Volker Goetze Quintet
Photo credit: Alison Bentley
In the second of London Jazz News’ four year-end lists from a wide range of jazz people,  musicians, writers, promoters name their favourite live moments of the year. You can add your own nominations in the comments section. Contributions have been compiled by LJN Editor-at-Large Peter Bacon:

Theo Croker Quintet at Glasgow Jazz Festival, for bringing the jazz message right into the here and now. (Rob Adams)

Birmingham Conservatoire Ellington Orchestra – Josh Schofield soloing
Birmingham Conservatoire Ellington Orchestra (Jeremy Price, director), Birmingham Town Hall, 3 February: The kids embraced and remade the tradition handed down to them by the most sophisticated of their jazz ancestors. A thoroughly beguiling debut performance – after which we really did love them madly! Now enlivening Monday nights at their brand-spanking-new home: Eastside Jazz Club, Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. (Peter Bacon)

Volker Goetze Quintet feat. Ali Boulo Santo Cissoko, Salzburg Jazz Festival. Led by New York-based German trumpeter Goetze. Tough, urban funk time signatures were fused with the delicate tracery of the kora – absolutely compelling. (Alison Bentley)

Ed Jones at Lauderdale House – with all the swagger and sound of Rollins in his prime (with Ross Stanley, Riaan Vosloo and Tim Giles) – came close to [being my] choice for Musician/Band of the Year. (Brian Blain)

Alexander Hawkins/Elaine Mitchener Quartet, Jazzfestival Münster (Henning Bolte)

The moment Jacob Collier spontaneously invited guests from the audience to his show at the Mojo Club in Hamburg in May 2017 was the icing on the cake. (Götz Bühler, editor – Jazz thing – “European Jazz Legends“)

Mark Crooks Quartet Plays Johnny Mandel (The Bull’s Head, 2 September 2017). The fusion of jazz and film soundtracks provides some of the finest music of our time, and Johnny Mandel is one of the presiding geniuses of this hybrid genre. Mark Crooks’ outstanding small combo, with Crooks on reeds, Simon Thorpe on bass, Gabriel Latchin on piano and Matt Home, drums, played a marvellous, memorable gig to showcase Mandel’s music and help keep it alive. (Andrew Cartmel)

Hearing Johnny RichardsCuban Fire! played by the National Youth Jazz Orchestra in collaboration with Germany’s Bundesjazzorchester and Holland’s Nationaal Jeugd Jazz Orkest was extraordinary. Performed with all the panache and richness of colour that Stan Kenton first brought to the music in 1956, the three bands demonstrated not only the suite’s canonical importance but also its contemporary relevance.  (Jon Carvell)

Ambleside Days Festival Four nights in Zefferelli’s with dizzying permutations of the finest contemporary jazzers you could hope to see. There wasn’t a combination that didn’t create magic, but one especially still glows: a trio of Gwilym Simcock, Dave Holland and Mike Walker. Beautiful music, potent chemistry and sublime improvising. (Mike Collins)

Binker & Moses at Margate Jazz Festival (live review) – My pals and I took a road trip (an ersatz ‘bro trip’) down to the seaside to watch Binker & Moses, who were worth every epic mile of the journey. The duo are in the vanguard of younger artists pointing the way for a hard-edged new jazz with an open mind, synthesising varied and eclectic influences with a modernising outlook. (AJ Dehany)

Dominic Miller, Jazzsommer Munich, 21 July, Bayerischer Hof. He is not a typical virtuoso but one of the incredible masters of sound. And he celebrated his ideas perfectly together with percussionist Rhani Krija and bass player Nicolas Fiszman. (Ralf Dombrowski)

Article XI and Favourite Animals double bill in the Hexagon Theatre, mac, Birmingham, December 2017. Wonderful to hear two large ensembles playing inspiring music that combined composition and free improvisation. (Tony Dudley-Evans, Jazzlines Birmingham and Cheltenham Jazz Festival)

Given the abundance of riches at this year’s London Jazz Festival, there are no easy choices for this category. But the gig that made an indelible print on my mind preceded the Festival by a month: the prodigious Christian Sands playing with his superb trio at Ronnie Scott’s. Their playing took me straight to heaven. The interpretation of the ballad ‘Tenderly’ had me reduced to tears. (Sebastian Fox)

Fraser Fifield
Photo credit: Patrick Hadfield
The “Playtime” sessions in Edinburgh produced many memorable gigs, but one show from October stands out: Fraser Fifield‘s visit with a quartet made up of regulars Mario Caribe, Tom Bancroft and Graeme Stephen. Blending jazz, improvisation and folk music, they conjured up something magical with a distinct west coast, celtic vibe. (Patrick Hadfield)

Chris Potter at Pizza Express with Ruben Rogers and Eric Harland (Alan Hayward)

A cold December night at Cafe Kino, Bristol, Ana Silvera singing so movingly I Grew Up in a House as Small as a Penny, a song she sang at the bedside of her dying mother. A heartfelt requiem with sensitive harmonium and vocals from Jasper Høiby, a gem in an evening of great beauty and warmth. (Mary James)

Trumpeter/pianist/singer Nicholas Payton played a wonderful Cork Festival gig in October, featuring material from his album Afro-Caribbean Mixtape. However for sheer atmosphere and control in the live situation, there was nothing to beat singer/flautist Melanie de Biasio at the Scala a couple of weeks earlier. (Peter Jones)

Mads Mathias and Ian Shaw at Dean Street – the winks were taller than than the Shard (Barb Jungr)

Ches Smith/Craig Taborn/Matt Maneri at the Vortex. One of those rare gigs when everything seemed simultaneously through-composed and free-improvised. Always love the Vortex. (Hans Koller)

The Tommy Smith Quartet blowing up a Coltrane-dedicated storm at the Edinburgh Jazz Festival in July, back-to-basics full on virtuosity with young(ish) Pete Johnstone on piano, sweltering in wool suits on the hottest day of the year.  (Mark McKergow)

Gary Husband, solo at King’s Place, October, debuting his tribute album to John McLaughlin called A Meeting of Spirits. Playing drums. And piano. At the same time. (Yes, you read that correctly). You just couldn’t look away, it was mesmerising stuff. A musical high wire act of astonishing creativity showcasing why he has reached national treasure/genius territory. (Rob Mallows)

Paintbox JaneWestbrook & Company. As promised, this was a brilliantly realised “celebration of Raoul Dufy’s paintings, and a meditation on the nature of Art” for piano, bass, saxophone, guitar and voices, written by Mike and Kate Westbrook.  I’m already looking forward to further performances and a recording in 2018 by these extraordinary artists. (Jane Mann)

Leïla Martial’s spellbinding, spine-tingling, other-worldly voice in duet with Valentin Ceccaldi at St Ann’s Church, Manchester.  (Steve Mead – Manchester Jazz Festival)

Joshua Redman Quartet at MJF
Photo credit: Adrian Pallant
Manchester Jazz Festival hosted 2017’s sole UK performance by US tenor saxophonist Joshua Redman and his Still Dreaming quartet, with cornettist Ron Miles, bassist Scott Colley and drummer Brian Blade. Celebrating the Old and New Dreams Quartet of the 1970s and ‘80s (which featured Joshua’s father Dewey Redman), this classy, genial performance had a packed RNCM Theatre audience on the edge of their seats, throughout, in a state of reverential awe. Pure magic. (Adrian Pallant)

Punkt.Vrt.Plastik, 4 November, Berlin, Jazzfest (Kaja Draksler, Petter Eldh, Christian Lillinger) (Michael Rüsenberg, Köln)

George Cables: Was this really happening?  I had to pinch myself several times to make sure it was when I had the opportinity to do interviews with both George Cables and bassist Essiet Essiet and to review their performance at Upstairs at the Montreal Jazz Festival. Cables is a delightful man. The well that he pulls his inspiration and ideas from is bottomless. (Sebastian Scotney)

ICP Orchestra at Gateshead Jazz Festival: Just after the death of their founder Misha Mengelberg, and preceded by the moving film about his gradual decline into dementia, they put on an exhilarating performance, full of wit and exciting improvisation. This is one of the great European bands, led by Mengelberg’s long-time collaborator Han Bennink. It was wonderful that they made two UK visits this year. (Peter Slavid)

Leïla Martial, Cafe Zedel, London Jazz Festival: The French vocalist, accompanied by Pierre Teyregeol on guitar and Eric Perez on drums. The performance was refreshingly unique: Martial was able to use her voice in unusual yet musically captivating ways, ranging in pitch, timbre, and style. A truly memorable night. (Gail Tasker)

This is a very tough call given all the great music on offer in 2017, but I’m going to go with singer/songwriter Gwyneth Herbert, appearing at the 606 Club in October. With her incandescent personality and sheer lust for life, Gwyn’s performances just transport me to another world. Her voice – a soaring, powerful instrument – combined with her sly sense of humour & whimsical songwriting are truly one of a kind.  (Laura G Thorne – Marketing/PR Manager, 606 Club)

Ambleside Days (see the link below for full numbered caption)
Photo credit: Sylwia Bialas
The inaugural Ambleside Days festival in September, for the sense of community among musicians, the warm tributes to John Taylor, and the many beautiful combinations of Dave Holland, Gwilym Simcock, Mike Walker, Joe Locke, et al. (Jon Turney)

Love Supreme at Glynde Place was terrific, as usual, but the most sublime and moving moment of 2017 was hearing Pete Churchill’s London Vocal Project perform the European Premiere of Jon Hendricks’s vocalese Miles Ahead at Kings Place. If you were lucky enough to be there on 21 May, my review for London Jazz may bring back fond memories, perhaps made more poignant by Hendricks’s death last month at the age of 96. (John L Walters)

Andy Sheppard Quartet, Kings Place, 11 September: A top band with a warm audience in a great venue is not a bad start, but it is Sheppard’s saxophone that makes the difference. The sax is the most human-sounding of instruments and Sheppard’s is the most human of saxophones, talking in articulate, warm, lyrical and intelligent tones, like a great Shakespearian actor in full flow. (Dominic Williams)

The Art Ensemble of Chicago returning to Cafe Oto in October after their acclaimed residency in February, were augmented by the string trio Hear In Now, and turned in one of the best performances I’ve ever seen at the venue. Everything gelled. The interaction between the musicians, the extended vocabularies they created, and the ability to constantly surprise made it very special – plus the bonus of a sparkling interview a couple of hours earlier. (Geoff Winston)

Categories: miscellaneous

1 reply »

  1. I didn't see so many jazz gigs this year. However I think in any year I would have been blown away by Nik Bärtsch's Mobile who I saw at Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. I had previously heard his bands on the radio but only felt the impact of what they were doing and how when I saw them live. It seems to me like a combination of the long form minimalist improvisation of the Necks with structural changes cued by Bärtsch when he judges it appropriate. The intense concentration by the musicians was readily apparent and the result extremely impressive and beautiful. Other people with me felt the same.

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