Gigs of the month?

Ernesto Simpson. Photo credit Therese deBono/ Malta Jazz Festival

Two gigs to REALLY look forward to: the stellar quintet of Phil Robson, Gareth Lockrane, Mark Turner, Michael Janisch and Ernesto Simpson – known as the Instant Mesage Service Quintet – have two nights at the Vortex on January 24th and 25th. This group is doing a brief national tour, showcasing a set of new compositions by Phil Robson. I’m going to review the premiere at Wavendon on Jan 18th.

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First, the musicians:

The presence of New York-based saxophonist Mark Turner will attract saxophone players in droves. Is there a more completely equipped saxophonist anywhere in the world? The first thing people notice is a gentle rather than gutbucket sound. But what holds the interest is his ability to construct fabulous lines.

Alongside Turner is one of the top jazz flautists in the world, who is also a prolific composer and arranger – Gareth Lockrane, originally from Leek in Staffordshire. Guitarist Phil Robson, from Derby, has a unique way of being assertive, and yet leaving harmonic room for improvisers, room for dialogue and interaction. On bass is the energetic and impeccable presence of Wisconsin Londoner Michael Janisch.

And it is safe to predict that the guy at the back won’t go unnoticed. He’s Cuban Londoner Ernesto Simpson. according to this biography, came to prominence when he got the drum chair in Arturo Sandoval’s band. He has played with Dizzy Gillespie and Carmen McRae, and more recently “has been spending a good deal of time touring the world with artists like Paquito D’Rivera, Richard Bona, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Mike Stern, Herbie Hancock, James Genus…”

Then there’s the music.

Phil Robson is one of Britain’s major jazz composers . His last significant set of compositions was “Six Strings and the Beat” in 2008, helped into existence by Derby Jazz. John Fordham called it “…a hot contender among European releases for 2008.” The theme for the new set of pieces is messages and communication, and Phil tells me one of the pieces has a message spelt out in the rhythm in Morse code.

Can anyone help me and trnascribe the Morse code live at the premiere. Respond in the comments, and join me at Wavendon.

For LondonJazz newsletter readers there is a prize draw this week for a pair of tickets for the Vortex gigs

More details on Phil Robson’s website

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