fri 08/12/2023

Jazz musicians adapt to the lockdown - 'Welcome to our world!' | reviews, news & interviews

Jazz musicians adapt to the lockdown - 'Welcome to our world!'

Jazz musicians adapt to the lockdown - 'Welcome to our world!'

Our favourite musical initiatives from jazz musicians the world over

Live From Our Living Rooms includes Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Becca Stevens, Bill Frisell, Christian McBridePublicity photo supplied

Jazz people,” one commentator has written this week “are amongst the most adaptable of our species as life mirrors art and we improvise our way through – we're uniquely qualified to weather the storm.”

 There has indeed been a worldwide flurry of adaptability and creativity. The list below is a selection of seven initiatives to adapt and to bring people closer to the music which have caught my eye since lockdown began.

Of course it’s not all about music. The real world, the politics, the unfolding story of the pandemic are omni-present. And there is already sadness and tragedy  as the virus carries away its victims. Cameroonian saxophonist Manu Dibango has passed away in France, as has the American pianist Mike Longo, who worked alongside Dizzy Gillespie for nearly three decades. Trumpeter Wallace Roney passed away last night. And UK-based pianist Darius Brubeck has – at the time of writing – been in intensive care in East Sussex for over a week.

 And there have been remarks from musicians which capture the moment and truly resonate. The sublimely gifted vibraphonist and composer Orphy Robinson posted wryly on Facebook: “You're complaining because the police stopped you and asked What you're doing & you're going? Welcome to our world! Lol.’ ”

Here is a selection of musical initiatives, starting with two from New York:

1) Live From Our Living Rooms

This is the most co-ordinated initiative resembling a festival over the next seven days. It starts tonight 1 April, and involves artists based in the New York region performing from their homes, notably Chick Corea, Joe Lovano, Becca Stevens, Bill Frisell and Christian McBride (FULL SCHEDULE)

2) Mingus Mondays 

The Mingus Big Band has a long-running Monday residency at the Jazz Standard and is upholding that tradition with Monday night solo performances from the musicians’ homes at 7.30 Eastern Time. The first to perform was the remarkable pianist Helen Sung. (Picture left is a screen grab from the show in her home in Queens). She has astonishing technique and finger speed, and brings out the implicit harmonic richness in Mingus’ pieces with beguiling clarity and fluency. And after the recital is done she launches unflappably into a Q and A about herself, about Mingus. Compelling! The video is on Facebook

3) Fred Hersch - daily

 Pianist Fred Hersch was one of the first musicians to declare his intent and is now playing an extended tune a day at 1pm Eastern/ 6pm UK from his home in   Milford, Pennsylvania. His poise and melodic sense are second to none among jazz pianists today, and this version of   “Olha Maria” by Jobim is an understated delight.  (Facebook video)

4) Liane Carroll - Wednesdays at 8pm

8pm on Wednesdays for a virtual visit to Liane Carroll's house in Hastings are rapidly becoming a necessity, for me at least. I know of nothing and nobody more life-affirming than Liane Carroll in these anxious times. The singer-pianist is a completely live-wire performer, and this format, with husband bassist Roger Carey dropping in on some numbers,  allows the viewer to see her phenomenal capacity as entertainer at close quarters. She should, if there is any justice left, build a substantial new fanbase through this venture. (Facebook)

5) Liam Noble - Saturdays at 4pm

The London-based pianist has started putting out a weekly solo house concert from Leyton on the Twitch TV platform on Saturdays at 4pm. He is a self-deprecating genius, and will always take the listener somewhere unexpected. His first concert had harmonically descriptive and colourful journeys taking in everything from Purcell to Kabalevsky… all based on the tune and the tropes of “Baa baa black sheep.” He was also being photo bombed by a clock sliding around on the top of the piano. A metaphor for time and how we use it being re-defined before our eyes. (Liam Noble on Twitch TV

6) Bimhuis Archive

The Bimhuis in Amsterdam, in its splendid location with panoramic windows looking out at the River Ij, has a substantial archive of concerts. Recent concerts include a concert from Danish bassist Jasper Høiby’s new band Planet B, one of the first from a sadly and suddenly truncated tour, and a club date by energetic and provocative New Orleans trumpeter Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah. (Archive link)

7) Montreux Jazz Festival Archive

And for people who don’t like jazz… the Montreux Jazz Festival and their media partner Stingray have reacted to the crisis by doing what theartsdesk has done, and made their archive free-to-view. And quite some archive it is, with concerts from James Brown, Etta James, Alanis Morrissette and Yes.

( - free access by entering the code FREEMJF1M)


I know of nothing and nobody more life-affirming than Liane Carroll in these anxious times

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