Music / Jazz

Bristol’s week in jazz, January 6-12 2020

By tony benjamin, Monday Jan 6, 2020

As we kick off the 20s there’s the welcome return of a great saxophonist, a weekend festival of freeness and several of our hipper local combos to be sampled.

Following a roof-rattling set at the Bath Jazz Weekend, Tony Orrell’s Big Top heads back to The Fringe (Wednesday 8). The mighty quintet features two great drummers (Tony O and Matt Brown) yet is rarely bombastic, leaving plenty of space for Jake McMurchie’s tenor sax and Dan Moore’s piano with Riaan Vosloo’s bass the engine of continuity. It’s a context that allows Jake’s lyrical side to take centre stage, and another richly toned tenor player opens the Be-Bop Club’s spring season.

Martin Genge (Be-Bop Club, Friday 10) had been a prominent player on the Bristol scene until the turn of the century, but has only made rare trips back since. His quartet also includes bass player Clive Morton – another name happily familiar to veterans of the local jazz world.

It’s always good to have a new festival in Bristol, especially one representing the city’s lively free music subculture. Tongue Theory is a cavalcade of established practitioners of ‘avant-gardery’ taking place at Cafe Kino (Saturday 11) and The Exchange (Sunday 12). Highlights will include ‘improvised drum machine/ effects pedal throw-down’ duo Harpoon and a punk jazz double bass performance from Joseph Kelly as well as multiple permutations of well-known free thinking musicians like seasoned bass-wrestler Dominic Lash.

Snazzback are handing over their Gallimaufry session to Ethio-funksters Tezeta (Thursday 9). Another twin drum outfit, this one led by keyboard player Dan Inzani also features Andrew Neil Hayes on sax and Harriet Riley’s vibraphone in a cool evocation of  that slinky funk-jazz from the Horn of Africa. Ms Riley’s fellow member of the Phantom Ensemble Simiah also crops up at the Gallimaufry (Sunday 12) in a solo performance of beat-driven electronica, while compelling math-jazz improvisers Waldo’s Gift have their usual Wednesday slot at the same venue.

Fast-rising contemporary electro-groove jazz trio Hippo appear at Old Market Assembly (Saturday 11) where their blend of electronic dance energy and ambient jazz improvisation should go down a storm.

It’s a busy week for Swiss-born (but now Bristol-based) saxophonist Martin Kern, with his Martin Kern Quartet coming to Canteen (Wednesday 8) and he himself leading off at the Stag and Hounds’ Sunday session (Sunday 12). He’s been building a name for himself around the town thanks to a mature post-bop style and energy in his playing. Even more matured is the pre-war jazz and swing sound of Old Malthouse Jazz Band (Golden Lion, Friday 10).

There’s a pick of brass-blasters on Friday night, too. Canteen is offering the acoustic rock-jazz sound of Birmingham’s Young Pilgrims while No. 1 Harbourside will host Bath’s Horning Glory on the same night. Both outfits boast a sousaphone bass underpinning a brass and percussion ensemble – you pays your money (into the collection bucket, please!) and you takes your choice.

And, finally, there’s an intriguing debut at Canteen on Tuesday (7). Kait Lee & Eddie Jay are both great musicians – she sings, he plays accordion – whose backgrounds encompass jazz, swing and folk music. This new acoustic duo will probably have elements of all of that, adding up to an interesting and distinctive new sound.

Related articles