(Photo credits not known, but all respect to the photographer)
Been busy moving house, a job which is nearing completion, so hoping to start work on my interviews with Joakim Milder and Rudy Royston in the near future.
Not sure if I'll get to any festivals over the summer, but if the line-up is good then the free festival at Canary Wharf in August is a strong possibility. Last year was my first visit and it's such a relaxed event, unlike any other I've ever been to. Until then...
Over the week-end I was asked if my blog was still an ongoing concern, and I couldn't quite work out how to answer what was a perfectly clear and unambiguous question. It's not officially dead because I haven't deleted it, but posts are fewer and further between and it now seems to be less significant to me than it once was.
Partly responsible is the fact that most of my writing now goes straight to Jazz Journal and appears either in the magazine or on the web-site. I don't really want to close the blog because it's good to have a permanent archive of posts to look back on from time to time, yet I'll never have the time and energy to do a Peter Bacon, a Lance Liddle or a Sebastian Scotney.
So, for the time being it stays. There will be periodical updates, but probably too periodical for most to ever get into the habit of becoming regular visitors. Let this be the first post in a series which may signal some kind of resuscitation, although I wouldn't bank on it.
This year's GIJF was packed with inspiring moments, and a personal highlight for me was getting the chance to sit down and interview Rudy Royston (drummer with Bill Frisell, JD Allen, Dave Douglas, Ben Allison and many more). I first came across in the '90s when he was a member of Ron Miles's group, appearing on one of my favourite albums of all time (My Cruel Heart, Grammavision). After that I dug out some obscure sessions led by Fred Hess, and have been seeking out his work wherever I find it. He has only just released his first album as leader, 303 (Greenleaf Music), and it's one of my favourite releases in recent times. Hopefully you'll hear more of what he had to say in an upcoming Jazz Journal profile.
Below are the links to the 3 separate reviews of this year's event, and above is a wonderful photograph by John Watson of Rudy in action at the final show of a memorable week-end.
Oh, and I also interviewed the great Joakim Milder, another player I've admired since the '90s. Remember the sessions with Lars Danielsson, Palle Danielsson and Tomasz Stanko's Litania? Here's a photograph of me in rather sedentary action, backstage:
Review of Leo Blanco's sensational gig at Sage Gateshead last weekend is now available online at Jazz Journal.
I'd been a bit ambivalent about going along until Rob Adams dropped me a line a couple of days beforehand. I'm glad I did, because it was easily up there with the most absorbing and sustained solo piano performances I've ever seen - right up there with memorable sets by Joachim Kühn, Marilyn Crispell, Keith Tippett and Michel Petrucciani for sure.
Image courtesy of leoblanco.com
Couldn't resist weaving in that reference to José Mourinho in the closing paragraph - I gather that Leo has been branded a George Clooney lookalike in the past, but for my money the special one seems far more fitting.
I've finally filed my Soweto Kinch interview, which I hope will be in the August edition of Jazz Journal, and next I'm psyching myself up for the marathon of transcribing my recent 70 minute conversation with Verneri Pohjola. Turning such an interesting and wide-ranging conversation into an article worthy of his considerable talents won't be easy, but I can think of far worse things to be doing...
Here's a quick link to my round-up (and what an epic it is!) of this year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival. Lots of great music, mostly a result of its Northern European theme, and I bagged interviews with Soweto Kinch and Verneri Pohjola which I'll be writing up for Jazz Journal in due course.
Pohjola was by far and away the revelation and star of the festival for me. I'd listened to his ACT discs, and actually reviewed his Ilmiliekki Quartet several years ago. None of that had really prepared me for the deep and fully rounded artist that I heard here, and his performance with Jens Thomas on the Saturday evening has had a bit of a depth-charge effect and now seems strangely better than the the riveting performance I saw at the time.
Still horrendously busy - hence the lack of new posts - my work-related college course does at least end in about 6 weeks time, which should free up some time again. A premature celebration to mark the passing of the last ever course of study that I agree to undertake will be marked at Ronnie's in early May when we'll take a trip to catch Mike Stern with Bill Evans...