Wednesday, 31 December 2014

Bumper post: The Enemy in context. Representing Europe for the future of the piano trio

So here's a new trio to watch out for in 2015. London-based Kit Downes and James Maddren are joined by Berlin-based Swedish bassist Petter Eldh, who produced the upcoming Troyka album (another band Kit plays in). Here I've gathered a few tracks to put the trio in context...

Monday, 15 December 2014

New strobes video - the rough edge of improvised beat music

Strobes: Blackmore, Nicholls, Calvert
Strobes - in a new lineup with Joshua Blackmore on drums and Matt Calvert on guitar - have posted a new live track. BrokeSpeak (video below) starts off ambient with a beat so sparse and asymmetric that it could be mistaken for a glitch, but swiftly clears up into enormous groove.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Snowpoet - torchbearers of the art of song

Snowpoet are Lauren Kinsella and Chris Hyson. This is a fantastical union.

I haven't been able to get enough of Lauren's voice since I first stumbled upon her soundcloud account a few years ago - there was some solo voice stuff on there that was totally fresh - almost like a child tuning a radio - the sounds amazed me.

Chris Hyson has been central to a few of the projects I've been most excited about this year, including Tiny Beast, as well as his solo piano compositions performed by Kit Downes. And then there's Snowpoet.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Michael Chillingworth writes down music and then plays it with his friends and it sounds very good

Michael Chillingworth is a powerful musician to see live, and he's been on the scene for some time - he appears in Rick Simpson's band Klammer (In fact, the first time I saw Chillingworth play was alongside Rick at a Guildhall jam session around 06/07 - I remember there was a microphone clipped onto his horn for some reason, and over the course of his solo had turned around enough times to end up thoroughly entangled in the lead).

Sunday, 7 December 2014

George Crowley's Can of Worms - "T-Leaf"

I have been quite outspoken with my excitement about this band. George has written some great tunes and put together a bit of a dream team (Tom Challenger, Dan Nicholls, Sam Lasserson, Jon Scott).  They recorded some time ago now, with the album Can of Worms due out March 2015 on Whirlwind, but have already played some crucial gigs. This is a recording from their London Jazz Festival slot at The Oxford.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Ant Law - "Triviophobia" (Outtake)

2014 is not remotely over yet, but the 2015 album expectations are already stacking up! Adding to that stack, here's an outtake of a track called "Triviophobia" from Ant Law's upcoming album.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

Rick Simpson's Klammer (including huge twitter jazz chat)

Rick Simpson has something that many great artists have: an imagination that involuntarily spews deep, dark humour combined with the technical ability to actually express his thoughts in a way he can share them with friends and strangers alike. It's not just in his own work either; there have been several gigs this year where he has been completely on fire as an accompanist. Put simply, he's a killing musician, and - this last year in particular - seems to have stepped up with a sincere sense of stewardship towards his audience.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Tigran Hamasyan album teaser...

Just found this teaser trailer for Tigran Hamasyan's next album Mockroot, out on Nonesuch in January 2015 (which is shaping up to be just a killer month for releases!). Clocking in at a mere 43 seconds, this is... dense. It's mathsy, with groove - it's linear, with sonic and textural depth. Can. Not. Wait.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

Laura Jurd - "She Knew Him"

Loving this taster track from Laura Jurd's upcoming album. The Blue-Eyed Hawk trumpeter appears here replete with headbanging daisies and buckets of auto-wah.

Saturday, 15 November 2014

London Jazz Festival - the cellars and lofts five night jazz-crawl

Take this year's London Jazz Festival as a chance to immerse yourself in the real atmosphere of London jazz.

You'll find the sort of cliques that were key to some of pop music's most fruitful breeding grounds (think Seattle Grunge, DC Hardcore, Harlem Stride and Compton Rap) - rich in talent, almost unsullied by commercial A&R, and consequently a virgin wilderness of frothing musical genius.

So go ahead and use this cellars and lofts guide to go out on all five school nights (or supplement the stellar Barbican/Southbank programmes) - experience one of the world's most creative and energetic music scenes...

Friday, 14 November 2014

Minimal maximalism: "Teeth for Teeth" by tiny beast

||: ____________ ____________ CLACK CLACk CLAck CLack Clack :||

I defy you to not tap that out all day long, clicking teeth, tapping pens, gah! It's stuck there. Not going anywhere. Tiny Beast (whose videos I compiled into a playlist not too long ago) have finally set something loose. "Teeth for Teeth" is a hard hitting track that makes perfect sense as their first studio outing. But I can warn you now, they've not cleaned anything up. If anything, they've exaggerated the distressed intonation throughout the track.

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Liam Noble - "There Is No Greater Love"

This performance just sort of appeared on the internet. Love it when that happens. Posting with the anti-cryptic message "I like this tune, and the chords, but sometimes they've got to go.",  the ever-imaginative Liam Noble gives us a glimpse of this hyperlinear, almost geometric approach to playing standards. He's tracing shapes up and down the keyboard, playing chess against the melody - along-two-across-one knight's jumps chasing the tune in griddy, baroque spirals. Excruciatingly thoughtful, natural and fun; there is, after all, no greater love than that.

Sunday, 9 November 2014

Can somebody please introduce Troyka to JJ Abrams?

Troyka have emerged from the studio with something brilliant. These teaser clips surfaced a couple of weeks ago on the Jazzwise website, but I wanted to take a while before I posted my thoughts. The most noticeable (and therefore obvious) thing to point out is that each member has really expanded the palette of sounds they draw from - I honestly don't think anyone has taken the guitar-organ-drum trio so far into space and back again (for someone who has taken it down to hell and back on PCP, see Strobes). But there's an awful lot more to this album, and I wanted to explore the sweeping moods that these clips hint at. It's a concept album, one with an odd story but such a spot-on execution that (from what we've heard so far) it's basically faultless: even these teaser clips show the listener that this just has to be made into a sci-fi horror epic. Soon.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Alex Munk - "Tracks"

Here's a huge track from guitarist Alex Munk's quartet. It's called 'Tracks' and I love it - clean melodies that hang, shimmering, until someone just has to let loose. They corner themselves into delivering the sort of gutsy surprise that makes for great gigs and - hopefully - great records.

This track is a perfect example. It breaks my heart every time and then reminds me why I love the electric guitar.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014


Introducing Strobes - Dan Nicholls, Dave Smith and Matt Calvert - one of a few groups with a real sense of sonic imagination in jazz at the moment. This track  is pretty out there - intricate lines torn apart by crushing, heady effects. The two of them drive by in a frenzied joyride, dragging the listener on board, only to jettison them - lost and afraid - somewhere at the end of the track.

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Nick Costley-White & Matt Robinson Duo - "Dumbo"

Not sure if this is a one-off or what, but I thought this duo rendition of Costley-White's tune Dumbo was well worth sharing either way. Between the two of them, Matt Robinson (piano) and Nick Costley-White (guitar) have a gravity and sensitivity that really does invite a deeper listening - a beautifully reflective (and perhaps spontaneous?) performance.

Nick Costley-White Quartet is playing at the Forge in Camden on 23 November, 2014 as part of the upcoming London Jazz Festival.

Friday, 31 October 2014

MONSTROUS - tiny beast video playlist friday bonanza

Photo by
Anyone following me on twitter  - or who has stood next to me at all in the last 3 months -  will know about my love of tiny beast. Josh, Joshua and Chris are among the heaviest players on the scene, and have combined beats, bass and burning improvisation to create something monstrous.

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Brass Mask live at the Oxford, 27 October 2014

In Brass Mask, Tom Challenger has created something infectious, powerful and fun. He draws a line from the most adventurous work going on in the London scene, firmly through Ascension, right back to the second line and beyond. Anyone doubting the faith to African-American tradition in forward-thinking contemporary jazz should keep quiet until they've given them a good listening-to.