Music / cheltenham jazz festival

The week in Jazz April 24 – 30

By tony benjamin, Monday Apr 24, 2017

While there’s plenty of jazz fun around Bristol this week there’s no doubt that it’s a tad overshadowed by the orgy of top international treats of the Cheltenham Jazz Festival (Wednesday 26 – Monday 1) just a little way over the horizon. Big names like Gregory Porter, Snarky Puppy, Chick Corea and … er … Will Young may already be sold out but there’s still a few tickets for the likes of Australian improvising trio The Necks, saxophone superstar Chris Potter (pictured), R’n’B’s greatest exponent of the Hammond organ Booker T. Jones and former Tomorrow’s Warriors Denys Baptiste and Steve Williamson celebrating John Coltrane’s later spiritual jazz.

Closer to home, however, it’s an especially eclectic week, with everything from free jazz to hip-hop on offer. Superhip piano trio GoGo Penguin (pictured) are nothing if not ambitious and they will play their alternative soundtrack to Philip Glass’ original hypnotic score for art film classic Koyaanisqatsi at Colston Hall (Tuesday 25). Something equally hip and (possibly) audacious will happen at The Fleece (Saturday 29) when the Abstract Orchestra Does Dilla, a fine live evocation of influential producer J Dilla with big band arrangements and rapping vocals. Hip-hop influences are also part of the mix for Feelgood Project who play The Alma (Sunday 30).

Some familiar local heroes get a well-deserved place in the spotlight, too, with the ever-excellent Jim Blomfield Trio featuring at The Fringe (Wednesday 26). Jim’s ear-catching set at the Bristol Jazz Festival indicated a more electronic sound with prog influences to the fore for their next album which is being recorded at Real World Studios. Unusually Jim will be passing the piano stool to George Cooper when the Andy Hague Quintet features at The Bebop (Friday 28). They’ll be playing some of trumpeter Andy’s recent compositions as well as cherry picking from his considerable back catalogue of originals and arrangements.

Less familiar will be the name Annika Skoogh (pictured) whose Exeter-based quartet make their debut at Future Inn (Thursday 27). Originally from Sweden Annika has a soulful jazz vocal technique, whether singing in English, Swedish or several other European languages. It’s not clear whether singer Ruth Royall’s Berlin Connection (Canteen Saturday 29) features much in the way of German singing, however this new project reflects her involvement with the Berlin jazz scene and she’s touring with a trio of musicians from that city.

And as for the free jazz – it’s that time of the month at The Fringe (Monday 24) and for April’s improvised music session the house trio have tempted eclectic cornet player Harry Iceman Furniss (pictured above with his own quartet) to join them and redoubtable bass player Hugh Kirkbride for an evening promoting new record label Free Tone Records.

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