It’s that time of year again – school’s out, the festivals are in and many of the regular jazz nights are on their summer’s break. Unless you count Malmesbury-based WOMAD (Thur 27-Sun 30) as local – this year’s programme includes Snarky keyboardist Bill Laurance, the Porticos and supercool vibes legend Roy Ayers – the big jazz names are mostly out of town.
But this is Bristol so there’s always a few choice gigs on offer and one of the choicest will be the excellent Jazz Defenders at The Fringe (Wednesday 26). This fivesome of top local names was pulled together by pianist George Cooper to make new music in the style and spirit of the classic hard bopping heyday of the Blue Note label. It’s been a highly successful project thanks to the skills of the players, their collaborative writing ability and the sheer exuberance of that great period of the jazz story.
There’s a big treat for the blues guitar fraternity, too, when Matt Schofield heads up a double bill with Germany’s Henrik Freischlader (The Tunnels, Saturday 29). Matt – whose band includes local fave Hammond player Jonny Henderson – has a light touch style with classic roots and jazzy swing on occasion, Henrik comes from a more rock angle, and his latest project is Blues For Gary, a tribute to the late Gary Moore. If you prefer more boogaloo from your organ trios, however, saxophonist John Pratt’s JP3 with Ruth Hammond on keys and Kevin O’Rourke drumming is at Canteen (Wednesday 26).
You have a truly diverse choice of jazz options in the absence of the usual Future Inn session on Thursday (27). The Gallimaufry’s Backbeat night has a Fem Future Soul theme, with vocalists Holly Wellington (Feelgood Project) and Juliet Temko (Rhythm Pencils) exploring the classier end of modern soul-jazz. In complete contrast The Old England is hosting a Liquid Library night featuring four improv-heavy bands including a new ‘mystery’ project from cornet-player Harry Iceman Furniss. Somewhere between those extremes over in Southville’s El Rincon bar you can catch Purple & Brown, a new ‘skeletal jazz’ duo of Get The Blessing’s bassist Jim Barr and trumpeter Pete Judge.
Not to be outdone on the wild and free jazz front The Exchange has another of their occasional Expresso Bongo events (Saturday 29). This one’s an all-dayer and includes improv guitar veteran Phil Gibbs’ trio and lo-fi drone guitar explorer Louise’s Guidelines. And finally there’s a similarly exploratory feel to the Bloom Collective showcase at the Wardrobe Theatre (Sunday 30) with Yama Warashi’s Yoshino Shigihara bringing a new all-female trio PonPon promising ‘wonky rhythms, effected acoustic instruments and tribal chanting’. Her guitarist bandmate Conrad Singh has a ‘Bristalien rocket folk’ project Cloudshoes on the bill and ‘subtle wild improvisation trio’ EP/64 will mix raw vocals, live sampling electronics and drumming from Liquid Librarian Dan Johnson.