Posts Tagged ‘jazz’



[Picture of Basquait Strings' album sleeve]This self-named album from Cellist Ben Davis is sublime.  Basquiat Strings came out in 2007, but its quite new to me, despite loving Seb Rochford‘s stuff (Polar Bear, etc), and seeing the Mercury Nomination performance back when.

The Basquiat Strings are an innovative hybrid of classical string quartet (two violins, viola and cello) and a jazz rhythm section (double bass and drums), and with composer Ben Davis, comprises Emma Smith, Vicky Fifield, Jennymay Logan, Richard Pryce and Seb Rochford.

[Picture of the band line up for basquiat Strings]I am struck at times with how King Crimson Starless & Bible Black it can be. Other times, I can get a Jean-Luc Ponty feel — which is forgiveable to the point of being a compliment.

Read reviews and listen to previews here at Amazon. Folk have mentioned Surfjan Stevens and even Sigur Rós!

It ranges from trippy to dreamy, to driving along apace with a light heart and a slight trance.  Wonderful stuff. Remarkable that it manages to sit so well into several seriously complicated genres. Expect pizzicato, but also expect very yiddish violin moods too.

The whole album is  a well conceived and constructed project worthy of any collection. It will expand your mind!

Ben Davis has a website — They’re on Myspace too.

I like it because it takes me back in memory to my prog rock days — King Crimson, Yes, Genesis, Pink Floyd — and the other strands, such as Bruford, UK, and even Jethro Tull and Gentle Giant.  But then, I like odd time signatures, key changes, long instrumentals and the creation of a really cool aural environment — a mood, a different vibe.

[Embedded video of Double Dares by Basquiat Strings at Mercury Prize 2007 on YouTube]




I have always loved Jacques Loussier’s piano playing, his interpretation, his sheer talent and inquisitiveness. Now my wife has found him, he’s back in my life in a bigger way.

I guess it started for me when I was listening to “Weather Report” back in the day, and the rival fusion super group was “Return To Forever”.  This led me to Chic Corea, and through a few superb players, like Joe Sample or Oscar Petersen, to the great Keith Jarrett at Kóln 1975. My wife got turned on to Jarrett through this work, and it became a real staple in our musical diets.

It wasn’t much of a leap from Jarrett to the great Jacques Loussier.

I used to have his famous Bach stuff, but now I only have his Beethoven variations, the Allegretto From Symphony 7, and now that she loves it, we share the appreciation.  He is all over YouTube and Wikipedia. He was born in 1934, so he’s nearly 80 at the time of writing this, but he’s still cool. Very Cool.




[Picture of Hiromi Uehara]I have been listening to a lot of Hiromi Uehara at work courtesy of YouTube.

In fact a client has noticed that I have been listening to a lot of Japanese stuff, which surprised me, but when I thought about it, I can see why he’d think that as he’s seen me check out Cornelius and Miyavi. I must seem like that to him, so I suggested that Hiromi has an Irish surname (O’Hara), but he wasn’t having any of it! LOL!

[Embedded videoclip from youTube: Deep Into The Night]

The guitarist is  “Fuze” (Dave Fiuczynski) a full-time teacher at Berklee College of Music in Boston, and as a session man has played on nearly 100 albums! I am flattered that my wife thought it was me playing! he is clearly influenced by Allan Holdsworth.

[Embedded videoclip from youTube: Deep Into The Night solo piano]

Hiromi was born in 1979 and went to Berklee.  Her band is made up of Berklee folk. She’s playing with Stanley Clarke and Lenny White, and has done piano duets with Chic Corea. Check out her website:

[Embedded videoclip from YoutUbe: The Tom and Jerry Show]

I’m sure you’ll agree that she can certainly play fast piano! She sings along and makes weird noises like Keith Jarrett — and I think she plays a bit like Jarrett and a wee bit like Oscar Peterson at times too.

[Embedded video clip from YouTube – Brain Training]





[Picture of Temur Kvitelashvili on an album cover]I have been listening to Temur tonight, courtesy of YouTube. Anyone that Allan Holdsworth says is amazing is worthy of note, believe me.

[Embedded video from YouTube: Temur Kvitelashvili – 21 Guitars]

He’s about my age, and he is clearly influenced by Allan Holdsworth, John McLaughlin, George Benson, and possibly Al di Meola (as well as a few other maybes — who knows, say  Larry Carlton, or Lee Ritenour — anyway, you get the picture; that’s the genre).

Temur Kvitelashvili is an excellent Jazz Fusion guitarist — but we have loads of them already. He’s not big on effects or trickery, and I have not seen him tap like Malmsteen or Van Halen, but he’s not entirely old school. He can shred a bit — but these days who doesn’t do that?

What makes him different? well, he does a bit of singing  — that’s pretty unusual (although he’s no George Benson), but I think the main thing he does that is defining is traditional Georgian folk music for the electric guitar — now that’s different, isn’t it?

The technique is fast — gypsy-like, Django evoked, it can remind you, at times, of di Meola or McLaughlin, but it is not Indian or Mexican/ Spanish/ Moorish; it is more Russian, and possibly more (if I can say this), “Jewish”.

Tbiliso” is a song about the city, and it is superb as an example of Temur’s work. I like his Hava Nagila

[Embedded video from]

If you want more, search YouTube or check out his website here:





[Pictue of Tal Wilkenfeld playing bass guitar]The buzz about Tal Wilkenfeld is that she is (a) a bassist; (b) young; (c) female; (d) good looking; and (e) Australian.

I find all that a bit silly to be frank. That she is such a talent is enough — it is merely a matter of secondary interest that she is a girl.

Maybe the surprise is not that she’s a girl, but that a girl got the breaks and made it to the top.

Is she Good-looking? Well, I think she is — and so do loads of commenters on YouTube and forums — but I don’t think she thinks she is good-looking — and I like that even more. She does not dress up, she’s no Candy Dulfer, no high heels, no split skirt. No, Tal wears trainers or boots, jeans and a tee shirt. No make-up. No need. And she makes goofy faces and just generally seems not very self-aware.

In short, she reminds me a LOT of my bass-playing wife!

I had heard there was a buzz in the scene, and I went to see her play with Jeff Beck in Glasgow — and she was superb. I must say, though, that I have been more “blown Away” with stuff I have seen her play on YouTube.

embedded video from Youtube

For example, I have two recordings of Angel’s Footsteps on Jeff Beck albums, and they are both live — one is 22 July 2006 in Japan, the other is the Official USA Bootleg version also from 2006 — and I’m afraid that Tal’s version on YouTube kicks both of them out of the park. After hearing how Tal connects with Vinnie and the rest of the band, Pino Palladino’s work pales considerably — and that is no mean feat; Pino was in Jools Holland’s band and is the bassist with The Who, so he’s no fool.

I was discussing this recently, and it seems that Jeff Beck’s band was mostly British, despite what the names sound like; Jason Rebello is an English keyboard wiz., Pino Palladino is Welsh!

Having an American Rhythm section would change the band too much (the drummer, Vinnie Colaiuta, is American), so Tal, being Australian, could therefore be the perfect fit — enough American, but still a bit British somehow, still slightly on the outside of the native scene.

But all that speculation aside, she has talent — and more to the point she blends perfectly into the band. Pino — IMHO — just did not connect as well as Tal. Listen to the dropped beats, the missed timings, the misunderstandings — they are all there on record.

Embedded Video from YouTube:

How delicious is THAT clip? (I already linked to it on my Jeff Beck post) — her licks, her connection to the Jeff on entering the bridge, the serious connection with Vinnie’s ticking rolls, the build-up, paradiddles, she’s so instinctive in support, and also in fills in the gaps and push-pulls with the timing — and she seems to add chemistry, fun, to the band! And that brings out the best in them.

Can I just say that I cannot get enough of this video, I must listen to it once every day or so, and I appreciate it more each time.

So while I can see why her being Australian works with the band, I don’t see it as important out of that context. In other words, it should only be mentioned when others’ nationalities/ backgrounds/ cultures are mentioned; in itself it’s nothing.

There are plenty of female bass players — Carol Kaye, Suzi Quatro, Jackie Fox, Tina Weymouth, Julie Slick, etc., but what makes Tal different is that she’s exceptionally talented as a jazz bassist; she has her own voice.

Now, a lot of people compare her to Jaco Pastorius, and that’s daft; Jaco invented stuff, played fretless and so on. But it’s something to be mentioned in that kind of company, it’s enough to have debates about that — no one in their right mind would do that with Julie Slick or Tina Weymouth.

  • To me, Tal does Jeff Berlin better than Jeff Berlin; she’s got a better sensitivity to the overall work and to the band.

If she wants she can sometimes evoke Jaco’s phrasing such as at the beginning of this  Live Freeway Jam with Jeff Beck:

Embedded Video from YouTube:

Transformation‘ is the name of Tal’s debut album. It is fabulous — just go and get a copy; you will wear it out listening to it. I love it! Tal is amazing and Wayne Krantz’s guitar is superbly “out of the box”.

Regarding her age — I find that part really annoying. What age was Jaco Pastorius, Hendrix, Clapton et al when they  were at their peaks? That’s right – in their early 2os. So give her a break!

Tal is a great bassist, definitely the world’s best ever female bass-player, the best bass player produced by Oz, and one of the world’s best bass players around today.

She’s also not hard on the eye.

Go Tal!

Embedded Video from YouTube:




Boris Johnson twittered that time is running out to vote for London as Jazz Capital of Europe by visiting this website: — then (in the top left side bar) simply click on the city and then click to submit the vote.

I just did this, and London is way out in front (probably thanks to the Mayor of London) with only a few days remaining, so it looks to be in the bag.

Serendipitously, I read a review of Melody Gardot.  Now I have been listening to her album for a couple of months, and it’s very nice. According to LondonJazz there’s a bit of a media fuss about her being commercial and fake:

“Gardot shifts product. Her albums are currently at No.2 and No.4 in both the Official UK Jazz charts and the Billboard US Jazz charts. These jazz charts are a comfort zone through-and-through: – the top five places are inhabited almost exclusively by Diana Krall, Madeleine Peyroux and Gardot.”

— this is fascinating!  In the first place, had no idea Melody was such a commercial success, but then that wouldn’t bother me. Next, I had no idea there could still be a fuss and hoohah about commercial success.

Back in the day, “selling out” was an accusation, but that was more about turning your back on your core fans, or about compromising musical genre or ideological stance.

This is quite different from commercial success; you could be a commercial success as, say, a heavy metal band, and sell-out by suddenly changing to appeal to a broader audience, or a different audience — by making a classical music, pop, country, or even a hip-hop record!

There even seems to be a suggestion that Melody is only successful because of her terrible accident — and that maybe she doesn’t really need that walking stick (it’s all trademarked, all fake, affectation, a gimmick etc).

Worrisome Heart (G min) and Love Me Like A River Does (C minor) are my current faves from her Worrisome Heart album (which I don’t love, but which I like a lot) without knowing anything other than the music.  Some people might dislike this music, others might really love it.  It’s not a million miles away from what-is-happening just now in the female Jazz vocal scene since Eva Cassidy, Norah Jones and Corrine Bailey-Rae. I just don’t believe that this market would give a damn about “her story”; this is not “American idol” or “The X-Factor”.  No tears need to be jerked from anything other than the music itself.

Sure, everyone knows what happened to Eva, and to Corrine’s husband, and also who Norah’s dad is — but can background alone account for their record sales?

What is it about making that kind of connection?  As far as I am concerned, music, architecture, sculpture, painting  (etc), are connected to the individual more than to the people responsible for it — the patron, commissioner, maker, designer, creator, artist, owner, client, sponsor, visionary, assistants, artisans (etc).

So I think the intention, the background story behind the product is of passing and mild interest, and definitely of secondary importance to the way the thing relates to me.

I can’t see myself hating something (such as a piece of music or a painting), and then loving it because I discovered that the artist was blind, young, old, disabled, poor or whatever.

Similarly, I cannot see myself no longer enjoying something just because the artist has become commercially successful!

Can everyone else be so different from me in that respect?  can Melody Gardot be selling recordings and gigs simply on the back story (fake or not)?

Hmmm. I wonder.



I first heard the name, Barbara Dennerlein back when people were worried abut the Y2K bug. It didn’t really register much, just that there was a buzz in Jazz circles and on the German music scene.

What’s not to like? She’s not so hard on the eye, and who doesn’t like the Hammond B3? For goodness sakes, I’ve got pals who are positively obsessed with this instrument!

By chance, I came across her on YouTube tonight, while looking for some Bach — don’t you just hate it when you have the tune, but cannot recall the exact title/ reference? Anyway, here’s what I found…

embedded video:

How good is she? And what a great excuse to gaze at a finely turned ankle!

embedded video:

The funny thing is that I have been listening to a lot of German stuff lately — I adore a lounge Jazz version of Heut’ Nacht — yes, the old New Wave track from The Spliffs. The track I have is by the wonderful Sumatic on Erotic Lounge (I really need to get a hold of their Dreiklangsdimensionen album). Sumatic is really Susanne Kemmler (also not bad to look at — Hmm, what is it with German women these days?).

Come to think about it Susanne looks a bit like Alison Goldfrapp crossed with Candy Dulfer!

It’s good to see women at the highest levels of Jazz musicianship; good role models for my wee girl one day perhaps.




Keith Jarrett played a concert in Koln on 24 January 1975.  It was just him and a piano, and he just made it all up on the spot.

Fortunately, this concert was recorded and released.

I have always adored this album.  It’s just a piano, but it’s far more, man.

For a start, he makes mistakes.  Then he makes all sorts of bizarre noises as he plays.  I guess that is why some people don’t like it.  But to anyone who play music — especially to people who improvise live — this is a landmark work of art!

It is astounding, then beautiful, then addictive — the soundtrack to autumn, or winter, or summer picnics, or study or commuting to work, or backpacking, or…

I was reminded of this album, long after I stopped playing LPs on turntables, by my pal, Big Mike.  Big Mike copied his CD for me twice.  I think he wanted to make sure I got it!

I turned it into an MP3, and it has been copied to my phone and MP3 player etc.

My wife got into it too.

One evening last year, we thought we’d look Keith up on youtube — and it seems that the man is also weird physically — that it’s not just noises he makes, but he strikes serious poses and attitudes while playing!  This is superb!  What expression — here is Keith Jarrett playing Londonderry Air (the tune behind the most popular version of Danny Boy):

embedded video:

Isn’t that just superb?




Hmmm, what can I say about Jaco that hasn’t already been said?

Here I’ll leave the bass-playing to Pastorius himself…

Love ya Jaco, R.I.P.

If you want to read my thoughts on Jaco’s murder, and how it changed my life — read my post on the death of Joe Zawinul and the death of Jaco Pastorius: 2007/09/11/my-personal-911/