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Jazz in London

30 mai 2012
January-april 2012

Idris AckamoorStarting the year at Ronnie Scott’s, with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra, while up the road at Pizza Express, smooth sounding tenor sax jazz comes from Scott Hamilton. Ronnie’s again for a great set from Sarah Jane Morris, whose vocals all come with feelings and power from her heart. Houston Person, 77 year old US soul jazz tenor player has a lovely melodic sound and was a delight to watch and listen to in Ronnie’s. Pizza again, for a superb duo evening from singer/pianist Ian Shaw, joined by Scottish star vocalist Eddi Reader. It was a really special night. Then, 3 separate gigs in a row in Ronnie’s, starting with ex Crusader trombonist Wayne Henderson, three nights later finds lovely US jazz singer Carmen Lundy backed by great trio of Anthony Wonsey p, Daryll Hall b and Jamison Ross d. All this before legendary vocals from Martha Reeves, (plus 3 Vandellas). Not quite as she was at her heights, but still willing to give it her all. Café Oto offered a really different menu with The Pyramids, originally formed over 40 years ago, but, led by IdrisAckamoor and Kimathi Asanti, reformed. A most entertaining night. Then, Jazz venue in North London, The Vortex, offered some class contemporary music form UK’s Evan Parker on t/sax, Germans’, bass clarinettist Rudi Mahall, pianist/composer Alex von Sclippenbach and drummer Paul Lovens. A new venue to me, was The Cockpit, where I saw three separate events in the same evening. Opening with new young UK attractive and talented female trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and her trio, then solo from Stuart McCallum gtr, before a fine UK trio of vibes star Orphy Robinson, Steve Williamson t/sax and Pat Thomas keys. The month ended at Ronnie Scott’s, with legendary jazz singer Mark Murphy. Now 80 years old, having given up his famous wig for a colourful knitted skull cap, sporting a new beard and having to sit down in performance, but still able to show his historic class.

Photo : Idris Ackermoon © David Sinclair

Billy Cobham
February began in a new venue, Boisdales, in Canary Wharf, where Dennis Rollins tmb, plus Pedro Segundo d and Ross Stanley keys played to a large audience of diners who seemed more interested in their menus than the excellent music. Ronnie’s were packed out for a visit from Katie Melua who is much more a pop singer than a jazz vocalist, but she draws the crowds in. Much more interesting was an unusual gig in St Mary’s Church in Guildford, where a quartet of young performers were rehearsing and preparing for a new album. Led by Will Todd p, Gareth Huw-Davies b, Jim Fleeman d and Bethany Halliday voc, exhibited their talent with some fine playing and self compositions. Italian composer/guitarist Nicola Conte came to Ronnie’s to provide a popular latin feel before, a few days later, legendary Billy Cobham showed just how drums should be played, and he really knows how !. Pizza Express meanwhile offered the rapidly rising, soon to be called super-star, vocalist, Gregory Porter . Over to Ronnie’s again where you take a handful of real, high class, jazz players, stick them together on a stage and you have a great ensemble. So it was, led by Eddie Henderson tmpt, plus David Weiss tmpt, Craig Handy a/sax, Billy Hart d, Billy Harper t/s and George Cables p, all under the name "Cookers”, a really good evening. A few days later, the month finished in Ronnie Scott’s, when ex lead singer and bassist of Level 42, Mark King, performed to sold out houses with a band of his "friends”.

Photo : Billy Cobham © David Sinclair

March started off from the Vortex, with famed South African jazz drummer Louis Moholo-Moholo leading a lively sextet with Henry Lowther tmpt, Alan Tomlinson tromb, Ntskuks Bonga a/s, Alexander Hawkins p and Francine Luce voc. Then, at Café Oto, the pleasure of meeting, and hearing , again avant garde saxist Roscoe Mitchell, once of the Art Ensemble of Chicago. Ronnie Scott’s offered a week of some really fine jazz, starting with the master bassist Ron Carter, then that fine alto and tenor saxist Chris Potter, well supported by David Virelles p., the support group that evening was a real pleasure to listen to, a set of young UK musicians led by Laura Jurd tmpt, Corrie Dick d, Elliot Galvin p, and Conor Chaplin b. Three days later, US piano star Marcus Roberts led a very sharp trio with Jason Marsalis d and Rodney Jordan b. Then three days of Scottish rock bassist Jack Bruce, (ex one third of the famed "Cream”) One of the UK’s very best saxists is Andy Sheppard, who, as part of his tour, came to the Purcell Rooms with the trio "Trio Libero”, with Sebastian Rochford d and Michel Benita b. Pizza Express proudly offered the great Kenny Garrett on his creative a/sax, before, on another evening, Will Vinson on t/sax. Finishing the month at Ronnie’s in two separate evenings, firstly with vocalist Ruby Turner, then, definitely one of the highlights, a superb set from US trumpet star Ambrose Akinmusire and his quintet which included Walter Smith t/sax.

Photo : Roscoe Mitchell © David Sinclair
Finally, in April, blues/soul r&b guitarist/keyboard star, Lucky Peterson, set feet tapping and some of the audience dancing in Ronnie Scott’s, joined by his wife Tamara Peterson and wild guitarist Shawn Kellerman. The 606 Club in Chelsea struck gold in an appearance from Rolling Stones drummer Charlie Watts, who sat in on a gig with superb UK t/sax man Don Weller. Ronnie’s again for a double bill of "Get the Blessing” led by Pete Judge tmpt, Jim Barr b, Jake McMurchie t/s and Dairy Palmer d., then Sarah Gillespie voc/gtr with the fine clarinet/tenor sax/accordion star Gilad Atzmon, plus Enzo Zirilli d. Smart theatre venue Kings Place in Kings Cross, held a most interesting double event with Scottish guitar star Jim Mullen and Jean Toussaint t/s, leading a quartet with Eddie Hick d and Barry Green p., they were opposite a very stimulating group led by the outstanding UK alto sax star Peter King, with US pianist Bruce Barth, Stephen Keogh d, Jeremey Brown b and the Global Arts Ensemble strings ensemble. Then to the Barbican for some real super stars, Chick Corea and Gary Burton. Ronnie’s again, for Texas born, UK based soul singer Carleen Anderson who gives everything in all her performance. Three days later, a week of the remarkable Georgie Fame, still singing while playing his Hammond. Pizza Express found three separate but class jazz bookins. First drumming legend Lenny White ( ex Miles Davis, ex Return to Forever etc etc, ) with Bob Franceschini t/s and Mark Sherman vibes. Then, highly talented Dutch sax star Tineka Postma with a quartet of Marc van Roon p, Joost van Schalk d and Frans van der Hoeven b. Finally, Puerto Rican tenor sax hero David Sanchez, with quartet featuring Edward Simon p, and Antonio Sanchez d. More talent, this time in the progressive style, at the Vortex, when US’s Craig Taborn p, Gerard Cleaver d., joined Lotte Anker, Danish sax player/composer. Ronnie Scott’s finished the month in very high fashion. Firstly with three days of another US guitar legend Pat Martino, playing with Pat Bianchi on Hammond and Carmen Intorre d. And finally a two day booking of the remarkable drummer Ginger Baker, once one third of the famous "Cream”. Two completely sold out houses on both evening and still with lots of people disappointed for lack of further admission showed his drawing power.

Photo : Ginger Baker © David Sinclair

David Sinclair