Two mighty events loom over the coming week, one good and one maybe not-so-good … so let’s start with the certainty.
Gateway to Another Dimension (Saturday 10, St Stephen’s Church) is a brilliant all-day event of improvised and ambient music chock-full of star musical names from the UK free music scene.
Particularly eye (and ear) catching are the duo of Spontaneous Music Ensemble founder Trevor Watts and Stephen Grew, the often hilariously theatrical vocalist Maggie Nichols and Polish prog-jazzer Mariusz Sobanski’s quartet with local freestylers Jake McMurchie, Paul Anstey and Tony Orrell.
Crowning the event will be a solo performance from internationally famed pianist Keith Tippett, Bristol’s (and Britain’s) greatest contribution to the development of improvised music. The event will use the space of the church to offer opportunities for contemplation and meditation while the music unfolds.
There may, of course, be plenty to contemplate after the events of Thursday 8. For those wishing to divert themselves from election fever, there’s a trio of contemporary jazz distractions on offer, with the roiling confusions of the day probably best caught by the Ollie Chalk Trio (Future Inn), a splendidly open-minded young piano trio from Birmingham.
For something a little more assuaging, however, you might want to pick between the modern bass-groove electronics of London’s Vels Trio at Canteen or the Gallimaufry’s debut of the aptly named Elemetic (is it just a coincidence that’s a contraction of ‘election emetic’?) offering ‘neo-soul vibes with smooth guitar melodies’.
Thursday night at the Galli is now called Backbeat, with keyboard player Mike Deniran programming from his considerable network across the new generation of Bristol’s up-and-coming musical talent.
You can sample a fine example of that generation at the Galli on Wednesday, too, with prog-math trio Waldo’s Gift and Bath’s energetic young brass outfit Horning Glory, who will also be blasting the Steam Crane on Saturday 10.
But, of course, there’s also an excellent older generation of Bristol jazzers and it’s very much in evidence starting with a Colston Hall Foyer performance by saxman Jake McMurchie (Tuesday 6) in a quartet with percussionist Andy Tween showcasing his talents on the vibraphone.
Then the Andy Hague Quintet is this week’s attraction at The Fringe (Wednesday 7), complete with powerful tenor player Ben Waghorn and Friday’s session at El Rincon has the unusual sax/guitar duo of Figes & Ilett.
There’s an in-betweeners generation too, and the Dover/Malcolm Quintet (Bebop Club, Friday 9) is a great chance to check out the combination of Nick Dover’s sax and Nick Malcolm’s trumpet with pianist Rebecca Nash, herself newly returned to her Bristol roots.
The Sophie Stockham Trio (Bocabar, Saturday 10) is another opportunity to appreciate the stylistic maturity of Dakhla’s alto sax player.
And, of course, Gypsy swing continues to makes its upbeat mark, with Bartoune appearing in the Colston Hall Foyer on Monday’s drivetime slot, the Balkan/Gypsy influenced Underscore Orchestra at Hy Brasil (Saturday 10) and Schmoozenbergs appearing at the Alma Tavern (Sunday 11).
Fans of the style will also be delighted to hear that Leftbank is now offering a fortnightly Gypsy Jazz Jam on alternate Tuesday’s, with Sweet & The Lowdowns hosting.
Read more jazz: Review of Zoe Rahman and Jay Phelps Quartet, The Lantern