It's rare enough to get to catch the premiere of a brand new work in a location as removed as Luleå, Sweden--just 100 kilometers south of the Arctic circle and in late May already experiencing 22-hour days and temperatures between 20 and 25 Celsius. But to get to experience the birth of a commission and to arrive on the same day as the artist and enter the rehearsal room at the same time? An unexpected pleasure. The chance to follow an artist and a group of musicians (many of whom were meeting each other for the very first time) through ...read more
In the jazz world, groups often convene for special projects, though, more often than not, the participants then usually go their separate ways, even if the underlying concept- -or, even, just the band's chemistry--suggests further continuance. When Django Bates put together Belovèd Bird (Lost Marble, 2010), it seemed likely that the maverick British pianist, composer and foundation shaker's off-the-wall tribute to bebop progenitor/saxophonist Charlie “Bird" Parker would be a one-off. Now, two years later, Confirmation finds the same trio back with an album that, recorded in November 2011, is hitting the streets more quickly than its predecessor, which took nearly ...read more
Django BatesLike LifeStoryville2011 (1998) If you had to choose one artifact which is emblematic of the work of the British composer, bandleader and keyboards and e-flat horn player Django Bates, then his notorious derangement" of John Kander and Fred Ebb's New York, New York" would be a contender. It does not matter that New York, New York" is one of the few tunes in Bates' band book that he did not write himself, excepting the bop anthems on his 2011 tribute to alto saxophonist Charlie Parker, Beloved Bird ...read more
Django Bates claims that he heard Charlie Parker records on the day he was born. Fifty years later, Bates has formed Belovèd, giving life to his longstanding love for Parker's music on his trio's debut, Belovèd Bird. It's an album that ably demonstrates how love means never having to play in the same old way, for this sparklingly inventive album is not a retread of old Parker arrangements, but a reappraisal of the sound--a reconstruction based on Bates' strongly-held belief that Parker was a musician who was always willing to evolve. Bates has been one of the ...read more
July, 2008: It's been 13 years since British composer and keyboards/peck horn player Django Bates released the third album in his four seasons" series, Winter Truce (And Homes Blaze) (Winter & Winter, 1995). That album followed close behind Autumn Fire (And Green Shoots) (Winter & Winter, 1994) and Summer Fruits (And Unrest) (Winter & Winter, 1993).It has long been Bates's intention to complete the series with a spring-themed album, and in June, 2008 he finally did so with Spring Is Here (Shall We Dance?) (Lost Marble, 2008). It's made with the 19-piece StoRMChaser, the post-graduate big band at ...read more
One of the true visionary geniuses of British--and indeed all--modern jazz, keyboardist and composer Django Bates is a shaman and synapse twister with a breathtakingly imaginative take on the traditions and structures he recalibrates. His energy is iconoclastic but also sunny and effervescent and benign, shot through with humor and relish of the absurd. His ideas are big and he particularly excels when writing for big bands, two of which--Loose Tubes and Delightful Precipice--have led joyful rococo revolutions on the London jazz scene since the 1980s.
On Spring Is Here (Shall We Dance?), Bates leads his ...read more