Saturday, 10 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Nicola Farnon (Dec 10th)

We head to Sheffield through door number 10, with double bassist and vocalist Nicola Farnon. December is a busy month for Nicola as she prepares to release her seventh album, So Farnon - So Good! at a special launch gig on December 21st.

Check out a track from this upcoming album here - this one's called Sing -

Nicola’s latest album, 'So Farnon – So Good!' featuring Jim Mullen, David Newton and Steve Brown displays her remarkable range of talents as a singer with enormous vitality, a swinging double bassist and an emotive cellist. As with her previous two Cds (recorded with her other swinging trio with Piero Tucci on Keys and Phil Johnson on drums), the recording venue is the village hall of her birthplace in Wiltshire.  She is absolutely thrilled to have recorded her seventh Cd to date with three of her favourite UK jazz musicians and to use again the internationally acclaimed double bassist, Andrew Cleyndert as her mixer, masterer and mobile recording engineer.
The melodic, propulsive, joyously swinging and wonderfully intuitive style of these masterful musicians has produced a dazzling album packed with popular standards, lesser known tunes from female writers, inspired originals (penned by Nicola) and some equally stylish and innovative arrangements from David Newton and herself.

Nicola Farnon Bio

Wiltshire born and now long-term Sheffield resident, Nicola has a remarkable musical pedigree, both parents being professional classical musicians and her great uncle no less than the late Robert Farnon.  After an early start on piano and cello (grade 8 in both by the age of eleven!), she followed her dad's love of the 'standards' into jazz via the double bass and an enchanting voice which was developed during her Performing Arts studies at Middlesex University.  Her sparkling trio and quartet appears regularly on the jazz circuit and the band's arrangements are all done by her - with some melodic and extremely catchy originals thrown in for good measure!  She has played with  such Jazz luminaries as Dave Newton, Digby Fairweather, Jim Mullen, Bruce Adams, Roy Williams and Alan Barnes and has supported class jazz acts as diverse as Eliane Elias, Courtney Pine, Georgie Fame, Sir John Dankworth and Dame Cleo Laine, Humphrey Lyttleton and Acker Bilke.

Friday, 9 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Treppenwitz (Dec 9th)

Behind door number 9 is Treppenwitz, a trio compromised of three Leeds-based musicians - Matt Aplin on piano, Tom Riviere on double bass and Steve Hanley on drums.

Fortuitously, the band released their debut album only this week, so we're pleased to let you hear a snippet of their new release -

Treppenwitz, n. – treppen (stairs) + witz (wit)
An event or fact that seems to contradict its background or context.
“…(t)he main character in Treppenwitz is a miniature spiral staircase model paralyzed by its future, enchained by its past. It resents everything about its existence including the fact that it was carved by a craftsman rather than having sprung from the womb of a Matryoshka doll. Nor was it conceived as the creation ladder of Ramon Llull’s 14th century eight-step ascension theory…”
Treppenwitz is a project dedicated to improvisation and the exploration of sounds within open structures. It was formed in January 2014 after (though not because) a Philadelphian drummer, Matthew McGraw, left the city of Leeds. The music they make can be seen as an indirect response to this.
Their debut album, Short and Long Ditties is part I of II: the partial documentation of a series of recordings made on 25-26th November 2015 in Leeds Fold.

Gig Preview: Fluid Orchestra, Black Swan Newcastle December 13th

                                                              Fluid Orchestra's Zoe Gilby

It's been a big year for Jazz North East as they celebrate an extraordinary 50 years of promoting live music. Their energy hasn't waned in those 50 years and 2016 has been another jam-packed year of performances for the organisation.

As their 50th birthday year draws to a close, they have set up a very special gig to round it off which takes place on December 13th at the Black Swan in Newcastle.

Who'd have believed it? Started back in 1966 with a concert by Earl 'Fatha' Hines, this year Jazz North East has been celebrating its 50th birthday.

And we couldn't let our special year come to a close without putting on something really extra special. Early in the year we decided that we wanted to create an entirely new band drawing on some of the most imaginative improvising musicians across the North, and we came up with a 12-piece line-up that must surely be unique in its composition, with theremin, violin and vibes sitting alongside the more conventional horns and rhythm section. Add Zoë Gilby's amazing vocal talents, and we have an orchestra with extraordinary creative potential.

Then, to make the best of that potential, we commissioned music from Graham Hardy, Corey Mwamba, Roller Trio's James Mainwaring, and the collaborative pairings of Faye MacCalman & Graeme Wilson, and Zoë Gilby & Andy Champion, giving us five new compositions reflecting the five decades of our existence. The orchestra have been rehearsing and refining the music since September, and now, for the very last concert of our anniversary year, everything will be revealed in all its remarkable glory!

But why the 'Fluid' Orchestra? Well, in part because we believe that the instrumental combination allows for an unprecedented flexibility, fluidity, in approach. But also we're so excited by the project that we hope to keep this going in future years, although probably with evolving changes in personnel to stimulate new creative challenges. It's a fluid concept, and it starts right here at the Black Swan.

The Fluid Orchestra are -

For more information, visit the Jazz North East website.

News from Fusebox

FUSEBOX has become an integral part of the Northern Jazz scene in recent years. The time have worked tirelessly to promote cutting edge, boundary pushing music and the Fox and Newt in Leeds has become known both by UK and international musicians as a supportive, inspiring venue. This week, the team have announced that there are to be some changes and we wanted to help spread the word.

From the Fusebox facebook page -

As I mentioned at the last gig, the Fusebox core team have been discussing ways in which we might develop Fusebox.

We've done great things over the last few years and we want to thank every musician who has played a show and, most importantly, every audience member who has bought a ticket.

Due to this fantastic support all of us here at Fusebox want to give you all something better, something bigger and something stronger.

In order for us to do this we need to take some time.

So, as Fusebox changes, we ask you all to be patient and stick by us.

In the meantime we'll keep Fusebox in your mind, by being in touch with info on Fusebox-related artists including live shows, releases, videos and broadcasts so you will always be up to date and have music to listen to.

You'll see and hear soon, on here, what happens next with Fusebox and we think you're going to love it.

With great respect, a heartfelt thanks a very merry christmas and a happy new year.


Stay tuned by visiting the fusebox website and facebook page. We look forward to seeing what 2017 has in store for this great venture!

Thursday, 8 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Wendy Kirkland & Pat Sprakes (Dec 8th)

Marking the start of the second week of our Jazz Advent is a duo featuring pianist/vocalist Wendy Kirkland and guitarist Pat Sprakes.

Click here to listen to their recording of the beautiful "Pure Imagination', a tune featured in Charlie and the Chocolate Family and often recorded by jazz artists -

Wendy has been performing as a jazz pianist and singer for over 15 years, following a career in bands of many genres such as pop, rock and funk. She has performed all over the UK with players such as Karen Sharp, Jim Mullen, Stuart MacDonald, Christian Brewer, Roger Beaujolais, Fat Chops Big Band and Alan Barnes. Her voice has been compared to Blossom Dearie and Diana Krall and her pianistic style, with complex harmonic voicings, has been described as a happy marriage of Wynton Kelly and Eliane Elias.

Pat Sprakes cut his jazz teeth with Tony Kofi, Darius Brubeck and has performed with Robben Ford. As a guitarist, his biggest influences are Wes Montgomery and George Benson and he has a great love  of latin rhythms. He is an excellent accompanist as well as a clear and melodic soloist.

Wednesday, 7 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Ronnie Bottomley Jazz Orchestra (Dec 7th)

Behind door number 7 is our largest ensemble to date, a full jazz orchestra no less. Drummer, band leader and arranger Ronnie Bottomley is a Northern jazz institution and a Northern Jazz advent calendar wouldn't be complete without a nod to his work.

Click here to listen to the jazz orchestra in action playing a festive number entitled Christmas  Swingers -

Recipient of the Jazz Yorkshire Lifetime Achievement Award, Ronnie Bottomley has a glittering career that spans decades. Now in his 80s, he remains active on the scene by leading his jazz orchestra and the James Robinson Quintet pays homage to his small ensemble arrangements at gigs in Leeds and surrounding areas.
For 33 years, Ronnie held a teaching position at Leeds College of Music - teaching drums, leading a nonet and running a penmanship class. Many of the leading alumni at the college credit Ronnie as being a supportive and valuable force in their jazz education.
The Ronnie Bottomley Jazz Orchestra has been running for a number of years and features some of the finest jazz musicians in the North. People travel from Leeds, Doncaster, Sheffield and beyond to play Ronnie's arrangements which always have a strong focus on soloists.

The Ronnie Bottomley Jazz Orchestra has a special christmas gig (an annual affair that has become tradition) at Seven Arts on Sunday December 11th.

For more information, check out this interview from Jazz Goes To Leeds.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Mike Smith (Dec 6th)

Behind door number 6, we head to Merseyside and to one of the major exponents of jazz from the region, Mike Smith.

It's another highly generous offering today, with a full album available to listen to. Head to youtube to check out Mike Smith's Ginger Tunes Quartet and their latest album, Mersey Mersey Mersey -

Mike Smith,musically promiscuous and unfortunately Ginger. I play Saxophones, Flute and Keyboards, specialising in all things groovy! Having started to play at the age of 12 so that I could escape Maths lessons on a Tuesday, I Graduated from LIPA in 2005 with a first class honours degree. It was then that I went on to tour the planet with hundreds of different acts, teaching back at LIPA on my days off. Currently, I'm working as a session musician, playing keys and saxophones for a multitude of bands and artists. So far I've worked with Steve Winwood, Sandy Thom, Ian Paice of Deep Purple, Craig David and Kid Creole to name a just a few. In 2011 I recorded alongside jazz legends Randy Brecker and Scott Henderson. Over the last couple of years I have decided to form a band under my own name - Mike Smth's "Ginger Tunes" Quartet We have been busy playing the jazz venues and festivals across the UK and have a good selection of Ginger flavoured tunes on spotify.

Twitter @gingertunes

Monday, 5 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Anton Hunter (Dec 5th)

With less than 3 weeks to go, door number 5 features one of Manchester's leading jazz lights, guitarist Anton Hunter.

This video features Article XI, a large ensemble put together when Anton was awarded the Irwin Mitchell commission from Manchester jazz festival.

Watch them in action here -

Anton Hunter is a guitar, improviser and composer from Manchester. This group, Article XI, was brought together in 2014 to perform a new suite of music commissioned by Manchester Jazz Festival under their 'mjf originals' series. The music was developed over a period of 6 months, with Anton gathering improvisations from each of the musicians and weaving elements of those into the finished music, while leaving plenty of room for freedom in the performance. You may also have heard Anton with his own trio, as half of Ripsaw Catfish, one fifth of Sloth Racket or one fourteenth of Beats & Pieces Big Band.

Photo - Peter Fay

Sunday, 4 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Jeffrey Hewer (Dec 4th)

Behind door number 4 is a fairly recent addition to the Northern jazz scene, Canadian guitarist Jeffrey Hewer. Jeffrey came to the UK to undertake a Masters programme at Leeds College of Music and has been making waves on the scene here ever since.

Listen to an original composition entitled Villa Italia -

Jeffrey Hewer
David Rubel
Ed Sweetman
Steve Farrugia

Jeffrey is a jazz guitarist and composer who lives in Leeds, UK. Originally from Toronto, Canada, Jeffrey received his Bachelor Of Music degree from Carleton University and recently completed his Master in Music Performance and Composition degree at Leeds College of Music. In the UK he has studied and taken classes with Stuart McCallum, Mike Walker, Jamie Taylor and Howard Alden.  He has also studied with Gilad Hekselman, Lorne Lofsky, John Abercrombie, Barry Harris, Ted Quinlan, Howard Reese and Alan Gorman.

Since moving to Leeds, Jeffrey has been playing with members of the jazz scene at venues such as Seven Arts and LS6 and with the function bands Might As Well Be Swing, Kabuki and Phil Lyons New Vintage Band. He has put together a quintet of fantastic local musicians for performing original music and plans to release an EP of his original material in early 2017.

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Matt Anderson (Dec 3rd)

Behind door number 3 is tenor saxophonist Matt Anderson. Having grown up in the North Yorkshire Moors, Matt went on to study at Leeds College of Music. He won the Yorkshire Jazz Award for Young Musician of the Year, so his Northern credentials couldn't get any stronger!

Click here to hear October Ending, an original piece of Matt's recorded as part of the St Marks series -

Matt Anderson - tenor saxophone/composition
Ashley Henry - piano
Jay Davis - drums
Will Harris - double bass

London-based saxophonist and composer Matt Anderson presents a new quartet featuring four exciting young musicians all of whom are current students or alumni of the Royal Academy of Music’s fertile Jazz Masters programme. The band puts an emphasis on original writing, with arrangements often conceived together as a group, and takes inspiration from sources as wide-ranging as Wayne Shorter, folk music of the British Isles, the European jazz scene and groove/rock music. The band has also received coaching from F-IRE Collective founder Barak Schmool.

Originally hailing from the North Yorkshire Moors, Matt lived in Leeds for many years where he studied at Leeds College of Music before moving to London in 2015. While based in Leeds he appeared in many bands led by his former tutors such as those of Jamil Sheriff, Mark Donlon and Jamie Taylor, and is featured on Taylor's latest CD 'Introducing Outside Line.' In October last year he performed in Greece with Jiannis Pavlidis' Quintet featuring legendary American jazz drummer Greg Hutchinson. His band Wild Flower released their debut album in 2015 on the Jellymould Jazz label to widespread critical acclaim and airplay on BBC Radio 3 alongside a 13-date UK tour and launch gig at Pizza Express Dean Street, London.

Friday, 2 December 2016

NJN Jazz Advent Calendar - Sam Quintana's Wandering Monster (Dec 2nd)

Behind door number 2 is the Leeds-based contemporary jazz behemoth, Sam Quintana's Wandering Monster.

Listen to the band in action in this video, filmed by Maria Alzamora and mixed by James Hamilton -

Since its inception in the autumn of 2014, Wandering Monster has honed a sound which demonstrates a combination of intricately arranged off-kilter grooves, in your face hooks and lengthy collective improvisation sections. Influences taken from the rhythmic complexity of modern jazz are juxtaposed with the intensity of classic Blue note recordings. Despite hailing from the musical melting pot of Leeds the monster is being unleashed across the North at a number of jazz festivals after winning the 2016/17 Jazz north Introduces Award.

Sam Quintana - Double Bass/Compositions
Ben Powling - Tenor Saxophone
Calvin Travers - Guitar
Aleks Podraza - Piano
Tom Higham - Drums

Gateshead International Jazz Festival 2017 - Programme Announced

You might be looking forward to settling in for your festive break, but for some the hard work never stops. The programme for the 2017 Gateshead International Jazz Festival has been announced this week so it's time to get your diary and start thinking about what you'll be seeing between 31st March and 2nd April. Here's just a few highlights to whet your appetite - we'll take a more in-depth look at the programme in early 2017...

Fresh from their large scale gig at this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, Laura Jurd and her group Dinosaur will be perform at the Sage joined by tuba player Daniel Herskedal's trio.

Stalwart of the European jazz scene, trumpeter Thomasz Stanko, is famed for his ability to bring together exciting musicians from across the world to perform with. He doesn't disappoint this time, as he is joined by the Finnish pianist Alexi Tuomarila and two US jazz giants, Gerald Cleaver and Reuben Rogers.

If you like your jazz to have some vocals, definitely don't miss Clare Teal as she appears with 17 piece Hollywood Orchestra led by Guy Barker.

Saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings will pay homage to the music of South Africa when he is joined by some of the best young South African musicians.

That's just the tip of the iceberg so visit the Sage website to find out more and stay tuned for a more comprehensive festival preview from us soon.

Two new releases from New Jazz Records

It's been a busy time for Leeds-based record label New Jazz Records. Run by composer and trumpeter James Hamilton, the label recently released Jamil Sheriff's debut trio albums Places Like This. Now, they are gearing up to launch two more albums at a special launch gig at HEART in Headingley on December 6th.

March is the second album double bassist Sam Jackson has released on the label. His group Drawing Hands have released a suite of 12 new pieces and will perform some of this new material at the gig.

Treppenwitz is a trio formed by pianist Matt Aplin, double bassist Tom Riviere and drummer Steve Hanley. Their album, Short and Long Ditties, is the first in a two part release of material recorded at Leeds Fold last year.

The albums will both be launched with live performances at HEART on December 6th. Doors at 7.30 and there's music from 8pm. Tickets are an absolute steal at £5/3 for two great bands.

To find out about these releases and to keep up to date with future releases from the label, visit the New Jazz Records website.

Gig Preview: Pat McCarthy at Grimsby Jazz, December 7th

Gill Wilde and the team at Grimsby Jazz are gearing up to host the final gig of their season on December 7th featuring one of the area's best loved musicians.

Guitarist Pat McCarthy has strong links to Grimsby Jazz with a busy gig schedule in the North. He is a firm favourite with the club's audience and so it's fitting that he'll be performing on this special, festive gig.

He is joined by his regular band - drummer John Perry and bassist Warren Jolly. But that's not all; Pat has also invited some special guests to join him. Vocalist Shannon Reilly will sing with the group (Shannon and Pat work together often and are featured on this year's Northern Line artist roster), trumpeter Thom Whitworth will be there too and the multi-talented Canadian musician Piero Tucci will also add to the fun, playing saxophone, accordian and piano.

To fit all of this in, the event will start earlier than the usual Grimsby Jazz gigs and will be three sets rather than two. Music starts from 8pm and tickets cost £14 on the door.

To find out more about this and the other gigs put on by Grimsby Jazz, visit their website.

Thursday, 1 December 2016

NJN Advent Calendar - Fragments Trio (Dec 1st)

Behind the first door of our 2016 NJN Jazz Advent Calendar is Fragments Trio, a collaboration between drummer Johnny Hunter, pianist Adam Fairhall and double bassist Seth Bennett.

We are starting off with a bang as this Fragments Trio track is 20 minutes of beautiful music.

Click here to listen to Fragments Trio -

Fragments formed in 2014 in order to work on new and better ways of integrating improvisation and composition. Rather than incorporating improvisation into composed frameworks, the trio uses Free Improvisation as their base and then may, at any point, begin playing one of a series of pre-composed fragments of musical material. The choice of fragment, the way it is incorporated into the improvisation and what happens after the fragment is played are all open to the spontaneity of the moment. This method provides a more flexible, spontaneous approach to the overall structure of a set in comparison to more conventional compositions, but still provides the virtue of a composer’s input via the fragments themselves. Each fragment is designed to inform a different sound space and is both substantial enough to give the players something to ‘chew on’ and flexible enough to allow many possible interpretations. They are also very varied in idiom, ensuring a constantly changing listening experience.

 Adam Fairhall - piano
 Seth Bennett - double bass
Johnny Hunter - drums