Music / contemporary jazz

Bristol’s week in jazz, December 2 – 8

By tony benjamin, Monday Dec 2, 2019

Let’s hear it for the girls! There’s a bumper crop of female vocalists in the spotlight this week, a brace of EP launches, a sliver of synaesthesia and much more …


Sometimes a singer comes along whose voice has such an arresting individuality it stops you in your tracks. Lady Nade’s rich contralto tones (Canteen, Tuesday 3) add an atmosphere to everything she sings, matched by a technique of effortless poise and carefully poetic original songs. She’s the first up in this week’s festival of female vocalists, followed by soul-jazz singer Michaela Fedeczko (El Rincon, Thursday 5) with We Are Lief’s Dale Hambridge accompanying her. Just down the road on the same night Lithuanian jazz vocalist Karolina Griškutė (Steam Crane, Thursday 5) has saxophonist Sophie Stockham guesting with her usual quartet, while you’ll have to travel farther on Friday (6) to catch the Cate Cody Trio offering ‘sparkling jazz for Christmas’ in Butcombe Village Hall. Brighton’s Sam Carelse guests at the Stag & Hounds jam session (Sunday 8), with a set in tribute to the great Scottish jazz singer Annie Ross.

Jazz futurists Hippo celebrate the launch of their Binary Diet EP at Gallimaufry (Thursday 5) , a great showcase of their synth-driven contemporary grooving sound, while Pahla launch their EP debut at Crofters Rights (Sunday 8). Fronted by singer Beth Loates-Taylor the quartet make a very Bristolian kind of jazz-infused nu-soul.

A bunch of Fringe favourites come together in a fresh project for Iain Ballamy & The Defective Comet (Fringe, Wednesday 4). The nimble improvising talents of ever-entertaining saxophonist Iain should be well exercised in this encounter with erstwhile Gas Giants Ross Hughes and Tony Orrell. That gig is definitely a case of ‘expect the unexpected’, as will be the rare reappearance of art-pop explorers Organelles at The Bell (Monday 2). A more restrained (though no less exciting) collaboration comes to the Bebop Club in the shape of Biophosmos featuring Ant Law (Friday 6). Bass guitarist Al Swainger pulled his Chick Corea-inspired quartet together last year to great acclaim and now revisits the set with one of the country’s most interesting contemporary jazz guitarists.

Multi-instrumentalist and singer Shama Rahman (Canteen, Thursday 5) deploys an impressive battery of electronica alongside her sitar and a distinctive vocal style that inflects a jazz lilt with South Asian roots. It all adds up to a highly contemporary sound. Lively Jewish klezmer gets a more traditional jazz treatment from Chai for All (St John’s Church, Tuesday 3) with Marianna Moralis providing the swinging vocals. Anyone seeking a quality soundtrack to strut their dance moves to, however, should catch Cuban vocalist Indira Román and her pan-Caribbean  Ají Pa’Ti (Canteen, Friday 6) and also check Guy Calhoun’s Ernest Ranglin influenced guitar in Jazz Reggae Sessions (Attic, Saturday 7).

Jazz drummer Richard Spaven (Colston Hall Foyer, Wednesday 4) has figured in a lot of very hip contexts – Flying Lotus, Jose James, Cinematic Orchestra to name but a few – and his solo projects showcase his seamless ability to weave contemporary club music rhythms and structures into a fluent fusion. Starting from similar reference points, electro-acoustic quintet Phantom Ensemble bring an overtly jazz vibe to their use of electronic beats and samples. Even more stripped down into the drone/ambient zone, Swedish visitors Kungens Män (Crofter’s Rights, Thursday 5) head a bill that also includes local ‘texture artist’ John Scott aka Stereocilia.

But, unlikely as it seems, this week’s tough choice is one for the synaesthetics this Wednesday. At their regular Gallimaufry session ubertight prog-math improvisers Waldo’s Gift will welcome pianist Jonathan Fashole-Luke and visual artist Holysseus Fly to explore spontaneous painting and music, while down the road at Cafe Kino you could immerse yourself in James Wheale’s ambient environment of dreamy visuals and tape-saturated instrumental music.

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