JLR Review: House of Customs July 2019

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. 

photo by
Alex Massek

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.

JLR Review – The Austerity Playbook at Hoxton Hall, January 2019

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 thatthe 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.

Cast:

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

Laurie Burnette

JLR Review: Charlie Hunter Trio at Ronnie Scotts, September 2018

Guitarist Charlie Hunter & his trio recently came to Ronnie Scotts, performing on 26th and 27th September, to a full house and great acclaim.

credit Steven Cropper

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.

credit Steven Cropper

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.

credit Steven Cropper

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 All Stars at the Pizza Express Live

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.

Book tickets for Jazz London Radio All Stars

 

3rd October, Pizza Express Live

Timbo’s Mixtapes on Jazz London Radio

Jazz London Radio unleashes a new DJ to the internet waves. DJ Timbo will play music fusing house, techno, lounge and other forms of electronic music every weekend between 10pm and midnight plus occasionally during weeknights. See Timbo’s bio below

Timbo (Tim Burrell) started DJ’ing in the mid 90’s. He soon started playing warm up sets at London’s legendary ‘The Cross’ nightclub, along with a Saturday night slot at a pirate radio station in North West London. Tim juggled his DJ’ing with a sound engineering career, training in some of London’s top recording and mixing studios. He later moved onto CD Mastering, where he mastered some of the first DJ mix CD’s such as the revered “Journeys By a DJ” series. In 1996 Tim also mastered, DJ’d, and compiled one of the first DJ mix albums from CD using a Sony CD Player with varispeed (well before Pioneer came on the scene). Tim progressed onto vinyl cutting at London’s Townhouse studios where he mastered The Orb’s 1997 album “Orblivion”, Lily Allen’s 2006 debut album “Alright, Still”, and remastered all of Pulp’s back catalogue. Tim has released some of his own creations and remixes under the DON(1) and Yaqui Tribe moniker.   timbo-logo

 Tim’s DJ style has it’s roots in the original house sound of Chicago, the Balearics, and the New York Garage of the early 90’s. Tim will play anything from a 1991 Garage classic to a contemporary Deep or Tech House track. Many of the Deep House records currently released continue to tip their hat to that original Chicago style. Tim uses a combination of Technics SL1210’s and Traktor.

Jazz London Radio All Stars – EFG London Jazz Festival: 16 November 2017

Jazzlive At The Crypt, St Giles Church, Camberwell Church street, London SE5 8JB

Trumpeters Chris Hodgkins and Kevin Davy, guitarist Deirdre Cartwright, vocalist Emily Saunders and pianist Andrea Vicari – the Jazz London Radio presenters take to the bandstand.

Jazz London Radio believes in playing quality music 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The Presenters share that passion and they bring that mentality to the station on a daily basis. They are significant figures on the jazz scene, either in jazz administration or as important composers who have released great records over the years. The Presenters will get together for a night of top class jazz, performing their best compositions together for the delight of The Crypt and the EFG London Jazz Festival.                                                    jlr-montage-2

http://jazzlive.co.uk/guide.html#JLR

Get your tickets here 

http://www.wegottickets.com/event/416192

 

JLR Album Review – Pussycat by Juliana Hatfield




2017 is turning out to be an interesting year for new music.  I feature the latest releases to arrive at Jazz London Radio on a weekly basis and some quality stuff has been coming through so far.

An album I received with great anticipation was the new release by singer songwriter & guitarist Juliana Hatfield called Pussycat on the wonderfully named American Laundromat record label.  This is Juliana’s second release on American Laundromat after “Whatever, My Love” by the Juliana Hatfield Three was released in 2015.

My first impression when the CD hits the deck is how live it is. From the first track “I Wanna Be Your Disease”, the record has a first take feel to it, which is a good thing because it means these tunes can easily be interpreted in a live performance.  This is the classic Juliana sound, her voice is in great shape, I would say slightly an octave lower from the early 1990s when I discovered her music; but with that lively bounce we’ve come to expect and love.

pussycat

The early 1990s was a great time for music.  There were two strands to the indie scene, over in England (Britain) we had groups like Blur, Oasis, Lightning Seeds, Cranberries coming through, and lesser known but interesting bands like Blueboy, Stereolab, Elastica and Inspiral Carpets.  Whilst in America they were ahead of the curve, Jane’s Addiction was already making waves by the late 1980s, followed quickly by Nirvana and R.E.M.

However, the indie scene was a varied one, which included bands like Don Caballero and Tortoise who made instrumental music which progressive jazz people could get into.  What made the indie scene was that whatever the style of music, it was raw and could be easily reproduced on stage; and melody was often paramount. That might sound contradictory to the term “raw” but go back and listen again and it becomes clear how much melodies were going on.

Juliana was instrumental in that scene; being part of The Lemonheads and Blake Babies; releasing her debut “Hey Babe” in 1992 then forming the Juliana Hatfield Three in 1993 releasing “Become What You Are” on Atlantic Records. Since then Juliana has released an incredible array of music both electric and acoustic but always with melody and great riffs at the heart of it. “Pussycat” definitely follows the trend of not only well produced tuneful rock, but with hard hitting subjects which Juliana is so good at writing; Juliana is not afraid to tackle issues or put the boot in if she feels it’s necessary! I have read that Pussycat is an angry album, even her “angriest ever”. I see it as a mix of social commentary on the state of the American political scene and some angst, something that has been disappearing from music in recent times in the mad scramble to sound conformist and make as much money as possible.

In the 1980s bands like Big Audio Dynamite turned social commentary into an art form, tackling complex issues with wit and humour, in the manner of the old great calypsonians from Trinidad. On the track Impossible Song Juliana asks “Why Can’t We Get Along?” That doesn’t sound angry to me, more of a plea for getting together and showing some unity in the world, acknowledging differences and overcoming them, being more tolerant of each other.

But for sure, it is a hard hitting record; “Short Fingered Man” a damming verdict on “vulgarians” who have come to prominence and power in recent times. “Everything is Forgiven” is perhaps the most hard hitting track, whilst Good Enough For Me and Kellyanne is classic Juliana, punchy lyrics and great guitar riffs.

One thing that always amazes me is Juliana’s gift for writing pretty dark lyrics with a verve and melody which is almost ironic in itself, Patti Smith and Suzanne Vega are two other prominent female icons who manage to pull off the same trick, Nina Simone was a great artist who brought intensity during the civil rights movement of the 1960s.

There might not be as big an alternative or indie scene as there once was but there is still some great music and artists out there making something creative and of value for people who want to check that out.  “Pussycat” is definitely an album of calibre; independent of mind and thought, outside the mainstream but radio friendly.

Check out my chat with Juliana about her latest release.

By Laurie Burnette