“Spellbinding”: The German-Afghan singer Simin Tander
Photo credit and ©: John Watson / jazzcamera.co.uk

“Jazz,” said Keith Jarrett, “is there and gone. It happens. You have to be present for it. That simple.” In the second of London Jazz News’ four year-end lists from a wide range of jazz people: musicians, writers, promoters from the UK, France, Germany, and South Africa name their favourite live moments of the year. You can add your own nominations in the comments section. These 2016 contributions have been compiled by Peter Bacon:

Arild Andersen Trio, Inchyra Arts Club, Perthshire: This was the coming together of a world-class group at a peak of mutual understanding with a wonderful room that made the most natural jazz club in an unlikely location. (tour preview) – Rob Adams

Black Top, the Voicebox, Derby: – Alya Al-Sultani

Tumi Mogorosi and Project ELO, Cape Town International Jazz Festival: Gabisile Motuba singing Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child turned an American gospel classic into a blues for South Africa 2016, free textures of layered human and instrumental voices with a precise respect for musical space and silence and a walloping emotional impact that had some audience members in tears. – Gwen Ansell

Tord Gustavsen, Simin Tander, Jarle Vesperstad, CBSO Centre, Birmingham: The German-Afghan Tander is the singer Gustavsen has been waiting for all his life, and a profound new phase in his music as well as a spell-binding live performance was the result. (thejazzbreakfast review) – Peter Bacon

Christine Jensen/Nikki Iles Anglo-Canadian Group, Pizza Express Jazz Club: An all-too-rare visit to London for lyrical Canadian composer/saxophonist Jensen, collaborating beautifully with UK pianist Iles. (interview) – Alison Bentley

Art Themen New Directions Quintet, Swanage Jazz Festival: Elder statesman Themen – still sharp and original constantly producing the unexpected – whipping up an early Sunday morning crowd with drummer Winston Clifford – the UK’s Roy Haines – absolutely outstanding. (review) – Brian Blain

Andrew Bain’s Embodied Hope, Cambridge Modern Jazz Club: As a promoter I’m never sure whether I should nominate a home gig, but the drummer’s project with George Colligan and Jon Irabagon was an absolute highlight. (interview) – John Blandford.

Maarja Nuut, Tallinn Music Week: Maarja Nuut evidently has strong imaginational capacities to reach deeply into magical, mystical realms and invoke those by her magnificent choice of multiple expressive means and her convincing way to let them work concomitantly through extraordinary dynamics of her multi-medial performance. (review) – Henning Bolte

Julian Arguelles with Fraankfurt Radio Big Band at Cheltenham Festival: Joyous, explosive, overwhelming celebration of South African Jazz that blew the roof of Cheltenham’s Town Hall. – Mike Collins

Sam Crockatt Quartet, Con Cellar Bar: We don’t get to see Sam as often as I’d like since he defected to the West Country; his sound and playing always bring a smile to my face, and this gig was a perfect example – beautiful music from the band, a packed audience and pin-drop listening throughout – of joy for audience and promoter alike. – George Crowley

Match + Fuse Festival, Toulouse, France: Against the backdrop of a dividing Europe, the itinerant Match & Fuse festival found a new urgency in bringing its unifying vision for three days of heavy left-field and uncategorizable sonic disturbance with The Comet Is Coming smashing it on a hard-hitting billing. (festival line-up) – AJ Dehany

Julian Lage at Unterfahrt in Munich
Photo credit: Ralf Dombrowski

Julian Lage, Unterfahrt, Munich: One of the great guitar concerts of 2016 was Lage performing with his trio – he’s probably the Abercrombie-Sco-Martino of the future. – Ralf Dombrowski

Lucia Cadotsch Speak Low, mac Hexagon Theatre, Birmingham: The contrast between Lucia Cadotsch’s beautiful versions of standard tunes and the improvisations of Otis Sandjo and Peter Eldh made for a wonderful concert in an intimate space. (thejazzbreakfast review) – Tony Dudley-Evans

Ryan Quigley’s ‘What Doesn’t Kill You’ Quintet, Bruichladdich Hall, Islay Jazz Festival: Blowing a hoolie outside, blowing a hoolie inside – David Gower.

GRIT Orchestra, Edinburgh International Festival: A folk-jazz-classical megaband of over 40 musicians, two choirs, and superb arrangements that made their show one of the most memorable concerts I’ve been to. – Patrick Hadfield

Mette Henriette Large Ensemble, Berlin: A young musician with a unique conception, the music was sublime. – Alan Hayward

Phronesis, Cadogan Hall: There’s always live magic with this trio and, on this evening, drummer Anton Eger stole the show with a blinding performance that left the room ecstatic and begging for more. (review) – Martin Hummel

The winners at the 2016 Seifert competition:
L-R: Florian Willeitner, Mateusz Smoczyński , Dominika Rusinowska,
Apel.les Carod Requesens, Mario Forte and Stephan Braun
Photo credit Paweł Mazur, Zbigniew Seifert Foundation

Stephan Braun, cello finalist, Seifert Jazz Violin Competition, Lusławice, Poland: For his graceful and lyrical bossa nova Blue In Green. (review) – Mary James

José James, Cheltenham Jazz Festival: The only jazz singer who lives in the 21st century. (review) – Peter Jones

Watchin’ with Milesdavisquintet!, Soirées Tricot, Orléans: Because of the lighting of the concert and its epileptic narration. (review) – Matthieu Jouan

Martin Speake/Bobo Stenson/Conor Chaplin/James Maddren, The Vortex: – Hans Koller

Magnus Öström at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club: A drummer who’s mild-mannered persona belied his intense, metronomic rhythms that built and built and built, entrancing the audience. – Rob Mallows

Abdullah Ibrahim solo, Barbican: The South African piano legend, now in his ninth decade, produced a tour de force of quiet power, reflective improvisation and a lifetime’s repertoire brought together in 90 minutes. (review) – Mark McKergow

Thomas de Pourquery’s Supersonic, Manchester Jazz Festival: Watching their UK debut from the side of the stage, seeing the audience revel in their energy, earthiness and surprise. (festival report) – Steve Mead

Empirical, Manchester Jazz Festival: Four cool, ‘on it’ guys scorching the stage (and enjoying it) with an expansive, acoustic set on a summer’s evening was totally captivating, and said so much about the quality of the current UK jazz scene. (festival report) – Adrian Pallant

Steve Gadd Quartet, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club: You go along for a drum masterclass, but thanks to the incredible Michael Landau, you get a guitar masterclass thrown in for free. – Matt Pannell

QÖÖLP with violonist Théo Ceccaldi, Strasbourg: – Bruno Pfeiffer

Liane Carroll singing the bridge of Skylark in a summer school performance: A characteristically heart-wrenching moment by a singer who touches heart and soul in every situation, from the Royal Festival Hall to a workshop. – Simon Purcell

Too many, 606 Club: Putting on music seven nights a week, 51 weeks of the year, there are way too many to list here! – Steve Rubie

Steve Wilson & Bruce Barth: I’m not allowed to reveal the location, but the immediacy and joy of a duo concert in a private house in London given by Wilson (consummate alto) and Barth (piano) was unforgettable. – Sebastian Scotney

Even Sanne, InJazz, Rotterdam: I stumbled on them accidentally at the end of an evening and for me it was the best performance I’d seen during the whole festival, it really stuck with me. – Amy Sibley-Allen

The Bad Plus and Binker and Moses, Scala: (review) – Adam Sieff

Alexander Hawkins Trio with John Surman, Gateshead Jazz Festival: Spine-tingling music from different generations. (festival report) – Peter Slavid

The Impossible Gentlemen, Royal Northern College of Music, Manchester: Expanded transatlantic ensemble launching a fine new CD to a full house at what is their nearest to a hometown gig. (review) – Jon Turney

Christian Brewer-Damon Brown Quintet, Pinner Parish Church: For exceeding expectations and reminding us of the value of these under-sung players. – Peter Vacher

Charlie Haden’s Liberation Music Orchestra, Cadogan Hall,2016
Photo credit: Paul Wood

Carla Bley/Liberation Music Orchestra, London Jazz Festival: Bley’s calm leadership of the Liberation Music Orchestra was an inspiration – I’m with her. (thejazzbreakfast review) – John L. Walters

Phillipp Gropper’s Philm & Dice Factory, The Vortex: Amazing and highly innovative quartets: the intricacy and focus from London, contrasting with the power and tightness of Berlin saxophonist Gropper’s group (having in Elias Stemeseder a pianist who is already world class). – Oliver Weindling

Howard Riley at Pizza Express.
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2016. All Rights Reserved

Howard Riley and Keith Tippett, Steinway Spirio Two Piano Festival at Pizza Express Jazz Club: In dazzling form, displaying a natural telepathy with their absorbing, intense meditation, defying and exploring boundaries, stretching out in a sublime improvised performance, their first together since 2003. (review) – Geoff Winston

Categories: miscellaneous

5 replies »

  1. Please may I add : NYJO, BuJazzO & NJJO at the Bimhuis in Amsterdam, 25 September. 75 young musicians from 3 bands who had met for the first time 6 days earlier. playing amazing beautiful music with virtuosity, panache and total joy. A privilege to be at a historic moment for European jazz.

  2. For Seven Jazz in Leeds best gig of a very good year for us was I think Nerija. Here's a typical comment “I can't remember – quite seriously – when I last came out of ANY event – jazz, opera, theatre or otherwise – so high as a kite on happiness and laughter. One of those music evenings you know you're NEVER going to forget, for the RIGHT reasons”.

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