REVIEWED IN BRIEF: We also went to… at the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival

Sean Noonan (on drims, right) at the Crypt Camberwell
Photo Credit: John L Walters

“We also went to…” 

When all our full gig reviews of the 2014 EFG London Jazz Festival been filed, we expect to have well over thirty of them, in addition to twenty-three previews. Nevertheless, we are aware that even our coverage has left many events unremarked. So we try to redress this here with twenty-four mini-reviews of other gigs, in alphabetical order:

o  –  o  –  o  –  o

Aaron Goldberg at Pizza Express Dean Street

Just after midnight on Thursday, at a packed Pizza Express where staff struggled to contain fans who were desperate to get in, pianist Aaron Goldberg constructed a mesmerising set of (mainly) original music alongside bassist Joe Sanders and drummer Eric Harland. 100 minutes of sheer bliss; and it was free! (Andy Boeckstaens)

Adam Glasser’s South African Jazz Night ay Ivy House Community Pub, Nunhead

Packed to the rafters with listeners and drinkers soaking in the atmosphere, Adam Glasser‘s brand of South African jazz was one of the few authentically South African Festival tributes. Vocalist Pinise Saul brought vibrancy to the music while Gareth Lockrane and Jason Yarde provided horn fills. Bassist Steve Watts and drummer Ian Thomas did a terrific job as the backbone of the ensemble. (Nicky Schrire)

Amina Figarova Sextet at the 606

The range of this transatlantic group’s expression, and of Figarova’s writing, from New York hustle-bustle to a beautifully placed, as yet unrecorded ballad entitled Blue Whisper, was stunning. This is in every sense a headlining rather than a support band. Jeroen Vierdag is perectly in-tune go-for-it bassist, drummer Jason Brown a real creative energizer, Bart Platteau a go-to flautist.    (Sebastian Scotney)

Buck Clayton Legacy Band Celebrate Duke Ellington’s small bands at Pizza Express

A cracking gig and a masterclass in swing from bassist Alyn Shipton and Matthias Seuffert’s co-led super-group (video above), with sublime arrangements by Alan Barnes and Tony Faulkner. Highlights included trumpeter Ian Smith’s heart stopping break chorus on Johnny Hodges’ ‘Globetrotter’ and Alan Barnes at his best channelling the sinewy spirit of Hodges on ‘Three and six’. Ten out of ten for frontline ensemble work. Honourable mentions for Robert Fowler’s baritone and Martin Litton at his most Ducal. (Al Ryan)

Chaos Orchestra at the Spice of Life

The sound of a big band in a small space always sends shivers up the spine.  The Chaos Orchestra – directed by Laura Jurd – is a fine modern band with an exciting spiky sound and an exuberant group of young musicians and composers who clearly had a lot of fun – always a good sign! (Peter Slavid)

Charlotte Glasson Band in the Clore Ballroom at the RFH

Multi-instrumentalist Charlotte Glasson had the audience – kids, passers-by, jaded punters – clapping in 6/4 time, whistling choruses and generally partying as the joyful spirit of Roland Kirk filled the Clore Ballroom for a short but breakneck set (“Five minutes left, so time for two tunes. I still have a couple of instruments to play”) Great to see that ever-versatile guitarist Chris Spedding and bassist Mick Hutton having such fun. Certainly as good as I recall of Kirk on my first visit to Ronnies, back in 1974. (Geoff Noble)

Clare Teal – The Divas & Me at Pizza Express

A hugely entertaining evening with the perennially classy Clare Teal. Skillfully channeling Ella, Peggy, Dinah and more, a superb master class in crafting a show which showcased drummer Ben Reynolds, bassist Simon Little and pianist/arranger Grant Windsor beautifully. (Nicky Schrire)

Cyrille Aimée  at  the Elgar Room, Royal Albert Hall

Cyrille Aimée and her stellar quartet enthralled with repertoire ranging from Duke Ellington to Michael Jackson. An intense musicality, exceptional ability to improvise and a modern repertoire set Aimée apart from her peers. Guitarists Michael Valeanu, Adrien Moignard, bassist Sam Anning and drummer Rajiv Jayaweera were technically virtuosic and musically electrifying. (Nicky Schrire)

Dan Tepfer’s Goldberg Variations/Variations at the Wigmore Hall

An extreme jazz gig where the first applause came after 80+ minutes of music, indeed after 25 seconds of silence after the last piano chord. An evening where there are strong shadows on the walls: Glenn Gould for the Goldbergs, Keith Jarrett for the journeys into abstraction (and the singing). But maybe the real unpressured Dan Tepfer only came through in the encore, an original. (Sebastian Scotney)

Gareth Lockrane, Alex Garnett, Steve Fishwick, Barnaby Dickenson, James Allsopp
The Forge. Photo credit: Sarah Caplin

Gareth Lockrane’s Grooveyard and Bheki Mseleku set at The Forge Camden Town

After an enticing first set of Grooveyard originals down at The Forge (image above), Gareth Lockrane added more faces to his usual line-up to perform a set of epic tunes by Bheki Mseleku, South Africa’s finest jazzman. We heard vibrant versions of Timelessness and Angola as well as unrecorded Bheki tunes that Lockrane has lovingly brought back to life with compelling and heartfelt new arrangements. (Sarah Chaplin)

Zeena Parkins, harpist (ctre) and massed ranks of Henry Cow and others.
Drawing by Geoff Winston. All rights reserved.

Henry Cow / Lindsay Cooper Celebration at the Barbican

This was a delightful concert – engaging, intriguing and enjoyable. A dozen of Lindsay Cooper’s (1951-2013) key collaborators, including the core members of Henry Cow, reconvened to pay their respects in the best way they knew how, by performing a range of her complex scores and improvising with gusto when cued; in effect, a chamber ensemble with attitude and energy. Including, thirty years on, a first live performance of News from Babel, they earned a standing ovation from an audience impressed and charmed by their dedication, invention and ability to deliver with such freshness. (Geoff Winston)

A packed house for the Jarek Smietana Tribute

Jarek Smietana Tribute at Cafe Posk 

 It was clear from the interview that I did with Yaron Stavi, that this was going to be a poignant occasion not just for him, but also for friends, family, musicians, and for London’s Polish community. Everyone was receptive to the band’s every note. John Etheridge and the late guitarist’s daughter Alicja Smietana played with emotion and brought tears to some members of the audience. This was a gig not just played and listened to, but lived through, and completely uplifting (Hayley Redmond)

Jazz Rant at Club Inégales

What happens if you put a group of jazz academics on a platform in a lovely club and invite them to have a rant? Well mostly they promote their books and slag each other off – but its great fun to watch!  More next year please – but less professors and more musicians. (Peter Slavid)

John Stevens Celebration (1)

Many of the late drummer John Stevens’ colleagues reconvened on Saturday at the Purcell Room. The music ranged from the modern/mainstream of his last quartet (with Byron Wallen, Ed Jones and Gary Crosby) to the more exploratory (Nigel Coombes). The filmed anecdotes from friends, and the backdrop of Stevens’ art, were extremely moving. (Andy Boeckstaens)

John Stevens Celebration (2)

Alex Hawkins slipping quietly onto the piano stool in the middle of the John Stevens tributes in the Front Room on Sat 22 and unfolding a rivetting 15-minute solo extemporisation, now Ellingtonian, now Monkish, that brought back memories of Abdullah Ibrahim in his prime.(Jon Turney)

Laura Jurd’s Human Spirit at the Barbican

Laura Jurd‘s superb Human Spirit closing the Chaos Collective’s afternoon at the Barbican on the festival’s final day, with Lauren Kinsella and Chris Batchelor on coruscating form and the marvellous vibrations of Mick Foster‘s bass saxophone. Their tour in January should be really something. (Jon Turney)

Liane Carroll at St James’s Studio

Down-to-earth humour, deep emotion in the songs, bursts of surreal humour, and John Etheridge as luxury guest. Liane Carroll always takes an audience to places they wouldn’t be expecting. Her last album explored her quieter ballad-ish side. The next one, due in May, will find her a little older. And a little wilder. (Hayley Redmond)

Nathaniel Facey at Barbican Cinema 1

Nathaniel Facey played Freddie Redd’s music for The Connection prior to a screening of the restored 1962 classic directed by Shirley Clarke. Redd’s score provides uplifting counterpoint to Jack Gelber’s shrewd, downbeat portrayal of druggy hipsterdom. Facey’s quartet, including Italian bassist Dario de Lecce, treated the tunes with spirited respect. (John L Walters)

Phil Meadows at Kings Place

I just heard some of their small-group set. The musicians in Phil Meadows’ band are some of the most original talents we have – Laura Jurd on trumpet, Conor Chaplin on bass, Elliot Galvin on piano . In this context, and with Meadows’ angular and busy compositions they egg each other on to out-achieve. Life-affirming to see them in action  (Sebastian Scotney)

Sean Noonan at The Crypt in Camberwell

Drummer/composer Sean Noonan(top image), an intense Brooklynite dressed like a boxer in singlet and shorts, plays drums, tells tales (tall and otherwise) and plays complex, beguiling highly rhythmic music with amplified Polish string quartet A Gambler’s Hand. Surprising, subtle … slightly bonkers. They complete their European tour in Oxford, Liverpool and Kirbymoorside. (John L Walters)

Snarky Puppy at Ronnie Scott’s

On Monday, Snarky Puppy shook off the jetlag and brought their funky brew to bear on a devoted bunch of night owls with a surprise late show at Ronnies. This mini set gave a taster of their Roundhouse gig the following night, and – as Geoff Winston attests in his review – their speciality is a Œchunky, roller-coaster of a groove¹ full of razor-sharp articulation from the horn section and spaced-out guitar solos. (Sarah Chaplin)

Tom White Septet with eponymous leader in white shirt (right)

Tom Green and Tom White Septets at Spice of Life

Two Toms, two colours, two trombonists, two septets. Both bring a youthful energy, and based their compositions on personal experiences. Paul Pace as host brought joviality. This was a gig about friendship and collaboration, played in front of an audience with a wide age-range. I’ll be producing a podcast recording of interviews and of part of this fun gig. (Hayley Redmond)

The Vortex Programme

We had 16 concerts over the 10 days, with nearly 30 different groups playing. Here are a few of my own individual memorable highlights:

Christian Lillinger‘s drumming for Hyperactive Kid, Starlight (which can be heard on Jazz on 3 tonight) and Kronecker on the festival’s last night.

– Lafayette Gilchrist morphing from rhapsodic Gershwinian improvisation to train boogie-woogie with Paul Dunmall as the train whistle and Mark Sanders‘ shuffle

-Three dramatic and euphoric drum solos from Mark Mondesir, depping with Partisans

– The loft party atmosphere generated by Tiny Beast late night on Saturday, more than helped by Gina Southgate‘s live painting.

– The general enthusiasm of the musicians who helped organise some of our concerts (e.g. Kit Downes‘ work on inviting two Berlin bands, John Russell for Mopomoso (from his sick bed), Dan Nicholls and Tom Challenger for Loop Collective’s Rec London, Scott Stroman for London Jazz Orchestra and Simon Roth for Pop-Up Circus (Oliver Weindling)

 Way Out West / Tim Whitehead – Cafe Posk

Way Out West celebrated their tenth birthday by starting a monthly residency in Hammersmith’s Cafe Posk. Billed as “WOW Large Ensemble”, I expected a big band; what we got was a string of bands from a trio to a twelve piece, comprising some of London’s best performers. Stand outs in the first half were Kate Williams on piano, young bassist Flo Moore, and Emily Saunders‘ vocals. The second half was given over to saxophonist Tim Whitehead‘s new exciting and inventive suite inspired by Turner’s paintings of the Thames, with Whitehead and pianist Jonathan Gee on top form. (Patrick Hadfield)

Categories: miscellaneous

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