INTERVIEW: Oliver Weindling (forthcoming events at the Vortex)

Alice Bzhezhinska will be celebrating the Alice Coltrane 80th on Monday 28 August

OLIVER WEINDLING of the Vortex is excited about the clubs programme from the moment they re-open next Monday. Questions by Sebastian: 

London Jazz News: You are currently closed for a few days? Anything happening during the down-time?

Oliver Weindling: We have been doing some of our annual cleaning up. In particular, we have recently improved the performance space in our Downstairs (where we hold, for example, our Sunday sessions with Hannes Riepler and Saturday late nights with Bruno Heinen) –  building a proper stage, improving soundproofing and reducing the size of the bar.

LJN: And when do you reopen?

OW: We reopen on Monday 28th with Alina Bzhezhinska Quartet presents:

“INSPIRED BY ALICE COLTRANE” Alina Bzhezhinska – Harp;  Tony Kofi – Saxophones; Larry Bartley – Bass; Joel Prime – Drums/ Percussions

Alice Coltrane’s 80th birthday would have been on 27th. So it’s nice to be so close.

LJN: There was recently an article in allaboutjazz.com about the ’15 European Jazz Musicians You Need To Know About’. How many have played at the Vortex?

Giving a platform for the musicians from all over Europe is an important feature of the Vortex programming. Of the 15 on the list, 10 have played at the Vortex. Reinier Baas (Netherlands), Kaja Draksler (Slovenia), Alexander Hawkins (of course!), Christian Lillinger (Germany), Mopo (Finland), Mette Rasmussen (Denmark), Eve Risser (France), Julian Sartorius (Switzerland), Elias Stemeseder (Austria), Stian Westerhus (Norway and a very old friend from when he was part of Loop Collective). De Beren Gieren (Belgium) will be playing in October. Some have come as part of Match and Fuse, which is sadly not happening this year, due to funding problems. Alexander will be back in September with Louis Moholo-Moholo and Elias Stemeseder will be part of Philip Gropper’s Philm at the end of October.

LJN: You have some international figures coming in to the club?

OW: Seamus Blake will be playing with Norwegian drummer Anders Thorén’s Bridges Band on 11 September. Seamus’s last gig at the Vortex was sold out almost immediately – a true musician’s musician.

Oliver Weindling (R) with Dave Holland

LJN: People  – such as you in this photo! – like to celebrate their birthdays at the Vortex, It’s a month full of musicians with anniversaries and birthdays and birthdays to celebrate! Can you talk about some?

OW: Keith Tippett plays on 10 September, celebrating his own 70th birthday this year. With his wife Julie and an exciting new violinist Theo May, just 20 years old and a protégé of Keith and Julie.

A particular exciting pair of nights will be the 80th birthday gigs on Mike Gibbs on 25th and 27th. His arranging and composing is thrilling, and his energy is unabated. Great that the band consists of some of the best musicians in the UK, who know how to interpret this music. Finally, while looking at birthday celebrations, Clark Tracey brings Hexad to the club, which reminds us how important a musician Stan was (who would have been 90 this year). Stan played regularly at the club, and it was David Mossman who called him ‘The Godfather of British Jazz’ – with good reason. Kirk Lightsey, himself 80 this year, will be back on 17 and 18. His band includes Jean Toussaint, Austrian trombonist Paul Zauner (who just appeared with David Murray a couple of weeks ago), and two of Kirk’s London favourites – Steve Watts on bass and Dave Wickins on drums.

LJN: Jean Toussaint recently played at the club, and got some rave reviews.

OW: Jean Toussaint himself just played two memorable nights with his new band including Denis Rollins, Byron Wallen, Andrew McCormack, Mark Mondesir and Alec Dankworth. Premiering mainly new music by Jean with a passing nod to his former ’employer’, Art Blakey. They are going into the studio soon!

LJN: And any other UK musicians of note?

OW: The Vortex is pleased that it continues to support many of this country’s greats. Henry Lowther is back with his Still Waters band (16), ready to release a new album very soon. Pete Hurt, Barry Green, Dave Green and Paul Clarvis are excellent foils for his vim and imagination. Bassist Chris Laurence makes a rare foray as band leader with Frank Ricotti, John Parricelli and Martin France (2) no doubt focussing on the scene around Kenny Wheeler, Johns Taylor and Surman, and some of the other leaders with whom he has played; and John Etheridge brings his Blue Spirits Trio back on 23. Evan Parker re-starts his monthly series at the Vortex. This month it’ll be a fascinating encounter with Iain Ballamy and Tony Hymas. Louis Moholo-Moholo, playing with more energy than ever at 78, is back with his Four Blokes on 7 and 8 September – Alexander Hawkins, Jason Yarde and John Edwards are his inspired/inspiring partners.

Of the younger generation, Saxophonist Sam Braysher is launching his new album on 13th with New Yorker Michael Kanan. Sam did a trio gig a couple of months back and is certainly not overawed in company such as Michael’s! Vibraphonist Jonny Mansfield brings his Elftet (7).

LJN: Some highlights for October and November?

OW: For October and November, it is very difficult to pick just a few concerts. For the London Jazz Festival the Vortex has 26 gigs over the 10 days alone (including the likes of Gilad Hekselman with Mark Turner, Pablo Held Trio from Cologne and so on). But outside that, we are fortunate that Dave Liebman and Richie Beirach will celebrate 50 years together (4) and we’ll have album launches by Laginha/Argüelles/Norbakken (14) and Malija (24, 25). Mat Maneri and Lucian Ban join with Evan Parker to celebrate their new album on 19 October

And how is David Mossman, the founder of the club?

OW: He has just turned 75 and taken the lead in redecorating Downstairs. He hasn’t been too well recently, but he still comes in every weekend from Margate.

LINK: Events at The Vortex

Categories: miscellaneous

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