A documentary on Birmingham? Thanks but no thanks, I thought to myself while pondering the new series of Reimagining the City. Seriously, Birmingham? It's hardly Florence or Cairo or Cape Town. No one nudges their partner on a soggy January morning and says wistfully, "Darling, wouldn't it be just lovely if we could leave all this behind and disappear to Birmingham?"
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Thursday 05 June 2008
It has been quite a week for the teaching profession. The Government now gives teachers responsibility for spotting whether any of their pupils might have been subjected to an arranged marriage against their will.
Tuesday 29 April 2008
The casual listener would perhaps enjoy Jimmy Giuffre's folksy, bluesy clarinet playing, but to jazz historians he was perhaps more potent as a writer and arranger. His "Four Brothers", written for the saxophone players in Woody Herman's 1947 Second Herd, including Stan Getz and Zoot Sims, became one of the everlasting jazz classics. He was perhaps best known for the trio he led on clarinet that played attractive and basic jazz like his famed "The Train and the River", which, in one of the best bits of jazz cinema ever, opened the film Jazz on a Summer's Day (1960), a documentary record of the 1958 Newport Jazz Festival.
Saturday 26 April 2008
'Neither ghastly, hateful, nor ugly; neither commonplace, unmeaning, nor tame; but like man, slighted and enduring; and withal singularly colossal and mysterious . . ." Thomas Hardy was writing about a place – Egdon Heath in his imaginary-but-real Wessex - but the words also apply uncannily well to the music of Zaum, an improvising ensemble of extraordinary power and innovation founded in Poole in Dorset (fictionalised as "Havenpool" in Hardy's Life's Little Ironies). It was in Dorchester, Hardy's "Casterbridge", that the Zaum founder and percussionist Steve Harris died, at a time when his work with the group, recently remastered and reissued in a uniform edition, was starting to receive wider recognition.
Sunday 20 April 2008
The big bands might not be coming back but the form won’t go away. This incredibly assured debut from composer/arranger/saxophonist Richards and a 20-piece aggregation of young, often Royal Academy-trained players with Gwilym Simcock on piano, adopts a Maria Schneider or Vince Mendoza method with more sighs and whispers than rasps and growls. It’s at its best on the opening track "Dropping Pennies", with a show-stopping duo for Simcock and vibes-man Jim Hart heard between ticking rhythms and subtle reeds and brass harmonies. This is truly thrilling stuff.
Sunday 13 April 2008
What's a jazz album for? Is it an address to the listener or a musician's latest calling card? Saxophonist Tony Kofi is a terrific player (on alto, not soprano) but this amiable-enough set of boppish originals lacks any sense of essential purpose.
Sunday 23 March 2008
Like the trumpeting of the last leader of the herd, there's something majestic about a hard bop tenor saxophonist in full cry. On his second album Simon Spillett allies a tough sound to a Tubby Hayes fixation of monstrous proportions. On 10 tracks either written by or associated with the wunderkind English multi-instrumentalist, and recorded with a quartet featuring Tubby's drummer Spike Wells, pianist John Critchinson and bassist/ producer Andrew Cleyndert, Spillett blows up a storm. You can question why someone in their early 30s wants to do this at all, but it's jazz, see? The tradition is an old geezer who needs to be honoured.
Sunday 24 February 2008
The Windy City's twin traditions of free jazz and post-rock are celebrated in this stunning debut by saxophonist Roberts, recorded by Tortoise's John McEntire and featuring guitarist Jeff Parker and sax-man Fred Anderson. What's so impressive is not just Roberts's chops and tunes, but the thought that's gone into making the album work as a whole. An opening Ayler-ish squall is followed by an elegant exchange with Parker which devolves into blues before leading into the first of three "Birdhouse". "Nomra" shows a sensitive side, while "Love Call" has real compositional density.
Sunday 17 February 2008
Sunday 17 February 2008
Sunday 03 February 2008
Sunday 27 January 2008
Tuesday 15 January 2008
"We all live together, you see, and tonight this is for Jack," says Nick Mulvey, pointing at the saxophonist, who sports the looks of Jude Law and a chunky Norwegian jersey. "He sleepwalks and fell down the stairs last night." It's a genial way for the hang-player to introduce "Steps in the Wrong Direction", a track from this new band's first CD, Knee-Deep in the North Sea.
Sunday 16 December 2007
Friday 04 November 2005
Sunday 21 August 2005
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