Alex Garnett on Jazz FM with Helen Mayhew

For those of you who missed Alex Garnett’s radio appearance on Jazz FM (originally broadcasted on 28/08/11), you can listen to it by clicking here and going into archives:

Changes to Alex Garnett CD Release Mini Tour dates in Sept!

For those of you who were on your way to Ronnie Scott’s for Alex Garnett’s Launch Date Performance, due to scheduling issues, Alex’s quartet will now be appearing there on the 7 AND 8 for the early set from 7:15-8:15 both nights.  Sorry for anyone who has made plans already, this was out of Alex’s control.  Also, this then means that the Yardbird date in Birmingham on the 8th is cancelled as well.  We hope you can make it to Ronnies anyway, and Alex will be on tour throughout September supporting the official release of ‘Serpent’ on the 5th.  Thank  you.

Gear up for Irish Guitarist’s Mark McKnight’s ‘Do or Die’ album launch tour!!

Northern Ireland native Mark McKnight is about to embark on an extensive Ireland/UK tour next month, with over a dozen events in support of his forthcoming WWR release, ‘Do or Die’ featuring his unique organ quartet with one of the most valued and accomplished saxophonists of the last 20 years, Seamus Blake.  The touring band will also feature from the album, Ross Stanley on organ and James Maddren on drums.  Don’t miss these dates if they are in your area!  McKnights album is beaming with lush harmonies, beautifully unfolding contemporary compositions, and world class improvisations by all on board. And, if you’re a guitarist, then you have to hear this band and pick up a copy of the album, because there is no doubt that McKnight will firmly place himself on the international map as one of jazz’s premier young guitarists, who showcases a ridiculous (in a good way!) sound and tone, clean and precise chops, and an overall output as a musician and bandleader that is hardly matched by any of his generation, anywhere– This guy is really on the money! The album launches officially on Sept 26; however, advance copies will be available on tour.

JazzWise Magazine has done a preview, which is copied below, followed by the touring dates, or the touring dates can be viewed in the Events section, or on Mark’s own website which can be viewed by clicking HERE.


Guitarist Mark McKnight releases his Organ Quartet’s first album, Do or Die, on Monday 26 September which will be backed up by a nationwide tour. Alongside the guitarist the new record features saxophonist Seamus Blake, organist Ross Stanley and drummer James Madden, who will play the launch gig at Ronnie Scott’s on Thursday 29 September.

McKnight’s profile as a significant figure on the European jazz scene has been steadily rising over recent years. He has appeared at major jazz festivals including London and Montreux, and won the Best Young Irish Musician Award at the Cork Jazz Festival. He has also been chosen to represent Ireland in the 12 Points Festival (Norway) and the UK in the European Jazz Orchestra.

Since the release of his debut album, Overnight, in 2009, McKnight has focused on developing this UK-based organ band who have been met with critical acclaim when touring. Blake, who has worked with Herbie Hancock and Wayne Shorter and is a long-standing member of the Mingus Big Band, joined the group for its 2010 tour, which took the musicians to sell out performances at the Belfast Festival and the Cork Jazz Festival. McKnight has described the band as ‘the perfect combination of musicians’, and the energetic album reinforces the guitarist’s improvisation and composition skills as well as the musicians’ considerable empathy, reminding us that he is certainly one to watch.

The September tour begins in Bristol (venue TBA) on Sunday 18 September and the rest is as follows: The 606 Club, London (19th), Dempsey’s, Cardiff (20th), The Griffin, Glasgow (21st), Seven Arts, Leeds (22nd), Millennium Hall, Polish Centre, Sheffield (23rd), The Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre, Dublin (24th), Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast (25th), The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen (26th), The Cluny, Newcastle (27th), Swansea Jazzland (28th), Ronnie Scott’s, London (29th), The Spice of Life, London (29th), Great Northern Hotel, Peterborough (30th).


‘Do or Die’ Album Release Tour featuring Seamus Blake Sept-Oct 2011

18.9.11: Future Inns/ **Venue Subject to Change** Bristol, UK

19.9.11: The 606 Club, Chelsea, London, England,

20.9.11: Dempsey’s, Cardiff, Wales, UK,

21.09.11: The Griffin, Glasgow Scotland, UK

22.09.11: Seven Arts, Leeds, England,

23.09.11:  Millennium Hall, Sheffield, England

24.09.11:  The Seamus Ennis Cultural Center, Naul, Fingal, Co. Dublin, Ireland

25.09.11:  Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast, Norther Ireland

26.09.11: The Blue Lamp, Aberdeen, Scotland

27.09.11:  The Cluny, Newcastle, England

28.09.11: Swansea Jazzland, Swansea, Wales

CD LAUNCH EVENT!!!!!!!!  29.09.11: Time – 7.15pm (opening set) Ronnie Scott’s, Soho, London

29.09.11: 9 pm. The Spice of Life, London, England,

30.09.11:  The Great Northern Hotel, Petersborough, England,

Michael Janisch 4 star review Financial Times w/ Logan Richardson

Michael Janisch’s creative Jazz Residency at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho London has seen some of the world’s greatest jazz artists showcased in a unique atmosphere. Earlier this month, Janisch brought Logan Richardson over from NYC to perform all brand new music from one of jazz’s most promising new artists.  Reprinted below is the four star review in the Financial Times by Mike Hobart, who really ‘got’ the gig!


Logan Richardson, PizzaExpress Jazz Club, London

By Mike Hobart

The Kansas City-born soprano and alto saxophonist Logan Richardson is a rising star of New York’s left field, and at this edgy concert of contemporary jazz, a handpicked local rhythm section first mastered and then flowed freely over the intricacies of his harmonically dense compositions.

Richardson is an intense improviser, who punctuates his long lines with slurs and silences, frequently pausing to find pathways through the structures he has created. Momentum was maintained by Michael Janisch’s counterpoint bass and the percussive ping of Jim Hart’s subtly shaded vibraphone. It was a tense gig that stretched each player to the full and deserved its rousing encore.

Richardson opened both sets with long-drawn themes for soprano. Playing off microphone, his ripe, centred and breathy tone filled the club. Hart sketched the hard-to-follow harmonies with precision, added a second voice and casually flicked at the pulse before Richardson tumbled gently to the lower register and the start of his solo.

The saxophonist is a cerebral improviser with a tough-toned veneer, who approaches each composition as though it is a mountain to climb. He pauses as though searching for an ever more precarious foothold, resolves increasingly abstract statements at unexpected moments and even the simplest phrase is pitched on harmony’s outer rim. His compositions are custom built for this approach, with elliptic structures, climaxes that end in a whisper and melodies stretched tautly across the beat. And just as tension reaches breaking point, he delivers a blues-laced lick or a staccato riff.

Both sets featured a standard – “Everything Happens to Me” in the first set, a blues in the second – and both sets added an idiosyncratic original from Hart. Richardson introduced the covers obliquely, unaccompanied and unannounced, stabbing at their core phrases with the ice-cold logic of a cool-school veteran. Hart’s writing was a rhythmic contrast, with cat and mouse bass, pedal points and hints of samba, though, like Richardson, his compositions were full of illusions and pitfalls.

The band gelled from the outset, with Hart delivering a masterclass of understated accompaniment and full-on solos. By the encore, they were playing with the confidence of a seasoned quartet and even drummer Dave Smith could cast caution to the winds.

4 stars

Partikel recieves great review for Brecon Jazz Festival Headlining appearance

Young super trio Partikel, soon to release their next album ‘Cohesion’ on WWR, will be starting a season of intense touring in support of their new release, ‘Cohesion’ which will be available in the form of advance copies sometime soon, but officially released in January of 2012.  They just got done performing to a very receptive crowd at one of the UK’s biggest international jazz festivals in the amazingly beautiful surroundings of the Brecon Beacons in Wales (other WWR artists were there headlining as well such as Michael Janisch’s Purpose Built Quintet, etc).  Here pasted below is the full ‘play by play’ review of the gig, done so eloquently by a great writer named Ian Mann who writes for his own site called The Jazz Mann.  Ian is a great jazz writer in that he actually brings the reader to the gig, and by the end of the article, you feel somehow that you may have seen/heard the performance.  A lot of jazz writers have agendas (yawn) or just like proving to the reader that they know a lot about jazz by referencing way too many historical jazz figures (which usually has nothing to do with the music they are reviewing) or just try and complicate what they heard by trying to impress with cliche lines or overwriting with big words (which also usually have nothing to do with the music they are reviewing). Consequently, the reader has no idea what actually happened at the concert!  Ian, however, is all about the music, reports across the scene with no discrimination against any style of jazz, and is a welcomed presence on the UK jazz critic scene for both readers and musicians alike.  His site is HERE and is highly recommended.  The article on Partikel is below, or on his site.


Saturday at Brecon Jazz Festival, 13/08/2011.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Saturday at Brecon provided an interesting cross section of music from a selection of very different artists.


Saturday at Brecon brought improved weather (Friday had been drizzly and unseasonably chilly) and another raft of difficult choices about who and what to see.


I began with Partikel, a young London based saxophone trio who had impressed me with their eponymous 2010 début album (see review elsewhere on this site). This followed on nicely from my final show on Friday, a trio led by the French bassist Stephane Kerecki and also featuring saxophone and drums. The Kerecki group had been quiet and considered but Partikel, led by saxophonist Duncan Eagles, offered a wholly different take on the saxophone trio with their free-wheeling but highly melodic improvisations.

Initially I was surprised by just how youthful the trio are. Eagles belies his boyish, bespectacled appearance with a huge tenor sax tone that is given suitable propulsion by the muscular bass lines of the equally youthful Max Luthert and the powerful, highly colourful drumming of the slightly older Eric Ford. The trio update the tradition of Sonny Rollins with an almost rock sensibility and they consistently strike just the right balance between structure and freedom. The opener “Follow Diversion”  is scheduled to appear on the trio’s second album “Cohesion” which will be released on bassist Michael Janisch’s Whirlwind record label later in the year. Partikel will be touring in the autumn to release the new album and we’ll let you have the dates as soon as we have them. The new record will again feature the distinctive artwork of Alban Lowe.

All of the material on the trio’s first album came from the pen of Eagles but “Cohesion” will also feature the writing of Max Luthert. The bassist’s attractive composition “Assam”, the title a comment on his compulsive tea drinking habit, featured Eagles on soprano, his playing ranging from the airy to the acerbic. The tune was also something of a showcase for Ford who introduced the piece at the drum kit and later enjoyed a series of extended breaks. He supplements the range of the conventional kit with an array of small percussive devices (cowbell, woodblocks etc.) which help to give him a highly individual sound.

“Oojimaflip” from the first album, with Eagles back on tenor, was a good representation of the trio’s virtues with some powerful but always melodic playing and a high degree of interaction between the members of the group.

Drummer Pharaoh Russell’s distinctive name makes him a frequent dedicatee of other people’s tunes (Polar bear’s “Drunken Pharaoh for instance). I’m pretty sure that Partikel’s “The Blood Of The Pharaoh” is another with Ford introducing the piece at the drums and with Eagles’ tenor beavering away with a series of nagging phrases. A solo bass interlude by Luthert provided the bridge into “Market Place” with Eagles switching to soprano. The sound of his soprano dancing above Luthert’s bass rumble and Ford’s polyrhythmic drumming sometimes reminded me of the great Dave Liebman, not a bad role model.

Luthert’s resonant solo bass introduced the ballad “Conquistador” from the trio’s début album with Eagles’ tenor tender and breathy. However the tune took off part way through with turbo charged tenor erupting over a backdrop of polyrhythmic, mallet driven drumming.

The next tune was unannounced but boasted a song like structure as did “Cryptography” from the trio’s début. Eagles suggested to me that the more soulful, song like elements of his playing were in part informed by the music of the great alto saxophonist Kenny Garrett, currently something of an Eagles favourite.

Another new tune, “Optimist” ended the trio’s set on an appropriately high note. Partikel had seized the moment and come up with an exciting, brilliantly played set that helped get my Saturday off to something of a flyer. The quality of the new tunes suggest that the band’s second album is going to be well worth waiting for and I shall endeavour to catch them again on their Autumn tour. If they keep producing live performances of this quality the buzz surrounding Partikel should continue to grow.

Immediately after this Eagles had to rush off to the Market Hall to appear with Derek Nash’s jazz cum funk outfit Sax Appeal. He later told me that if anything this was the more difficult gig as it entailed having to sight read some pretty tricky Nash charts. All part of the learning curve though, and if somebody of Nash’s calibre rates Eagles’ playing it’s pretty certain that he’s destined to be a significant figure on the UK jazz scene.

Alex Garnett’s ‘Serpent’ gets great review in All About Jazz

Here is the link (CLICK HERE) to read the latest review on ‘Serpent’ by Alex Garnett on the very popular website All About Jazz.  The article is also reprinted below:

By Bruce Lyndsay

Published: August 18, 2011

Alex Garnett: Serpent

The Alex Garnett who peers out of the cover of Serpent looks a little aggressive and wild- eyed, with odd vertical slits where his pupils should be—a serpent indeed. The Garnett on the inside is more benign, but with a contemporary hipness. In the excellent black and white back cover photo, the besuited saxophonist is cool and focused, the stylish bopper who could easily have been photographed on a 52nd street club stage in the ’50s. When he plays, Garnett reveals himself to be all three men: wild, hip and cool in turn.

The British alto and tenor saxophonist has been a professional player for 20 years, a first-call sideman for artists as diverse as Scott Hamilton, Wynton Marsalis and Van Morrison and a regular member of the Ronnie Scott‘s All Stars. Serpent is his recording debut as leader: a straight-ahead session strongly infused with the blues. Recorded in one day in 2009 at Systems Two in Brooklyn, this all-originals session impresses on numerous levels, including the quality of Garnett’s writing, the playing skills of the individual musciians and the way in which they lock in together as a unit despite relatively little rehearsal (a deliberate strategy on Garnett’s part).

Garnett is accompanied by a trio of top American players. UK-based bassist Michael Janisch, pianist Anthony Wonsey and drummer Willie Jones III form a strong partnership, supporting Garnett’s lead playing sympathetically and seizing their chances to solo.

Serpent features two slow but contrasting tunes: “Three For A Moor” is a warm and inviting ballad; and “Dracula’s Lullaby,” as befits its title, has more of a noir-ish feel—thanks, especially, to Wonsey’s sparse chordal work and Janisch’s bass solo. More upbeat tunes, like the catchy “Blueprint,” which features a surprisingly funky arco solo from Janisch, and the slinky, Latin sound of “The Pimp,” swing from the first note. “Saluda Hakim” is a tribute to Charlie Parker, a swinging bop composition with an irresistible hook and fine solos from every musician, while “Atonement” is Garnett’s smoothly flowing take on “When The Saints Go Marching In.”

Serpent‘s title is a reference to a precursor of the saxophone, and recognition of the inventiveness of Adolphe Sax. It’s the musicians’ inventiveness that stands out on the album, however, a belated but emphatic debut for Garnett as bandleader.

Track Listing: Lydia; Three For A Moor; Blueprint; Dracula’s Lullaby; Saluda Hakim; The Pimp; Serpent; Atonement.

Personnel: Alex Garnett: alto saxophone, tenor saxophone; Anthony Wonsey: piano; Michael Janisch: bass; Willie Jones III: drums.

Phil Robson’s ‘The Immeasurable Code’ featuring Mark Turner, preview tracks now up!

Preview tracks for the monumental next album in the illustrious career of UK guitar giant Phil Robson are now available.  Just click on the image to the left on the homepage or click on ‘store/cds’.  The album was recorded live over a series of nights at the end of Robson’s two week UK tour in early 2011.  The album features the iconic saxophonist Mark Turner, playing his trademark tenor sax, but he also a few tracks on soprano, which is very rare to hear on record.  The music is full of energy, maturity and empathy and really does exhibit a band of young masters putting music making as the first priority. It really goes to show how good an idea it is to record music at the END of a tour!!  Robson’s compositions are nothing short of incredible– a perfect blend of old, new, heart and mind, and all uniquely his own… This album is a real example of a musician who has completely come into his own and it will surely solidify Robson’s place among the elite jazz performers/composers working in Europe today. Advance copies may be available sometime soon, but the album Launches in stores and digitally worldwide on Nov 7th, 2011.