REVIEWED IN BRIEF: We also went to… at the 2015 EFG London Jazz Festival

Under Milk Wood
L-R Steve Melling, Art Themen, Andy Cleyndert, Ben Tracey, Clark Tracey
LondonJazz News will again have provided more full single-gig reviews of the EFG London Jazz Festival than any other outlet. And yet it is clear that the scale of the Festival is such that we miss far more than we cover. Therefore, we invited our writers and others close to the scene for a second year to write mini-reviews of gigs we have not had the capacity to review fully. This section, with thirty-four events covered, has been expanding but is now complete.

Under Milk Wood at the Arts Depot, Finchley (19th November)

Three years on from the 2012 Herts Jazz Festival performance of Under Milk Wood by three generations of Traceys – Stan (piano), Clark (drums) and Ben (narrator) – plus Bobby Wellins (tenor) and Andy Cleyndert (bass), the quintet of Art Themen and Steve Melling plus Andy, Clark and Ben delighted the Arts Depot crowd with a magical 50th anniversary reprise of Stan’s immortal work. It was history being re-made as each added their own nuances to create a fresh version of the performance, as alive as if we were hearing it for the first time. Ben Tracey – who could read the telephone book aloud and make it sound enthralling – was a particular delight. (Melody McLaren)

GoGo Penguin, Barbican (14th November)

Curating a night of “New Jazz, New Dance” at the Barbican, DJ Gilles Peterson brought together trio GoGo Penguin and choreographer Lynne Page to respond to ‘UK jazz dance’ – an underground style that developed in the eighties out of Northern Soul dancing. For the resulting twelve-minute collaboration ‘Veils’ GoGo Penguin shared the stage with eight dancers. Both music and movement were through-composed and choreographed but with touches of improvisation. The dancers leapt with a palpable sense of both freedom and coordination, striking a visual accord with the band’s precise but expansive sound. Try their preview video (AJ Dehany)

Spirit Farm at the Core Ballroom, Royal Festival Hall (15th November)

This six-piece group based in the north of England is made up of improv heavyweights: Adam Fairhall (piano), Corey Mwamba (vibraphone), Christophe de Bezenac (saxophone), Dave Kane (double bass), Anton Hunter (guitar) and Johnny Hunter (drums), They performed a captivating set to a large and attentive Sunday afternoon audience at the Southbank. Their raw energy, superb group interaction, varying textures and contrasting dynamics left me thoroughly transfixed. I hope to hear a lot more from this ensemble in the near future! (Dee Byrne)

Dave  Holland acknowledging applause after his
solo recital at Wigmore Hall

Dave Holland Solo at Wigmore Hall (20th November)

 An hour and twenty minutes of masterful solo bass with no tricks or loops held the attention throughout, and passed all too quickly. The tune that stays perhaps most in the memory was Charles’ Mingus Goodbye Pork Pie Hat, with a declaimed, authoritative melody played low and strong, but surrounded by all kinds of queter half-shades and harmonics and sotto voce stirrings, suggested notes and mischief. The scene-setting in Dave Holland’s verbal introductions told us exactly where we should  be picturing ourselves: in Manhattan being told urban myths about the pavement habits of New Yorkers; looking out into the cathedral of a Californian redwood forest; being sentimental in sixties London. And then, each time the music, magically, easefully transported us  to one fascinating imagined location after another. (Sebastian Scotney)

Allison Neale and Nat Steele . Photo credit : Melody McLaren

The Neale Meets Steele! Quintet at the Elgin (Friday 20th Nov)

 This quintet featured Allison Neale (alto/flute), Nat Steele (vibes), Leon Greening (piano), Julian Bury (bass), Matt Home (drums). They  played to an enthusiastic packed house on the fourth night of the inaugural Bopfest , organised by Neale and Steele. This “festival within a festival” complements other elements of the London Jazz Festival programme and has been drawing a diverse mix of music fans to The Elgin in Ladbroke Grove. (Melody McLaren)

Jaco – The Film  (UK premiere, Barbican Cinema, Mon 16th Nov)

A documentary lasting 110 minutes can sometimes feel like a director wallowing and self-indulging, but this biography of Jaco Pastorius never outstayed its welcome. The story, from hope and promise and good fortune, to unravelling and final tragedy has a great sweep to it. It is an amazing tale of a genius situated close to the edge, and going over it. The range of perspectives is astonishing, with Wayne Shorter and Peter Erskine (sensitive, brilliant) describing the inner dynamics of Weather Report, plus thought-provoking interventions from Joni Mitchell and Herbie Hancock.  The critic next to me joked he wanted “a bit more Victor Wooten and a bit less Sting. Oh yes, and there’s a soundtrack from heaven. Highly recommended. (Sebastian Scotney)

LINK: Jaco Film website

L-R: Daniele di Bonaventura, Maciek Pysz, Yuri Goloubev, Asaf Sirkis

Maciek Pysz Trio – A Journey CD launch at the Forge

Adrian Pallant reviewed the CD for us and described the range and the variety this trio can muster. This band of top players around  Pysz (Asaf Sirkis, Yuri Goloubev, with occasional guest Daniele di Bonaventura, a piano and babdoneon player from the Marche in Italy) was half way through a tour and the group understanding was special. I was taken by how Pysz has taken to the particular kind of melodic playing that is common in Sardinia and in Southern Italy. He mentioned Gianluca Corona as an influence, I’d be surprised if Peo Alfonsi isn’t in the mix too. But increasingly Pysz is finding his own individual descriptive harmonic colours, and is with the right colleagues to explore them further. (Sebastian Scotney)

Madeleine Bell and the Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw 

Concertgebouw Jazz Orchestra with Madeline Bell at Cadogan Hall (18th November)

A band heard for the very first time. The Jazz Orchestra of the Concertgebouw was on its first visit to the UK. It is a band which on the evidence of this gig is rooted in the American tradition –  up to Herman and Kenton, say. A first reaction then: I thought the trombones were exceptional, that the band had a strong and characterful lead alto sax…  but that the trumpets somehow don’t have that heroic gutsy tradition that we have in the UK, from Tommy McQuater to Derek Watkins to Mike Lovatt. The vocal soloist Madeline Bell is a ball of energy and at the end of the first half when I had to go, was bringing joy and life, musicianship, humour and wonderful timing to Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles tunes.  (Sebastian Scotney)

Adriano Adewale – Within the Waves at Cecil Sharp House (19th November)

Jazz and Folk? Surely not. But for once this combination worked really well. The magnificent Brazilian percussionist has been working with the English Folk Dance and Song Society for over a year now exploring the links between English and Brazilian songs of the sea. The result was performed by singers Rebeca Vallim and Sarah Jane Morris, always ready to improvise, plus two huge choirs arranged and conducted by luminaries from the folk and jazz worlds. Between them they put together a programme of folk songs from both countries that might just please both the folk and jazz communities. I hope they get the opportunity to tour the programme. (Peter Slavid)

Jazz Rant at Club Inégales (18th November)

This is a unique opportunity for people to let off steam about the jazz world. I attended this in 2014 and it was a bit overburdened with academics. This year’s repeat was much more fun. The academics were still there, but this year the musicians were the stars. There was a hugely amusing final talk from Raymond Macdonald; an entertaining piece of audience improvisation from Alison Blunt and thoughtful pieces from Alexander Hawkins and journalist Rosie Hanley. Great stuff and lets keep ranting!(Peter Slavid)

Jazzator – Barbican Match & Fuse Free Stage (21st November)

An interesting mix of delicate Russian melodies, complex duets between voice and baritone sax, fierce improvisation, heavy rock beats, and interesting ever-changing broken rhythms. If that sounds difficult that’s not the case – it’s all done with a lot of wit, and a very accessible style that kept a big crowd entertained. The quartet is made up of Russians Marina Sobyanina on piano, synthesizers and vocals, Sergey Balashov on drums and a very impressive Oleg Mariakhin on baritone. Joined by Swiss bass player Maximilian Grossenbacher. Presented as part of the Match and Fuse stage this was one of my festival highlights (Peter Slavid)

Nick Smart directing the RAM Big Band
Royal Academy of Music Big Band with Charlier / Sourisse/ Sulzmann at the Clore Ballroom (21st November) 

This was the project which Nick Smart previewed for us. The big band scores they were playing were joyous, but also fast-moving, complex and unforgiving, and the band seemed to negotiate every twist and turn with ease. One confident soloist after another stepped into the limelight, with melodic inventive Spanish pianist Victor Gutierrez catching the ear in particular. The crowd stayed, transfixed, so people with a roving eye for someone vacating a seat will have waited in vain. Among those happily standing were a healthy number of the RAM Junior Department listening as intently as anyone, and perhaps imagining the day when they will have moved on into the very band they – like the rest of us – were hearing and admiring. (Sebastian Scotney)

A full house earlier in the week at the Elgin
Miles Davis’ Birth of the Cool. Bopfest at the Elgin (22nd November)

Ever since hearing Boplicity under less than lo-fi conditions in my early teens, I was curious how the short-lived band (with its French horn and tuba) would have sounded in the flesh. This afternoon, my curiosity was satisfied by nine musicians whose ensemble sound must have been uncannily close to the original intentions of Evans, Mulligan, Lewis and Davis. They performed with simmering restraint: trumpeter Freddie Gavita unspooled long lyrical Milesian phrases. Allison Neale conjured the sound and spirit of Lee Konitz and (in two intro numbers) Charlie Parker from her 1938 Conn alto. The immaculate band included Callum Au on tuba, Anna Drysdale, French horn, trombonist Robbie Harvey, pianist Rob Barron (a sparkling Darn That Dream), bassist Luke Steele and drummer Nat Steel. And unstinting praise to Richard Shepherd who, as well as channelling Gerry Mulligan on baritone, also organised, arranged and led the nonet with enthusiasm and affection. (Leonard Weinreich)

Elina Duni

Elena Duni at Kings Place (21st November)

So who knew? Who was aware that there is a rich and emotionally charged repertoire of songs in the Albanian language with its own melodic character, that it deals with big themes of exile and authority and love and loss – and that all Albanians and Kosovars – who were at Kings Place in good numbers – basically know all these songs as the soundtrack of all their childhoods from the radio and TV. Elena Duni, who now sees it all at a distance from the comfort of Switzerland, brings this repertoire wonderfully to life, and has a band with her that know how to let her emotionally engaged perfectly pitched highly characterful voice have its way with these songs, before she slightly incongruously turns round, relaxes and banters with them in near-perfect French. ECM are on to something here: all the CDS they had brought to sell were snapped up almost instantly leaving many of those looking forward to singing along, and to re-living their musical heritage unfulfilled.

Let Spin – Barbican Match & Fuse Free Stage (21st November)

Let Spin are a quartet of top young British jazz musicians. Saxophonist Chris Williams (Led Bib), Bassist Ruth Goller (Melt Yourself Down) and Guitarist Moss Freed (Moss Project), who between them seem to be in almost every band I hear at the moment, and Finlay Panter (Beats & Pieces) on drums. They deliver a fierce rhythmic programme with a definite punk feel to it. Held together by Goller’s driving bass this is a great live band. (Peter Slavid)

Airelle Besson Quartet – Barbican Free Stage (22nd November)

This quartet has a melodic, almost cinematic sound. At times it struggled to cope with the Barbican’ screaming children and chattering concert-goers, particularly when several of the tunes started quietly. But once they got into their stride it was fine. Airelle Besson’s trumpet can provide a minimalist sound and then soars into improvisation. Isabel Sorling’s voice is sometimes used on lyrics and sometimes on sounds and Benjamin Moussay provides an array of orchestral textures on the keyboards, as well as some fine piano playing. Behind it all Fabrice Moreau on drums provides a delicate rhythm or a heavy rock beat as required. This was very impressive stuff and I’d really like to hear this band in a quieter environment, and in a longer concert. (Peter Slavid)

Jazz Talks – Barbican Fountain Room (22nd November)

Two talks took place this afternoon under different titles but basically exploring the unexplorable and defining the undefinable. The first talk looked at the different types of festival with interesting contributions from Ros Rigby from Sage Gateshead and Dave Morecroft from Match and Fuse, and only minor heckling from the jazz police. In the second one, which looked at different genres of jazz, every shade of the “What is Jazz” debate came out to argue with the panel. To be honest I rather lost the will to live halfway through this about when someone started justifying the inclusion of Elton John in a jazz festival. They do say that a discussion between two jazz fans will always generate at least three opinions and that was certainly the case here. I rather think there should be a better way to use the talent on display rather than rehashing these old arguments. (Peter Slavid)

Pepi Lemer

Keith Jarrett, Royal Festival Hall (20th November)

The irascible jazz legend played a completely improvised concert to an indulgent audience. His improvisations intuitively suggest the shape of compositions, though the lighter jazzy ‘pieces’ were outnumbered by longer brooding classical explorations. Returning after the interval he said he would have been happy leaving it at the first set, and his mood and engagement seemed to deteriorate rapidly. His Glenn Gould-style humming-along got louder, and his self-aggrandizing spoken reflections longer. He stormed off when someone took his photo, then harangued us all for spoiling his enjoyment. Instead of the usual five encores he only played four. Fortunately one of them was a subtle straight reading of the traditional Danny Boy with no humming and a lightness and grace largely absent from the rest of the concert. (AJ Dehany)

Nik Bärtsch, King’s Place (13th November)

Swiss Pianist Nik Bärtsch’s group Rhythm Clan performing “through-composed chamber pieces” borne of a jazzy minimalism. Repeating arpeggiated figures overlap in different time signatures, and unusual instrumental configurations are showcased (double bass with clarinet, anyone?). Each member of the octet is dressed in uniform black and obeys a rigorous discipline with no glimpse of a conventional solo until Michael Flury’s trumpet eighty minutes into the concert. Even the lighting obeys synchronised cues. The music is Aikido for the ears, reflecting Bärtsch’s interest in martial arts and sharing Aikido’s focus on group interaction and long-term development.(AJ Dehany)

Pepi Lemer at St James Studio (22nd November)

Pepi Lemer sang with a host of legendary British jazz musicians in the 1960s and 70s, including Ian Carr, John Stevens and Neil Ardley, co-led Turning Point with the late Jeff Clyne. She is also famous for her voice coaching, with some of her most notable students including The Spice Girls. Playing to a full house, she scored a huge hit, delighting the audience with a set derived from her new album Back2Front. The band which included her pianist and musical director, Peter Lemer and virtuoso bassist Chris Laurence, played a succession of vibrant and energetic numbers by Michel Camilo, Didier Malherbe and several by Pat Metheny. Lemer had been given permission by the guitarist to write lyrics to his tunes. A brilliant 5 star gig and a very fitting finale to the 2015 London Jazz Festival. (Tony Kelsey)

Binker and Moses: Ray’s Jazz at Foyles (20th November)

The last time Binker Golding and Moses Boyd played at this venue the room was half full. Barely three months later, the tenor saxophone and drums duo performed before a capacity audience who knew exactly what to expect. That’s a lot of progress since we at Gearbox released Dem Ones last June, and it took us a little by surprise as we only brought a limited number of copies along for the merch table – thankfully just enough. Binker and Moses have refined their extended live set over a number of recent gigs and kept the audience deeply involved while building up the intensity and excitement and receiving a heroic reception. I loved it. In fact, everyone did. (Adam Sieff, Gearbox Records)

The London Jazz Orchestra at the Vortex

London Jazz Orchestra at the Vortex / Launch of The Saberton Album (22nd November)

The London Jazz Orchestra has a once-a-month residency at the Vortex, but its festival gig had the feel of a special event: the band directed by Scott Stroman was launching a new album of Pete Saberton compositions, which also features the Guildhall School Big Band. Saberton was a long-standing member of the orchestra and took over from John Taylor. His compositions, with their constantly shifting meter are mesmerisingly complex, but one person who had stumbled into the end of the gig in anticipation of the start of the next one remarked sagely to me: “It’s difficult – but I’m really getting in to it.” The first half had more conventional compositions, written by band members, as is the norm for the LJO. Mick Foster’s Dangerous Tango felt rather more beautiful than perilous, and superbly crafted. Hearing Noel Langley on lead trumpet and Martin Hathaway soloing on alto was to be reminded how strong our big band scene is. The fan was spoilt for choice yesterday, with both Sam Leak’s band and Gareth Lockrane’s band also out at different locations across town. (Sebastian Scotney)

Raph Clarkson’s Dissolute Society with special guest Huw Warren at the Vortex (22nd November)

The Vortex signed off the London Jazz Festival with a night of experimental jazz, featuring the latest composition project by young trombonist, Raph Clarkson. This nine-piece ensemble featured strings, a piano trio, Fini Bearman on vocals, Laura Jurd and Clarkson on horns and guest appearance by pianist, Huw Warren. A particular tune highlight was I’m sorry, in which Bearman hilariously weeped and vented in agitation a self-dialogue interjected by trombone, rhodes and drum improvised lines. The night ended with the downstairs jam, which was a chilled and serene affair – the perfect opportunity to wind down with a pint after a hectic week of music. (Rachel Maby)

Fat Suit on the freestage in the Clore Ballroom (21st November)

With their high energy levels and mishmash of 70s American jazz fusion, Fat Suit were an unexpected surprise. Slotted in to the free stage set before the Saturday night headliners upstairs in the Royal Festival Hall, they kept an enormous crowd engaged. Much in the same way that their fellow Scots Average White Band provided a British alternative to bands like the JB’s, Fat Suit are developing a rich Weather Report/Nucleus sound to rival American fusion collective Snarky Puppy. They’re still finding their feet, but certainly ones to watch. (Dan Bergsagel)

Chicago-London Vibration, A Celebration of the AACM at 50 at Rich Mix (14th November)

Amplifier, a film and spoken word piece from Hkb Finn and Canadian Lisa Lore opened this UK celebration of the AACM. They were then joined on stage by “The Spontaneous Cosmic RawkXtra”, a powerful 18 piece line up of UK and international musicians, led by MD Orphy Robinson that included, American trombonist Jerome Harper, Polish accordionist Bartek Glowacki, last seen with Nigel Kennedy, South African drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo and Venezuelan percussionist Williams Cumberbache, Byron Wallen, Jason Yarde, John Edwards, Nikki Yeoh, Phillip Achille, and the rest of the ensemble. Strong section playing, colourful arrangements, interspersed with inventive solos over themes from Leo Smith, Braxton, Oliver Lake, Art Ensemble of Chicago and Robinson himself plus spectacular multi media visuals from Derek Richards covering the AACM library of album covers and black empowerment images provided an insightful journey into the historic legacy of the AACM. (Yael Dayag)

Entropi, Barbican freestage, (14th November)

Saxophonist Dee Byrne‘s quintet kicked off an afternoon of music from London’s Lume formations, her own being a vehicle for her space-oriented compositions (the cosmic variety, not the abstraction), as heard on the band’s recent CD. In concert, before an enthusiastic early Saturday crowd in the Barbican’s wide open spaces, the pieces took on fresh life, extending further, spatially and musically, expanded by Byrne’s and trumpeter Andre Canniere‘s complementary contributions out front, by Rebecca Nash‘s thoughtful commentary on keys, and by Olie Brice‘s superbly detailed bass playing. (Jon Turney)

Trinity Laban Jazz ensemble, Clore Ballroom, RFH, (21st November)

The LJF free stages are always good for encountering new talent, and there is plenty in this collection of youngsters. Their set gained much from a focus on UK composers, and they ripped through some Loose Tubes classics (one from Eddie Parker, two from Django Bates including the disjointed but somehow still coherent Eden Express) and one piece each from Nikki Iles, Laura Jurd, and Joshua Blackmore. Iles’ Printmakers band features Mark Lockheart, who held this set together as non-playing conductor. The band must have worked impressively hard to bring off all this music, and if the solos were not always quite as convincing, that’ll surely come. This set was more about establishing that UK jazz now has a rich band book of lasting value to draw on. Case made. (Jon Turney)

Black Top 24 with Evan Parker at Cafe Oto (18th November)

 Anticipation levels were high for this one! Black Top, widely considered to be the UK’s best improv group, has an impressive series of concerts with world renowned guests behind them. Black Top is Pat Thomas, winner of the Paul Hamlyn Award and former Blue Note artist, Orphy Robinson who featured in the top 12 vibes players in a Downbeat magazine poll earlier this year. Evan Parker their guest tonight did not disappoint. He was totally at home in the midst of Thomas’s and Robinson’s tricky polyrhythmic interplay. Robinson, not usually known as a drummer, played the drum kit for half of the concert and was superb, easily projecting intricate patterns with and across Thomas’s live looping, while driving Parker to some beautiful cascading melodic phasing over Reggae, Dub, Swing, free improv. Digital, analogue and acoustic sounds collided and colluded to bring an impressive array of frequencies and soundscapes to an appreciative audience.(Yael Dayag)

The Soil at the Royal Festival Hall  (17th November)

The Soil is a South African a capella trio (“All the way from Heaven but locally based in Johannesburg”) consisting of female singer Buhlebendalo Mda and the brothers Ntsika Ngxanga and Luphindo Ngxanga, who display impressive vocal pyrotechnics. Coming across like Bobby McFerrin multiplied by three, they raised the temperature appreciably in the audience at the RFH waiting for Melody Gardot. I was looking around for the powerful machine kicking out the profound and potent bass for them — until I twigged that it was Luphindo Ngxanga, known as ‘Master P’, using no more than his voice. “The best beat-boxer in the world,” announced Mda, and she’ll get no argument from me. Together they project an hypnotic pulse, a beautiful beat with the vocals floating on top. Imposing and stirring. (Andrew Cartmel)

Natalie Williams Album Launch at Shoreditch Town Hall (21st November)

Natalie Williams released her latest album – Kaleidoscope – at Shoreditch Town Hall. Astounding. Where to begin but with Natalie herself, whose huge personality and masterful talents as both a singer and composer shone through the evening. Most of the numbers were straight from her new album – a soulful collection sparkily arranged for a large string ensemble by her partner and fellow musician-on-stage bass guitarist Rob Mullarkey. A few classics were also to be heard including an all-time favourite, Minnie Ripperton’s Inside My Love. Sarah Evelyn, an up-and-coming British-Norwegian jazz singer, gave a very pleasing pre-act with keys and percussion, so look out for her eponymously titled and recently released debut album. There was a peach of a surprise in Jacob Collier’s special guest appearance, who only the night before had given a riveting one-man show at the Barbican. I happened to be there too. Jaw-dropping. London is alive with jazz. (Seb Fox)

Mina Agossi at the 606 Club (Sunday 15 November) 

 The French/Beninese vocalist’s performance had special meaning, coming as it did a mere 48 hours after the Paris attacks. A performer of formidable elegance & spirit, she left everyone besotted, before she even sang a note. As to the music itself, if one defines “jazz” to mean improvisation at its core, Mina is the epitome, moving between a sultry, even coquettish delivery on one song, to spellbinding a cappella into raucous, even primal territory, with the band, hot on her heels, behind her. Her voice, an expressive instrument that she wields with authority, ranges from low growls to moans to thrilling flourishes in her upper registers. There are lots of funky grooves too, complemented by Mina’s repeating, melismatic vocal lines, giving the music a tribal feel verging on rap. A luminous, captivating artist. (Laura Thorne, 606 Club)

The Programme at the Spice of Life

I’m still reeling from a jazz marathon of 12 gigs over 10 days at the Spice of Life, which kicked off with the charismatic Matt Roberts and his BigISH Band with telling solos from tenor saxophonist Josh Arcoleo who appeared in more ethereal mood as special guest with the sublime Andrew McCormack Trio a few days later. The exploratory space-age wonderment of the Mak Murtic’s Mimika Ensemble featuring vocalist Maja Rivic on the first Sunday truly embraced the festival aesthetic whilst the other three big bands at the Spice, those led by Gareth Lockrane, Andrew Linham and Sam Leak were also thrilling, and played to packed houses. (Paul Pace, Spice of Life)

The programme at the Vortex

With 28 concerts and 45 different bands at the Vortex over the past 10 days, and all of astounding quality, the double bill of Amok Amor and Dice Factory managed to stand out as primus inter pares. It took further our collaborations between London and Berlin started last year. Dice Factory has returned with new material and a new pianist (Dan Nicholls) to join original members Tom Challenger, Tom Farmer and Jon Scott. It was a set of brooding intensity and dynamism; and the first time that I have heard Jon’s compositions. Amok Amor was equally intense but much more extrovert in its approach.Trumpeter Peter Evans is unique even to the extent of creating multiphonics without the need for any pedals. Wanja Slavin on alto more than keeps up with him. Petter Eldh on bass is the nominal leader and certainly drives the band forwards. Christian Lillinger is an extrovert, hyperactive genius on drums.(Oliver Weindling, Vortex)
Banner for The Necks at Oto – Photo credit: John L Walters

The Necks at Café Oto – third night of the residency (15th November)

The Australian trio, who played four sold-out nights at Café Oto (plus Evan Parker on 16 Nov as reviewed here), are not like other trios – as I wrote in this essay for the Berlin Festival programme and the Tageszeitung. Their Sunday sets generated oceanic swells of sound in which each note counted, grounded by Lloyd Swanton’s bass, both propulsive and magisterial. Ultimately, The Necks are The Necks. (John L Walters)

Cuban Mela: Sambroso All Stars at The Forge (22nd November)

The full house of curious jazz lovers and Cuban music apasionados was still jumping with thrilling enthusiasm after six hours of cuban, jazz and collective music improvisation at the Cuban Mela LJF party. Justin Thurgur on trombone opened the day with his London tribe of musicians presenting a new jazz cuban afro sounding project. Nick Smart followed on the buzzing stage with his skilled sextet, including Cuban Londoners fellow musicians, unveiling the fruits of twenty years of musical collaborations (check out the CD Tower Casa on Babel). Rumba master Gerardo de Armas was then joined on stage by Gary Crosby, Denys Baptiste and Jonathan Idiagbonya for some high energy experimentations that burst into a huge jam with many Cuban musos in the house joining on stage. The rising climax was carried on by skillful cuban violin doyen Omar Puente who put his signature on an excellent grand finale. Lets hope Sambroso will delight us with more of these epic music events soon….and I hope it isn’t too long before he does! (Gaia Saccomanno)

Categories: miscellaneous

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