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  • Moses Boyd: Dark Matter review – party-facing solo debut
    by Kitty Empire on February 16, 2020

    (Exodus)Moses Boyd is a drummer in the same way Questlove from the Roots is a drummer, which is to say that the twice Mobo-winning 28-year-old Londoner is a producer-composer-collaborator-influencer not bound by the kit surrounding him. A progenitor of the current London jazz scene, Boyd’s official solo debut goes large on cross-pollination – and dancing.Whereas Boyd’s previous Mobo-winning duo with the saxophonist Binker Golding and his Exodus ensemble remained more or less on-genre, Dark Matter exists very much in the wake of Boyd’s breakout track of 2016, Rye Lane Shuffle (which featured Four Tet and Floating Points on mixes). This is the London hybrid jazz of now – a party-facing electronic record that takes note of Afrobeats, two-step garage and Boyd’s travels in South Africa. Continue reading...

  • Moses Boyd: Dark Matter review – dancefloor-friendly jazz from UK drummer
    by Ammar Kalia on February 14, 2020

    (Exodus)He’s known as a jazz stalwart but this album brings Boyd’s nuanced production skills to the fore in artfully spliced, stylish tracksDrummer Moses Boyd has always been a difficult musician to pin down. Half of the fiercely propulsive free jazz duo Binker and Moses, he was heralded as a poster boy of the London jazz revival when they won a Mobo for best jazz act in 2015. But his first solo offering, 2016’s Rye Lane Shuffle, was a dancefloor-focused 12-inch that was closer to the jazz-inflected house of Theo Parrish than any regular improvised setup. Continue reading...

  • Dave Brubeck by Philip Clark review – a life in jazz time
    by Rchard Williams on February 13, 2020

    On tour with the man behind ‘Take Five’ ... the definitive biography of one of jazz’s most successful pianistsIn 1954 the pianist Dave Brubeck became the first jazz musician of the postwar generation to be featured on the cover of Time magazine, infuriating those who felt that this white middle-class Californian had no business taking the limelight from Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespie or Thelonious Monk, the true pioneers of an essentially African American music.In the decades that followed, Brubeck remained the focus of controversy, even as his quartet’s albums – with their abstract-expressionist cover art by Joan Miró, Franz Kline and Sam Francis – became almost as ubiquitous a fixture in the homes of the upwardly mobile as a hostess trolley or coffee percolator. By the dawn of the 1960s, when “Take Five”, a catchy little number in 5/4 time, was high in the pop charts, regularly requested on the BBC’s Sunday lunchtime radio show Two-Way Family Favourites, he was effectively the public face of modern jazz, even though his genial temperament and settled family life – he was married to the same woman for 70 years – ran contrary to what was generally seen as the idiom’s beatnik tendency. Continue reading...

  • Karen Sharp Trio: Another Place review – three is the magic number
    by Dave Gelly on February 8, 2020

    (KLS)Britain’s professional jazz musicians, even those such as saxophonist-composer Karen Sharp who are voted top in magazine polls, don’t spend all their days in recording studios and all their nights on stage at Ronnie Scott’s. For the most part it’s a round of assorted gigs at local clubs, private parties and events that rarely get advertised or reviewed. It’s a smallish world, and since there are no permanent bands these days, everybody has a chance to play with everybody else sooner or later.That’s how this very enjoyable album came about. Sharp, guitarist Colin Oxley and bassist Simon Thorpe played a couple of gigs together and found the open texture of the trio format so exhilarating that they just had to record it. With no drums to tie them together, all three instruments have equal weight, and it’s easy to appreciate the freedom of movement this allows. It takes good musicians to make the most of it, and they don’t come much better than this. Of the 10 numbers here, three are recent compositions by Thorpe, one is by Sharp and the rest are old favourites chosen by the players just because they like them. Continue reading...

  • Take one: lost Dave Brubeck tapes reveal jazz hit originally sounded like ‘a bad student band’
    by Dalya Alberge on February 8, 2020

    Rehearsal tapes show band struggling with the groove and rhythm of million-seller Take Five, claims new bookIt is the best-selling jazz single of all time. But previously unheard rehearsal tapes reveal that Dave Brubeck’s Take Five might never have been such a hit if he had stuck with an original version.Philip Clark, author of a forthcoming book on Brubeck, the American jazz legend, has for the first time gained access to 1959 recordings that had lain forgotten in a Californian archive until now. Continue reading...

  • Makaya McCraven and Gil Scott-Heron: We're New Here review – a modern classic revived
    by Ammar Kalia on February 7, 2020

    (XL Recordings)Jazz drummer and beat-maker McCraven beautifully reworks Scott-Heron’s 10-year-old album I’m New Here, resituating the poet in the improvisatory traditionFor Makaya McCraven, sampling is a means of remembrance. The Chicago-based drummer and producer has spent recent years honing his studio style to incorporate samples of his own improvised live performances, overwritten and rerecorded. The result is a series of palimpsest records: In the Moment (2015), Where We Come From (2018) and Universal Beings (2018) – all exercises in using the studio as another means of improvisation, finding difference in the repetition of the same motifs. Continue reading...

  • Issie Barratt's Interchange: Donna's Secret review | John Fordham's jazz album of the month
    by John Fordham on February 7, 2020

    (Fuzzy Moon Records) The all-female Interchange band brings together jazz luminaries under Barratt’s assured leadership on this powerful albumBack in the day, some fans would raise eyebrows at the implications of the term “jazz education” – preferring the romance that this impulsive music was plucked out of the air on street corners by unschooled visionaries. Donna’s Secret, a collection of eight new works from UK composer/arranger Issie Barratt’s all-female Interchange big band, displays plenty of impulsive vision – but jazz education with visions of its own brought it here. Both the quality of the writing and the assured resourcefulness of the improvising owe a lot to the innovative Barratt’s work over three decades as a bandleader, composer, sax-player, teacher and proselytiser, particularly in bringing female instrumentalists to the foreground of a traditionally male-run art. Continue reading...

  • 50 great tracks for February from David Bowie, Waxahatchee, J Hus and more
    by Michael Cragg , Michael Hann, Ammar Kalia, Jude Rogers, Dave Simpson and Laura Snapes on February 3, 2020

    From US Girls’ ritzy funk to Jeff Parker’s melodic revamp of a Joe Henderson classic, check out 50 new tracks and read about our 10 favourites Related: Sign up for the Sleeve Notes email: music news, bold reviews and unexpected extras Continue reading...

  • Landgren & Lundgren: Kristallen review – tranquil Nordic jazz
    by Dave Gelly on January 25, 2020

    (ACT)My only difficulty with this Swedish duo is in remembering which is which. Nils Landgren is the trombonist, Jan Lundgren is the pianist and they’re both brilliant. Between them, they are masters of many styles, from funk and R&B to swing, but here they meet in the shared Nordic territory of jazz chamber music. It’s light, precise and tranquil, tinged at times with a kind of fragile nostalgia. Along with their own compositions and arrangements of traditional tunes, they include pieces by Keith Jarrett, Abdullah Ibrahim, Jimmy Webb, Hoagy Carmichael and the Beatles.These all sound at home in this gentle setting, and the unlikely combination of piano and trombone (often at the very top of its range) can be quite magical. It’s particularly effective in the opening number, Lundgren’s Blekinge and in the lively interplay of Byssan Lull, a Swedish folk song that mysteriously turns into a blues. Landgren also sings on several tracks. He has an attractive light-husky voice and his intonation is perfect, but most of us are so used to hearing voice and piano as simply singer and accompanist, that some of the unique flavour is lost. Continue reading...

  • Anthony Braxton Standard Quartet review – melodies twisted into unfamiliar territory
    by Ammar Kalia on January 21, 2020

    Cafe Oto, LondonThe indefatigable saxophonist breathes endless life into the standards, straddling the line between tension and releaseThe standard is a quintessential concept in jazz. A canonical composition reinterpreted and disassembled by both new players and established elders, they are works that cement their place in tradition through virtue of their lasting capacity to be transformed yet maintain the essence of their identity.Defined like this, saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton is something of a standard himself. With more than 350 works to his name, he has been heralded as a luminary of free jazz, bearing influences such as John Coltrane and Eric Dolphy, as well as a radical composer of opera and orchestral pieces in the lineage of experimentalists such as Karlheinz Stockhausen. His music often encapsulates what might be seen as “difficult” in jazz – rattling bursts of energy, woozy and unpredictable harmony, outright guttural noise – yet he always keeps a guiding hand on melody, maintaining his ineffable sonic identity. Related: Sign up for the Sleeve Notes email: music news, bold reviews and unexpected extras Continue reading...

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