By and large, […]

The pianist has a whole orchestra at his or her fingertips – that’s the theory, anyway. And therefore the jazz pianist has the potential to make the unique sound of an orchestra in ‘spontaneous improvisation’ mode. Duke Ellington was famous for approaching the keyboard in this way, and now Zoe Rahman’s sixth solo album Dreamland […]

The piano trio form is expanding in all sorts of directions these days, from the metric perambulations of Vijay Iyer to the deep Zen grooves of The Necks. At last night’s opening gig of the International Piano Trio Festival, a neat bit of programming juxtaposed two bands at the opposite ends of the stylistic spectrum […]

There’s an alternative, fantasy version of the BRITS Lifetime Achievement award where true artists like Allan Holdsworth get the recognition they deserve from their native music industry. There would also be gongs for Courtney Pine, Gary Crosby, John McLaughlin, Django Bates, Julian Joseph, Gary Husband, Bill Bruford and a few others. Of course that’ll never happen, […]

For a great British musician, pianist Jason Rebello has had one of the more intriguing careers than most. A key figure in the late-’80s jazz revival with his blinding licks and clean-cut looks much to the fore, he released a superb Wayne Shorter-produced debut A Clearer View (much more on that soon) in 1990, then followed […]

Either a new Geri Allen or David Murray album would be a cause for celebration, but now the pianist and saxophonist have got together and released Perfection with the very welcome addition of Terri Lyne Carrington on drums. And if that wasn’t enough, the title track is a previously-unrecorded composition by the late great Ornette Coleman. […]

I’ve just had the absolute pleasure of writing the liner notes for a brand new Steve Khan 2-CD reissue featuring his three classic albums of the early ’80s, Eyewitness, Modern Times and Casa Loco, just released on BGO Records. It was an honour to work with Steve on this project. He couldn’t have been more generous […]

First of all, I’ve got to declare an interest: Jaco’s in my all-time top five favourite musicians. Ever since I started really noticing music in the late ’70s, he was always on my radar – my dad would play Weather Report’s Heavy Weather and Mr Gone around the house, and by the time I knew Jaco’s […]

Jan Hammer has had one of the strangest careers in music. A gifted jazz piano prodigy, he started out backing up Sarah Vaughan before tearing off the top of his Fender Rhodes and playing some brilliantly deranged stuff with John McLaughlin and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. He then featured on some great jazz and fusion albums of […]

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 […]