Thursday 3rd March 2016 – Vula Viel @ Vortex 8pm £10
‘Vula Viel returns to the Vortex to complete their Spring tour. A band which the Vortex holds close, as it did some of its first gigs here. And great to hear how it’s developing’ more info here
Browsing category: BFRecommends, The Vortex, Vula Viel
Thursday 3rd March 2016 – Vula Viel @ Vortex 8pm £10
We’re not talking about ‘feeding’ them as if they’re pigeons. More like, why it’s a great idea to feed them if you’ve hired them. Sometimes, people forget and they get a little sad. And grumpy.
A few things to remember…
1. If they’re playing an evening set, that’s dinner time. They’ve been setting up since 15:00. They’re on at 21:00 and it’s 19:00. They’ll be hungry.
2. Hot meals make people way happier than sandwiches. (You know that’s true.)
3. We have learned that: fed musicians = happy musician = epic music.
The opening track, Ranch, features many of the ideas which will become the album’s signature sounds. It starts with a simple groove-based riff played by pianist/band leader Jonathan Brigg and drummer Dave Smyth. After the rest of the band have entered we hear an inspired solo by guitarist Alex Munk bringing the tune to a symphonic climax. The ostinato riff returns, followed by saxophonist Sam Miles announcing his arrival in a feisty solo.
The second tune, Turn, is based on a repetitive piano and bass unison riff with guitar and drums filling the complex time. It’s a simple yet very effective idea. Munk and Miles solo once more with rhythm section keeping effortless time and creating a great depth of sound. It is incredibly satisfying when after Munk and Miles’ solo the band return to the riff. The whole song euphorically lifts and the satisfaction of everything coming together is palpable. But it is fleeting and the listener yearns to dwell in that sound world for longer.
Fable is a Zeitgeist piece with its deliciously warm sax ostinato over gently relentless piano lines falling like tears. It’s a desperately sad tune full of wistful longing. A lyrical sax solo by Miles is followed by the frankly haunting sound of Munk on guitar. You are drawn to the interplay of Smyth and Munk dancing together and in the background the ever-present piano and bass riff eternally pulse. The head then returns, if you can even call it a head, for it is really a riff: the oscillating heartbeat of this tune.
In Stoop Kid, (named after the band’s namesake, everyone’s favourite 90s cartoon Hey Arnold!) gone is the world of Fable. The tune opens in a chaotic conversation of sounds upon which the chatter then unites in unison stabs of exclamation. This is followed by a conversation between instruments, with different voices and characters clearly evident. When we read the album sleeve we discovered it is based on episode of Hey Arnold! where the protagonist is ‘afraid to leave his stoop’. The tension is evident and conversation clear.
Sevens is a cacophony of scalic runs in complex time with the band walking up and down their instruments. In the strict formal counterpoint the classical influences are evident creating a mesmerising effect in its relentlessness.
Listening to Spring Song after Sevens is like entering a different wold. Mellifluous sax sings over the guitar. It is refreshing to hear an album that is not afraid of variety or diatonic tonality. When the rest of the band come in (piano with the trademark elegant drone) the colours are gorgeous, a palette of watercolours meandering together to create beautiful new shades. Spring Song also features an elegant solo from bassist Flo Moore.
It’s notable that (as we’ve said before) this isn’t a band of soloists. Instead Moore, Smyth and Brigg ‘hold the complex grooves together, support and interplay with Miles and Munk like an experienced family and put the spark into the group.’
The album’s title track Confession is a tune of guilt, worry, strain and obsessiveness. The 7/8 groove is interspersed by a variety of different emotions: calm, angst and destruction. This becomes the freeist tune on the album and we hear a mind distracted, evolving and filled with tension. This is where it all comes out, a wonderful musical confession of feeling, ending with bartok-esque bell tolls on the piano. The confession is over.
The final tune of the album, Soldier On, is a slow balm to soothe the tension of Confession. The ethereal opening guitar statement is followed by a tune that is resolute in keeping going. The signature repetitive lines are evident. They are literally soldiering on, lost in melody and colour.
Confession is an album with classical and free jazz influences sitting side-by-side. Lyrical melodies sing above beautiful, agonisingly relentless ostinato-esque musical lines. It is an album that explores so many colours but never sits on one too long, and is never satisfied with just one sound. It is an album that constantly seeks new direction, a river pushing against the rocks with flair to make new paths. Confession is a creatively inspired, diverse and emotionally complex debut album. Can’t wait to hear what comes next.
Tuesday 2nd Feb 2016 – Sam Crockatt Quartet CD Launch @ Pizza Express 19:00 £15
‘Saxophonist/composer Sam Crockatt launches his third album ‘Mells Bells’ on Whirlwind Recordings. The band is made up of four of the most in-demand and creative musicians on the UK scene, including Kit Downes on piano, Oli Hayhurst on double bass, and James Maddren on drums. Their first album ‘Howeird’ won album of the year in the Parliamentary Jazz Awards in 2009′ more info here
Thursday 11th Feb 2016 Zoe Rahman Trio @ St James Theatre 20:00 £17.50
‘Known for her powerful technique, wide-ranging imagination and exuberant performance, she has become a highly sought-after musician, working most recently with the likes of Courtney Pine, George Mraz and Jerry Dammers’ Spatial AKA Orchestra. She is joined by her trio featuring drummer Gene Calderazzo and bass player Mark Lewandowski’ more info here
Monday 22nd Feb 2016 – Can of Worms presents Mike Soper Trio @ Jazz at the Oxford 20:30 £10/£5
‘Can of Worms explores that happy and unpredictable space where written and improvised worlds collide, diving deep into group improvisations and compositions featuring taut, tense grooves, wailing sax-confessionals and all-out glorious free-jazz’ more info here
Thursday 25th Feb 2016 – Fletch’s Brew @ Royal Albert Hall/Elgar Room 21:15 £13.75
‘In 2010, drumming tour de force Mark Fletcher founded Fletch’s Brew with Laurance Cottle (bass), Jim Watson (keyboards), Paul Stacey (guitar), Freddie Gavita (trumpet/flugelhorn) – a band which blurs the boundaries of musical styles and surpasses preconceived notions of jazz’ more info here
What is your goal?
Are you a beginner looking to try things out, or are you an adult who wants to invest in a really good instrument and take time to develop a skill? This will effect what type of instrument you get
What are the saxophone brands & what price should I go for?
There are 4 ‘big’ name sax brands – all of which are excellent. They are: Yamaha, Yanigasawa, Mauriat and Selmer. If your budget is smaller, go for the beginner/student models (under £800). If the skys’ the limit – try them all. But remember more expensive does not equal better.
Where should you buy?
Go somewhere you can try the instrument out. And take someone you trust with you. The same instrument can sound totally different with two different players. The more expensive instrument also isn’t necessarily better. It depends on you.
We have recommend Howarth of London for saxophones. We’ve known them for years and years and they’ve always been great and really friendly. They’re based near Baker Street in London. If you’re further afield try JP Packers in Taunton.
What else should you know?
Mouthpieces make as much as a different to the sound as the actual saxophone. It’s worth trying these out. But as a beginner – stick with what often comes with the instrument, or go with a Selmer C*.
1. Amazing Sound
The harp is surprisingly versatile, with a big warm sound. Harpists don’t just do classical either, they also sound mellifluous playing popular tunes.
2. Class & Style
Nothing quite beats the look of the harp and harpists bring an effortless spark of elegance to any event. Whether playing musical magic at a party or strumming you down the aisle, there is nothing to rival the class and style the harp brings.
As you’re hiring just one person, harpists are affordable. With a smaller expense then a full band you still get a great live energy and passion.
Our good friends the International Rameau Ensemble are holding a Valentine’s concert at the New College Ante-Chapel on Feb 6th. Not sure whether to go or not? Read our review of their last concert here. And then go!
Here are our great musical gift options – get in touch to inquire or book!
1. Music Lesson (From £32)
Give your loved one an experience they can BUILD upon – loads of instruments available upon request
(including saxophone, piano, singing, guitar & drums).
2. Instrument Advice (Free)
We don’t sell instruments, but we do KNOW instruments and great sellers.
We’ll tell you who to go to and what to look for!
3. Private Jazz Gig (From £278)
Why not enjoy the best musicians the country has to offer at a venue* of your choice?
A fine evening of sublime jazz to while a beautiful night away…
4 Rock Guitar Jam (From £82)
Know a keen amateur guitarist? Give them the opportunity of a lifetime to
jam with a session pro, have buckets of fun and learn a few tricks!
5. Opera at Home (from £381)
Be wowed by an evening of your favourite aria’s from the world’s most popular operas.
6. Photography Lesson (from £375)
Learn how to take the BEST pictures around, with great camera tips and
shooting styles. A a gift that will last a lifetime.
*If it is a public venue/open space conditions apply.
All our gift options come as a gift certificate, to be used within 1 year.
Dates & times to be arranged and confirmed.
There’s a plethora of stuff going on in September – but we’ve picked the gigs we’d most like to see! Maybe see you there….
4th Sept 2015 CROWLEY/KANE/MADDREN @ The Con
Tickets: £5 info here
7th Sept 2015 MIKE CHILLINGWORTH SEPTET @ The Oxford
Tickets: £10/£5 info here
11th Sept 2015 AYANNA WITTER-JOHNSON @ King’s Place
Tickets: £6.50 info here
12th Sept 2015 DAVE O’HIGGINS @ 606
Tickets: Book a Table info here
23rd -26th Sept 2015 LOOSE TUBES @ Ronnie Scott’s
Tickets: £30/£35/£45 info here
27th Sept 2015 MUSICIANS’ COMPANY YOUNG JAZZ MUSICIAN OF THE YEAR 2015 @ Pizza Express
Tickets: £15 info here