Monday, April 29, 2013

Adam Nussbaum, George Kontrafouris and Jiannis Pavlidis Trio

Jiannis Pavlidis Organ Trio

Before considering the music here it is significant to gain insight into the pedigree of the musicians involved. Adam Nussbaum may be a familiar name amongst those who value their jazz drummers. In 1978 he joined Dave Liebeman’s quintet and toured Europe with John Schofield. He formed a renowned trio with Steve Swallow and John Schofield, and, in 1983, became a component of the Gil Evans Orchestra, and found himself playing alongside the legendary Stan Getz. Over the years his name has been associated with the great and the good in jazz, notably Gary Burton, Toots Thielemans, Michael Brecker, the Carla Bley Big Band, John Abercrombie, Sonny Rollins, Art Pepper and Kenny Wheeler. Born in Athens, Greece in 1967, Giorgos Kontrafouris studied classical piano before turning his interest towards jazz at the age of 16. He has performed piano and organ with such luminaries as Arild Andersen, Andy Sheppard, Marcus Stockhausen and Bob Brozman. Swedish born guitarist Jiannis Pavlidis started professional work in 1983 and has made numerous live appearances around England, Greece, Cyprus, Sweden, Serbia and the USA with, amongst others, David Liebman and Adam Nussbaum. He currently teaches at the Leeds College of Music and Leeds Metropolitan University.
The trio have been touring since 2007 and in 2011 decided to record their first album. The three tracks available for review, all compositions by Jiannis Pavlidis, show a subtle grasp of arrangement that infuse these compositions with sophistication and depth, and, arguably that most elusive of elements, swing. The first piece “Counter Fury” opens seductively before the introductory motif guides the tune through a number of opulently charming solos. The pace moves between urgent and comfortable and lends the piece charisma and grace. “Sco Away” is an altogether more relaxed affair reminiscent, as suggested in the title, of John Schofield’s playing at his more pensive.  As the arrangement progresses the tempo remains peaceful whilst the intensity of the soloing increases to bring to mind Schofield’s playing in the Miles Davis band. “Brother Charles” is more upbeat in character, but still retains the charm of the previous pieces. The production is tight and crisp and is the perfect platform to display each element of this trio at an equal level. The playing is indicative of three musicians who have a wealth of experience between them that is used to bring empathy to the performances, and which promise much for a full length release and live shows to come.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

News - Dave Kane 4tet at Seven Jazz

I first came across Dave Kane in a recording studio...
Then I caught his solo gig at Seven Arts prior to Tricotomy's gig at Seven Arts on thier 1st UK tour. As part of LIMA and the Leeds group Bourne Davis Kane with Edition Records, he is becoming well known on the national scene as a talented improvisor.

Well he is back in the building this Sunday as part of the Seven Jazz ImprovFest with his Quartet:
Dave Kane - Bass ,
Joost Hendrickx - Drums,
James Allsopp - Reeds.
Alex Bonney - Trumpets
Definitely worth a trip out this Sunday more details here:

Monday, April 22, 2013

Paul Edis Sextet “There Will Be Time” (Jazzaction) review

There Will Be Time

Occasionally one plays an album for the very first time and is captivated by each and every track on that first exposure. What is so arresting about “There Will Be Time” is that the tunes instantaneously lodge themselves in the listener’s imagination. There are very few arrangers and composers capable of achieving this, but, it appears, Paul Edis is more than competent. After studying in London Paul returned to his home here in the North East of England, and at only 27 years of age, has become an established figure in the jazz scene. Guest soloists along the way have included Tim Garland, Alan Barnes, Julien Siegel and Iain Ballamy, and, indeed, this release has been included in the 2012 Jazzwise magazine Album of the Year. The titles themselves indicate a certain tongue in cheek approach as the album opens with “Administrate This!”, an almost New Orleans flavoured introduction which features authoritative  soloing on tenor and trumpet. “Re: Vamp” is less strident than its predecessor and features delightfully subtle piano lines, whilst “I Wish I Was a Monk” (not surprisingly) and “Sharp 9/8” give a compositional nod to that great jazz pianist referenced in the title. The cheeky stop start introduction on “I Wish I Was a Monk” which eventually gives way to idiosyncratic tenor and piano phrases could easily have been lifted directly from the great Thelonious himself. The mood alters slightly as the bass, drums and trombone take a funky lead on “Angular”. By now the listener may appreciate the smogersboard of influences that have been incorporated into “There Will Be Time”. The title track, “Echoes” and “Elegy” could easily have been mistaken for an ECM label release in the way they fuse classical mood and structure around elusive piano and sombre bass and brass. This is most certainly music to consider ones past, present and future. “Hey There You Hosers” has a relaxed grace featuring radiant saxophone and trumpet solos, whilst “Blues for Dad” is both joyous and upbeat, featuring some left field bowed bass and scat like vocals. Another tongue in cheek title “Ravelations” is a jazz meets classical hybrid again displaying the breadth of influences employed. The album closes with “Up Late” which provides a further glorious vehicle for exuberant brass soloing.
 The playing throughout is imaginative and enthusiastic, and could be roughly categorised as “post-bop”. If, however, categories are of little interest, “There Will Be Time” has tight, memorable compositions from beginning to end. This sextet release is Edis’ debut as a leader and features Paul on piano, Graham Hardy on trumpet and flugelhorn, Graeme B Wilson on saxophone, Chris Hibbard on trombone, Mick Shoulder on bass and Adam Sinclair on percussion, and has been described as evocative of Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers.  This is undoubtedly not too strong a depiction, and gives the new listener an idea of the benchmark of musicianship on display. 

Friday, April 19, 2013

Dave Walsh “Storyboard” album review and interview

Storyboard cover art

Drummer and Principal Lecturer at Leeds College of Music, Dave Walsh is not only a talented improviser (as can be evidenced from the music available on his website and an enthusiastic teacher of percussion skills and technique, but, from what is palpable from his latest release “Storyboard”, an exceptional arranger. The production is tight and crisp, and the mood throughout is buoyant and inspirational. Coming to the attention of Jazz Goes to Leeds after one of the coldest springs since records began, “Storyboard” is a glorious way to enter the summer months. “After Sweden” is fresh and intense, with delightfully restrained guitar from Stuart McCallum. One is almost reminded of “Letter from Home”/”Still Life (Talking)” period Pat Metheny in the mood that is created.  The title track “Storyboard” gently slows the tempo but not the joyous passion. Delicate, gossamer thin piano lines, enclosed within elusive ambience on “For a Short While” and “Wait, Don’t Walk” are both reflective and insightful; this is music to instil both melancholia and affection. “Because Of...”, and for the most part “Hold On”, have a childlike naivety that is at once disarming yet commanding. The listener is transported to a place of sorrow and elation within the same few bars. The titles of the arrangements themselves, such as “Peace of One”, are irresistibly evocative of the mood they create. Rising imposingly over ethereal keyboard textures, “Turning Circle” shifts pace into a Latin jazz and experimental flavoured piece, that helps add further textures to the recording. The album closes with “Autumn Song” which, again, has a devotional quality reminiscent of Alice Coltrane, Carlos Santana and Pharaoh Sanders at their most spiritual.
There is a real sense throughout “Storyboard” that the players are working collectively toward an almost sacred goal. The eleven piece band is comprised of a variety of electric and acoustic instrumentation which helps to give these arrangements an almost organic quality.  Although the compositions are arranged principally by the drummer, there is never a sense that egos have come in to play. The solos, rather than being seen as an opportunity for bravado and technicality, weave themselves into the arrangements with subtlety and respect. Some of the influences that have come to bear on the percussion on “Storyboard”, principally Peter Erskine and Jack DeJohnette, are manifest throughout, and go a long way to acknowledge how absorbed influences are passed from generation to generation.  There is a humble professionalism infusing these compositions that make for a blissful and rewarding listening experience.  As the title suggests, “Storyboard” can almost be read as a narrative, or soundtrack, to a time fondly remembered.

Mark had the chance to meet up with Dave Walsh, ( well known drummer who is also Head of Specialist Study for Jazz and a principal lecturer at Leeds College of Music, for a chat about his newly released album.

Mark Beirne-Smith - Is this a debut album in terms of being a leader?
Dave Walsh –Well its is a re-issue! There is a lot of material from my 2003 album ‘Melody before me’. The main problem I had with that recording was problem with the drum sound. I had an opportunity a couple of years ago to rerecord the drums and then fix a few other problem.

Mark Beirne-Smith - How would you describe the music in terms of Genre and influences?
Dave Walsh – I think it is cross genre, there is a classical influence because I studied classical harmony when I was at school. I am also in to Latin rhythms, particularly samba. Personal influences are Lyle Mays (pianist), Pat Metheny, especially the group stuff… Keith Jarrett, especially his improvised Solo Concerts. Outside of Jazz the singer songwriter James Taylor and Michael McDonald have also influenced my writing.

Mark Beirne-Smith - What is it that you want to say with this album?
Dave Walsh – For me Melody is really important, as I’m into melodic music. This is not an out and out ‘Drum’ album. There are a few elements and evidence of slightly drum heavy nits to the music, but overall I think the melodic and textural quality to the music is more obvious.

Mark Beirne-Smith - Which part of the writing process do you find most difficult?
Dave Walsh – All my writing is improvised on the piano and kept as is. I then store it on the computer and add texture, extra instruments, rhythm and percussion and that is what takes the time for me to get right.

Mark Beirne-Smith - There is a lot of textural sounds across the whole album, I especially noticed this in ‘For a short while’ , more so than in standard jazz music, is this intentional?
Dave Walsh – Yes, well the textural sounds are really important to create mood and feel, when the music is moving along its journey. When working on this album, the textual aspects were probably the longest part to record. It really helps the listener to engage.

Mark Beirne-Smith - Is there a new career as a jazz singer or pianist beckoning?
Dave Walsh – NO! I use to play piano years ago with a singer. Jazz standard etc. I wasn’t very good at it!

Mark Beirne-Smith - What are the advantages of being a drummer lead project?
Dave Walsh – I’m not sure it has any advantages but one thing I’ve noticed over the years (and I don’t included myself on this level) is that very highly respected drummer are often very strong writers. My theory on this is that I think musical drummer, drummers who listen and empathise with the music they are within, often love melody and texture and that comes through in their writing.

Mark Beirne-Smith - It is released just in electronic format, any reason for that?
Dave Walsh – Variety of reasons, I am not intending to gig the music as there is no band set up any more, so there isn’t a need for a physical product to sell at gigs. There is a lot of change in the music business especially with independent music, so I am just selling it on

Bandcamp link to "Storyboard"

Mark Beirne-Smith - Who are you gigging with?
Dave Walsh – In terms of jazz, Jamil Sheriff trio, Stuart McCallum’s Distilled project, The Jamie Taylor 4tet and Matt Andersons Wildflower project. In terms of other styles of music, I’m still involved with Singer/Songwriter Tom McRae. We recorded a new band album last year. Tom is currently touring his latest solo album ‘From The Lowlands’ so we’re hoping the band record is out next year. Tom wrote some stunning songs for that project. I’ve also been recording with a singer/songwriter from Manchester called JP Cooper. I’ve done is last 2 EP’s. He’s also well worth checking out.

Mark Beirne-Smith - Do you like marmalade?
Dave Walsh – No, No and No, wish I did but I don’t.

The following musicians are on this album

All Compositions - Dave Walsh.
Dave Walsh - Composition, Drums, Piano, Strings, Vox
Stuart McCallum - Electric Guitar
Simon Willescroft - Alto, Tenor, Soprano Sax
Lara James - Soprano Sax
Russ Van Den Berg - Soprano and Tenor Sax
Pete Hughes - Piano, Keys
Richard Hammond - Acoustic and Electric Bass
Lea Mullen - Percussion
Richard Wetherall - Piano
Ollie Collins - Vector Bass, Piccolo Bass, Fretless bass, Electric Bass.
Ulrich Elbracht - Acoustic Guitar, Electric Guitar.

Dave Walsh is an Istanbul/Agop Endorsee and a D’Addario Artist.

I really enjoyed listen to this album, the textural elements really did set the melodies up. Even though it was not intended to be a straight ahead jazz album, there are some noticeable influences there. It is definitely worth £4 of anyone’s money.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Craig Scott’s Lobotomy – “Technicolour Yawn” single review

A brief glance over the influences at work here will have left field music devotees salivating to hear more; Aphex Twin, Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa, Debussy, Derek Bailey, John Zorn, Thelonious Monk and Meshuggah. Craig Scott is a Leeds based improviser/composer/guitarist and affiliate of Ikestra and Shatner’s Bassoon. With a CV like that the music here cannot fail to spark interest, and thankfully it does just that. “Technicolour Yawn” teases the listener with a fairly straightforward broken beat opening before turning the music inside out and manipulating the sound using fragments of electronic dissonance woven together with more “traditional” sounding jazz and classical chamber instrumentation. As Craig himself explains,

“The initial idea of the project was invert the relationship of
composition and improvisation in my music, instead of the composition
informing the improvisation, freely improvised material was recorded and
then manipulated and re-composed...”

The above description may cause the casual listener alarm, but the end result is by no means incongruous. The tune meanders amicably over its duration and should please lovers of experimental music and circuit bending alike. The project as a whole is a fascinating deconstruction of the relationship between composer and improviser and demands four minutes of your time. 

Friday, April 5, 2013

Interview - Joe Harris of Ikestra

I had the chance, following our review of Ikestra, to catch up with Joe Harris from Ikestra last week in a freezing Leeds!


Mark Beirne-Smith - The album has recently been described as‘genre-less’ is this how you would describe it?
Joe Harris – I don't know how to describe it! It's a mash up of our different influences and styles... I think the term 'genre-less' has been used because people can't put their finger on the strongest influence, maybe. It's also been called soul, funk, math funk, prog and jazz though so who knows?!

Mark Beirne-Smith – What were the influences for this album?
Joe Harris – There's 7 of us in the band with a huge range of influences! Everyone brings a different angle on things. For me personally: Frank Zappa, Herbie Hancock (Crossings/Mwandishi/Sextant), Congotronics 2 (compilation of new Congolese music), Bitches Brew era Miles, Battles, Flying Lotus et al have been important influences. A lot of rhythmic influence came from learning bits of Hindustani classical music, as well as West African and Afro-Cuban rhythms.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Is the project lead by one person or has a more collaborative approach been taken?
Joe Harris – I guess the original vision was mine and I started to bring it together, but everyone in the band has had an equal creative input and is expressing themselves.

Mark Beirne-Smith – When listening to the vocals they were very much integrated into the music, except on ‘Endure’ where they take a more prominent role, why was this?
Joe Harris - It just felt right for that song really. We all loved the part Anna wrote for it and wanted to bring it out as much as possible. Tim Thomas (album producer) was particularly keen on making a feature of the vocals in Endure and got it spot on! On other tunes, we wanted the vocals to be another texture to the music rather than a separate layer sat on top and Anna wrote a lot of her parts based on these concepts.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Where can the album be bought?
Joe Harris – Its available as CD, download and limited hand-numbered LP at Hopefully we will be getting some stock in Jumbo, Crash and Cafe Lento soon as well. And of course we have copies at gigs for sale.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Where are you gigging next with Ikestra?
Joe Harris -
Fri 5th April - Canteen, Bristol
Sunday 7th April - Hifi Club, Leeds
Sun 28th April - Brudenell, Leeds
Got a few more tbc so check our website for updates!

Mark Beirne-Smith – Are you involved in any other projects?
Joe Harris – I play in an acoustic band called Sandrani with Giuliano Modarelli on Guitar, Upneet Singh on Tabla and Vanessa Rani on vocals ( I also play in a 70's style dub/reggae band called Root One.

Mark Beirne-Smith – Do you like Marmalade?
Joe Harris – Yeah but I prefer jam!