Norwegian saxophonist Hanna Paulsberg founded the HPC in 2011, whislt studying at the Norwegian University of Science and Technology in Trondheim. Her quartet's debut, Waltz for Lilli (Ora Fonogram, 2012) announced a notable talent, one conversant in the North American swing tradition as well as influences closer to home. The concept, perhaps, was not new, but the reviews were universally positive. Since then, Paulsberg has been busy leading the HPC and touring with the Trondheim Jazz Orchestra, which collaborated with Marius Neset on the pulsating Lion (ACT Music, 2014). With the wind in her sails, Paulsberg's second quartet outing follows ...read more
It's a bold concept; take Pink Floyd's iconic Dark Side of the Moon (Harvest, 1973) and reinterpret it in a big band jazz setting. With upwards of forty million copies sold, every note, every nuance of Floyd's eighth album is so firmly entrenched in the minds of the band's legion devotees that to tamper with the work in any way is to leave oneself open to facile criticism. French-Vietnamese guitarist Nguyên Lê, however, is nothing if not adventurous. Lê has already demonstrated on Purple: Celebrating Jimi Hendrix (ACT Music, 2007) and Songs of Freedom (ACT Music, 2012)--his tribute ...read more
Such is the musical shift between Azure's When She Smiles (Azuremusic, 2009) and Hiptronics that they sound like different bands; effectively, they are. The main songwriter, classically influenced pianist Pierre-Francois Blanchard has been replaced by keyboardist Federico Solazzo and only co-founder, guitarist Rogier Schneemann remains from the original group, which has grown to a quintet with the addition of trumpeter Rik Mol. In interior design terms it would be akin to gutting a property and going for a futuristic styling with a little 1970s retro thrown in--think Woody Allen's Sleeper with a funk-cum-hip hop soundtrack. The old Azure ...read more
Singer Stella Bass is a stalwart of jny:Dublin's live music scene, leading small jazz ensembles and collaborating with the HotHouse Big Band and the Dublin City Jazz Orchestra. Bass's debut jazz recording follows Smoke and Sound (Self Produced 2010), her cabaret tribute to Kurt Weil, Bertold Brech, Marlene Dietrich et al. In the main, Too Darn Hot sees Bass mine the jazz standards of the 1930s and 1940s, repertoire she's polished every Sunday for years in Dublin's chic Cafe en Seine. To stand out in a market awash with standards recordings requires something special and Bass, with her beguiling voice, ...read more
Vibraphonist/composer Mulatu Astatke is the creator of Ethio-jazz and reputedly the first African musician to study at Berklee. Prior to that he had studied music in Wales and London. Whilst in America in the 1960s and early 1970s Astatke absorbed diverse influences and a dense rhythmic mosaic is a key component of this pulsating recording. Afro-Latin, jazz and funk vibes meet traditional Ethiopian roots music, with Astatke leading a stellar band of musicians from Ethiopia, London and Paris. Astatke's influence stretches beyond Africa. On hearing French compilation Ethiopian Groove: The Golden Seventies (Blue Silver, 1994) Boston saxophonist Russ ...read more
Jazz Finland Festival/European Jazz Conference Hotel Crowne Plaza/Various Venues jny: Helsinki, Finland September 18-21, 2014 When the steamship RMS Andania docked in the port of Helsinki in 1926 it unloaded more than just cargo. The American jazz group the Andania Yankees that disembarked stayed for two months and effectively kick-started jazz in the Finnish capital. Today, Finnish jazz is in rude health and it was the mission of the Finnish Jazz Federation to showcase a broad cross-section of its finest up-and-coming jazz talent to the two hundred or so jazz professionals gathered in Helsinki ...read more
Van Morrison Limerick Jazz Festival University Concert Hall Limerick, Ireland September 25, 2014 Who would have thought that Van Morrison commands a following as loyal and dedicated as fans of the Grateful Dead? The tickets for the singer's concert in Limerick had sold out in an hour and a half, which must have been particularly satisfying for the organizers of the third Limerick Jazz Festival, but more remarkable were the pilgrimages people had made to catch the Celtic soul man. Fans had journeyed from America, England, Sweden and Switzerland. Many more ...read more
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