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
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Thursday 3rd March 2016 – Vula Viel @ Vortex 8pm £10
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
Much has been spun about ‘Prog-Post Jazz’ group Let Spin. On a customary wet and miserable Dalston evening the Vortex audience were, wine glasses in hand, ready to hear their second album launch: Let Go.
Ruth Goller (bass) started the set with her tune I like to Sound Like a Rainforest. With its lyrically lamenting bass line it drew the audience’s attention with simple effectiveness. Sax and guitar entered with the melody and it quickly settled into a strong 6/8 groove. The improv section was much freer and angrier, giving us the first taste of the inner mind of Let Go. Ending with a ‘bell’ toll, Rainforest was a great emotional journey of sounds.
Rainforest set the structural precedent for the next two tunes (Disa & All Animals are Beautiful): strong groove based head in irregular time, heavily free middle section, with a return to the groove at the end.
Disa by drummer Finlay Panter was rhythmically driven (9/4, 4/4, 5/4 time) and it was immediately clear that each member of Let Spin has a clearly distinctive compositional voice. Whilst the improv sections in the first three tunes went in similar directions, the tunes were clearly characterised by their writers.
Fourth in the set was the guitar led E.V.A., a tune by Guitarist Moss Freed. The sax danced on top of the guitar line like the crest on a wave: sax sat perfectly with the guitar and was yet comfortably independent. E.V.A. was the first tune that ‘kept time’ throughout, refreshingly departing from the signature sound of the set thus far. It was well placed in the set and by the applause level afterwards, it was an audience favourite.
The final tune of the first set was saxophonist Chris Williams’ ‘Walt’s Waltz’, a great tune in which the raucous Led Bib influences are clear. (We initially understood the title to be ‘Waltz Waltz’ and with the 6/4 riff this made sense. Nice to have an extra layer of meaning). The massive sound was ice water to the face (we like ice water) and the epic chaos in the middle was fun and a great way to end the first set.
Let Spin resists many of the traditional quartet idioms, for example each member taking a ‘token solo’. Sax acts as a voice, taking the tune and often giving us the most explosive solos. There are clear sections ‘without sax’ in which the various band members let loose, each musician dripping with virtuosity and creating varied and complex sound worlds.
The second set opened with 102 Hill Street, a tune from their first album Let Spin. The band came alive in this tune – a triumphal announcement letting us know that they were ready to play and show us what they’ve got.
Let Go contains two tunes from each band member. Their website describes them as ‘a band that is not afraid to make the most of their individual voices’. This is actually true (hurray for accurate band descriptions). The variety of the timbres in which they inhabit makes it much more interesting and accessible.
They play on this and the audience were asked to guess who wrote the next tune: Rotation. (we got it right! Panter. Stickers for us). His naturally rhythmically driven writing identifies strongly with him.
Next up was Killing our Dreams (Williams), a beautiful tune, as near to a ballad as we would ever hear with Let Spin. The writing for sax is highly lyrical, with repetition within a small range with Freed playing beautifully underneath. The band built behind the simple sax line in an utterly symphonic way in its colour and texture. The sound was huge, and the symphonic effect was completed by the three tonic major chords upon which it finished. True Beethoven.
Rothko’s Field had a latin flavour with Goller, Panter and Freed filling the space perfectly with their signature taste. Up and At Them (Williams) finished the set. The strong bass line played as ever energetically and powerfully by Goller, led to a great solo from Freed and top playing from Panter. The massive timbres were a great way to finish.
To such applause they gave us an encore lullaby with which to send us home, the final tune from their first album, A Change Is Coming.
Let Spin certainly gave us a show. We cannot undervalue the great and distinctive voices brought by each member of the band. The variety is great, keeps us listening and exploring. Williams, Freed, Goller and Panter each write so powerfully and differently it is a wonderful thing when it all comes together.
Let Spin Album Launch @ Vortex, Saturday 24th October 2015
1. I like to Sound Like a Rainforest
3. All Animals Are Beautiful
5. Walt’s Waltz
6. 102 Hill Street
8. Killing Our Dreams
9. Rothko’s Field
10. Up and At them
Encore: A Change is Coming
Last night we had the pleasure of hearing the culmination of the two day ‘International Rameau Summer School’ 2015 at No.6 Fitzroy Square.
Artistic Director Lawrence Olsworth-Peter welcomed us, explaining that one of the goals of the International Rameau Ensemble (IRE) is to make the 18th Century music of Rameau more widely available to greater audiences through a number of projects and concerts.
Renowned conductor and harpsichordist Christophe Rousset, who coached the students, told the eager audience ‘Rameau is as important as Bach, with rich harmonies and incredible woodwind writing’.
That is indeed what we were treated to, with semi-staged opera scenes and instrumental pieces. It was an enjoyable evening and it was great to see a range of Rameau’s works within one chamber concert.
We’ve heard on the grapevine that the IRE have big plans in the works, we’re going to stay tuned…
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
We enjoy the work of OperaUpClose.
You can read our review of their La Traviata here.
We have seen them at work before with Acante et Cephise (Rameau), a colourful work which became known as the ‘pink opera’ due to their stunning costumes (see a photo here). This time, set in what appears to be a dark post-apocolyptic world the colours are dark, grey and torn: a ‘brown opera’. This complex story of love, loss, revenge and redemption was performed with power and emotional energy by the four leads (see below). The University College Chorus did a beautiful job adding stage movement with a warm eery sound, a timbre that was quite mesmerising. Charles Peebles did a fine job as MD with a large and conscientious orchestra.
Thanks UC Opera for a great night. Full details below.
Amadis De Gaule (An opera in three acts), Bloomsbury Theatre London, March 28th 2015, 19:30
Amadis: Lawrence Olsworth-Peter
Arcabonne: Katherine Blumenthal
Arcalaues: Nicholas Morris
Oriane: Alice Privett
Producers: Nick Randall & Gemma Charlton
Director: Jack Furness
Music Director/Conduction: Charles Peebles
(Photo: Dante Kim)
For full list please go to www.ucopera.co.uk
It was great to hear one of London’s finest Orchestras, the London Philharmonic, play on Saturday night and to see Vladimir Jurowski conduct. Jurowski conducted the Russian composers with flair, his physicality demonstrating the shape of the sound he intended.
Yefim Bronfman did a fine job with the UK premiere of Magnus Lindberg‘s Piano Concerto No.2. It fit nicely with the programme, the Debussy and Russian influences clear to hear with great ranges in textures and relationship between piano and orchestra. Bronfman brought the work to life with ease – singing, stomping and dancing all over the piano.
The Prokofiev excerpts were dynamic, and the Stravinsky was played with a warm rich sound. Stravinsky’s animal sounds were played fabulously – you could feel the bear walking across the stage with his thudding steps. Beautiful.
Great evening all round. Full details below.
London Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Festival Hall, 19:30, 21.03.2015
Prokofiev – Chout (Excerpts)
Magnus Lindberg – Piano Concerto No. 2 (UK premiere)
Stravinksy – Petrushka (1911 version)
We had the privilege of playing (jazz trio) at a private party last night at Jamie Oliver’s Fifteen. Needless to say the food was epic – but the staff were also SUPER friendly and helpful. Congrats to our generous clients on their celebrations too! We’re now interested in actually going and eating there to get the full experience. Delicious. -BF