WHAT I'VE BEEN LISTENING TO...
Thursday 3rd March 2016 :
The sun is shining, Spring is nearly here..
Thursday 17th December 2015 :
Searching through my mum's record collection the other day I discovered to my delight, the 1975 Hamilton Bohannon album 'Insides Out'. Combining Disco with Funk, Soul, Jazz and Gospel, Bohannon creates an extremely diverse and expressive album. As a drummer his music has a very percussive foundation, and this album is a good example of this, taking simple, basic rhythms and 'counter pointing' them into foot stomping classics. As well as a drummer, he is a fine musician and songwriter, and these tunes are evidence of that with beautiful simple melodies, and catchy lyrics. I have several favourite tracks on this record, in particular 'Foot-Stompin Music' reminiscent of Isaac Hayes 'Shaft', lots of clanging guitars, and screeching organs, very funky.
Friday 11th December 2015 :
Someone recently introduced me to a really cool album by Ahmad Jamal called 'Complete Live at the Pershing Lounge 1958'. All I have to say is that I'm incredibly envious of his audience, every track is special, and his playing is flawless as usual, I can only imagine what a great experience it would have been to see live. My favourite track from the album is 'Poinciana' written by Nat Simon in 1963.
Wednesday 25th November 2015 :
At a recent record sale in Brighton, I found a wicked 45 from 1961 by Erroll Garner called 'Closeup In Swing Vol.2' containing two standards 'St. Louis Blues' and 'Some of these days'. My personal favourite is the first track on the record called 'El Papa Grande' which is a composition by Garner in a Mambo/Jazz feel. It's a very exciting piece of music, and the percussion is full of energy, bringing his composition to life. I loved the record cover too, a very stylish, classic piece of 1960's graphics.
Friday 13th november 2015 :
Kamasi Washington @ The Lantern, Colston Hall, Bristol - After falling in love with his album, my mum kindly surprised me with tickets to see him live in Bristol, and I have to say, it might well have been the best show I have ever seen. They came on stage without introduction and just started playing, hitting you head on with this enormous wall of sound. It wasn't something I have felt before, the whole way through the show this beautiful and incredible music just took control of you, and you could almost feel it inside you making you want to move, dance and listen. The level of musicianship was incredible and inspiring. The music was interspersed with Washington recounting tales from his boyhood, about how they came together playing with one another from a very young age, which made the music have a whole lot more meaning and purpose somehow, very organic and refreshing. A fantastic gig.
WEDNESDAY 11TH NOVEMBER 2015 :
I was recently lucky enough to stumble upon a fantastic new album called 'The Epic' (released May 5th 2015) by the American, Jazz Tenor Saxophonist - Kamasi Washington. It is a 3-disc album containing some jazz standards, own compositions, and covers a wide range of styles with strong elements of Gospel, Jazz, and Politics.
My favourite track is their rendition of Cherokee from 'Volume 3 - THE HISTORIC REPETITION'.
Monday 2nd November 2015 :
Brian Auger @ The Jazz Café, Camden - Brian Auger is a Jazz Organist from the 70s, who gained success with his band 'Oblivion Express'. He wasn't someone I knew much about, but my father took me along, mainly to see a really good jazz organist first hand. An interesting gig, mainly playing his own tunes, but also playing some covers, for example 'A Love Supreme' for which he was joined on stage by one of Santana's former guitarists. Overall a good gig to have seen, and some pretty good musicians too. The clip to the right is Brian Auger in his heyday back in the late 60s.
Monday 3rd August 2015 :
Jocelyn Brown @ The Jazz Café - This show had to be rescheduled to this date due to health problems, and seeing her come onto the stage it was clear that sadly she was struggling with her diabetes and weight, however she was still full of character and you could tell all she was interested in was giving us a good show, which she did. Unable to stand, she sat on a stool looking out at a sold out Jazz Café, and gave us not only some incredible singing, but lots of stories about her life, and preached to us some wise words of wisdom about life. For the encore, it was obvious which song it would be, and the second she came in with the first big note of 'Somebody Else's Guy' the place erupted with cheers. An amazing show, and as a performer myself, I paid close attention to how she worked with the audience, as she did it really well.
Monday 6th July 2015 :
Chick Corea & Herbie Hancock @ The Barbican - Two Piano greats on one stage going head to head, what more could you want.. This was an interesting show, I hadn't before seen a concert with just two pianists, and was a little apprehensive at first, as I do enjoy seeing a whole band in action, but both are undisputably masters of the piano, and so therefore made up for the lack of other instruments. Both had a grand piano and electric keyboard. A personal favourite was their version of Chick Corea's 1972 tune 'Spain'. All that the show lacked was a few more Herbie Hancock funky classics...
FRIDAY 3RD JULY 2015 :
Dr. John and the NiteTrippers @ Ronnie Scott's - A real Piano hero of mine, Dr. John graced the stage wearing an amazing hat adorned with feathers, big black sunglasses, and carrying a cane - to complete his classic voodoo image, on the piano was sat an eery looking skull. He's now 74, so this gig was a definite career retrospective. He played tunes from his August 2014 album 'Ske-Dat-De-Dat: The Spirit of Satch' which is a tribute to Trumpeter, Louis Armstrong, as well as lots of other classic songs including my favourites 'Right Place Wrong Time' and 'Such a Night' from his 1973 album 'In the Right Place'. I had seen him once before back in 2005 at the Barbican, but to get the chance to see him at Ronnie Scotts, in a much more personal and up-close environment was a real honour.
Saturday 4th April 2015 :
Buena Vista Social Club @ The Brighton Dome - After 16 years together touring all over the world, this was a particularly special show, as it was their second to last performance of their final world tour, ending with a final show at the Royal Albert Hall later that week. It was as you'd expect a performance to be, from a group of musical legends, who have played to thousands of people all over the planet. And despite their age, they were all still full of enthusiasm and made it very clear to us all they wanted everyone on their feet dancing. Really high energy and enjoyable concert to see, with some incredible Cuban music, awesome percussion, and blaring brass.
MONDAY 12TH JANUARY 2015 :
Paolo Nutini @ the O2 Arena, London - Originally scheduled for October 2014, this gig had to be rearranged for January due to Paolo having tonsillitis. The one positive of this however was that the excitement of seeing him was now even greater, and I'm happy to say, it was worth the wait. Playing mostly songs from his 2014 album 'Caustic Love', he serenaded the sold out O2 audience with his acoustic guitar, backed by a fantastic band and backing singers. He had all of us singing along, and it was clear that from the ecstatic response he received at the end, that everyone had loved it as much as me! All it did lack however was some of his older classics eg. 'Pencil Full of Lead'. Personal favourite was his beautifully sweet 'Better Man'.
Monday 17th November 2014 :
Snarky Puppy @ Ronnie Scott's - Snarky Puppy are one of my favourite instrumental bands, all unbelievable musicians fusing a range of styles, to create a very unique sound of complex time signatures, fast tempos and some obscure harmony. The band is very much a collective of musicians who change their lineup constantly throughout their tours. Sometimes the music is very 'out there' and abstracted, but the way in which they do it is with such confidence that they take you on a musical journey. The highlight of the show for me was the mind blowing drum solo from the spectacular Larnell Lewis. There was constant high energy throughout; a really fun gig.
Tuesday 21st October 2014 :
Young Blood Brass Band @ Scala, London - My all time favourite Brass Band, from Wisconsin, in America, they combine the traditional New Orleans brass band sound with Jazz, Rock, Punk, and Hip Hop. On top of incredible musicianship, the band have some great songs, and the high energy and sound they bring to the stage is quite indescribable. I saw for the first time back in 2004 at the Barbican, but was very young at the time, so to see them again now I love their music as much as I do, was very exciting for me. Personal highlight was getting to see their sousaphonist in action, such a cool instrument.
SAturday 13th September 2014 :
Earth Wind and Fire @ Proms in the Park, Hyde Park - My whole life it has been a dream to see one of my all time favourite bands perform live, and I have to say, it was even better than I'd hoped. Along with thousands of others standing huddled in Hyde Park, we watched on in amazement as Earth Wind and Fire took to the stage, and reeled off endless timeless classics. In the correct Proms spirit, everyone joined one another in wholeheartedly singing along to 'September' and 'Boogie Wonderland'. Admittedly the band were all a lot older now, but despite their age, jumping around in flared trousers, doing the splits, squeeling out some almighty high notes in the vocals and trumpets was apparently still very easy for them! A really special gig to have seen.
THURSDAY 31st JUly 2014:
Roy Hargrove @ Union Chapel, Islington - It was a very theatrical performance throughout, with band members (Justin Robinson - sax, Sullivan Fortner - piano, Ameen Saleem - bass, Quincy Phillips - drums) constantly flowing on and off the stage in between solos. On the whole the show was very engaging and exciting, despite the very poor acoustics in the church. Their rendition of the Hargrove Classic 'Strasbourg Saint Denis' went down especially well and had the audience cheering for more!
Monday 30th June 2014 :
Wynton Marsalis & Sachal Jazz Ensemble @ The Barbican, London - His 'Jazz at the Lincoln Centre Orchestra' combined traditional jazz forms of Blues and Swing with the very complex styles and time signatures of Eastern Music traditions from the Sachal Jazz Ensemble to create some magnificent music. The concert was very playful , and it was clear that everyone on the stage was enjoying themselves, which meant it was a real joy to watch. I found this show especially interesting as I took part in a similar project back in 2013 with the National Youth Jazz Collective at the Royal Festival Hall where we collaborated with SAMYO.
WEDNESDAY 18th JUNE 2014 :
George Benson @ Ronnie Scott's - An incredible show by the formidable, and absolute legend of Jazz Guitar, George Benson. Now 72, he admittedly was looking very old, but that was to be expected.. however he was still mind-blowingly good at guitar, and for an hour and a half he had the audiences undivided attention, clapping their hands, and singing along. He ended on his 1980's classic, 'Give Me the Night', which had everybody off their seats dancing. A fantastic show, one I will never forget.