Monday, 20 April 2015

Gig Preview: Matt Roberts plays Fats Navarro at Heart, 25th April

Jazz at Heart presents: Matt Roberts plays Fats Navarro
Saturday 25th April 
HEART Arts Centre, Bennett Road, Leeds

When not busy touring with bands like Gentleman's Dub Club, Everything Everything and Paloma Faith or leading his own big band, trumpeter Matt Roberts has found some time to work on the music of Fats Navarro for his upcoming gig at HEART on April 26th.

Navarro was known for his work with big band leaders including Benny Goodman, Billy Eckstine and Lionel Hampton and recorded with luminaries like Charlie Parker, Eddie 'Lockjaw' Davis, Bud Powell and Illinois Jacquet. This impressive CV is made even more so by the fact that Navarro died tragically young, aged only 26.

Matt will be joined by Matt Anderson (tenor), Ben Lowman (alto), Sam Watts (piano), Sam Gardner (drums) and Simon Read (double bass).

Splinter at The Bridge's final gig, 26th April

Splinter at The Bridge has been part of the North East jazz scene for many years. Presenting a wide range of improvised music, Sunday evenings have seen many national and international touring groups as well as talent from the local area. However, Andy Champion and Zoe Gilby, who have run the night in recent years, have suffered from lower audience numbers and have made the difficult decision to stop running Splinter. Their final gig will be this Sunday 26th April with Yana - a trio which includes Corey Mwamba, Dave Kane and Joshua Blackmore.

From Zoe Gilby...

I’m sure that the final gig will be a fantastic evening of jazz and improvisation of the highest quality from some of the best musicians in the UK. Thanks to the “regulars” who have supported Splinter over the years, without you, Splinter could not have existed at all.

It has been announced that Jazz North East will take on Splinter, keeping the name and stellar reputation alive as a monthly gig. More news on that soon!

Friday, 17 April 2015

Gig Preview: Stefano Bollani at Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

Stefano Bollani
Howard Assembly Room, Leeds
21st May 2015

Pianist Stefano Bollani is considered one of the great European jazz pianists. His collaborations with artists like Chick Corea and Enrico Rava are well-known and he has won numerous awards for his music including Best Jazz Talent of the Year by Musica Jazz.

The diversity and eclecticism of Bollani's projects are reflected in the sweeping breadth of his vocabulary - All About Jazz

In May, Howard Assembly Room in Leeds will present a solo piano concert by Bollani. It's one of only two opportunities to see him perform in the UK (the other being Norwich the following day) following on from a solo piano tour of Asia.

For full information on this and the other concerts featured in the Howard Assembly Room programme, visit their website.

The Globe celebrates International Jazz Day & Their Anniversary with a bang

As International Jazz Day (April 30th) approaches, The Jazz Coop are gearing up to celebrate with a gig which also marks the anniversary of the purchase of their venue, The Globe.

The Globe is unique in that it's the only jazz venue in the country owned by the community, after a substantial drive to raise funds and welcome shareholders. Now up and running and with their renovations almost complete, the Globe is establishing itself as a hub for jazz in the North East.

On April 30th, they will present a packed programme including vocalist Ruth Lambert (pictured above) fronting the Customs House Big Band, DJs Vicky Vegas and Kerry James and a jam session. The evening starts at 7.15pm and tickets cost £7.50.

More information can be found on the Jazz Coop website.

Some Music Stories: A Photography Project

                                                                  Photo by Maria Alzamora

Barcelona-born photographer Maria Alzamora has been capturing the lives of musicians in Leeds recently, for a photography project entitled Some Music Stories.

The photographs, mainly in black and white, feature young musicians alongside quotes from them about music and what it means to them.

Music for me is all about resolution. Or not. Like some giant clockwork machine that sets the listener up, and then either takes them to exactly the climax it promises, or denies it you at the last moment. - Tom Sharp (pictured above).

Maria's work has caught the eye of the NJN team and we wanted to spread the word! You can visit the Some Music Stories website and also Maria's photography website to see more.

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Preview: Garforth Arts Festival 2015

The programme has been announced for this year's Garforth Arts Festival, scheduled to take place between June 29th and July 11th. In a packed programme featuring music from a whole host of countries and styles, we've spotted a couple of gigs that might entice the jazz community...For full programme details, visit the Garforth Arts Festival website.

Brand New Heavies (July 11th, Playground Party)

The Brand New Heavies headline the Playground Party at the end of the festival and are sure to round off the proceedings with a bang. For over 20 years, the group have been hailed as pioneers of the acid jazz scene and in 2013, they released a new album - their first in 7 years!

BBC Big Band featuring Clare Teal (July 11th Playground Party)

Yorkshire's favourite jazz singer, Clare Teal, appears with the renowned BBC big band. Described as the new first lady of jazz by the Independent, Teal will perform a programme of  much-loved big band swing.

Garforth Jazz Rock Band

This youth jazz ensemble was formed in 2003 and since then have gone from strength to strength, performing regularly in Yorkshire and also travelling further afield to play in Ireland, Germany and South Africa. Always featuring a very diverse programme of music, these young musicians are ones to watch!

J-Night celebrates International Jazz Day with Christine Tobin

In 2011, UNESCO designated April 30th as International Jazz Day and since then, venues across the world have celebrated the event with live concerts, streamed concerts and more. For the first time, J-Night in Hull will take place in International Jazz Day by hosting an evening of Brasilian Jazz featuring vocalist Christine Tobin.

Tobin will bring her tribute to Brasilian jazz singer Elis Regina to Hull Truck Theatre, with support from Hull's own Lyn Acton Bossa Revista.

A key focus for our work is celebrating diversity and introducing audiences to artists performing incredible music from a wide range of cultures. As the eyes of the world turn to Hull in the lead up to 2017, it’s fantastic to be linking in with promoters and artists from across the world to celebrate International Jazz Day. - David Porter, Director of J-Night.

Tickets for this event are priced at £15 (£6 for students/under 26s) and more information can be obtained at

What else is going on in the North for International Jazz Day? Add your event in the comments below!

Friday, 10 April 2015

Tour Preview: Sarah Gillespie

Anglo-American singer Sarah Gillespie has had an interesting life. Born to an American father and English mother, she lived in Norfolk until she was 18, when she moved alone to the USA to busk and gig. Returning to England, she gained a first class degree in Film and Lit then a Masters in Philosophy and Politics at Goldsmiths. Supporting The Blockheads at Ronnie Scotts one night, she met Gilad Atzmon and formed a close musical friendship with the saxophonist.

Since then, she has released four albums and had a baby. And now, after 4 months of maternity leave, she is ready once again to tour the UK. Speaking to LondonJazzNews about her new role as a mother, she recalls how a promoter recently pulled a gig as they felt it was too risky to book a mother (her baby might need her and she would be quick to cancel, being a mother and all...). Luckily other promoters have not been as foolish and Sarah will be touring around the country (as well as nipping over to Italy briefly) in April-July, making two stops in the North. First, she appears at Cleethorpes Jazz Festival on June 26 with her Life of Bessie Smith show. Then, on June 28, she will perform at the Dentdale Festival in Cumbria.

Humorous impressionistic lyrics oscillate between the intimate and the infinite - Independent, 2013

More information can be found on Sarah's website and a full list of gigs are listed below.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Composers Academy 2015 - Applications Now Open

Applications are now being invited from early-career composers to take part in the 3rd annual Composers Academy, run by Cheltenham Festivals.

From July 2nd until July 7th, participants will have their compositions workshopped, recorded and performed and will take part in a number of industry talks and panel discussions on career development, craft and contemporary aesthetics.

For the first time, participants will be able to choose to write for either a vocal ensemble or an instrumental group. The vocal ensemble is Genesis Sixteen and works for this group would be fully notated (though composers often present fragments and sketches initially) and would split into no more than 8 parts.

Those who choose to write for an instrumental group will work with Trish Clowes' Emulsion Sinfonietta. Music for this group would not be fully written and would be developed in collaboration with the group, with improvisation being an important feature.

Participants would also attend a range of concerts and hear works by Thomas Stonen, Calum Gourlay, Iain Ballamy and Trish Clowes.

For more information, see the Composers Academy website.

See Live Jazz without ever leaving your house...

There aren't many jazz fans who will dispute that it's a music best heard live. We in the North have a whole host of venues to attend and with a bit of planning and full tank of petrol, you could most probably see live jazz seven nights a week. However, for a whole host of reasons, sometimes it's just not possible to make it out to gigs. Well, thanks to a growing streaming industry, you can now see live jazz from the comfort of your own home.

The website (although there are others!) is Concert Window and allows you to buy tickets to tune in to the concert online. You can also decide yourself how much to pay for each ticket.

Sound engineer Barkley McKay, who runs the very popular Valley Wood Studios in Leeds, is starting a series of concerts from his studios which will be streamed on Concert Window. The inaugural gig will feature EYESHUTIGHT, a trio led by bassist Paul Baxter alongside Johnny Tomlinson and Kris Wright. It happens on April 21st and you can buy tickets now and until the gig starts.

Keep an eye out for future Valley Wood Studios concerts, and find out more on the Concert Window website.

Gig Preview: Marius Neset at Seven Jazz, April 16th

Thursday April 16th
Marius Neset Quintet
Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds

The North first encountered Marius Neset when he toured his debut album, Golden Xplosion in 2011. Since then, it seems that the Norwegian saxophonist's star is firmly in ascendance and he is now touring his latest album, Pinball, across Europe.

He is joined by four well-respected musicians, a mixture of UK and Norwegian improvisers: Jim Hart of vibes, Joshua Blackmore on drums, Peter Eldh on bass and Magnus Hjorth on piano.

The Norwegian saxophonist showed a new maturity on his recent release, Pinball. The convoluted themes remain, but they are balanced by slinky grooves and broody soundscapes... ****
Mike Hobart, Financial Times

At Seven Arts, they will be supported by Zeitgeist, a popular Leeds-based trio led by pianist Aleks Podraza and featuring Sam Quintana and Tom Higham.

Marius Neset Website

Seven Jazz Website

Friday, 3 April 2015

Bookings Open for Jazz Weekend at Dalesbridge

Bookings are still being accepted for Jazz at Heart's jazz weekend at Dalesbridge in Settle. The two day/night jazz school will be led by professional jazz musicians and will take participants through their paces on topics including repertoire, jazz language and improvisation methods.

The weekend runs from May 8th-10th and places are limited. For more information, contact Lesley Jeffries at

Calling all vocalists: 1st International Jazz Voice Conference

                                                      Photo credit: James Barry Knox

Sibelius Academy in Helsinki is to host the first International Jazz Voice Conference between 17-19 October this year. The theme of this year's conference is Artistry in Jazz Singing and the keynote speakers will include Carmen Lundy (pictured) and Michele Weir.

The International Jazz Voice Conference in Helsinki is the first event of its type, organized for jazz singers by jazz singers. The first edition of the IJVC comes from the acute need for international specialists in the field to connect and interact. IJVC aims to raise awareness of the importance and significance of jazz singing among vocalists, musicians and the general public. IJVC is also a platform for connecting professionals.

The conference organisers are now accepting submissions for papers to be featured at the event, with a deadline of April 15th. Their brief for submissions is quite wide, stating on their website that  

We welcome proposals on the following topics: vocal jazz improvisation, sound qualities and jazz voice technique, interpretation, traditional vocal jazz, history of vocal jazz, stylistic directions of vocal jazz, instrumentalists versus singers, vocal jazz pedagogy, vocal jazz research, and vocal jazz in different countries/cultures. Proposals on other topics related to jazz singing may also be considered, so please send your abstract and topic.

For full information, see IJVC website.

New album and tour for Beats & Pieces

Beats & Pieces received huge amounts of praise for their first album, Big Ideas, including a JazzFM award and a APPJAG Award for best large ensemble. Now the band are ready to do it all again with the release of their second album All In on Efpi Records.

To spread the word about this new release and play music from the album, the band will be playing gigs across the UK starting with an appearance at the Gateshead International Jazz Festival on April 11th.

Check out the band's website for more information.

Gig Dates

April 11th - GIJF, Gateshead
July 8th - Ronnie Scotts, London
September 27th - Scarborough Jazz Festival
September 29th - Dempsey's, Cardiff
September 30th - Colston Hall, Bristol
November 19th - Sheffield Uni Student Union, Sheffield

Gogo Penguin Sign to Blue Note Records

Gogo Penguin have this week announced that they have been signed to Blue Note Records, one of the world's most recognised music labels. The group will release their first album for the label in 2016.

Speaking to Jazzwise magazine, the band said

We are blown away by their passion for our music and we're looking forward to working with them to help get our sounds out to as many people as possible.

A live show is scheduled for June 12 at KOKO in London, where new material will be played ahead of the new album. For more information, see Gogo Penguin's website.