London Calling


Ornette Coleman's Meltdown is the Best Ever

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Ornette Coleman's MeltdownLondonJune 12-21, 2009

Ever since it was announced in late March that Ornette Coleman was to curate the 2009 Meltdown festival at the South Bank, Coleman seemed to dominate the capital. The festival's trademark image (shown below) of a young Coleman soulfully eyeballing the camera was everywhere, on larger-than-life posters in the London underground, in adverts in papers and magazines, on flyers and handbills, and online. It was mesmerising and inescapable. But no-one wanted to escape it.

Instead, music fans were abuzz with speculation about the acts that ...


Ronnie Scott's and the London Scene

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Historically, the London jazz scene has played an important part in the growth of the music and its appreciation although most of that importance has to do with English performers and writers and less with jazz venues. For decades, when you went to London, you thought of only one club--Ronnie Scott's. And even though there are several new boites about the city, a recent visit revealed that, despite the new establishments, very few Londoners and visitors out for a jazz evening will venture beyond the traditional haunt--Ronnie Scott's is still the place.

My sense of the jazz consciousness ...


Freedom of the City 2007

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Freedom of the City, the annual festival of radical and improvised music curated by Evan Parker, Eddie Prévost and Martin Davidson, returns over the May Bank holiday weekend, at the Red Rose club in Finsbury Park, north London. As in recent years, the music will be provided by an exciting mix of familiar favourites, lesser known London-based players and visiting musicians. No booking required...

Sunday, May 6th, 4pm:

Eddie Prévost (percussion), Joe Williamson (double bass), Alan Wilkinson (alto & baritone saxophones)

Unit: Cheung Yiu Munn (flute with foot pedals), Thanh Trung Nguyen (alto saxophone and clarinet), Andy Martin (alto saxophone ...


London Jazz Festival Preview: November 10th to 19th

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Now that autumn is here, the London Jazz Festival can't be far behind. This year, the LJF runs from Friday 10th November until Sunday 19th November. In those ten days, the festival will include its usual mix of jazz superstars and legends, rising stars, crowd pleasers, cult heroes, great freebies, plus--with nearly twenty gigs on some days--a large slice of frustration that one cannot be in two (or more) places at once. Birthday celebrations abound this year--Dave Holland's 60th, Mike Westbrook's 70th, Stan Tracey's 80th... Here are some of the many highlights plus tips on how to get the most ...


Fond Farewells / Freedom of the City / John Tchicai / Dan Flavin / Barbican Jazz

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Fond Farewells

Since London Calling last appeared, we have all been saddened by the deaths of Derek Bailey and Elton Dean. Both leave behind a huge legacy ... and a vast unfillable gap. Anyone who has ever experienced their music knows that they will not be forgotten.

Freedom of the City 2006

For lovers of radical and improvised music (or even for the mildly curious), Freedom of the City is one of the highlights of the year in the capital. The programme for this year's festival is now out and is an exciting blend of familiar ...


May 2005: A Good Month

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May was a month of celebration across the capital, largely because of success on the football field. But there were also some notable musical highlights. Here is a précis of the month.

Sunday 1st: Red Rose Club

Freedom of the City Festival

For financial reasons, this year's festival was reduced to only one day and moved from its perennial venue, Conway Hall. Nonetheless, it was an excellent day. It deliberately featured groupings that had never played together before (with the exception of the London Improvisers Orchestra, who closed proceedings), with the focus on duos ...


Stan Tracey Interview; Freedom of the City; Ornette at 75; New Vortex

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Index Stan Tracey Interview Freedom of the City Festival 2005 Ornette Coleman at 75 New Vortex Opens in May

Often referred to as the Godfather of British jazz, Stan Tracey has had an illustrious career in music spanning over sixty years. Despite his status, Tracey is surprisingly modest, even self deprecating about his achievements, happy to leave it to others to analyse and praise his work. He recently released an album of free playing in a duo with Louis Moholo-Moholo, entitled Khumbula (Remember). I started by asking him about this.AAJ: You and Louis had not played ...


Jazz Britannia

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The history of jazz in the UK is a fascinating but tortuous affair, involving factionalism, class conflict, rejuvenation from immigration, youth revolt, social upheaval, decline, survival and revival. Between now and mid-February, there is an ideal opportunity to embark on an intensive crash course in many aspects of jazz in the UK, both live and on TV.

Remarkably (given how rarely jazz is given any airtime on television), cable TV channel BBC Four is the main focus of a season of programmes collectively called Jazz Britannia . At the heart of this season are three specially commissioned hour-long documentaries covering ...


2005 Previewed

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Happy Birthday, Kenny!

Very best wishes to Kenny Wheeler who will be 75 on 14th January. To celebrate, Kenny is touring with musicians who have played a special role in his musical life, including Dave Holland, Evan Parker, Norma Winstone and Lee Konitz. The concerts will culminate in a new big band work commissioned by BBC Radio 3; the 18 piece big band will include such long term Wheeler associates as John Barclay, Ian Hamer, Henry Lowther, Derek Watkins, Julian Arguelles, Duncan Lamont, Stan Sulzmann and Ray Warleigh.

Friday January 14th, Queen Elizabeth Hall , London 0870 401 8181 Saturday ...


2004 in Review: From John Cage to John Peel

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Having overcome endless computer virus problems, London Calling is back. Here is a brief overview of some of the things that should have been covered this year. January Its John Cage weekend confirmed the Barbican as the most adventurous and innovative concert venue in London. The highlight of the weekend was Musicircus, a vast, free extravaganza featuring 433 musicians, which filled every nook and cranny of the Barbican's labyrinthine foyer spaces. The diversity of musicians and styles was overwhelming; Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones playing by John Tilbury of AAM on prepared piano, who was ...


SMiLE, You're in Rock 'n' Roll Heaven with Brian Wilson

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I don't really know why he came halfway across the world to do it, but he did. Brian Wilson came to London and took over the Royal Festival Hall for a week to give us six live performances of one of the most famous albums never to have been released - the legendary SMiLE - prior to touring with it.

Back in 1966/7, SMiLE was to be the follow up to The Beach Boys' classic Pet Sounds album, itself often cited as the most perfect album ever made. SMiLE was going to build on the worldwide success of the revolutionary ...


Kenny Wheeler, Ennio Morricone and Wayne Shorter

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This Month: Kenny Wheeler Interview Ennio Morricone Turns 75 Wayne Shorter and more...

Although he was born in Canada, Kenny Wheeler has been in the UK for over fifty years now, so we feel like he is our own.

I initially asked Wheeler for this interview at a gig at The Vortex last summer, one of the infrequent - and special - appearances of his big band, which includes such long-standing Wheeler collaborators as Evan Parker, Norma Winstone, John Taylor and Stan Sulzmann. When I told Parker that I wanted to interview Wheeler, his comment was, “There's a story there ...


Rhodri Davies

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Improvising harpist Rhodri Davies recently released his first solo album, Trem on Confront, the label run by his friend and frequent collaborator, Mark Wastell. The album marks a significant watershed in the career of Rhodri, who is one of the busier improvising musicians on the London scene. Not only does he improvise in several contrasting ensembles - IST, Cranc, Assumed Possibilities, The Sealed Knot, Broken Consort, Chris Burn's Ensemble, to name but a few - he also plays contemporary compositions with Apartment House as well as classical work plus occasion stints as accompanist to teenage soprano Charlotte Church. When I ...


Two Philip Glass Interviews

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Early in January, Philip Glass brought his Philip on Film series to The Barbican, one of the musical highlights of the year so far. During the course of that week, he gave two interviews that highlighted his working methods and his collaborations with filmmakers. As this month sees the DVD release of Naqoyqatsi - the third part of Philip Glass's and Godfrey Reggio's Qatsi trilogy (as yet unseen in the UK) - this is an opportune moment to print these interviews.

The first interview took place on January 7th following an evening of short films. Graham Sheffield (Artistic ...

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