Mark Lockheart's Ellington In Anticipation The National Centre For Early Music April 25, 2014 The music of Duke Ellington might represent an oft-traversed path across the jazz firmament, but the English saxophonist and composer Mark Lockheart can justify such persistent attentions. During the last decade, this tenor man has principally been associated with Polar Bear, those champions of skittish alternative jazzelectro sounds. In the 1980s, though, he established his reputation as a member of big band Loose Tubes, those recently re-united masters of organized anarchy. This was followed by Perfect Houseplants in the ...read more
Ellington in Anticipation isn't Mark Lockheart's first album to employ an expanded lineup; the Polar Bear/Blue Touch Paper saxophonist collaborated with Germany's WDR Big Band on 2010's Days Like These (Fuzzy Moon) and first cut his teeth in Loose Tubes, the now-legendary large UK collective of then-up-and-comers that included pianist Django Bates, saxophonist Iain Ballamy and guitarist John Parricelli, amongst other notables. But Ellington in Anticipation--whose septet's complexion is defined by the incorporation of violin alongside a three-horn frontline--is Lockheart's first to pay tribute to another composer, through imaginative rearrangements of music by and/or associated with Duke Ellington, along with ...read more
Considering the instrumental forces that the big band offers, it's surprising how conservative a lot of large ensemble writing is. Days Like These isn't iconoclastically innovative, but there's enough on offer to satisfy those who find such conservatism tiresome.
Saxophonist Mark Lockheart clearly appreciates what he has at his disposal for all of the relatively conventional section scoring. NDR is a band that embraces rhythmic precision, even as it remains loose enough to avoid sounding drilled. Despite the cyclical, quasi-minimalist figure that comprises the heart of the opening Rag," the music is marked by an urgency which prevails--even in moments ...read more
It's been four years since saxophonist Mark Lockheart's best-of-year Moving Air (Basho, 2005). Contrasting Moving Air's organic multi-tracking, In Deep goes for purer in-the-moment territory, with a traditional trumpet/sax/piano/bass/drums quintet that's anything but conventional.
Lockheart's ability to evoke a multiplicity of images with his music has been a marker with groups including his 11-piece Scratch Band and the Big Idea sextet that he formed to perform the more complex layering of Moving Air. On In Deep he proves that he is still a compelling composer, but the emphasis here is on playing, and he couldn't have ...read more
Jazz may be a marginalized genre, but that condition seems at odds with the wealth of outstanding artists moving it forward. And when you consider regionalization, both stylistically and geographically, it can be almost insurmountable to keep track of jazz's ongoing evolution. Consequently, most artists find themselves working in insular surroundings, working with the same circle of players and performing in the same venues, even as they fight to expand their horizons.
Britain has maintained its own jazz community for decades, with only an exceptional few reaching beyond its boundaries to international audiences. That's a shame, as a remarkable number ...read more
The music scene in the UK notices jazz about once every ten years and then forgets the musicians thrust into the limelight quite unforgivingly. The recent Jazz Britannia series told the tale of Keith Tippett, extravagantly flying his Centipede band to Europe in the early '70s but reduced to picking potatoes by the 1980s. In the mid-1980s a young big band called Loose Tubes gained a high enough profile to be featured in a rare jazz concert at the BBC Proms. Today, you would be hard pressed to attend a regular jazz venue without bumping into an ex-Loose Tuber, yet ...read more