Friday 16th December – Township Comets at Cambridge Modern Jazz
Saturday 17th December – Abram Wilson’s New Orleans Christmas at Kings Place Hall One
Sunday 18th December – Sound Generation Christmas Party. Sam’s Brasserie, W4.
Press play. This short clip from the Vortex last weekend (festival directors please take note/ marquez ce nom/ eine Band in Erinnerung zu bringen!) gives a sample of the Township Comets’ sheer verve and energy,and of what a resoundingly strong trumpet-player Chris Batchelor is. The Comets, who focus on the music of Dudu Pukwana were at Cambride Modern Jazz in the Hidden Rooms in Jesus Street. The club was welcoming its new piano, the money raised from donations, notably a charity gig at the 606, and Cambridge-born Adam Glasser absolutely did justice to the occasion. Saxophonist Jason Yarde and trombonist Harry Brown completed a powerful front line Dudley Phillips in a Robin Hood hat was impeccable, and Frank Tontoh on drums was sensitive but also gave the fireworks when required.
|Reuben James, Alex Davis, Abram Wilson, Myrna Hague
Jason Marsalis, Dave Hamblett. Kings Place Hall One
Photo Credit: Roger Thomas
On Saturday I was at Abram Wilson‘s “New Orleans Christmas,” bringing good music and a thoroughly good and warm vibe to Kings Place Hall One, with Jamaican vocal legend Myrna Hague, highly impressive Birmingham pianist Reuben James (check him out here) Alex Davis on bass and guest drummer Jason Marsalis, joined at the end by Wilson’s regular drummer Dave Hamblett. They were playing new music, and the confidence and the extroversion grew righly, greeably, through the course of the evening. Everything Wilson does with this group is based on dialogue and communication rather than display, and is all te better for that. As MC, poet, singer, composer (perhaps above all as composer), and as an ebullient presence on the London scene, we are truly blessed to have our very own resident New Orleans trumpeter.
Sunday night was a party. Sofia Wilde was out celebrating a successful year for her promotions company Sound Generation. Michael L Roberts and Elisa Caleb were singing Christmas songs with an orchestra called Jo Caleb. Guests Fran Hardcastle and Esther Bennett completed the line-up.
The range of gigs on offer is astonishing. Any of these three evenings would be thoroughly recommendable, for the positive energy and life-affirmation at it heart, the reality of invention, of interaction. of involvement in particular strands of the music, of generous spirits and open minds. Joy.