Friday, 24 March 2017

Misha Gray's Prehistoric Jazz Quintet at Ribble Valley, April 7th

Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues Club continue their varied and exciting monthly gig programme on Friday 7th April with Misha Gray and his Prehistoric Jazz Quintet.

The Manchester jazz scene is teeming with exciting musicians and ensembles at the moment!

Line-up: Nick Walters - trumpet, Kyran Matthews - saxophone, Misha Gray - piano, Hugo Harrison - bass, Johnny Hunter - drums.

The Prehistoric Jazz Quintet is a group of well-established young jazz musicians, led by composer and pianist Misha Gray, whose original compositions explore these origins of music. Their style relies heavily on the musicians’ spontaneity and improvising skills, and the result is a lively combination of intense, intriguing and unique textures. Expect tracks from their new album, “Origin of the Species”

For more information on the band and Misha's other groups, visit the Misha Gray website. Head to the Ribble Valley Jazz Club website for more information on their monthly programme and festival.

Branford Marsalis, Kurt Elling & Ambrose Akinmusire set for Wigan Jazz Festival

If you've not done so already, add these dates to your diary; the 2017 Wigan International Jazz Festival will run from 6th July til 9th July. This will be the 32nd WIJF and with a hugely successful 2016 festival under his belt, director Ian Darrington had announced another impressive line-up.

Currently, rover tickets are not on sale but they'll be available soon and you should act fast because they'll be sold out for sure.

Below are details of the headline acts appearing at the festival; the full programme will be announced shortly.

Keep an eye on the Wigan Jazz Festival website for further information popping up soon.

Thursday 6th July - Jools Holland and his Rhythm & Blues Orchestra

Friday 7th July - Branford Marsalis Quartet with Kurt Elling

Saturday 8th July - Ambrose Akinmusire Quartet plus the Wigan Youth Jazz Orchestra

Sunday 9th July - The Reunion Dreamband (directed by John LaBarbera)

Gig Preview: First Ladies of Swing with Clare Teal & Guy Barker, GIJF March 31st

2017 seems to be filled with important jazz dates, not least the centenary of vocalist and civil rights activist Lena Horne.

As part of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival, vocalist & BBC Radio 2 presenter Clare Teal will celebrate Lena's life as part of her First Ladies of Swing concert.

Joined by her Hollywood Orchestra led by Guy Barker, Teal will perform songs from the Great American Songbook made famous by Ella Fitzgerald, Nancy Wilson, Nina Simone, Peggy Lee and of course, Lena Horne.

Trumpeter guy Barker played with Horne for 3 months in 1985 at the Adelphi Theatre in London.

At the heart of this programme are three specially commissioned pieces. Guy Barker has been asked to re-imagine three classics associated with Lena Horne to be performed for the first time at Gateshead International Jazz Festival.  The chosen songs are Stormy Weather, which was Lena Horne’s signature tune, Something to Live For, written by Billy Strayhorn and which Lena often performed, and the ever popular Singin’ in the Rain, which Clare Teal will interpret in her own unique style.

For more information on this, and the rest of the GIJF programme visit the Sage Gateshead website.

Johnny Hunter Quartet Tour, March 25th-31st

“The band admirably reflects the independent creativity of the new Manchester scene.”John Fordham, The Guardian

Drummer Johnny Hunter's quartet made the most of 2016; as well as their normal schedule of gigs ,they also found the time to release their debut album, While We Still Can, on EFPI Records and they were selected to be part of Jazz North's Northern Line scheme.

Starting on Saturday, the group will play a string of dates including Huddersfield, Scarborough, Liverpool and Manchester so there's ample opportunity to catch these exciting musicians live.

From the FB event page...

Johnny Hunter (Blind Monk Trio, Dub Jazz Soundsystem, Nat Birchall Quintet, Marley Chingus) is a drummer, composer and band-leader who performs across the country in many different ensembles. In 2011, he brought together some of the top players from a thriving Manchester scene that is fast becoming UK Jazz’s new centre of gravity; Ben Watte on tenor saxophone, Graham South on trumpet, and Stewart Wilson on double bass. 2016 saw the release of his critically-acclaimed debut album ‘While We Still Can’ on the EFPI label, which also houses all-conquering big band, Beats & Pieces.

Hunter’s music explores the possibilities and challenges afforded by the absence of a harmony instrument, and takes influence from his long-standing interest in the piano-less groups of Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson, through to the more modern ensembles of Dave Douglas, John Zorn and Chris Speed.

Ben Watte – Tenor sax
Graham South – Trumpet
Stewart Wilson – Double Bass
Johnny Hunter – Drums

“Connects authentically with jazz tradition, whilst developing its own voice through original composition – a fabulous advertisement for British jazz.” – Adrian Pallant, London Jazz News

25.03 The Jazz Room HUDDERSFIELD, 8pm
28.03 Kazimier Gardens LIVERPOOL, 7.30pm
29.03 The Cask Inn SCARBOROUGH, 8.45pm
30.03 Matt & Phred's MANCHESTER, 9pm

Friday, 17 March 2017

BBC Jazz Record Requests with Alyn Shipton at Sage Gateshead, March 18th

It's the BBC Radio 3 Free Thinking Festival at the Sage Gateshead this weekend, with a huge number of talks, presentations and events which are this year focused on the Speed of Life.

Former Formula One racing driver Damon Hill OBEHarriet Harman MP, former health minister Edwina Currie, historian and broadcaster Bettany Hughes, author Sathnam Sanghera, poet Simon Armitage, songwriter Richard Hawley, humanitarian campaigner Terry Waite, physicist Jim Al-Khalili, acclaimed American author George Sanders and British writers Paul McVeighJenn Ashworth and Kirsty Logan are among the brightest minds, leading thinkers and world class musicians brought together by BBC Radio 3 for an inspiring festival of provocative debate, new ideas, arts performances and live music.

On Saturday 18th, Alyn Shipton present his popular Jazz Record Requests from the Sage Gateshead and is joined by pianist Paul Edis who will perform live. Alyn will take requests from listeners and from some of the Free Thinking speakers.

The event is free to attend (tickets are limited though, and it's first come first served) and runs from 4pm until 5pm. For information on everything going on as part of the festival, check out the Sage Gateshead website.

Irwin Mitchell MJF Originals commission winner announced

Pianist and composer Andy Stamatakis-Brown has been announced as the 2017 recipient of the Irwin Mitchell MJF Originals commission.

His work, Cottonopolis, will be premiered at this year's MJF which takes place between 28th July and 6th August.

From the MJF website...

His winning concept for mjf originals – entitled ‘Cottonopolis’ – will explore other iconic aspects of Manchester’s colourful past; its role as the power-house of the industrial revolution, and as the happening heart-beat of the dance music scene. ‘Cottonopolis’ will bring the noise and clatter of a 19th century mill and the excitement and atmosphere of a contemporary club night to manchester jazz festival.  The ensemble, drawn mostly from the Manchester Jazz Collective, will showcase the variety of talented players on the Manchester scene.
Andy Stamatakis-Brown said: “I am thrilled to have been awarded the Irwin Mitchell mjf originals2017 commission.  It gives me the opportunity to bring together so many creative people from different parts of my life to present this project. manchester jazz festival gives us a high profile platform to share the sort of thing we like doing – working together to produce an unusually interesting and exciting night out.”
This exceptional, night-long experience of weird and wonderful entertainment will take place in a surprise location in Manchester, with DJs from Space Cassette, and archive and live video projections – developed by Blain Cousin and Ric Lowe from Norvun Devolution – providing an evocative backdrop to a truly immersive and unforgettable experience.
Manchester Jazz Festival’s Artistic Director, Steve Mead, said: “Cottonopolis looks set to become yet another milestone in a long line of ground-breaking new pieces that audiences can savour in this year’s festival programme. I’m especially excited about Andy’s idea to integrate a historical subject close to Manchester’s heart with creative artists from the city’s vibrant DJ and VJ cultures and – of course – a formidable line-up of musicians from the north’s inspirational jazz scene.”

For more information, visit the MJF website.

LCoM Contemporary Jazz Orchestra ft. Iain Ballamy, March 27th

Internationally renowned saxophonist Iain Ballamy will be the featured soloist with LCoM's Contemporary Jazz Orchestra in a special concert at The Venue on March 27th.

The programme will be comprised entirely of Ballamy's music, arranged by Head of Jazz at Guildhall Malcolm Edmonstone. The orchestra will be directed by trumpeter and part of the LCoM faculty, Mark Chandler.

Tickets cost £8/5 and can be bought online through the LCoM website or on the door.

From the LCoM website...

 ECM recording artist Iain Ballamy is an internationally recognised saxophonist and composer who has been variously described as urbane, original, freethinking and uncompromising.
Listed in the BBC’s publication ‘100 Jazz Greats’ between Count Basie and Chet Baker, Ballamy’s work is contemporary with both strong jazz and classical references and yet un-encumbered by formality and tradition.
Over three decades spent transcending musical genres and stereotypes and by forging strong and ongoing relationships with musicians around the globe, Ballamy has worked with many cutting-edge figures of today’s contemporary Jazz scene.
Ballamy was presented with the BBC Jazz Award for Innovation in 2001.

Award winning international vocalist comes to Holmfirth, 15th April

Supporters of Holmfirth Arts Festival have announced a very special performance by the award winning Canadian vocalist Maureen Washington to raise funds for future festivals.

From the press release...

Jazz supremo Maureen Washington, from British Columbia in Canada, will be singing at Choppard’s Mission in Holmfirth on Saturday 15th April at 7.30pm, accompanied by multi-instrumentalist Jez Platt.
Maureen’s  appearance in Holmfirth will be part of a debut tour in the UK to promote her new CD, entitled Harvest Moon.    Her vocals have been described as slipping easily from sassy to sexy, at times echoing the haunting tones of Etta James and Carmen McRae. She has also been compared with Jann Arden and Holly Cole but with her very own musical style.
Steve Sykes, a volunteer with Holmfirth Arts Festival, who is organising the event, said:
“We are just so delighted that she has agreed to perform in Holmfirth.  It is such an honour and she is also helping us to raise funds for future festivals.”

Tickets for the event cost £12.50 and can be bought from the Imagine Toyshop in Holmfirth or by emailing Steve Sykes on

More on the artists...

Maureen Washington:  (
With nine albums to her credit, Maureen began her musical career in her home town of Prince George, British Columbia. Her vocal diversity lent itself to performances of blues, swing jazz and funk with BOP, a band widely acclaimed as the best dance band in the Prince George region. Their versatile repertoire, ranging from classics to lively originals, brought them sold out crowds.  Now based in Victoria, British Columbia, Maureen continues to create new musical avenues and has developed  a growing entourage of fans as she performs with duos, sextets, and solo artists, including singing back up on Canadian Folk legend Valdy’s 2011 album, Read Between the Lines.

Jez Platt:
His first solo album, the pop soul (Something About) Blue Skies featured the single Hungry which received airplay across Europe and North America, including the Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show.  Musician magazine said it was 'infectious' and 'fabulous.'  He contributed guitar, keyboards and writing to Frank Felix's Tales from the Funky Underground alongside players such as Snake Davis, Eddie M and Jeff Kashiwa.
Jez played guitar, piano and organ on both of Daniel Pearson's albums, co-producing the second.  He has played organ with Jim Mullen and Harry Beckett and has toured with Dennis Rollins and the North Stars Steel Orchestra for whom he was also Musical Director

Friday, 3 March 2017

Taupe Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow album launch tour - York, March 3rd

North East trio Taupe are on tour at the moment, promoting their brand new album Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow. Tonight, they play at the Basement Jazz Club in York, featuring a special support set by John Marley and Alec Robinson.

Fill Up Your Lungs and Bellow is the group's 2nd full length album and they have developed a strong following. They were selected to be part of Jazz North's Northern Line scheme and have performed at venues and festivals across the UK.

From their website...

Taupe are a Newcastle upon Tyne based trio specializing in razor-sharp polyrhythmic play, exploratory improvisation and raw, high energy live performance.The group’s sound is built of influences drawing from free jazz and math metal to hip-hop grooves and post-bop, with a healthy dollop of skronk, all navigated down a path that seeks to blur the line between carefully constructed rhythmic compositions and explosive group improvisation.
Taupe are Jamie Stockbridge (sax), Mike Parr Burman (guitar) and Adam Stapleford (drums).

To find out more about the band including tour dates and how to purchase the album, visit Taupe's website.

Jazz North Education Conference, March 21st

Jazz North is to run a one day conference on jazz education at the Carriageworks in Leeds on March 21st. The day is entitled Improvisation: catalyst for learning and child development.

The day will feature presentations by a number of speakers and is open to anyone involved in music education, be it as a freelance educator, school teacher, MD or anything else! There are a limited number of travel bursaries available to support those travelling from further afield.

For those unable to attend, the event will be streamed through Facebook Live.

A list of the speakers and presentations are listed below. For more information, see the Jazz North website.

Presentations include -

How the brain responds and learns from Improvisation (Dr Graeme Wilson, Edinburgh University)

Helping people from challenging backgrounds develop musical, technical and performance skills (Dr Enrico Bertelli, Conductive Music)

Improvisation for young children and toddlers (Una McGlone)

Practical approaches for introducing improvisation in the classroom and beyond (Dave Evans)

Misha Mengelberg Photo Exhibiton at Sage Gateshead, March 14th - April 14th

News is spreading throughout the global community of jazz and improvised music of the death of influential musician and composer Misha Mengelberg who died in Amsterdam today aged 81.

A co-founder of the Instant Composer Pool Orchestra, Mengelberg's life is being celebrated at the Sage Gateshead in a month-long photography exhibition which features images from both Dutch and international photographers.

Mengelberg's career stretched over many decades and he collaborated with the likes of Derek Bailey, Han Bennink, Peter Brotzmann, Evan Parker and Anthony Braxton.

The ICP Orchestra will also perform live at the Sage on April 1st as part of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival.

For more information, see Mengelberg's wikipedia page and the Sage Gateshead website.

JazzFM Nominees Announced - Voting now open

The nominees for the 2017 JazzFM awards were announced this week and voting is now open on the 3 categories decided by public vote. The winners will be announced at a ceremony at Under The Bridge in Chelsea on April 25th.

Congratulations to all of the nominees and a special nod to LCoM jazz graduate Ashley Henry, who has been nominated in two categories!

For more information and to vote, visit the JazzFM Awards website.

Full Nominee List

Instrumentalist of the Year - Nikki Yeoh, Gwilym Simcock, Tim Garland

Vocalist of the Year - Norma Winstone, Polly Gibbons, Carleen Anderson

International Jazz Artist of the Year - Donny McCaslin, Brad Mehldau, Robert Glasper

Breakthrough Act of the Year - Ashley Henry, Yussef Kamaal, Nubya Garcia

UK Jazz Act of the Year - Dinosaur, Shabaka Hutchings, Soweto Kinch

Soul Artist of the Year - Laura Mvula, Jordan Rakei, William Bell

Blues Artist of the Year - Bonnie Raitt, The Rolling Stones, Eric Bibb

Digital Initiative of the Year - Dave Douglas (Greenleaf Music), Gilles Peterson (Worldwide FM), Jaimeo Brown (Transcendence: Work Songs)

Innovation of the Year - Darcy James Argue, Jaimeo Brown, Moon Hooch

Live Experience of the Year - Ashley Henry Trio at Jazz Re:Freshed
                                              - Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles at Glee Club, Birmingham
                                              -  Julian Arguelles & Frankfurt Radio Big Band, Django Bates and Steve
                                                Arguelles at Cheltenham Jazz Festival
                                              -  Orphy Robinson All Stars - Bobby Hutcherson Songbook at St James
                                                The Great, London
                                              -  Roberto Fonseca Trio at Gateshead International Jazz Festival
                                              -  Wayne Shorter Quartet at The Barbican, London

PPL Lifetime Achievement Award - Georgie Fame

Impact Award - Damien Chazelle

Thursday, 23 February 2017

Great North Big Band Jazz Festival, March 3-5

The annual Great North Big Band Festival is coming up next month, and this time they have a new home. In recent years, the event has been held in Sunderland but for the 2017 edition, nearby Chester le Street will house the 30 big bands.

Fans of big band music will be in their element as a weekend of performances and competition runs from 3rd - 5th March.

Friday - Concert Double Bill featuring Musicians Unlimited Big Band & Festival Big Band

Saturday - Big Band Jazz Competition (Open Section) - 11am until 7pm
                 Performance featuring the winner of the day's competition - 7pm

Sunday - Big Band Jazz Competition (School and Youth Section) - 11am until 7pm

For more information, visit the Great North Big Band Festival website.

Commission Opportunity at Kendal Calling

Well loved festival Kendal Calling has put out a call to artists to apply for a commission fund. Nine commissions will be offered this year, with one of the artists being offered a larger commission to perform their work at two other festivals.

From the Kendal Calling website...

Over the last two years, Lost Eden has commissioned a variety of brand new artworks, including the Mechanical Heart by Felicity Jones and the Umbrella Tree by Tim Hill and Dave Young (Rag and Bone). In 2017, nine commissions will be offered. Of these one artist will be offered a larger commission to tour their work to an additional 2 major boutique music festivals.  Lost Eden at Kendal Calling is produced in partnership with Walk the Plank. A panel made up of Walk the Plank and Kendal Calling representatives will shortlist and select applicants. In their proposals, successful applicants will have demonstrated good value for moneyartistic excellenceunderstanding of logistical and production and plans for sustainable working practices.  Successful applicants will receive funding to create and install their work, and will be promoted in the 2017 Lost Eden launch and arts programme. All commissions are subject to securing Arts Council funding in 2017 (a bid is currently in place).  

Family Band UK Tour kicks off at Wakefield Jazz, February 24th

Fiery quartet Family Band have announced a tour stretching from Newcastle to London which commences this Friday, 24th February.

2016 saw the band selected for the Jazz North Northern Line initiative, receive BBC radio play and record their first full length album. Now as 2017 gets started, they will perform a number of live performances showcasing material from their upcoming album as well as newly composed works.

This is a superb, freewheeling band composed of four long-time musical collaborators and friends.    Rooted in the music of Ornette Coleman and the 1960’s avant-garde, Family Band play powerful music – moments of fierce intensity, a tender spirituality and the blues combine to form an emotionally complex and cathartic whole that rarely fails to move.   They are currently preparing a second CD of music recorded live at the Manchester Jazz Festival at a terrific and well-received gig.
“What a revelation – exciting group, gradually revealing more and more depth and thrilling the audience to the very end” – Blow The Fuse, The Vortex

Tour Dates

Friday 24th February - Wakefield Jazz
Monday 27th February - The Wonder Inn, Manchester
Wednesday 1st March - The Lescar, Sheffield
Friday 17th March - The Jazz Cafe, Newcastle
March 27th March - Jazz in the Round at The Cockpit, London
Friday 7th April - JATP, Bradford