thu 01/12/2022

New Music Reviews

Esperanza Spalding, Ronnie Scott's

peter Quinn

Watching some jazz musicians play live, you're made acutely aware of the intense effort that goes into their performance.

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Gwilym Simcock, Queen Elizabeth Hall

peter Quinn

Melodically rich, harmonically daring, rhythmically subtle, pianist Gwilym Simcock's quartet piece, “Longing To Be”, which kicked off last night's Queen Elizabeth Hall gig was one of the most jaw-dropping performances I've heard at this year's London Jazz Festival.

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Transglobal Underground, Richmix

howard Male Transglobal Underground - natty dressers one and all

Why aren’t more bands like Transglobal Underground? This is not a fatuous question. After all, we live in a joyously multicultural society so one would expect more ethnic influences would have seeped into the mainstream by now.  But no, apart from some African guitar riffs adding a veneer of ethnicity to the occasional white college-boy rock group, and some bangra beats spicing up the odd dancefloor hit, the UK and US pop scene seem on the whole to remain hermetically sealed against such...

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Gilberto Gil, RFH

Peter Culshaw Gilberto Gil: his massive back catalogue is the soundtrack to millions' lives

The last time I saw Gilberto Gil play he was performing high-energy reggae with an electric band. Last night, though, it was an autumnal, acoustic trio full of ...

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Carla Bley and the Lost Chords, QEH

Anonymous (not Verified) Understated beauty: Carla Bley

Slender limbs, intense eyes, and dressed entirely in black: if it wasn’t for the straightened blonde hair, Carla Bley could pass for a jazz Patti Smith. She is also, of course, one of the genre’s most acclaimed composer-arrangers, and her return to London is much anticipated. Before she plays a note, the septuagenarian Californian walks awkwardly, defiantly, to a microphone at the front of the stage.

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Ian Shaw, Pizza Express Jazz Club

peter Quinn

As acts of musical funambulism go, a solo gig by a jazz singer ranks pretty high in the fearless stakes. Listening to Ian Shaw in the intimate surroundings of Pizza Express Jazz Club, without the safety net of bass or drums, you suddenly remember how thrilling it can be to hear songs that have long been absorbed into your consciousness being recast entirely anew.

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Natalie Merchant, Conway Hall

Robert Sandall

As a curtain raiser for the most ambitious album of her career to date, Natalie Merchant’s concert last night at London’s Conway Hall was an entertaining but strangely low-key affair. Merchant has spent the past six years recording dozens of songs based on poems themed around childhood, 28 of which she plans to release on two CDs early next year.

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Tomasz Stańko Quintet, QEH

Anonymous (not Verified) Melancholy light: Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stańko

There’s something of a Polish theme to the London Jazz Festival 2009, part of the “Polska! year” celebration of that nation’s art and culture. Trumpeter Tomasz Stańko is by some margin the strand’s biggest name. The man who once explained the mournful, meditative tone of his (and his country’s) music in terms of the “melancholy light” he’d known since birth took to the stage in appropriately sombre attire: suit, shirt and hat alike in any colour as long as it was black.

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London Jazz Festival: Roberto Fonseca & Mayra Andrade

joe Muggs Roberto Fonseca, demonstrating 'jazz cool'

I have seen Roberto Fonseca play before – in Havana backing Omara Portuondo and in London with the incomparable Ibrahim Ferrer - so although I was well aware of his ferocious talent I had no idea of how he would fare as a solo star. And I have seen plenty of jazz before, including Latin-style jazz – but only in venues the size of pub function rooms, generally full of nicotine-stained old men, so I had some trepidation about how it would come over in a venue as...

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Rustie, Dâm Funk, Lightbox

joe Muggs

Londoners, we know, can be spoilt. Certainly the crowd, predominantly of nerds in rare and expensive trainers, at the Lightbox last night didn't seem to be overly bubbling with enthusiasm despite an exciting lineup of talent and astonishing surroundings. The main dancefloor area of Lightbox lives up to the club's name, being an arched space with the entire wall/ceiling surface covered in colour-changing LED lights that allow pictures and patterns to dance across the room. 

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