March

News

Marek Dorcik’s debut album About Time has now been released. I had a great time with Marek, George Crowley (tenor sax), Tom Hewson (piano) and Mick Coady (double bass) recording this last year and I know Marek is working hard to try and get us some gigs in London and perhaps further afield. Have a listen to the title track here.

I do have some confirmed gigs with the Alex Merritt / Miguel Gorodi Quartet (with Oli Hayhurst and Tim Giles) coming up which I’m really excited for. See Gigs for more details. 

I was very sad to learn that Jazz at the Con Cellar Bar has stopped because of the sale and new ownership of the pub. This Con was one of the most important ‘grass roots’ jazz venues in London because it provided an intimate space that encouraged audiences to be receptive and musicians to try out new ideas and have fun. There was a really warm and inviting community feel in that cellar with questionable tiki-bar décor, where the music college jazz scene would make a monthly pilgrimage to hear their friends, peers, teachers and elders play their new stuff, and the loyal group of jazz fans would support and enjoy the new music that larger venues can’t always afford to risk putting on. It’s an amazing achievement to have kept it going for almost fifteen years and the London jazz community owes a lot to George Crowley, Alice Leggett, Sam Jesson and especially Richard Turner. 

Here’s a video of the Alex Merritt / Miguel Gorodi Quartet from our gig at the Con a few months ago. It’s a great tune of Alex’ called Blues For McCoy

Coming up this month 

8thMarch – London Jazz Orchestra @ The Vortex, London

11thMarch – Alex Merritt / Miguel Gorodi Quartet @ Kansas Smitty’s, London

22ndMarch – Yazz Ahmed’s Polyhymnia @ The Sage, Gateshead 

25th– 27thMarch – SEED Ensemble w/ BalletBoyz @ Sadler’s Wells, London

Things I’ve been checking out

Alex Merritt is a huge fan of Joe Henderson and in preparation for our gig at Kansas Smittys I’ve been reacquainting myself with some Henderson’s Inner Urge and Power To The People (both albums coincidentally feature one of my favourite blues heads in Isotope which is a tribute to Thelonious Monk). I love the compositions on these albums, plus they have two powerhouse rhythm sections (McCoy Tyner, Bob Cranshaw and Elvin Jones on the former, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Jack DeJohnette on the latter). 

On the subject of powerhouse rhythm sections, I’ve loved getting stuck into Eric Dolphy’s Far Cry which, along with Booker Little, features Roy Haynes, Jaki Byard and one of the earliest appearances of Ron Carter who will have been about twenty-three when this was recorded in 1960. Booker Little was a year younger, and it just amazes me how developed their playing was at such a young age. Plagued by illness for much of his life, he died less than a year after this recording (before it was even released). He was really taking the trumpet to new places. Kenny Wheeler is quoted as being inspired by Little’s attitude to doing his own thing with bebop (Kenny very humbly claimed he himself couldn’t play bebop). In terms of content, Kenny didn’t play much like Booker, except perhaps for the gestural scales that you also hear Freddie Hubbard doing, however I do hear a very similar, glassy quality in the sound to their trumpet playing.

I was also amazed to find out that Dolphy recorded on Ornette Coleman’s Free Jazz on the very same day, before making the journey from A&R Studios in New York City to the Van Gelder Studio in New Jersey. Out of curiosity, I did a bit of Google mapping to see what his route may have been on December 21st 1960 from the original A&R Studio in Manhattan (112 West 48thStreet) to Van Gelder’s new Studio (he moved from recording at his parents’ house in Hackensack the year before… Also, imagine recording the Miles Davis Quintet in your parents’ living room!!!!) in Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey. It’s about 11miles: a 2 hour walk with a ferry, or a 50 minute drive. However, according to New York weather archives, there was a nor’easter (apparently a macro-scale extratropical cyclone) earlier that month that caked New York in snow, and temperatures averaged around freezing point. This session could so easily have not happened. Not a bad days work for Dolphy on the shortest day of the year!    

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