Music: The week in Jazz May 1 – 7

Tony Benjamin, May 1, 2017

OK – so if you’re quick you could catch some of the last day of Cheltenham Jazz Festival – tickets for headliner Gregory Porter may have long sold out but there’s still the excellent pairing of former Tomorrow’s Warrior saxophonists Denys Baptiste and Steve Williamson paying tribute to John Coltrane. Closer to home, however (and with less need for haste), one of the city’s best-established musical pairings will be at the Bebop Club (Friday 5). Saxophonist Kevin Figes and pianist Jim Blomfield (above) have been working together in various contexts for many years and while each has pursued their own developments of style they remain well matched technically and deeply understanding of each other as musicians. The Blomfield/Figes Quartet brings them together to explore the Blue Note repertoire with bassist Riaan Vosloo and drummer Andy Hague.

Otherwise, Friday night is all about brass, with the Hackney Colliery Band (above) blasting their mix of rock and hip-hop tunes given the modern brass band treatment. Bristol’s own fine example of the genre – Brass Junkies – will be playing in the Foyer beforehand and they crop up again at No 1 Harbourside, so if you’re so minded you could catch all three gigs. You could get another dose of rhythm-driven brass overkill at Hy Brasil on Saturday (6), too, when mighty Afrobeat megaband No Go Stop rock the house.

Future Inns features another pairing of local talents that will ring bells for those with longer memories when Gary Alesbrook and Phil King  run through a mix of film and TV music from trumpeter Gary’s imminent debut solo album. Gary’s probably best known for his Duval Project, but that cool Nu-Soul combo originally grew out of Backyard, a similar contemporary R’n’B outfit with Phil (above) providing the vocals. There’s a cracking rhythm section on board for what should be a splendidly nostalgic musical evening.

There does seem to be a bit of a trumpet theme to the week, in fact, with the restlessly exploratory Nick Malcolm unveiling a new project at Canteen on Wednesday (3). Jade (above) involves the high-octane combination of Nick’s trumpet with guitarist Dan Waldman, Will Harris on bass and drummer Rick Yarborough and promises influences ranging from cool producer J Dilla to English choral music. Meanwhile, Pete Judge will be taking his horn to the Fringe on the same night as part of occasional extended supergroup Guess The Bleating, but you’ll need to be quick and/or lucky to catch a ticket for that one. More accessible will be the chance to see Mango Factory trumpeter Aimee Mukherjee in a rare small band jazz setting at The Old Fish Market (Sunday 7). But if you’ve had enough of trumpets then that evening also sees the calculatedly cool and clever modernist Dave Perry Trio at the Tobacco Factory.

The full-strength sound of the UWE Big Band will pack out the stage at St George’s (Tuesday 2) for a free concert playing big band charts from the classic 40s era onwards, while the Colston Hall foyer offers an afternoon of squeezebox diversity on Saturday 6 to celebrate World Accordion Day. Renowned players Karen Street and Karen Tweed hope to gather 46 different bellowheads for the occasion which is also free.

Finally this week’s ‘it’s not quite jazz but …’ gig is the visit of minimalist Californian tape looper William Basinski to The Lantern (Wednesday 3). His ‘melancholy soundscapes’ involve very slow gradations of change, whereas support act Tom Rogerson is the keyboard player from frenetic electro-math jazz trio Three Trapped Tigers. It will be interesting to see how Tom’s improvised solo piano set prepares the way for those drones.

Like this? You might be interested in...