Well, we may be in the run-up to this year’s Bristol International Jazz and Blues Festival, but there’s no sign that the jazz scene is holding back in anticipation. This week’s menu looks extremely appetising.
Take Wednesday (8) for starters: there’s no doubt that the hipster contingent will be crowding The Lantern for Snarky Puppy spin-off the Bill Laurance Group, led by the band’s UK-born keyboard player, plus litter-mates Michael League (bass) and Sput Searight (drums). Last year’s visit to Bristol revealed Laurance’s composing style leaning towards rolling epics, dance-flavoured grooves and the occasional nod to minimalism, with plenty of flair in the playing thereof.
For more elaborate composition, however, you might want to catch the Kevin Figes Sextet at the Fringe, also on Wednesday. Sitting half-way between the alto saxophonist’s regular quartet and occasional octet, the band includes Emily Wright’s vocals, tenor sax courtesy of Nick Dover, and should be a good showcase for Kevin’s ever-developing musical ideas. And, for the last of that evening’s treats, you can catch Sophie Stockham’s contemporary quintet Sefrial at Canteen. Having started out exploring the likes of John Zorn, the band now have developed a broad repertoire of original music in a distinctive style of jazz rock.
For the main course you have to wait till Friday 10, when trumpet fans will face an agonising choice between seminal Norwegian electro-ambient pioneer Arve Henriksen (St George’s) and The Bebop Club’s trio of superb local horn-blowers, aka The Three Trumpets. Like his fellow-countryman Jan Garbarek, Arve has developed a collaboration with a classical vocal group, in this case the Oslo-based polyphonic Trio Mediaeval. Their joint music combines traditional folk and early music singing with Henriksen’s distinctive quasi-flute sound and electronic processing. The Bebop’s threesome of Andy Hague, Jonny Bruce and Nick Malcolm, however, represents the great tradition of players like Freddie Hubbard and Woody Shaw, and, given the splendid talents and diverse style of the players, it should be very entertaining indeed.
And meanwhile, or, rather, later that same evening, eagle-eyed Bristol jazz fans might spot a couple of familiar faces at Canteen when Native Dancer (pictured at top of page) launch into their ultra-cool nu-soul & jazz fusion. Fronted by the captivating vocals of Frida Touray, the five-piece band also includes two sometime-local boys: pianist Sam Crowe (who put the project together) and saxophonist Josh Arcoleo, both very much part of the London and national scene these days.
There’s some hard-core leftfieldism at The Cube (Thursday 9) when the brilliantly original Geordie trio Taupe headline a triple bill that also includes duelling post-prog guitar outfit The Brackish, and Jake McMurchie’s electronic ambient trio Michelson Morley. It’s hard to catch the unpredictable and eclectic spirit of Taupe in a few words, but suffice it to say they figure on Radio 3’s Late Junction quite regularly. Predicting the music at Future Inns on the same night is more straightforward, as they are hosting The Royals: singer Emily Wright’s popular tribute to the classic swing songbook of the 40s and 50s.
And finally, for dessert, there’s a couple of fairly unknown quantities to select from on Sunday 12, when newly-formed jazz and funk outfit Snazzback feature at the Alma Tavern, and French alto saxophonist Cyril Boureau brings his quartet to The Old Fish Market. Snazzback includes sparky percussion veteran Myke Vince alongside newer generation players like saxophonist Thomas Sefia, which promises some pretty groove-driven playing, while the more lyrical Cyril’s contemporary compositions have a classically ‘jazzy’ feel to them.
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