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Review of 2019 (part 1)

I thought it was about time I did more than just post photographs on the site, so here goes. This is basically going to be a resumé of events and gigs I’ve attended during 2019 and as from January I hope to continue on a monthly basis. You’re not going to find any earth-shattering insights into the state of the world (pretty bad at the moment actually), just my thoughts on gigs I’ve attended and new music, or music that’s new to me. So, here goes….

For a variety of reasons, I didn’t attend any gigs in the first quarter of this year, although a few CDs that had previously passed me by came to my attention. Most notable of these were Louis Moholo-Moholo’s 5 Blokes latest offering ‘Uplift The People’ on Ogun Records, which came out at the end of 2018. It is a live recording of a set performed at London’s Café OTO in 2017 featuring the compositions of Louis’s fellow South Africans, Chris McGregor, Dudu Pukwana, Harry Miller and others and is a CD of rare passion and quality that showcases admirably the talents of the large number of brilliant musicians who fled the apartheid regime in their native country. Also, a 2016 CD from the acclaimed French pianist and composer Eve Risser and her White Desert Orchestra. Entitled ‘Les Deux Versant se Regardent’ it is a musical evocation of the world’s alpine regions and is a stunning piece of modern avant garde composition.

Turning to gigs, Manchester Jazz Festival, now scheduled over the Spring Bank Holiday at the end of May, brought a variety of

new and established acts together over a 5 day period. I attended very good gigs by Orphy Robinson’s All Stars and Tori Freestone, Alcyona Mick and Brigitte Beraha; the standout performances of the weekend for me were Matthew Bourne and Keith Tippett’s improvised set at the Royal Northern College of Music, and a double header that featured two duos; firstly pianist Helen Anahita Wilson and tabla player Shahbaz Hussain with their blend of jazz and a variety of styles from the eastern hemisphere, followed by the Dutch based pairing of Sanem Kalfa (vocals, electronics) and George Dumitriu (guitar, viola, electronics) who performed a mix of their own compositions and others from their respective home nations (Turkey and Romania). #mjf2019

In June the Harwich Festival of the Arts hosted a variety of jazz gigs in St Nicholas’ Church, including (left to right below) Ben Crosland’s Quintet showcasing Volume 2 of Ben’s arrangements of the Ray Davies Songbook, guitar led trio Preston Glasgow Lowe, an afternoon session of Blues and Soul from Charlie Wood & Chris Allard and a sensational improvised set from Dutch trio Under the Surface. #HF19

Dennis Rollins & Ben Crosland

For a while I’ve been doing photography for Ben Crosland’s regular gigs at The Keys in Huddersfield. July saw the return of world-renowned trombonist Dennis Rollins MBE who delivered an evening of brilliant interpretations of several well-known, and some lesser known standards alongside his own compositions, all delivered in Dennis’s own inimitable style.

That brings the first half of my review of the year to a close, however I’ll finish off this blog with my pick of the best jazz albums of 2019.

Albums of the year:

Alexander Hawkins – Iron Into Wind (Intakt Records) #AlexanderHawkinsMusic

Corey Mwamba – NTH (Discus Music) #CoreyMwamba

Eve Risser – Après une Rêve (Clean Feed) #EveRisser

Joost Lijbaart, Sanne Rambags & Bram StadhoudersTrinity (Challenge Records) #UnderTheSurface

Shahbaz Hussain & Helen Anahita Wilson – Diwan (GoldenGirl) #Diwan #HelenAnahitaWilsonShahbazHussain

Re-issue of the year:

Enrico Rava – Easy Living (ECM) #EnricoRava

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