Laurie Burnette interviewed upcoming bass player Teymur Phell to discuss his debut CD Master Volume, December 2019
Laurie Burnette interviewed composer, educator and drum legend Peter Erskine who was recently in London for musical projects and to discuss his new CD 3 Nights in LA. September 2019.
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On Saturday 20th July at members’ club Vout-O-Reenee’s, the House of Customs debuted in London. Naples-born Dani Diodatoheadlined the intimate gathering, the British inauguration of the pop-up concert brand following its migration from Copenhagen. Fittingly, Diodato’s music also placed migration in the spotlight.
In his small, softly lit surroundings, he presented his project SUNAAT, which bills itself as a musical exploration of the current experience of migration in Europe. Naples-born and now London-based, Diodato seeks to achieve his project’s goals through melodies, trumpet solos and electronic drum beats. The result is a cohesive sound that unifies new London and classic Naples into a singular jazz harmony. The snug space and cosy decor gave the impression of a private living room, the band playing barely a meter away from the guests. Diodato’s sound was speakeasy-like, a vibrant hum of noise that broke free of the background and commanded the audience’s full attention.
Following stints at Glastonbury and Love Supreme Festival, Diodato has established a strong foothold in the vibrant London jazz scene. His confident image complemented the newly arrived House of Customs. In Copenhagen, the brand worked with jazz festivals and partnered with luxury venues as it developed its own voice. Judging by the London launch, it will extend its track record by showcasing artists such as Diodato.
The audience consisted of jazz enthusiasts, attracted by the House’s focus on the night’s talent. One attendee, however, admitted that while it was his first Jazz event, it would not be his last. He names the ‘intimate setting,’ ‘chilled vibe’ and ‘personal and relaxed environment’ as contributors to his overall enjoyment of the music. Another guest noted her amazement at how ‘in-sync and talented the artists [were] to make such beautiful jazz music.’
Diodato will be playing at the jazz club Kansas Smitty’s on Wednesday 7th August, and again on Saturday 24th August at Bar 91 in Shoreditch. It is possible that he will partner with House of Customs in the future. In the meantime, the brand, headed by Folayinka Coker, will continue to combine London’s most luxurious venues and best jazz talent.
Natasha Franks is a graduate of the University of St Andrews, where she studied English. She enjoys writing, reading, and learning new words. She currently lives in London.
2019 will be a momentous one. The country is rife with division over Brexit and we still don’t know how that is going to be decided, this uncertainty could take months if not years to resolve. So it is an interesting time to be alive!
The complexities of Brexit, and why people voted the way they did in June 2016 could well be linked to the austerity policy adopted by the coalition government of 2010 to 2015 and since continued by the Conservative government under Theresa May. Despite Theresa May making the claim in recent months that austerity would be coming to an end, there is no evidence that is the case. The cuts to services by local authorities, the trebling of tuition fees, the average fall in wages since the financial crash of 2008 have all contributed to the lack of a feel good factor which ultimately culminated in a referendum by David Cameron in 2016 which led to the Brexit vote. Europe was the fall guy here, inadvertently blamed by some for Britain’s internal problems created by government policy. The policy of austerity indirectly affected the way politics is not only conducted in this country since 2010 but throughout the continent of Europe as well over the last nine years. Countries such as Greece, Italy and Spain have felt the full weight of austerity and recession or lack of growth affecting youth employment.
Therefore, during a period of national difficulty or constitutional crisis, the arts can be at its most fertile as musicians, composers and playwrights produce material which reflects the times we live, it is vital for the arts to be prominent in times like these. This is where the Austerity Playbook comes in. The Austerity Playbook held its London premiere on 18 January at the Hoxton Hall, in Hoxton street, in Hoxton……Performed more as a musical than a play on this particular night with twelve short scenes, it was an extravaganza featuring nine musicians on stage and supported by the Dende Company of Elders who performed the role of a vociferous crowd off stage right next to the audience. An interesting concept which surprisingly has not been explored before to my knowledge, The Austerity Playbook takes a satirical look at a town in the north east of England where the local authority decides to sanction lots of cuts to services and budgets over an extensive period. Fini Bearman played the Council Leader forcing through cuts whilst encouraging residents to meet the shortfall by volunteering their time to bridge the gap and keep some services going. Juliet Kelly doubled up as a Librarian, Georgia Van Etten was the Community Support worker and Luca Manning played an Eastern European immigrant. The Dende Company of Elders performed the role of a rowdy crowd chanting “Save Our Services” at civic meetings. It might well be satirical and amusing but a lot of the subject matter was pretty close to the bone.
Considering the subject matter is quite complex, it should not come as any surprise that it involved a lot of collaboration to put the project together. The play was written by Mark O’Thomas, who used research by two Professors of Accounting; Professor Laurence Ferri of Durham University and Ileana Steccolini of Newcastle University. Andre Pink took care of the Direction, knitting five musicians and four singers on stage with the Dende Company of Elders off it, and finally music was written by JLR’s Andrea Vicari. Professor Ferri told me that “the motivation was to show the impacts that central government austerity based budget cuts have on the lives of everyday citizens and the resilience of local government and communities to deal with the implications.” “Austerity is a policy choice to deal with budget pressures. In the case of the UK it has arguably went on far too long and undoubtedly is causing a multitude of problems for local government and citizens.” Professor Steccolini furthered that austerity “rather than solving problems, has created new ones. Our effort, as researchers, was to try to point out the critical issues related to austerity, but also identify possible solutions, valid not only in the short, but also the long term.”
The musical was fun to watch and it would be good if they get commissioned to perform the play / musical around the country over the coming months. The ending did have a somewhat unresolved feel to it; and that is where we are at right now as a country, as there is no let up despite Theresa May’s claim that austerity is coming to an end.
Fini Bearman – singer / Council Leader turns Labour MP
Juliet Kelly – singer / Librarian
Georgia Van Etten – singer / Community Support Officer
Luca Manning – singer / Eastern European Immigrant
Andrea Vicari – keyboards / composer
Dorian Lockett – bass
Caroline Scott – Drums
Andy Davies – Trumpet / Narrator
Chelsea Carmichael – Saxophone
Photographs by Leandro Dacundo
Charlie was on a quick-fire tour of the UK, performing in London, Coventry and Manchester before making his way back to the United States to continue touring across the pond. I have known Charlie’s music since the mid 1990s when he came to international attention with his Blue Note album called Bing Bing Bing which was played a lot on jazz radio. Charlie’s music always has a strong groove orientation and that has been evident in all of his subsequent releases, whether more on the commercial side, or a more abstract style; Charlie never loses sight of the groove in his music, and he has released well over twenty albums during this period.
That musical concept was very much in evidence in his live performance where he was joined by an excellent British based Cuban trumpeter Yelfris Valdés and drummer Carter McLean. The first thing that strikes you as a watching audience is that three becomes four! Charlie doubles up as the bass player on his custom made seven string guitar, using his thumb to play the baseline whilst also playing guitar chords or taking a solo. An incredible skill which no doubt is quite a niche in the world of music; we often see bass players use a six string bass guitar to play in the higher register for solos, but not the other way round. On stage the music of a quartet was being made, much in the way a Hammond organist might play bass using their foot pedals.
The music was pretty good too. There was a lot of space, leaving it to the imagination of the listeners to fill the spaces, the phrase “less is more” springs to mind. Charlie played tunes from his vaults including his most recent release, the amusingly titled Everybody Has A Plan Until They Get Punched In The Mouth. However, Charlie also kept the audience on their toes, slipping in references to famous tunes in his repertoire, leaving me to ponder “what tune was that?” with the answer flashing to me some moments later. That “guess what tune” theme continued throughout; Charlie performed Wishing Well, a tune originally sung by Terrence Trent Darby back in the late 1980s. Charlie also slipped in riffs of Faith by George Michael and performed a Curtis Mayfield tune for good measure, it definitely brought something different musically which the audience really enjoyed.
Charlie was ably supported by Yelfris and Carter who did great comping and superb solos as well, it was a thoroughly entertaining evening of music from a master performer who believes in music first as opposed to showing off his chops and technique.
By Laurie Burnette
Jazz London Radio presents the Jazz London Radio All Stars; a special band put together to showcase the top musicians who not only play great music every week but perform great music live as well. The idea to put a band together came to us to perform in various London venues spreading the word of Jazz London Radio and having some fun at the same time. The great musicians we have get to perform some of their own compositions and throw in a few standards here and there as well.
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Andrea Vicari interviewed Bad Plus pianist Ethan Iverson to discuss his career to date and recent tour of Britain. May 2018
Andrea Vicari interviewed saxophonist and educator Martin Speake, to discuss his latest CD called Intention and upcoming tour. May 2018