Sunday, January 24, 2016

Paul Edis – “Just Like Me” Edis Music

Regular attendees at Leeds jazz concerts over the past few years may have had the opportunity to see pianist Paul Edis in action. In a variety of contexts, solo, and larger groups or with vocalist Zoe Gilby, his piano playing offers a fragility and dexterity, which marks him out as a significant presence. This latest album release comes, as a companion to his 2013 release “Not Like Me”, and again, is a master class in emotion driven performance. Recorded at the Literary and Philosophical Society in Newcastle on the 5th June 2015 there is a sense that his surroundings are informing his playing, particularly on the opening “Montage” “Murmuration” and “Vince” pieces. There is a poignant delicacy to these pieces, which almost ache through the speakers at the listener. “Just Like Me” has a strident playfulness to lift the mood before he tackles John Coltrane’s “Giant Steps”. Here he gives the jazz standard a thorough redefining and layers his own distinctive style over the more familiar phrases.
Reinterpreting familiar tunes such as “Greensleeves”, “Country Gardens” and “Skye Boat Song” would, on the surface, seem to be a difficult thing to undertake successfully, but again, the tunes are deconstructed and manipulated in such a way that at no time do they appear as a novelty interlude. The recognisable tunes poke their head up occasionally, but the mood is never broken. “Country Gardens” in particular has such an “Englishness” to it that deconstructing it in this way almost seems sacrilege, but enough of the original remains to respect its heritage. “For Kathleen” and “Cerebral” continue to illustrate what an accomplished wrier and performer he is, and how easily he can captivate the listener and draw them into the atmosphere of the piece. The album closes with two further original compositions; “Nostaloptimist” and “Sunset” both are bathed in that distinguishing melancholy which on one level invokes sorrow and agonizing reflection, but on another level is extraordinarily elevating and exuberant. Art that works on both those levels can surely be seen as important for the soul. Jazz Goes To Leeds has previously spoken of Paul Edis in the same breath as such pianists as Keith Jarrett and Chick Corea and this release continues to incite such comparisons. Maybe Paul should consider a few vocal grunts during his playing to augment his style? Possibly not.

Visit the Paul Edis website here

Friday, July 31, 2015

Ilkley Jazz Festival


Ilkley Jazz Festival are preparing to host some fantastic music over a 3 day event to include top jazz stars, workshops, a late night jazz jam, a jazz brunch and a very special song-writing masterclass, starting Friday August 21st with jazz royalty Jacqui Dankworth and pianist Charlie Wood.

After the initial success last year of The Ilkley Summer Festival Jazz day, the decision was made to expand into the first year of a fledgling jazz festival. ‘We’re small, but determined to grow.  Ultimately, it’s all about presenting top quality jazz and there are some amazing artists coming to perform for us.’  Said Mark Beirne-Smith, festival organiser.

This year the Ilkley Jazz Festival offer the chance to see one of the country's most renowned contemporary Jazz singers, Jacqui Dankworth, the festivals headliner who will be appearing at The Kings Hall on Friday 21st August 7.30pm.  A jazz singer and songwriter, Jacqui has become a highly regarded vocalist in the UK. Her concert appearances and her stylistically diverse recordings showcase her virtuosic and effortless mastery of a wide spectrum of genres. Her voice has been described as “multi-faceted” and “incomparable” by The Times.

It’s unsurprising that Jacqui is so eminent in the world of jazz and so talented as she’s been heavily influenced by her parents – highly acclaimed jazz singer, Dame Cleo Laine, and jazz legend, Sir John Dankworth, who sadly passed away five years ago

"I fell in love with this man’s voice as soon as I heard it. He is the essence of soul and blues” – Paloma Faith on listening to Charlie. 

“One of our finest singers, regardless of category” – Clive Davis, Sunday Times, about Jacqui.

On Saturday 22nd we have the Duncan Lamont Songbook.  A unique two-singer offering featuring the work of Duncan Lamont and the great man himself. 


Photos taken this year at Wakefield Jazz, Yorkshire’s premier jazz club.

Duncan has worked with all the greats, often as a featured soloist, Sinatra, Mancini, John Dankworth, Cleo Laine and even Fred Astaire.  As a gifted composer he has also written 100s of songs that have been sung and recorded by the cream of singers, Blossom Dearie, Mark Murphy, Dame Cleo Laine, Norma Winstone, Tina May and  Natalie Cole recorded his song ‘I Told You so.’  This performance presents some of the very best of Duncan’s Songbook where he will be joined by two top jazz singers, popular London jazz singer Esther Bennett, northern jazz singer Beverley Beirne 

London pianist John Crawford and northern musicians, Simon Read on double bass and Matt Parkinson on Drums. The show has already received rave reviews in top London clubs, such as the 606 and Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street.

Tickets are available from the Ilkley Visitor Information Centre 01943 602 319

Duncan Lamont will also be holding a special one off Song Writing Master Class in the Wildman Studio Ilkley Playhouse from 2 till 4 on Saturday 22nd.   As well as being a master saxophone player and jazz arranger Duncan Lamont is a Grammy nominated song writer, for his work in TV and film music. This event does not require a knowledge of jazz theory as it is relevant to all genres.  A must for budding song-writers or those just wanting to hear the words and tales of a master song-writer! 

Adrian Knowles and Ben Lowman are back with the Jazz Workshop, which was a huge success last year, in the Wildman Studio, Ilkley Playhouse from 4 till 6 pm on Saturday 22nd

This year, we have also introduced a Late Night Jazz Jam from 10.30 till 1am on Saturday at The Grove Restaurant, Ilkley.

The jam will be hosted by Jazz Singer and Jazz Festival Artistic Director, Beverley Beirne. This is your chance to play, with professional musicians, in public or just come and enjoy the party atmosphere of our jam session at the The Grove. Those wanting to play or sing contact, but don’t be shy, this will be a really fun night!

Sunday 23rd there will be a Jazz Brunch with Djangologie who are the North East's premier gypsy jazz style band, playing hard hitting swing in the style of Stephane Grappelli and Django Reinhardt. This is a free event in The Grove, Ilkley.  This is the final band of the festival so come along and celebrate with us listening to this incredible band.

(The Jazz workshop, Song writing master class are free events but have limited places so please book in advance by emailing  Please also e-mail us if you would like to play or sing at the late night jam, don’t be shy! The jam is also a free event, for both players and audience).






Mob: 07896 277 616
Tel: 01943 601 520


Sunday, May 31, 2015

Ian Chalk – “Dreamsville” album review

Throughout the history of jazz music there have clearly been a number of luxurious cover versions of recognisable, contemporaneous tunes, some that have gone on to become known as “standards”. This latest release from Ian Chalk, “Dreamsville”, continues in that tradition by enhancing a number of tunes that are etched into the music lovers’ collective memory, with affectionate trumpet and orchestral arrangements. What is particularly noticeable about this collection of tunes is how brave the trumpet player has been in tackling them. A casual observer may initially be wary of an orchestral version of that Holy Grail “Wichita Lineman” or another version of “All The Things You Are”. But this collection needs to be given a chance and allowed to work its way into the listener’s soul.

It would not be too lofty to think of the arrangements here in the same frame of reference as Miles Davis’ “Sketches of Spain”. There is a deep and sensuous melancholy underpinning tracks such as “Sometimes I Feel Like A Motherless Child”, “A House Is Not A Home” and “Skylark” that is a masterpiece of musical production. To fully encompass the fragility of sound these pieces are capable of is an exceptional skill.  “Dreamsville” and “The Rose” are awash with lavish and melancholic string arrangements by George Hall providing an intimate backdrop for the restrained trumpet lines. Music such as this never ages and will always be part of the music lover’s lexicon. “Creepin’” softly lifts the mood with a subtle, yet driving, funky grounding and the album concludes with spine tingling version of Branford Marsalis’ “Mo’ Better Blues” from the 1990 film soundtrack.

One of the most important lessons to take away from Ian Chalks’ “Dreamsville” album is to not be afraid of encompassing the string arrangements in jazz. Think Miles Davis, think Charlie Parker “…With Strings”, and allow yourself the luxury of the drifting through these seas of sound. Marvel also at the “classic” jazz evoking cover which perfectly complements the music and then, when you have gorged on these delicacies, treat yourself to last years “Down Time” album which illustrates what a moving player Ian Chalk is in a less opulent, but no less poignant, environment. 

Monday, March 16, 2015

The Other Side of the Rainbow is in Wakefield

On Friday Wakefield Jazz hosts 'the Other Side of the Rainbow' the songs of Duncan Lamont. Duncan is a renowned saxophonist, having played with many of the greats, Frank Sinatra, Benny Goodman and Count Basie to name but three. In between the touring and playing Duncan has also amassed a large collection of songs he has written and has a Grammy nomination under his belt, on Friday a selection of these songs will be performed by two singers, Esther Bennett and Beverley Beirne with John Crawford on Piano, Simon Read on Bass, Matt Parkinson on Drums and of course Duncan Lamont on Sax.

Esther has been touring these songs with Duncan at all the major clubs in the south, with singers Sarah Moule, Tina May and Beverley Beirne.



I caught up with Esther for a chat:

MBS - When did you first come across the music of Duncan Lamont?
EB - I knew who Duncan was, but first met him properly at the 606 Jazz Club properly to talk to.
MBS - What draws you to Duncan's  songs?
EB - The words, that cover all of life's experience. The craftsmen ship of the harmonies and melodic lines, the fact that they cover every area of the jazz canon. I often wish to cover certain aspects of the jazz repertoire i.e covering songs from "Kind of Blue" or learning more songs written by Jobim - Duncan covers these areas/feels/flavours in his songwriting - so as well as representing any patricluar aspect of the jazz repertoire one is also singing an original.


MBS - It's unique to have more than one singer on a project, what inspired this idea?
EB - Duncan likes as many singers to perform his songs as possible. There are also different songs that attract different personalities and life experiences so the other singer will be able to do the songs that I don't think appeal to or represent my experiences.
I think that this also makes the whole gig more interesting - variety being the spice of life etc.
There's also the practical angle ie admin wise where you have another pair of hands to get gigs and promote them and bring in an audience.
MBS - How long has the project been going on?
EB - About 3-4 years.
MBS - How did you meet Beverley?
EB - Through you! and through facebook, which has it's negative sides but - can also prove to be incredibly useful for all kinds of reasons.

In fact it was through a negative experience on fb that we met - you were defending singers where a rather offensive but not particularly professional musician was being abusive about us. I then found out that your wife was a singer and that you were based in Leeds and I thought - ah - if I'm sourcing gigs up north it would be sensible, for all sorts of reasons, to combine with this very talented lady.



MBS - Have you any other gigs in Yorkshire?
EB - Yes - we're performing at The Ilkley Jazz Festival! As I'm sure you know! 
There are some "maybes" but it's not sensible to mention them until they are confirmed.
MBS - What else is on the horizon?
EB - Other gigs in London with Tina May (606 Jazz Club, Pizza Express Dean St and Music in the Garden at Wavendon and my own Birthday gig at The Vortex London where I will be doing other material that I have been working on and some numbers from my CD "Just in Time" which was produced by Ian Shaw
MBS - Do you like Marmalade.
EB - Yes I do - chunky cut
For more information please check out the Wakefield Jazz website

A track of one of Duncan's songs sung by Esther Bennett

A live track of one of Duncan's Songs sung by Beverley Beirne 

Thursday, March 12, 2015

John Bailey Quintet – “Black Ship Bright Sea” ASC Records

There is a certain fragility and romantic melancholy surrounding the sound of the flugelhorn in jazz. Place it within the context of rippling acoustic guitar and saxophone, and murmuring bass and drums, and the combination can be mesmerising. This is certainly the case with the John Bailey Quintet’s album release “Black Ship Bright Sea”. Featuring original material composed by guitarist John, the quintet features Richard Iles on flugelhorn, Tim France on saxophone, Gavin Barras on double bass and Steve Hanley on drums. Information on ASC records website reveals that,
“The compositional devices rely on crossing of melodies between instruments and simultaneous melodies instead of simple harmonized ones. Harmonically the movement of chords is not based particularly on a usual system seen in jazz composition; the techniques are more in line with those of Arvo Part, each note having absolute importance and all tones present for a reason.”
What this, rather eloquently, describes is the predominant feeling that these pieces are the product of both jazz and twentieth century classical music influences. “Strength in Numbers” is a sumptuous showcase for delicate nylon string guitar phrasing interwoven with brooding flugelhorn, whilst “Sfumato” draws heavily on modern classic ambience giving the music an altogether more enigmatic texture. There is, however, mischievousness to tunes such as “Positive Thinking” and “Flight Path” which illustrate the freedom of influences evident. “A Green Sun (I-IV)” features luxurious nylon string guitar playing, drawing in Eastern European, Spanish and classical dialects, emphasizing the poignancy that can be captured on this instrument within this framework. Fluently drawing all the moods evoked together in the final short piece “It’s A Strange World” underlines seamlessly the aesthetic at work on “ Black Ship Bright Sea”. Most certainly, music for the head and the heart.

As “Jazz Goes To Leeds” has claimed previously when discussing the work of John Bailey, the music here will obviously be of interest to anyone who has a fondness for the ECM/Rune Grammofon catalogue, with it’s brooding Scandinavian nature. This, however, may be far too simplistic a statement to make to fully understand the tracks that make up “Black Ship Bright Sea”. There is the melancholy and scholarly aspect to these pieces, but there is also a playfulness which sets it apart on its’ own to produce an album of both intellect and mischief.

John Bailey Website

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Jazz Goes To Leeds radio

Chapel FM in Seacroft, East Leeds, has kindly given us the opportunity to produce a "Jazz Goes to Leeds" radio show on a semi-regular basis. They can be found as and any upcoming broadcasts will be advertised on Twitter @JazzGoesToLeeds .

 Presented by John, the intention is to feature jazz, improvised and left field music from in and around the Leeds area. Any suggestions for future music, live appearances and interviews would be greatly appreciated.

Below is the opportunity to hear (and see to some extent) the first FM broadcast in December 2014.

"An hour of jazz and improvised music from in and around the Leeds area, illustrating the diversity of styles that the music can incorporate. Jazz Goes To Leeds will feature recorded music from around the region in conjunction with live music and discussion with Sam Jackson and his latest “Drawing Hands” project"

Listen again to the first "Jazz Goes To Leeds" FM broadcast

Monday, November 10, 2014


The keyboard, bass and drums trio format needs to have something special in the mix to give it its’ own character and charisma. Zeitgeist have managed to infuse their trio sound with colour and flavour not always familiar with that format to create something invigorating and intelligent. Essentially formed at Leeds College of Music in 2011, the band have recently played a number of dates across the country in Leeds, Manchester, Bath, Bristol, Leamington and Lancaster.  At the moment two tracks are available to stream via their website, “Mosaic” and “Plancks”. “Mosaic” seems to effortlessly blend the pulse of minimalism with the sprightliness of a well-rehearsed, tight trio. Moods shift and mutate throughout its’ duration with ease and efficiency. “Plancks” has an underlying tension and mystery about its structure, which almost gives the impression of it being a narrative to some fiendishly illicit intrigue. Leeds has a reputation for producing jazz that acknowledges many other genres including its rich DIY culture. Zeitgeist are upholding that tradition and taking it to new levels, which bode well for the forthcoming album release.