No doubting who the big guns are this week, and with gospel-soul legend Mavis Staples and bass behemoth Stanley Clarke both coming to town it might be too easy to overlook the return of one of Bristol’s jazz prodigals. In the 80s pianist David Gordon (Hen & Chicken, Sunday 23) was part of the generation of Bristol jazz musicians that included Andy Hague, Ben Waghorn and others and his adventurous playing was a regular highlight at gigs around the city. He moved up to London, however, where he established himself as player and composer of some renown, and his latest trio project allies the avant-garde classical composer Alexander Scriabin with 30s jazz, Irving Berlin and a load of other styles. It’s a fun thing that can’t conceal a great musical intelligence and superb trio skills.
In the world of electric bass guitar Stanley Clarke (Fleece, Wednesday 19) was a pioneer of solo playing and recording as well as a member of the mighty fusion band Return To Forever. He went on to work with George Duke for many years as well as various Rolling Stones, becoming a byword for his formidable technique. Tickets for this unlikely intimate gig were selling fast, but you might be lucky …
There’s an interesting new film music project at Future Inn this week (Thursday 20). Render is a quartet of George Cooper (keys), Dan Messore (guitar), Aidan Thorne (bass) and Tom Cottle (drums). Unusually, their emphasis is very much on modern cinema music (Dark Night, Gladiator etc) rearranged as the basis for a jazz approach and improvisation, creating ambient musical soundscapes. There’s a similar approach underlying violinist Claire Northey’s solo music (Gallimaufry, Tuesday 18). Claire uses loop technology to combine composed and improvised melodies with Eastern influences. More conventional jazz violin can be found at The Fringe (Wednesday 19) from John Pearce & Dave Newton, with Dave’s excellent piano and Will Harris’ bass a great context for the mercurial Mr Pearce’s passionate playing. Special guests are promised, too.
Finally, if you’re in an adventurous mood, Friday night (21) has a scattering of things happening at some smaller venues. Cuban vocalist Indira Roman fronts Latin party explosion Aja P’a Ti at No 1 Harbourside, while jazz singer/songwriter Ros Cuthbert appears with pianist Andrew Christie at El Rincon and brash new funk and swing band George & The Dragons grace the Salt Café. Most intriguing, however, is the arrival of Berlin electronic experimentalist and percussionist Burkhard Beins at the Brunswick Club, appearing with local improvising electronicist Matt Davis. Also on the bill is Stephen Cornford, whose audio-visual feedback system incorporates ‘brainwave electrodes and a rudimentary synthesiser’.