Thursday, 27 April 2017

JazzFM Award Winners Announced

The JazzFM Awards were held this week and below is the list of winners. It was a pretty star-studded affair, not only the jazz world celebrities but also Charlie Watts, Ronnie Wood and Mick Jagger attending to these their awards in person.

Congratulations to all winners!

Breakthrough Act - Yussef Kamaal

International Artist - Donny McCaslin

Vocalist of the Year - Norma Winstone

Instrumentalist of the Year - Nikki Yeoh

Blues Artist of the Year - The Rolling Stones

Soul Artist of the Year - Laura Mvula

Jazz Innovation of the Year - Jaimeo Brown

Digital Initiative of the Year - Gilles Peterson - Worldwide FM

Album of the Year - Blue & Lonesome (The Rolling Stones)

UK Jazz Act of the Year - Shabaka Hutchings

Live Experience of the Year - Orphy Robinson All Stars - Booby Hutcherson Songbook

PPL Lifetime Achievement Award - Georgie Fame

Impact Award - Damien Chazelle

Gold Award - Charlie Watts

Friday, 21 April 2017

Gig Preview: Vein at Huddersfield Jazz, April 29th

Swiss trio VEIN are to perform in Huddersfield on Saturday 29th. Michael Arbenz, Thomas Lahns and Florian Arbenz are recognised throughout the world for their tight interplay and their album Jazz Talks, featuring Dave Liebman, was released to critical acclaim including a 4 star review in the Guardian.

From the Huddersfield Jazz website...

There certainly is no special need any more to mention the fact that today most jazz piano trios are deeply attached to musical interplay (even though this fact isn’t to be taken for granted!).  And yet, even with the most subtle, most distinguished form of interplay there is always one in the trio who plays the part of the primus inter pares – the pianist, of course (usually and by definition leader of the group).  That’s exactly where pianist Michael Arbenz, drummer Florian Arbenz and bassist Thomas Lähns come up with their own idea of musical interplay.  In fact, what they aim to achieve with their music – their understanding of music – is nothing less than the greatest possible balance of their three voices – starting with the way they work out their own compositions and arrangements, and going right through to the soloistic parts, fully assigned to all three of them.  The result is a stupendous musical togetherness, packed with surprising melodic, rhythmic and dynamic turns, played with highest precision even in the most complex, distorted and twisted passages of their compositions, arrangements and solos.

Tickets for the gig cost £14 (£5 for students) and can be bought through the Huddersfield Jazz website.

Missed the Jazz North Education Conference? Watch it now!

Jazz North held their annual Jazz Education conference back on the 21st March. Each year, they bring together practitioners, youth music leaders and educators and invite a number of speakers to present their work.

This year they've upped the ante and filmed the entire event. For anyone who missed it, you can visit the Jazz North website and watch each presentation!

Dr Graeme Wilson - Psychology of Improvisation: how the brain responds and learns from improvisation

Una McGlone - Improvisation for Young Children and Toddlers

Dr Enrico Bertelli - Helping young people from challenging backgrounds develop musical, technical and performance skills

Dave Evans - The Improvisation Room

Ilkley Jazz Festival 2017

                                             Ian Shaw (Photo  Credit: Gerhard Richter)

Ilkley Jazz Festival will get underway again this August for the 4th time, run by the very hard-working Beverley Beirne and Mark Beirne-Smith. This year, it will take place between 16th and 20th August and is looking to be bigger and better than ever.

Renowned vocalist Ian Shaw will headline, with a special performance at the Winter Gardens on August 18th performing material from his latest album, Theory of Joy. Shaw is internationally regarded as one of the leading jazz voices and is also recognised for his humanitarian work supporting refugees.

Fans of vocal jazz won't just have Ian to keep them satisfied; Zoe Gilby opens the festival on 16th August Beverley Beirne sings Carmichael on 19th August and Julie Edwards performs on 17th.

There's a whole host of other performances including pop-up sets from Backchat Brass, the wonderfully inventive Treppenwitz at Friends of Ham, a new quartet led by James Mainwaring and the Jamie Brownfield Quintet plus lots more.

To find out more about the schedule as well as the educational events on offer, visit the Ilkley Jazz Festival website.

Video: Matt Anderson's Jig Jag Jug

The Dankworth Prize for Composition was recently announced and LCoM alumnus Matt Anderson scooped the small ensemble prize for his work, Jig Jag Jug.

The inspiration for the piece came from the beautiful landscapes of his home, the North Yorkshire Moors. As a nod to this, Matt has released a video of the composition accompanied by photography of the area.

Many of the personnel of the band will be familiar to NJN readers, with many having come through the jazz degree programme at LCoM -

Matt Anderson - Tenor & Composition
Matt Roberts - Trumpet
Jim Gold - Alto
Owen Dawson - Trombone
Aubin Vanns - Guitar
Will Barry - Piano
Will Harris - Double Bass
Jay Davis - Drums

Click here to watch the newly released video for Jig Jag Jug.

Friday, 14 April 2017

Gig Preview: Jazz Jamaica at Howard Assembly Room, April 26th

One of the UK's best loved ensembles is playing at Howard Assembly Room in Leeds on April 26th.

Breathtaking stuff. Britain has its own rival to the Buena Vista Social Club. See them now before the rest of the world grabs them. - The Guardian
From the Howard Assembly Room website...
In 1991, inspired by the rhythms of traditional Jamaican music and the largely improvisational nature of jazz, leading double bassist Gary Crosby turned a musical concept into a joyful reality. His vision - a fusion of mento, ska, reggae and jazz, classic and modern jazz standards alongside Jamaican folk songs - resulted in Jazz Jamaica.
Since then, a stream of talented young jazz musicians have joined the Jazz Jamaica project. For Leeds International Festival, the 10-piece version of the band brings their exhilarating, spontaneous sound to the Howard Assembly Room.
Tickets cost £18.50 and can be booked on the Howard Assembly Room website.

First acts announced for Ushaw Jazz Festival

The first acts for this year's Ushaw Jazz Festival in Durham have been announced this week. The festival will take place between 25th - 27th August and further acts will be announced shortly.

The three events announced so far show a large ensemble theme and it's shaping up to a showcase of Northern jazz talent.

25th August - Early Bird Band & Paul Edis Sextet

26th August - Buck Clayton Legacy Big Band & Lady J

27th August - Tom Sharp Jazz Orchestra

Keep an eye out for further information on the Ushaw website and make a note in your diary!

In Sadness: Adam Warne

It is with sadness that we report that Adam Warne, percussionist with Unfurl, passed away last week.

Adam had over 25 years experience playing percussion and in Unfurl, his focus was on Egyptian percussion including the riq and darbouka.

Unfurl were scheduled to perform at The Lescar on May 3rd and today, Jez Matthews posted this message -

Some very sad news. We’re sorry to have to let you know that Adam Warne, much loved and respected percussionist with Unfurl, passed away last week.
As a result the double bill of Unfurl with the Sheffield Indian Music Ensemble on 3rd May is cancelled.
We’re thinking about Adam's family and friends, and of course all the guys in Unfurl and the Sheffield Indian Music Ensemble.
We will keep you posted as soon as we have confirmed a replacement band for 3rd May.
Hoping that you all have a lovely holiday weekend, with family, friends, food, drink and music.

As Jez says, our thoughts are with Adam's friends and family. 

Apply Now for the 2nd International Jarek Smietana Jazz Guitar Competition

Applications are now being accepted for the 2nd International Jarek Smietana Guitar Competition. Held in memory of influential Polish guitarist Jarek Smietana, the competition is open to guitarists of all nationalities up to 35 years of age, performing jazz and musical genres related to improvised music.

There are three prizes up for grabs - 1st place is approx. £4000, 2nd place approx. £2000 and 3rd place approx. £1000.

Semi-finals take place in Kracow on 28th and 29th June and the finals on 30th June. The judging panel will include Mike Stern and John Abercrombie.

Requirements -

- Brief bio in English (max. 1500 words)

- Two high quality photographs

- 3 recordings - 2 audio and 1 video (not to exceed 10 minutes each)

For more information, , visit the Jarek Smietana Jazz Guitar Competition website.

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

New Releases from Discus Music

The cogs in the Discus Music machine never seem to stop turning and already in 2017, they have a host of new releases available to buy.

Felicity's Ultimatum (artwork shown above) and Sunshine! Quartet are two albums in a series that feature small groups made up of members of the Discus Music family. Each group meets, writes, rehearses and records in one single session. Felicity's Ultimatum features Martin Archer, Graham Clark, Stephen Grew and Johnny Hunter. Sunshine! Quartet features Martin Archer, Seth Bennett, Corey Mwamba and Peter Fairclough.

All There Is is a duo album featuring Trevor Watts and Stephen Grew.  The combination of their playing styles leads for a very potent and visceral experience, but also has interludes of great tenderness.  The music has both a relaxed, and “on the edge” feel at the same time, as all truly improvised music has.

For information on these and all other Discus Music releases, as well as to hear excerpts and buy CDs, visit the Discus Music website.

LCoM Alumnus Pete Lee's Velvet Rage album and Kickstarter

Pianist Pete Lee is raising funds for the release of a new album, The Velvet Rage, an ambitious new work that features many familiar faces to the northern jazz scene - like fellow LCoM alumni Alex Munk, Ali Thynne, Huw Foster and Matt Roberts.

After graduating from LCoM, Lee moved to London to study a masters at the Royal Academy. Since then, his reputation as both a band leader and as a sideman has grown and grown, leading his own groups like Narcissus and touring with vocalist Alice Zawadski to name but two.

Aiming to raise £5,000, Pete's kickstarter is going strong; currently standing at £4,255 but with only 6 days to go, he stills needs that vital push to ensure he reaches his target.

As ever with Kickstarter, donors are offered a range of incentives - from signed cds to private piano lessons and even the opportunity to name one of the as-yet-unnamed tunes to be featured on the album.

Below is some background information on the project but for full information and to donate, visit the Velvet Rage Kickstarter page.

This album showcases compositions I've written over the last 10 years, drawing not only from my educational and professional experience, but also from the highs and lows of my own personal experience. Isn't that what we all write about? Family, friends, love and romance; those basic things that can hurt the most, but can also feel the most fulfilling. I'm keen to take full advantage of my opportunity to say something meaningful.

We recorded for 5 days in Fieldgate studio recording some of our classic tunes as well as some brand new material. 
You'll hear Pete Lee (piano/compositions), Josh Arcoleo (sax), Alex Munk (guitar), Huw Foster (bass), Ali Thynne (drums), and the Amika Strings: Laura Senior (violin), Rich Jones (violin) Lucy Nolan (viola) and Peggy Nolan (cello).
The session was recorded by Andy LawsonAlex Killpartrick & Matt Williams at Fieldgate Studios in South Wales. Matt Roberts produced the album.
We’re immensely excited to invite you to help us continue our journey. We need to raise £5,000 within 4 weeks. If we fail to reach our target, you won't be charged a penny and we'll receive nothing. It's an incredibly nerve racking time for us, so we'd be eternally grateful for your help.
Your donations will help us:
  • Mix/ Master/ Manufacture the album
  • Record a final track at the studio
  • Record Promotional Videos
  • Pay for a PR Campaign to spread the word.
  • Pay our skilled band-members.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Draw By Four FRAMEWORK Tour, April to July 2017

Described by Chris Cheek as "dynamic and evocative adventures from soulful and skillful players - a refreshing and groovy band", saxophonist Jon Shenoy's band includes organist Will Bartlett, drummer Chris Draper and one of the North's premiere guitarists, Sam Dunn.

2017 is a busy year for Draw By Four, having secured a 24-date UK tour in the lead up to recording and releasing their first album, FRAMEWORK.
With a line-up steeped in tradition, Draw By Four take the classic 60s organ quartet into brand new territory where the compositions from leader Jon Shenoy (Ivo Neame Large Ensemble) mix contrapuntal bass lines and rhythmic hooks with thoughtful lyricism. Mixing stark ethereal voices with gritty Hammond boogaloo, organist Will Bartlett (Jim Mullen, Salena Jones) draws on a wide palette of sounds that build the foundation for an infectious mix of groove-based original compositions, enchanting ballads and unique arrangements of avant-pop songs.

The FRAMEWORK tour also includes a suite of compositions written in response to paintings by three British painters: Winifred Knights, JMW Turner & Gill Holloway. In the spirit of jazz and innovation Draw By Four will encourage the audience to enjoy an enhanced visual experience – marrying the works of the above artists with the music.

The band are performing up and down the country from now until July and there are a number of chances to catch them in the North - 

April 18th - Parr Jazz, Liverpool
April 19th - Matt & Phreds, Manchester
April 20th - Davenham Theatre, Nortwich

Newest Round of Northern Line Artists Announced

The latest round of ensembles to take part in Jazz North's flagship scheme, Northern Line, have been announced. The ensembles cover a vast range of music and are located in all corners of the North.

The new batch of artists will be available to book from May 2017, but in the meantime take a look at who you'll be hearing...

Perpetual Motion Machine

Double guitars of Sam Dunn and Jamie Taylor, along with doubled-up saxes, add verve to this high-energy sextet blending jazz and rock - but eschewing fusion - with carefully chosen repertoire including Bowie and Peter Gabriel.

Early Nite

Otto Willberg’s fiery take on the sax-bass-drums trio format, favouring short and snappy tunes in the spirit of punk: free improvisation delivered with humour, melody and fun.

Dan Whieldon Quartet

Pianist Dan leads a new band performing his pieces: contemporary European in style, rich in harmony, refined and elegant, their melodies eloquently voiced by the lyrical flugelhorn of Richard Iles


Ubunye (‘one-ness’) unites singers hailing from Kwa Zulu Natal in South Africa (now Huddersfield-based) with gospel and R’n’B players from Yorkshire, in an inspirational blend of jazz, Isigqi - traditional Zulu music - and Afro-pop.


An electrifying new duo in which Sam Healey’s roaring sax lines soar above Craig Hanson’s drum patterns, electronic soundscapes and samples, manipulated live in the moment: a striking, expansive sound with a buzzing energy at its core.

Birkett & Fisk Play Venuti & Lang

A violin and guitar duo celebrating the under-explored work and associated repertoire of two prime exponents of early ’20s/30s jazz: authentic, rhythmic and uplifting, with a warm rapport and infectious energy.


Faye MacCalman fronts a Newcastle sax-bass-drums trio drawing on garage rock, minimalism and free improvisation: riffs, silence, noise and grooves create a collage of hard-edged blocks of sound that evolve over the performance.

Deep Cabaret

Taking fragments from leftfield pop, African, folk and jazz, channelled through a sextet of instruments rarely heard in jazz (hurdy-gurdy, bagpipes, overtone vocals) and setting found texts from across science, literature and history.

Ushaw Ensemble

Paul Edis was commissioned by Ushaw College and Durham Cathedral to compose for septet – pitching improvisers alongside Northumbrian pipes and violin – melding his forte in modern jazz with traditional music from the north east.


Vocalist Alice Higgins with an intimate trumpet-guitar-string bass group playing fresh swinging perspectives of the music of Ella Fitzgerald and Michael Jackson, as well as their own songs in a warm, relaxed vein.

The ElecTRIO

Dan Goldman has made a speciality of the Fender Rhodes, centring it at the heart of the blistering, funky driving sound of this tight, magnetic band: progressive, yet with a nod to its historical roots in 70s/80s fusion.

You can check out videos of all of these artists on the Jazz North website.

Friday, 31 March 2017

Hebden Bridge Piano Festival - Marc Cary & Matthew Aplin, April

The annual Hebden Bridge Piano Festival takes place between April 21st and 23rd. As ever, there is a diverse programme built by director Dave Nelson. This year, there are a number of jazz events including the opening event on Friday 21st featuring LCoM alumnus Matt Aplin.

Friday 21st April, 6.30pm - Matt Aplin

Matthew Aplin is a Leeds-based jazz pianist, composer and arranger whose performances draw from a wide range of other traditional and contemporary styles, including classical, blues and pop.
He is involved in a number of projects , including Treppenwitz, an improvising trio who recently released their debut album on New Jazz Records, Short and Long Ditties.
Sunday April 23rd, 4pm - Marc Cary
One of the leading lights of contemporary jazz, New York pianist, keyboardist and composer Marc Cary is the master of a futuristic jazz-funk that ranks him among the most innovative and creative figures on the jazz scene. He holds tight to his roots in Washington DC’s go-go music scene, but Cary’s interests also include everything from Indian classical to Malian music to hip-hop. 
Sunday April 23rd, 6.30pm - Dave Nelson: Jazz Excursions
Featuring some of his compositions for solo piano as well as a few well-chosen jazz “greats”, Dave’s eclectic take on jazz mixes it all up with other styles including pop, classical, folk and world music.
For full information on the festival, visit the Hebden Bridge Piano Festival website.

Alan Barnes - A Fish Tale Tour

Gill Wilde of Grimsby Jazz recently commissioned Alan Barnes to develop a new work, A Fish Tale, which draws on the rich and interesting history of the fishing trade in Grimsby. Barnes teamed up with guitarist Pat McCarthy and poet Josie Moon and the new work is now about to embark on a tour thanks to the support of Arts Council England.

...the commission explores the myths, the misadventures and the realities of the trawling life.

It is a tribute to the contribution made by those in the fishing industry who were instrumental in feeding the nation and protecting it in times of war.

It is a powerful and exciting evening of jazz and poetry completely evocative of any fishing port, and guaranteed to stir the memories of fishing communities.

Alan is joined by -

Gilad Atzmon - Soprano/Alto/Bass Clarinet
Dean Masser - Tenor/Clarinet
Mark Nightingale - Trombone
Neil Yates - Trumpet
Dave Green - Double Bass
Pat McCarthy - Guitar
John Perry - Drums
Josie Moon - Spoken Word

You can catch this brilliant band on tour at the following venues -


6th - Kardomah94, Hull
14th - Central Hall, Grimsby
15th - Swanage Jazz Festival
29th - Llandudno Jazz Festival


11th - Swansea Jazzland
12th - Seven Arts, Leeds
13th - Wakefield Jazz
15th - Herts Jazz Festival
19th - Folkestone Jazz Club


11th - Drill Hall, Lincoln
12th - Wigan Jazz
18th - The Hive, Shrewsbury