Monday, August 25, 2014

MOJO to celebrate music of the 'First Ladies of Jazz' Music Tonight

Monday is ladies' night for the Mystic Order of the Jazz Obsessed.

The August edition of MOJO's monthly Jazz Jambalaya series spotlights the "First Ladies of Jazz" with a program featuring vocalist Kathy Lyons. Lyons will sing selections made famous by the likes of Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Anita O'Day and Diana Krall.
Lyons will be backed by a band including Gino Rosaria, JoJo Morris and Bryan Morris. The program will feature narration by John Nodar.

The event starts at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Aug. 25, at the Gulf City Lodge, 601 State St. in downtown Mobile. Admission is $8 for MOJO members, $12 for nonmembers; student and military rates are available. The price includes a light jambalaya dinner.

For more information, call 251-459-2298, e-mail or go to

Saturday, August 23, 2014

James Morrison and Emma Pask celebrate 20 years of making Jazz Music

Their friendship has outlasted many marriages, so it's understandable that jazz artists James Morrison and Emma Pask have taken to the road to celebrate their 20-year alliance.
The jazz trumpet star and the singer love to retell the story of how Morrison plucked a 17-year-old Pask from her school band at Kirrawee High in Sydney's south to perform on stage with him afterwards.

"I thought he was staring because my shirt was untucked – I was always getting in trouble for that," says Pask, now 37. Instead, the jazz veteran had been blown away by Pask's voice and that night was the start of a partnership that has taken the pair all over the world to perform to packed venues.

Says Pask: "When I want to annoy him I say he's a father figure, but really he's more like a big brother – a musical and life mentor. He's guided me through some ups and downs and we know each other inside out."

Their current tour, which has already taken them to Brisbane and Melbourne, combines their talents with a full big band and swing classics from Gershwin, Miller, Sinatra and Ellington.

Morrison is relishing the experience. "As far as jazz goes, this is as big as it gets," he says. "I don't know an artist who doesn't get a smile on their face when a big band fires up behind them."

He says he and Pask, who he says is like his "little sister",  can't wait to play the Sydney show. "It's home for both of us. It's going to be a good time."

James Morrison and his Big Band Tour is at Sydney Town Hall, Saturday 20 September 7.30pm

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Friday, August 22, 2014

The Old Duke Jazz Festival over the Bank Holiday weekend in Bristol

The Old Duke Jazz Festival has been an annual highlight for Bristol music lovers for the best part of four decades and this weekend's three-day event promises to be better than ever.

The King Street pub has long been one of the city's most important musical landmarks and the annual festival on the cobbles between the Old Duke and the equally famous Llandoger Trow pub opposite pulls together a line-up featuring many of the bands that perform at the Old Duke throughout the year.

This weekend's line-up includes a combination of old favourites like The Blue Notes, The Severn Jazzmen, Eddie Martin's Blues Band and The Robin Reece Jazz Band, alongside more recent additions to the weekly programme like Fromage en Feu, who make their festival debut.

Old Duke landlord Stuart Seydel has been running the festival since he took over the pub 13 years ago and, although he admits it's not easy to organise, he says it's still worth the hard work and late nights involved.

Stuart says: "The festival has been going for nearly 40 years now and we've had some brilliant performers, including the legendary Acker Bilk, so I think its history plays a major role in its popularity, plus the fact it's free.

"Since I took over 13 years ago, the festival has grown, but we've had to scale it back over the last few years as it was getting too big for the space.

"The bands are largely bands who play regularly at the Duke, with occasional special guests, but ultimately the festival is about the Duke and a showcase of what we do here every night of the week, all year round."

The Old Duke continues to be an important hub for the city's jazz and blues musicians and Stuart says the scene is getting better all the time, with new bands coming through.

"There are some great young jazz bands coming through at the moment. There are people such as James Morton, who play modern jazz, but also bands playing more traditional jazz such as The Rhythm Pencils and Jazz Disaster.

"The trad jazz is still very important to us; it's what the pub, and therefore the festival, is all about. You just need to look at the posters on the walls and ceiling in the pub to know that.

"There are some great new trad jazz acts coming through and I think the style will stay around for a long time yet. One of the highlights of this year will be Sinead McCabe, who will be singing with Cass Caswell's New Orleans Update on the Monday evening. Sunday night headliner Eddie Martin is also always worth seeing."

For musician and singer Eddie Martin, who has been running a regular Sunday blues night at the pub for more than 20 years, the Old Duke has become a second home, when he's not touring the world with his band.

Eddie says: "The Old Duke has always been a fantastic and unique music venue. It is the closest thing me and several of my touring international musician friends have experienced to the vibe of New Orleans.

"Good music, energetic appreciative party-spirit fans and an all-inclusive everyone- is-welcome atmosphere: I love it.

"Stu the landlord is great at keeping this alive through recruiting like-minded, personable and friendly staff and making it better every year."

For jazz musician Jeremy Huggett, the Old Duke has been a big part of his life since he was a baby. In fact, he claims his love of jazz music stems from the fact he was still in the womb when his mother used to go to the pub to hear his father playing clarinet and sax at the venue.

As a child, he went to the Old Duke to see his dad perform and later started working at the pub collecting glasses, before serving behind the bar and eventually becoming the assistant manager in 1990.

Jeremy made his musical Old Duke debut guesting with his father's band, the Severn Jazzmen, when he was aged 14. Since then, he has become one of the jazz scene's most in-demand musicians, playing with famous names all over the country, including Acker Bilk, Digby Fairweather, George Melly and Humphrey Lyttleton.

Jeremy has played at every Old Duke Jazz Festival since 1998 and this year is bringing one of his newest bands, The Harlem 5, to the event. Playing a mixture of jazz, swing and blues, they close the festival on Monday.

He says: "The Old Duke holds a special place in my heart and, out of all the different venues I have played both in the UK and abroad, it's still my favourite. It feels like coming home."

Thursday, August 21, 2014

St. James Studio Presents Wonderful Jazz Music Greats Series Starting This Fall

Following the hugely successful Jazz Divas series which took place during the summer of 2014, JGB Events make a welcome return to the St. James Studio this autumn with The Wonderful Music of the Jazz Greats series. The four event series presents the music of artists who changed the face of jazz alongside tales and anecdotes.
A special Christmas event will also be presented in the studio by JGB Events, Jazz at the Movies Swinging Christmas, on Friday 05 December at 8pm.


Featuring Mark Crooks on clarinet

Saturday 18 October at 8pm

With Colin Oxley on guitar, John Pearce on piano, Dave Chamberlain on bass and Matt Home on drums.

Benny Goodman was an American jazz and swing musician, clarinettist and bandleader known as The King of Swing, who led one of the most popular musical groups in America during the 1930s. Artie Shaw was widely regarded as one of jazz's finest clarinettists and also led one of the most popular big bands in the United States in the late 1930s and early 1940s.

Their music will be presented by a band led by Mark Crooks, member of the John Wilson Orchestra, who makes a welcome return to the St. James Studio having featured in Jazz at The Movies and Brazilian Bossa Nova tribute to Jobim earlier in 2014.


Featuring Simon Brown's Beyond Cantaloupe

Saturday 01 November at 8pm

Joining Simon Brown on piano are Freddie Gavita playing trumpet and flugelhorn, Kevin Flanagan with tenor saxophone, Calum Gourlay on bass and Lewis Wright on drums.

Herbie Hancock remains an influential pianist, keyboardist, bandleader and composer whose music is melodic and accessible, embracing elements of funk and soul while adopting freer stylistic elements from jazz and blues.

Through Simon Brown's faithful transcriptions, Beyond Cantaloupe authentically captures the sound of Herbie's compositions, whilst leaving the performers free to improvise.


Featuring Keith Nichols on piano

Saturday 15 November at 8pm

Accompanied by Trevor Whiting on clarinet and Martin Wheatley on acoustic guitar and banjo.

In the late 1890s Scott Joplin and Tony Turpin, among others, created a new American classical music, which decades later became universally popular with musicians including Jelly Roll Morton and Fats Waller.

Keith Nichols is one of the foremost authorities on Ragtime and the Guildhall School of Music graduate has given regular concerts on London's South Bank, at New York's Carnegie Hall and across Europe.


Featuring Chris Ingham's Rebop

Saturday 29 November at 8pm

Chris Ingham's Rebop sextet comprises Paul Higgs on trumpet, Colin Watling on tenor saxophone, Kevin Flanagan on alto saxophone, Chris Ingham on piano, Arnie Somogyi on bass and George Double on drums.

Miles Davis, trumpeter, bandleader and composer is widely considered one of the most influential musicians of the 20th Century. Together with his musical groups he was at the forefront of the major developments in jazz music including bebop, cool jazz, hard bop, modal jazz and jazz fusion.

Chris Igham on piano brings his hard driving Rebop ensemble, evoking the style and sounds of the wonderful music of the Miles Davis Sextet, plus their own imaginative creativity and improvisations. No stranger to the St. James Studio, this extraordinary compilation follows his sell out Hoagy Carmichael and Jazz at The Movies events earlier this year.


Featuring Joanna Eden

Friday 05 December at 8pm

A sparkling evening of swinging Christmas music from the movies, featuring vocals from Joanna Eden, Mark Crooks on saxophone, Chris Ingham on piano, Andrew Brown on bass and George Double on drums.

Lansing's Gallery Suite Jazz Series to feature U.K. Talent

Lansing’s Gallery Suite Jazz Series, spearheaded by Lansing saxophone great Phil Denny, just finished up its 18th consecutive sold out performance, and the next show is shaping up to be equally successful.
Oli Silk is one of the most talented jazz keyboardists and producers coming out of the U.K. right now, and today, he will bring his music to the Gallery Suite Jazz Series at the La Fille Gallery in Lansing.

Silk spoke with us about his love for jazz music, the U.K. jazz community and his latest album, “Razor Sharp Bit.”

Q: When did you first get into jazz music, and what drew you to the genre?

A: I was exposed to jazz, funk and soul music from a very young age through my older brother in particular, who was a huge vinyl collector. It was the first time I got to hear artists like Jeff Lorber, George Duke and The Crusaders.

Q: You’re based in the U.K. What is the jazz community like there?

A: The scene over here is quite thriving actually, we have a cool club in London called Pizza Express Jazz Club which hosts many of the big U.S. contemporary jazz artists every year. We also have several other satellite venues around the South which is exciting.

Q: You recently released a new album, “Razor Sharp Bit.” Tell me about the writing and recording process for this album.

A: Razor Sharp is my fourth solo studio album for Trippin’ Records.

It’s a project I was really psyched about as I managed to write and feature some great guest artists like Chuck Loeb, Paul Brown and Elan Trotman. The first single “At Your Service” featuring bassist Julian Vaughn went all the way to the top of the Billboard Radio Top 30, which was just fantastic.

Q: How did you end up booking the Lansing show? Do you know Phil Denny, who organizes the event?

A: I sure do! Phil and I had a blast playing together in Dubai a couple of years ago and really hit it off. We’ve stayed in touch ever since and now we’re due to share the stage again in Lansing.

Q: What should fans expect from your Lansing gig?

A: They should expect a cool mix of smooth down tempo piano-led melodies and some funky grooves that’ll get you out of your seat!

Mr. Denny will be showing what he can do on the sax and we’re also hoping for a special guest vocalist too which will really complement my vibe.

Q: Tell me about your radio show.

A: I host a really cool internet radio show for two hours every Monday evening at 7 p.m., playing a mix of brand new hot-of-the-press smooth jazz and classic vocal and instrumental music. It airs at Tune in!

Q: What’s next for you?

A: Well, after the Lansing show, Phil and I have a cool festival show in Muskegon on Aug. 24, and then I’m off down to the Carolinas for a couple of shows.

The rest of this year is busy for me playing with Peter White, Dave Koz and Euge Groove and also starting work on album No. 5.

• Show details: Lansing’s Gallery Suite Jazz Series with Oli Silk, doors at 7 p.m., show at 8 p.m today, La Fille Gallery, 336 E Michigan Ave., Lansing, tickets $25 plug charges via http://olisilk.brown

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jazz and Chinese music fireworks by SCO, Brubeck Brothers Quartet

It is a curious fact here that when one wants to hear symphonic jazz and crossover music, the Singapore Chinese Orchestra are the go to people.
In the past year, the SCO has presented an all-Gershwin concert, collaborated with country fiddler Mark O'Connor and brought back Chris Brubeck, the ever-versatile jazzman son of legend Dave Brubeck. His third appearance here came in the Singapore debut of the Brubeck Brothers Quartet, playing with the SCO at the Singapore Conference Hall on Friday and Saturday night.

Alongside Chris was his brother drummer Dan, guitarist Mike DeMicco and pianist Chuck Lamb, who dominated centrestage, discreetly supported by the orchestra conducted by music director Yeh Tsung. It is the very nature of crossover symphonic concerts that the special guests were the main draw, and the quartet performing mostly original music by Dave Brubeck did not disappoint.

Chris was the main spokesman, regaling the audience with anecdotes about each piece and their inspirations. Then he comfortably alternated between electric bass guitar, trombone and later even crooning, exuding that intense yet nonchalant air that only jazz people know how. In My One Bad Habit Is Falling In Love, the title from a quote by Ella Fitzgerald, his trombone poured out the moody blues, contrasted by the heady procession of tunes in The Basie Band Is Back In Town.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Jazz pioneer Cecil Taylor allegedly swindled of $500,000 Kyoto prize

Cecil Taylor had a prize sum of nearly half a million dollars stolen from him by a general contractor who befriended the pioneering jazz pianist while working next to his house in New York City, according to a criminal court in Brooklyn.
Noel Muir, from New York’s Long Island, could face up to 15 years in prison if he is convicted. He is currently waiting arraignment on a charge of grand larceny in Brooklyn’s criminal court.

Taylor, one of the key figures in the free-jazz revolution, was invited to collect the prestigious Kyoto prize by Japan’s Inamori Foundation in November 2013. According to a statement by the district attorney in Brooklyn, Muir, a contractor who had worked for Taylor’s neighbour, joined him for the event and helped the musician prepare for the trip.

While in Japan, Taylor, 85, is said to have provided the Inamori Foundation with details of his bank account in order for the Kyoto prize money to be wired directly. Muir claims the name on the account was The Cecil Taylor Foundation, and that a wire for $492,722.55 (£293, 227.02) arrived two weeks after the ceremony.

However, the prosecutor’s statement said the account was under the name MCAI Construction, Muir’s own company. The account has since been depleted. Muir allegedly took out part of Taylor’s money in cash, and spent the rest on his construction business, the law enforcement official said.

“The defendant befriended Mr Taylor and won his trust, which later made it easier for him to allegedly swindle this vulnerable, elderly and great jazz musician,” said district attorney Kenneth Thompson.

Muir turned himself in on Tuesday. His lawyer has declined to comment further.

According to Associated Press, Taylor did not want to talk about the case during his time in court, instead musing on the “quality of trees on the train ride between Tokyo and Kyoto, the Kabuki dancers he had once seen in a Balanchine ballet, and the conductor Pierre Boulez”.

The annual Kyoto prize is an international award to honour individuals who have contributed significantly to “the scientific, cultural, and spiritual betterment of mankind”.