Archive for category Jazz stories
Last weekend I did something I hadn’t done for a long time – went to see the same artist for 2 nights in a row at Ronnie Scott’s, and seeing the John Scofield organic trio turned out to be a very inspired (and inspiring) decision!
The last time that happened was when I could still get into Ronnie’s on a student discount – yes, very long time ago! I remember watching Mike Stern for 5 nights in a row, 2 sets per night, and that king of jazz marathons a great deal.
Overall, a 5 star jazz occasion, not least because of the band on the night – Greg Hutchinson on drums and Larry Goldings on Hammond B3 organ really drove Scofield’s improvisations into fluid and exciting territories.
The repertoire included a selection of compositions from Scofield’s earlier albums, with ‘Still Warm’ bringing a slightly nostalgic vibe among the listeners that packed Ronnie’s on both days. More recent tracks followed, combined with a healthy dose of jazz standards.
As a guitarist, I guess my perception of the 2 shows will always be instrument-specific, but everyone in the audience seemed to enjoy the grooving trio. Guitarists took away inspiration for playing and practising, the rest of the audience were simply treated to a truly special jazz occasion, similar to John McLaughlin’s appearance a few years ago.
‘Choices’ is an album that impresses with the variety of sounds and compositions, all under the inspirational leadership of Davide Mantovani.
I first met Davide at a jazz jam in Hoxton, at the Bar music hall, when the venue was still hosting a weekly jazz evening. I am a big fan of his playing and it’s good to see him release an album of his own after so many years of great playing.
The influences and sounds on this record can be traced to jazz, world music, Brazilian rhythms and classical just to mention a few – the eight or so people on stage brought something of their own to the party, which shaped an immediate identity through rhythms and spontaneous interplay.
I guess rather than me describing the record, anyone curious should just get the CD and form their own opinion – there is a lot of good music on this album, which I hope more people find interesting – make your own ‘Choices’!
On a rainy October Tuesday afternoon, I went to the South Bank to listen to Fred Hersch at the Purcell room. In search of inspiration, I usually witness performances that inspire me to play and practice for days after the event. I learnt a lesson on this occasion too, but the nature of the lesson turned out to be different.
Hersch is amongst the most respected and in demand piano players, whose popularity is growing internationally and his solo performances are becoming a reference point for young aspiring pianists worldwide. What I saw yesterday was a performance by a talented musician at the top of his game, let’s make no mistake about that. However, inspiration being a deeply subjective abstraction, the concert didn’t have the usual effect on me – instead of rushing home to practise, I had to go for a beer first…
The nature of the pianist’s music came across as complex and cerebral – beautiful, yet hard to digest. This might be explained by the fact that he played compositions inspired by a 2 month coma he’d been through, which seemed a bit heavy for a rainy October Tuesday evening, but this doesn’t take away from the originality of the compositions.
The repertoire featured musical dedications, among which the one titled ‘Bill Frisell’ I somehow remembered the most and compositions from Hersch’s albums spanning several decades, including the emblematic ‘Live at the Vanguard Village’. Overall, an unusual, yet pleasant jazz experience.
Being so close to the start of the London jazz festival 2012, this rare solo performance by Hersch will serve a good introduction to the eagerly awaited jazz feast later in November. My favourite performances, for which I’ve already got tickets, include John McLaughlin, Bill Frisell, Paco de Lucia and Brian Blade just to mention a few. I consider myself enormously privileged to have access to such great music.