Music: The week in Jazz March 20 – 26

Tony Benjamin, March 20, 2017

It’s been some 30 years since young sax tyro Courtney Pine began his mission to generate awareness of a vibrant black British jazz community by fusing his powerhouse Bebop technique to reggae, soul and R’n’B styles and structures. Since those early days he’s gained a heap of MOBOs and a CBE for his efforts, which have seen him continually extend his interests and ideas. But there’s a hint of ‘back to the future’ about his latest project Black Notes From The Deep working with singer Omar and pianist Nikki Yeoh (St George’s, Friday 24), not least because he’s returned to the tenor saxophone as main instrument.

There’s no doubt about Whirlwind recording artist (pictured above) Sam Crockatt’s allegiance to the tenor, however, and after last year’s visit with John Law the Bebop Club regulars will surely welcome him back (Friday 24) with Sam Crockatt’s Brouhaha, an excellent trio with Riaan Vosloo (bass) and Dave Smith (drums). All three were London players but have recently moved out west so we can happily expect to be seeing more of them hereabouts. Alto sax player Damian Cook made a similar move a couple of years back – his trio appears at The Old Fishmarket (Sunday 26).

It was a big deal for Jonny Bruce (above) when he got to play with personal hero Bobby Shew at this year’s Jazz festival and he celebrates another influential trumpet legend with Brother Hubbard  (Fringe, Wednesday 22) a top sextet dedicated to the late great Freddie. That evening also sees one of Indigo Kid guitarist Dan Messore’s occasional visits to Bristol for a trio gig at Canteen with hotshot rhythm section Dan Moore (keyboards) and Matt Brown (drums).

Lovers of West African jazz-fuelled grooves had better be in training, however, as this week offers three top sweat-drenching Afrobeat acts, starting from the source of it all when Seun Kuti & Egypt 80 hit Bristol (Thursday 23). As son of Afrobeat originator Fela Kuti Seun kept his father’s band going after his death and the band contains many who played with Fela in his time. The gig was originally scheduled for Trinity but has now been moved to The Fleece. There’s a double bill of UK bands also inspired by Fela’s legacy at Exchange on Friday (24) when London Afrobeat Collective and Bristol’s No Go Stop strut their very funky stuff.

Thursday night’s Future Inn session (23) features London’s SEN3 trio, the super-smooth contemporary grooves of whose debut CD The Drop caught a wide range of critical attention. We inadvertently listed this gig before on February 23 so apologies to anyone mislead by that and be assured this one really is happening!

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