Tuesday, 29 December 2015

Alex Garnett Bunch of Five

Alex Garnett
Alex Garnett Bunch of Five
Alex Garnett – tenor sax & compositions
Tim Armacost – tenor sax
Ross Stanley – piano
Michael Janisch – double bass
Andrew Bain – drums

Michael Janisch

Date - 22nd November 2015
Venue - Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean St, Soho, London, UK.
Current Album - Andromeda (Whirlwind Recordings)

Ross Stanley
Hear him playing - Alex can be found in the depths of Soho at Ronnie Scott’s every Monday and Tuesday night for his weekly late-late show residency, when not on the road.

Raconteur Alex Garnett with his trim London/NYC five piece punch-in at the London Jazz Festival 2015.

Roundabouts and swings, never Fragonard nor My Fair Lady but those grubby shiny seats we love so dearly on this grimy isle. Wiping the dew, rain or damp off with a sleeve as the very British wind of Alex Garnett buffets us. There is a respect for our lead man, he is the big brother you always secretly yearned for with funny stories and an adoration that may well be unattainable.

Andrew Bain
Self depreciation is one of Alex Garnett's arts and that of Camp comic, not the effeminate kind but that of Hi-De-Hi, even the moustache would at first make you think of Clark Gable but it is Paul Shane that lingers in the mind.

Holmes - Happy chickens and steel-plated cats, Fritz get my coat! The happiness in not being superhuman but just a glorious fallible human, the happiness of the everyday, the happiness of you and me. Andrew Bain and Ross Stanley get you out of bed in the morning more quickly than a short circuiting Breville Teasmade. Tim Armacost is curiosity itself, evoking the spirit of playing in the street (whether imagined or real), fingers in dirty holes, young boy zeal and grubby knees.

Tim Armacost
Wipe away the silly string that Alex Garnett squirts in our eyes with his introductory patter and we see that here is a man of depth and poignancy. Dracula's Lullaby is a good example, it smears the actor's greasepaint to reveal a laid back Christopher Lee, a soporific villain relaxing with whiskey in hand.

You feel part of the bunch, the five swell to include the wider audience and we are all conspirators in the tune Delusions of Grandma. The gangs all here, hear, here she is legs swinging, bingeing, laughing, crying, meowing, one hand, no hands, hand me downs, pass the hammer Jack, on your back Jack. We are the gang to entertain you.


Thursday, 17 December 2015

Urchin - London Jazz Festival 2015

Leo Appleyard
Agne Motie - Vocals/Lyrics
Leo Appleyard - Guitar/Songs
Duncan Eagles - Soprano Sax
Piers Green - Alto Sax
Hoagy Plastow - Tenor Sax
Paul Jordanous - Keys
Holley Gray - Bass
Chris Nickolls - Drums

Duncan Eagles
Date - 18th November 2015
Venue - Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean St, Soho, London, UK.

Urchin on Youtube - Show Me Love

See them next at -
29.01.16 - Hootananny // Brixton // 10pm
26.02.16 - Dead Or Alive @ The Comedy // Leicester Square
10.04.16 - Omnibus // Clapham // 8pm

Chris Nickolls
Embryonic 8 piece from South London showcase their burgeoning repertoire of Jazz, EDM, DnB, Cinematic, Dance and House influenced tunes at the London Jazz Festival 2015.

Wet with dewy ideas Urchin have recently emerged from a birth by a thousand nights. A group like this, however youthful, have already cut their teeth individually on London's live music circuit. They would have probably played more than a thousand nights each in their brief careers and therefore Urchin is an apt name, they are a rag tag but charming bunch.

Holley Gray
It would be easy to cast Urchin as the mischievous group of children in Oliver Twist as they are adept at pickpocketing and assimilating musical genres into their repertoire. Although Leo Appleyard would be cast as their Fagin, he neither represents his villainous traits nor craggy looks. In fact Appleyard retains a fresh faced visage and an admirable sunny disposition despite having to corral his 7 fellow protagonists.

Paul Jordanous
On keyboard is a man who simultaneously channels the spirit of  Bill Sikes and The Artful Dogder in one fell swoop. Paul Jordanous is manly like Sikes, butch perhaps in physique while retaining his Everyman appeal, his boyish twinkle and his 'street' hoody attire cast him as a modern day Dodger.

Agne Motie
Our female lead is Agne Motie whose appearance and reputation couldn't be further from the original manifestation of the plump prostitute Nancy. Motie's vocals were entrenched comfortably in the music of the band of brothers that surrounded her. She never soared above nor alighted on a branch to delicately showcase her wares, she was one of the boys in spirit but never in Y chromosome nor front.

Hoagy Plastow
Leo Appleyard's self penned 'Sketches' was a tune to believe in, with light holiday perks from the tenor saxophone of Hoagy Plastow and tin cut snips from Appleyard's guitar. The swell about Urchin has started despite their relatively recent arrival on the scene. They have a desire to find their own path without banging the earnest drum of experimentalism nor the shock of the new. After this first helping of Urchin I hold my bowl up to them and ask, Please Sir, I want some more.


Piers Green

Friday, 11 December 2015

Toy Rokit - London Jazz Festival 2015

Bill Mudge
Toy Rokit
Mark Rose - Bass
Bill Mudge - Keys
Chris Nickolls - Drums

Date - 18th November 2015
Venue - Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean St, Soho, London, UK.

Current Album - Mission 6 featuring Mike Outram.

Mark Rose
Toy Rokit spark their improvised dynamos on the Pizza Express stage for the London Jazz Festival 2015.

Burring movement from the underground cockpit left eyes resting on the central figure of Mark Rose. Bill Mudge gave us his profile never both eyes, while Chris Nickolls dipped his head in a crisis of self confidence. Rose was the Admiral Ackbar of our scene, his music represented the Admiral's immortal lines 'It's a trap' for that was what lay before us. Hidden under the fallen leaves there were nightmarish pits for those who love to categorise and plant definitions on music, especially Jazz.

Deep bellyaching wounds were Mark Roses musical call, it had a filthiness like mechanical porn. Chris Nicholls has a freedom in this trio format, he cackled and swarmed as if a party of cavorting of locusts, he was lighter than initially expected, his fine tipped wings rubbing against a brittle exoskeleton.

Chris Nickolls
Bill Mudge was an X-ray specs shooter, sending his green and red laser lines into the darkness of the Pizza Express. At certain times it was hard to decide which musician made each noise, such was the overlap and distortion of original sounds.

Ground control samples played us, the audience, as the voyeurs of Merritt Island. The pensive Gene Kranz figure of pianist George Bone sat a few feet away from me. Mudge's keyboard protégé Paul Jordanous a few feet more. Bill Mudge cannot be caught in one mere historical epoch, he is the Captain Kirk of the mission, beaming in and out of centuries; past and future. His Spinet diversions created pin pricks in the skull as though ours heads had become miniature planetariums. As much as this describes a delicate sophistication, Mudge also regularly cleaned out his waste pipe, always for the briefest moment but enough to get us dirty.

George Bone
Toy Rokit buck the trend of many on the jazz scene where dexterity and speed are the macho bragging fist with which to thump your audience with. Toy Rokit were like one of those animated gifs that patrol the internet. Vangelis caught on a hamster wheel, it was impossible to look away.

Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Old Moot House Jam - Paul Jordanous

Tom Stebbing - drums
Old Moot Jam
Paul Jordanous - keys
Dave Sanders - Saxophone
Tom Stebbing - Drums
Filipe Monteiro - Guitar
Bob McKay - Flute
Dave Harvey - Flute
Roger Perrin - Flute

Dave Sanders -Saxophone
Date - 4th November 2015

Weekly Live Music with 5 piece band, featuring top musicians from the London music scene and beyond.
Wednesdays 8.30pm-11pm
Jazz/ Funk/ Soul/ Pop & more!
Invited guests 2nd Set
FREE Entry
Paul Jordanous - Keyboard
Tonight - 9th December 2015 - Dan Lloyd, Ross Ewart, Quantz, Ramdin, Luke Stenner, Jake Horn and Jackson Mathod.
Each week at The Old Moot House in Kingston you can hear the best London has to offer in funk, soul and especially jazz. The night starts with a first set by a 'house' band. Although this is a moveable feast of personnel it most often than not includes head honcho Paul Jordanous.

Dave Harvey - Flute
After a short break there is a jam which showcases an evolving and informal group of musicians, those that are local, perhaps those recording albums in the capital or having a night off from working in a London musical. Visitors come from further afield and if you are lucky you can catch some fine US. performers too. The best is home-grown though and you are safe in the knowledge that there is a deep well of talent to draw from here in South West London.
Filipe Monteiro - Guitar
I cut my sketching teeth on the now infamous and celebrated Grey Horse Jam whose rich spring of youth bubbled just a few metres away in Kingston. Jordanous was one of my favourites alongside too many names to list here. The Grey Horse Jam was run by a young trio called Partikel who are now celebrated all over the land. Their third album 'String Theory' has been lauded in the press with The Telegraph hailing it as one of the best albums of 2015.
Bob McKay - Flute
Jordanous is no slouch and his talents on trumpet have graced numerous recordings. His debut album 'And Now I Know' is more than worth a listen and a dip into the pocket. There have been rumours over the past years of a second album and lets hope it is not too long. On the night I visited The Old Moot Jam Jordanous featured heavily on keyboard. In the first set he was but a cog in Leo Appleyard's new 'urban beats' machinery with Urchin. I will be writing more about them in the coming weeks as I subsequently sketched them at the London Jazz Festival.
Roger Perrin - Flute
I don't need to write a description of the second set jam, not only do the sketches do the talking but each week there will be a different surprise, the mix of musicians will be always evolving and changing. The London jam, as in most cities, is the barometer of a healthy scene. In years to come these jams will be idolised as fertile grounds of camaraderie and talent, a melting pot of evolving ideas and styles. They exist through a need to play with and learn from one another. Unbelievably we can be the spectators and sometimes curators (with sketches and photographs) of these unique moment just by buying a pint, sitting quietly and being prepared to listen. Don't miss out.

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Sax Appeal - Derek Nash

Derek Nash
Sax Appeal
Alec Dankworth
Derek Nash - Alto Saxophone
Scott Garland - Alto Saxophone
Duncan Eagles - Tenor Saxophone
Rob Hughes - Tenor Saxophone
Bob McKay - Baritone Saxophone and Flute
Alec Dankworth - Bass
Rick Simpson - Keys
Scott Garland
Mike Bradley - Drums

Date - 27th October 2015

Venue - Twickenham Jazz Club, Cabbage Patch, Twickenham

Current Albums
Derek Nash - You've Got to Dig It to Dig It, You Dig?

Duncan Eagles
Derek Nash in concert
He is currently on tour with the Jools Holland R&B Orchestra until 2oth December 2015. More details at http://www.joolsholland.com
He does have a duo gig at The Cross Keys, 236/238 St Johns Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 9XD on 16/12/2015 - 20:15

Rob Hughes
The audience like Derek Nash, they quite simply like him as much as a person as they do a musician. To build this rapport with an audience isn't necessarily an easy thing to do and Nash never holds back in his commitment to a performance.

The tenors of Rob Hughes and Duncan Eagles (fresh off the plane from Partikel's epic tour of China) give us an early Jazz wedgie with the title track to Sax Appeal's latest album Funkerdeen.

Bob McKay
Blue for you feels its way through sleepy eyes into Sax Appeal's performance, Bob McKay wears the metaphorical pyjamas, stretching out his long limbs, propping himself on an elbow and fires up a little smoke. There is an epilogue to this song from Rob Hughes who puts the melting cheese on this morning fry up, a toasty delight, crisp and even. Eventually and unavoidably sinking teeth into much more meaty fare.

The optimistic Seville being the tune. An infectious march and leap, that spurred toes in the audience, from drum to bass, top to bottom, forward and back. Mike Bradley's hard persuasive beats, a beast happy in its sweating skin.

Mike Bradley
The stage was not only set for Jazz music but also the imminent World Cup rugby final, the crowd already full bolstered by Antipodean visitors dancing in the aisles and drinking champagne. The stage bulbs above Sax Appeal start to swing with the convection heat pulsing from the 5 strong saxophone line. Derek Nash's music never talks of empty landscapes it always speaks of people and to people. He is a showman in the kindest definition of the word, his music is a bus ride, a tram journey perhaps. It is about chatter and rubbing shoulders, the joy of being amongst other people. It seems obvious but that is why we come to clubs like Twickenham Jazz Club rather than watch our heroes on Youtube.

Rick Simpson
Sax Appeal aren't a one trick pony, neither in personnel nor subject matter. Derek Nash's Phoenix Suite is testament to that. No hitch kicks from Nash on this occasion, he instead leans back and calls like a howling wolf. Eagles takes up the challenge,  angular and sharp, he is both the builder of the song's motifs and its wrecker. You'll be unlikely to see a tattoo on Eagles knuckles but for this song his fists might well of spelt out Love and Hate. Ghosts, rather than make us dwell on death, awakened an interest in Rick Simpson and were the foundations for a wall of saxophone sound. Simpson was forever present, eventually pulling the teeth from the deadly big band saxes. His was a Hammond silt that eventually sieved out Derek Nash, like gold in a prospector's pan.


Friday, 20 November 2015

Melissa James - Stripped Back, almost

Melissa James
Melissa James - vocal/voice
 Arthur Lea - piano
Jack Ross - guitar

Venue - LIBRARY, private members club, 112 St Martin’s Lane, London, WC2N 4BD
Date - 19th October 2015
Current Album - Stripped Back (Soon to be released)

Arthur Lea
See next at -
22nd November 2015 - Green Note, London, UK
16th March 2015 - Southbank Centre Free Stage, London, UK

London is full of hidden treasures at this moment in time and new venue LIBRARY fits firmly on that shelf.  It is a joy to reacquaint oneself also with those previously unearthed gems and Melissa James is as talented and uncomplicated as you could wish for in a hunt for faceted beauty.

To see our world through a strangers eyes is also a gift and I had the pleasure of accompanying Bosnia and Herzegovina artist Sara Lerota to this gig. It was billed as an album launch but it was in reality a stepping stone in reaching Melissa James imminent album 'Stripped Back'. The music is recorded, mixed and mastered but not yet officially released. This will happen in March 2016 but in the meantime you can still help James fund the project through her Pledgemusic campaign.

Jack Ross
Stripped Back is the latest release from soulful-folk singer Melissa James. It was Melissa’s 2012 release, Day Dawns, that first showcased her stories told through song and her blend of styles which melt her soul spirit with folk, country, jazz and blues. The album was hugely welcomed, having been met with rave reviews and a top 10 position in the EuroAmericana Chart.

Drawing upon the soulful sounds of her youth and her latter day music influences, Melissa’s songs chart growth and hurt; success through adversity. It’s bringing to the fore the tales that are built into her own life as well as those lives and influences that have surrounded her. And this can be heard no more evidently than in her current project entitled Stripped Back. Recorded in July and August this year, these acoustic sessions, recorded live, candidly expose the vulnerability in her voice, with nothing more than guitar or piano as a bed for it to rest on allowing the listener space to become lost in the stories behind the music and her voice.

Sara Lerota
Although Melissa James was as advertised, stripped back, vocally it would be more accurate to think of purity rather than nakedness. The richness of her voice creates seeping pools of colour in the mind, the density of which are saturated so much they have the tangibility of an impasto. It shows a surety in desire and a fineness in delivery. Her voice is those slivers of light that you see slicing through a young copse, sharps of green or those trailing fine threads teased from a seamstress' box.


Monday, 16 November 2015

Get The Blessing - Astronautilus album launch

Pete Judge
Get The Blessing
Jake McMurchie - Saxophone
Pete Judge - Trumpet
Jim Barr - Bass
Clive Deamer - Drums

Venue - Match&Fuse Festival, Rich Mix, London
Date - 16th October 2015
Current Album - Astronautilus (Naim Jazz Records naimcd221) 

Jake McMurchie
See them -
27.11.2015 La Source, Fontaine, FR
05.12.2015 The Goods Shed, Stroud, UK
08.12.2015 Duc Des Lombards, Paris, FR
10.12.2015 Jamboree, Barcelona, ES
11.12.2015 Sala Clamores, Madrid, ES
12.12.2015 Sala Clamores, Madrid, ES
13.12.2015 El Almacén de Little Bobby, Santander, ES
14.12.2015 Las Armas, Zaragoza, ES

Bristolian 4 piece launch new album Astronautilus at the Match&Fuse festival.

Jim Barr
Funeral fires, burning slowly, Get The Blessing burn with more purpose, a slow violence with a latent or undiscovered promise.

Imposing, yes, but always as though they are a step further back from the edge of the stage, an invitation to bring the audience forward, waiting for the people to commit.

Hip Judge and McMurchie twitch their anthemic muscles, flexing like two body builders at a meet, glistening with a ping. Judge forever opens the door for us, leaving the windows wide, he is the accomplice to our raid. The wind rushes through, maybe (again) think of slow movements, not as soft as 'Un homme et une femme' but more the darker passages of 'In the mood for love'.

Clive Deamer
Rib cage and elbows, Deamer is a walking Vanitas tableau, the momento mori of the band, he has the look of an undead king, both regal and macabre. Barr is always the presence in the background, the unexplained, the watcher in the forest. It is because of the bowed head, and the eyes that watch out through the lowered brow.

My quick drawings are never heavy enough to convey the presence of Get The Blessing. Film does it best, and the live visuals from John Minton did it even better.

The girls screamed for McMurchie, adoration from the JM fan club being the strangest of juxtapositions.


Thursday, 12 November 2015

Alfie Ryner - Match&Fuse

Paco Serrano
Gérald Gimenez
Alfie Ryner
Paco Serrano - saxophone, voice
Guillaume Pique - trombone, electronics
Loris Pertoldi - drums
Guillaume Gendre - double bass
Gérald Gimenez - guitar

Loris Pertoldi
Venue - Match&Fuse Festival, Rich Mix, London
Date - 16th October 2015
Current Album - Brain Surgery (2015)

See them - Espace Job, 105 route de Blagnac, 31200 Toulouse, France. 28th November 2015, 9pm.

Compelling French five piece Alfie Ryner are the BANG of the Match&Fuse festival.
Pétard Jazz at its best.

Guillaume Gendre
The chains are off and we are wheeled into surgery. Crazy doctors with shakey hands and laughing eyes cut us open in this mugwump hospital. Surgery as real theatre. Your innards dance within, desperate to burst out. They ask to be cut out, burst across a sickly body. Rasping files and grating saws are Gérald Gimenez tools.

It is music as purge, a ridding and shedding of what you were once before. Alfie Ryner sucks this from you, the skin, the bones, pierced repeatedly by Gimenez's guitar.

Guillaume Pique
Serrano's diatribe is deliciously rancid, stinking French, drunk so fervently we choke ourselves on his sick beauty. Row upon row of his hated life, his dirt is piled on the wall and knocked off like green filthy bottles.

A full belly of trombone catches again in our throat as we swell once again. Poetic punch. They are dog meat, pulsing living sickening dog meat, stamping chunks of gristle and succulent moments between the teeth.


Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Attwenger - Match&Fuse

Markus Binder
Markus Binder - drums and vocals
Hans-Peter Falkner - button accordion and vocals

Venue - Match&Fuse Festival, Rich Mix, London
Date - 16th October 2015
Current Album - Spot (Trikont)

Live dates in 2016 -
2nd March, Karlsruhe, Jubez
3rd March, Darmstadt, Centralstation
4th March, Berndorf, Stadtsaal
19th March, Wien, Austria
8th April, Freistadt, Salzhof
23rd April, Neusiedl am See, KV Impulse
14th May, Zurich, Helsinki
15th May, Engelberg, Halt auf Verlangen
2nd June, Salzburg, ARGE Kultur

Hans-Peter Falkner
Boing! Austrian duo Attwenger play a unique set of droll unpredictability at London's Mathc&Fuse festival.

Chewing hundreds and thousands backwards, as they spill out of mouths and tumble onto the floor like a jackpotted fruit machine. Attwenger are dark clowns lets loose in the control room, pressing rewind on lives taken too seriously. Horsing around.

They are as tight as those donut shaped rings covered in wool, then cut and split with scissors, becoming a pom pom of ever swelling porportions. Attwenger are a comedic parody of Westworld, a wild west punch up from men in an elastic world.

Dogs chase their own bottoms, forever swelling and biting. They are Haribo hounds salivating in a continuous loop. Rub them up the wrong way though and they leap in the air with static energy and snap.


Monday, 9 November 2015

Bird - Figments Of Our Imagination

Bird - Janie Price

Venue - The Academicians' Room, Keepers House, Royal Academy of Arts.
Date - 26th October 2015
Album - Figments Of Our Imagination

Sleek totem of enigma, Bird, plays in the cultural hotbed of the Arts. Royal Academicians and the sauvignon intelligentsia crowd together amongst burnished wood panels. Deep rich lines on the walls, on minds, splashes of voice more gentle than counterparts on canvas.

Red velour light, making true the album title Figments Of Our Imagination, sinister edges and spaced out elegance. Girl Can't Decide, pinpricks of light from tiny drilled holes, a total brightness but from a thousand sources.

Red bootlace liquorice, long and sweet. You pull apart her words as though they stick to each other. For a world ever obsessed with all take-away food being 'pulled'. This is the vocal equivalent. Not teeth extraction but those long drawn out breaths so sweet.

Narrative roads, easy and alive. Full spoked wheels, and flashes of a landscape in-between their whirr. The more blurred the better. Better to see the rich hues and the wash in the watercolour of Birds' words.


Snack Family - Match and Fuse

Andrew Plummer

James Allsopp
James Allsopp - Saxophones and Synths
Tom Greenhalgh - Drums
Andrew Plummer - Baritone Guitar and Vocals
Natali Abrahamsen Garner - Vocals

Venue - Match&Fuse Festival, Rich Mix, London
Date - 16th October 2015
Current Album - Pokie Eye

Tom Greenhalgh
See/hear them next....
28th November 2015
The Bird's Nest
32 Deptford Church Street, SE8 4RZ, Deptford, UK
Andrew Plummer
The deadly twinkle of three piece Snack Family are joined by Natali Abrahamsen Garner from Norwegian indie-pop-act Antler at the Match&Fuse Festival 2015.
Scrawl. Tear of the plaster from the hairy body. Tear as in cut not as in drip.
Manic bleep test. James Allsopp's saxophone is a deliciously sickening gobstopper that rolls and rolls round the mouth, threatening to choke you.
Throbbing keyboard march, rolling over the coals and boiling us to mush.
Skank heat, hurt punch, drunk heave.
Natali Abrahamsen Garner
Earthy knocks to the face, dirt and tarmac. These aren't just bloodied and scuffed knees this a streaming mouth, as thick as the spittle gobs raining down from Andrew Plummer's vocals.
Beautiful march again of this black viscosity, yet Plummer's voice is the trapping claw of this liquid music, Garner is the unnerving impenetrable sheen on top.