News, latest reviews and upcoming shows for Tori Freestone.

After a busy summer with dates at the Vortex and the Sudtirol Jazz festival, Tori and her trio (Dave Manington-bass, Tim Giles-drums) are soon to go back into the studio to record their second album.

Tori’s schedule has also included performances at Manchester Jazz Festival with Neil Yates’s ‘Surroundings Revisited’ featuring Iain Ballamy (playing the music that originally inspired the music for Tori’s album In the Chophouse) and with a new duo collaboration with pianist Alcyona Mick, featuring much of the music from
In the Chophouse at St Ann’s Church in Manchester (opposite Mr Thomas’ Chophouse).

From moments of intensity and volume to passages of calm, folk-influenced soundscapes, In The Chop House showcases this trio of experienced and eclectic musicians at their very best. Their approach to openness allows the music to dictate the proceedings which also invites the listener to take a role in the interpretation of the music. Freestone’s assent to solo artist has been a timed move, but one that has been certainly worth the wait.

For details of all Tori’s upcoming dates including her show at London’s Karamel Club during the EFG London Jazz Festival, click: here

Here are some highlights from the latest reviews in from the European press:

“Loud moments of intensity and high volume to the quiet passages from folkloric-inspired soundscapes.”
Digitale Jazz Zeitung (website)

“Varied, edgy and lyrical at the same time​.”
Musik Reviews (website)

“​These three young jazz musicians draw so many elegant strings between melody and improvisation.”​
Sound And Image (website)

“This is not your typical jazz album, but rather the fusions of free jazz, rock oriented elements, with harmony and discord going hand in hand. There is a significant British expression at work… a promising debut.”
Musik an Sich (website)

​”The trio trust each other’s peculiarities and subtleties.” ​
Melodiva (website)

“Tori Freestone’s debut was well worth the wait.”
Medien Info (website)​

“Strong improvisation, lyrical and interactive saxophone​…”
In Music

“Three experienced and versatile musicians in top form.” ​ ​
Rheinmain Magazine


Here’s a full length version of ‘The Universal 4’


NYSQ (David Berkman, Tim Armacost, Gene Jackson, Michael Janisch) announce tour dates to include EFG London Jazz Festival show.

The New York Standards Quartet (NYSQ) will be in Europe and the UK for a short series of shows culminating with an appearance at the EFG London Jazz Festival at Pizza Express on 22nd November 2015 (tickets)

David Berkman (piano), Tim Armacost (sax) and Gene Jackson (drums) have been performing together as NYSQ since 2006 and for these forthcoming shows they will be joined by Whirlwind’s Michael Janisch (bass).

Conceptually, the NYSQ strives to develop its own language within the tradition of performing standard jazz repertoire.

The Guardian, in a glowing, four-star review of the band’s last tour across the UK, asserts that the NYSQ is “a group devoted to radical reinvention of famous pop songs and Broadway show tunes. Plenty of contemporary jazz artists do that, but few more divertingly than this vivacious foursome, who delightedly cherish the originals while brusquely deconstructing their harmonies and tweaking their melodies, sometimes only slipping in the original theme on the way out of the piece. This is a collective class act.”

Tour dates

For more details click: here

Nov 13:  Sheffield Jazz

Nov 16th – 17th – Lemmens Institute, Leuven

Nov 18th Jazz Podium De Werf

Nov 19: Cambridge Jazz

Nov 20: Hull Jazz Festival, University of Hall

Nov 22: EFG London Jazz Festival, Pizza Express

Ivo Neame Quintet at 606 Club and Wakefield Jazz this week + latest news and reviews for ‘Strata’.

This week, Ivo Neame has been in the studio recording for BBC Radio 2 and there are two chances to see him this week with his Quintet. Tonight (28th Oct) he is at the 606 Club and Friday (30th Oct) he will be at Wakefield Jazz

Recent release Strata continues to draw an enthusiastic response from the music press both in the UK and across Europe. (Scroll down for the highlights and to hear a full track from the album).

Collaborating again with UK luminaries (including three fellow Whirlwind artists) Tori Freestone (saxes/flutes), Jim Hart (vibraphone), Tom Farmer (bass) and Dave Hamblett (drums), this collection of eight Neame originals gyrates energetically with complex written grooves and varying instrumental colors to spark opportunities for venturous, improvised blowing.

“A quintet of exceptional British Musicians.” ​
Drum Heads (website)

 ​”Anyone who has admired in Phronesis Neame’s piano style, his almost stoic stops, almost erratic chord blocks will find [on Strata] even more powerful expressiveness, with distinctive eclectic moments that are reminiscent of Stravinsky or Debussy, but also show influences of John Taylor or Keith Jarrett.”
Jazz Podium (website)

 “Fascinating… a clear and sustained statement… A musician whose style – whether through programmatic or deviating improvisational structures – differs significantly from the other jazz pianists of our time.”​
CD Aktuell (full review)

​”Packed with ideas, melodies, resolutions, and their revelations​.”
Jazz Thing (website)

Musik an Sich (website)

“Excellent, varied and exciting…”​
Musik Reviews (website)

“​Ivo Neame has presented a comprehensive and personalized vision of jazz.”​
Nachrichten (website)

​”​Energetic and complex grooves and changing timbres prepare the ground for daring improvisations. Neam​’​s eclectic game ​is ​reminiscent of Keith Jarrett, Chick Corea and John Taylor.​”
Rheinmain Magazine (website)

“Multi-layered, intricate compositions… Neame shines not only on piano, but accordion and analog synthesizers.”​
Sound and Image (website) 


Alex Garnett’s Bunch of Five to appear at EFG London Jazz Festival + HiFi & News review

Alex Garnett’s ‘Bunch of Five’ featuring Tim Armacost (sax), Liam Noble (piano), Michael Janisch (bass) and James Maddren (drums) will be taking part in this years EFG London Jazz Festival in a special double bill with the New York Standards Quartet. (Tickets)

‘Bunch of Five’ engages in original repertoire which at once is both grounded in the tradition yet aspires to push beyond the comfort bubble in its harmonic considerations and improvisations.

The musical ethos is strongly rooted in groove and swing and combines the eclectic tastes and experiences of the ensemble members.


Alex has received critical acclaim from all over Europe for Andromeda the debut from his new band and below we reprint a highlight that just came in from the Germany music site HiFi & Records.

“The echo of the tradition is very much in Alex Garnett’s Bunch of 5.”
HiFi & Records


Phil Donkin’s ‘The Gate’. Latest news and reviews include 4 Stars from Jazz Journal and a feature in Jazzwise Magazine.

The Gate is the debut album from Phil Donkin, one of the preeminent bassists of his generation in jazz and improvisation-based music

Featuring Grammy-award nominated saxophonist Ben Wendel, drummer Jochen Rüeckert and pianist Glenn Zaleski, The Gate is a debut of depth and maturity with ten original compositions and two covers (Thelonius Monk and Dmitri Shostakovich). With plenty of wit and intelligence the pieces are navigated expertly by the four members, displaying myriad textures and emotions.


Here are the highlights from the latest round of reviews in for The Gate:

“There aren’t any duds.”
Jazz Breakfast (full review)

“This one goes off like a rocket and keeps up the pace to the end.”
4 Stars, Jazz Journal (website)

“In a very short space of time Whirlwind has established a reputation as a purveyor of high quality contemporary jazz and improvised music that ranks alongside labels such as ACT and Steeplechase and this debut release by bassist and composer Donkin is further testimony of the integrity of its artistic policy.”
Jazz Views (full review)

“​Rhythmic intricacies compounded with natural and powerful elegance is [Donkin’s] game… with repeated listening the album always reveals new dimensions of depth.​”
Leipziger Volkszeitung (website)

“​This is a powerful statement.”
Hörerlebnis (website)


Here’s a full feature that appeared in a recent edition of Jazzwise Magazine (website)


Jazzwise Taking Off Phil Donkin

Jazzwise Taking Off – Phil Donkin

Pete McCann announces dates for his US ‘Range’ CD release celebration tour feat: John O’Gallagher, Henry Hey, Matt Clohesy and Mark Ferber.

New York-based guitarist Pete McCann has announced a series of US dates in support of the recent release of his fifth solo album Range.

Longstanding personnel of choice – John O’Gallagher (sax), Henry Hey (keys), Matt Clohesy (basses) and Mark Ferber (drums) will also be featuring on the tour.

The ebullient grooves and staggering improvisational proficiency contained within McCann’s peppy output point to a lifelong appreciation of guitar luminaries such as Wes Montgomery, Bill Frisell and John Scofield – yet he also reveals a no-holes-barred enthusiasm for the heavier, solid-body jazz/rock influence of Mike Stern, Allan Holdsworth and especially John McLaughlin (Pete was guitarist in convincing US tribute band The Mahavishnu Project, endorsed by the great man). Here, with his four trusted colleagues, McCann produces a compelling, immaculately-produced programme that radiates a passion for today’s thriving, progressive jazz scene.

For further information including how to book, visit: tour details


To see the latest highlights from reviews of Range, to view the promo video and to hear a full length track, visit: here


Pete McCann Range A2 Poster

BIG NEWS: Release day for Kora Band’s ‘New Cities’. Promo video + full length track.

Kora Band FB


Click here for a CD or digital albums (ALAC, FLAC MP3s and more)


An inspired third release for The Kora Band, a transatlantic quintet exploring the links between contemporary jazz and traditional West African music.”
4 Stars, Evening Standard 


 The Kora Band, an ensemble which integrates the uniquely entrancing timbre of the kora — a traditional 21-string harp from West Africa — into a jazz context, present their third release New Cities and first for Whirlwind. The new album showcases a suite composed by pianist and bandleader Andrew Oliver commissioned by the 2012 Chamber Music America New Jazz Works program. The material explores the intersection between contemporary jazz and one of its main ancestors in west African Mandinka music, exploring the boundaries between these two musical cultures and honoring the jazz tradition of combining disparate musical elements into a vibrant and coherent whole. After premiering the material at the Earshot Jazz Festival in 2013, the band spent a week at Kung Fu Bakery studios in Portland with engineer Bob Stark working on the new album.

New Cities presents a suite of compositions constructed on the foundations of traditional west African Mandinka music. Each song takes an element from a traditional piece, deconstructs it, and uses the resulting material as the basis for a new composition. The original pieces range from common tunes such as “Kaira,” made popular in the 1950’s and dedicated to an important religious teacher whose work involved mass prayers for peace and “Mami Wata,” originally a highlife guitar piece from Ghana which entered the Malian and Guinean repertoire in the post-colonial era, to obscure tunes such as “Fayinkunko,” dedicated to a mostly forgotten Gambian patron. With this approach the music retains the exciting and visceral grooves of both musics with strong melodies reminiscent of rhapsodic Mandinka vocal styles. At the same time the jazz backgrounds and improvisational skills of the band members are highlighted, resulting in a contemporary reflection of the globalized music world of the 21st century.

The Kora Band was formed in 2008 by Andrew Oliver after a tour in West Africa with the U.S. State Department and Jazz at Lincoln Center’s “Rhythm Road: American Music Abroad” program. A chance encounter with a kora player at a club in Dakar, Senegal inspired Andrew to seek out Kane Mathis, one of America’s foremost kora players and an expert in the intricacies and history of Mandinka music. The group was rounded out with drummer Mark DiFlorio, also present on the State Department tour, bassist Brady Millard-Kish, and trumpeter Chad McCullough. The group’s first album Just 4 U “…blends the swing and intellect of American jazz with the divine poetry of West African music.” (The Oregonian). Their 2010 follow-up, Cascades (OA2 Records) reached #12 on the U.S. World Music Airplay charts as well as winning 2010 Northwest Jazz Album of the Year from Earshot Jazz in Seattle. Jazziz Magazine wrote: “Whether carrying the band through streams of African or Caribbean music, or jazz homegrown in the Pacific Northwest and elsewhere in the United States, Cascades proceeds in a manner that’s unhurried and consistently inviting, in refreshing contrast to other genre-straddling projects of its general type.”





“Range maintains a real buzz through its vibrancy and impressive musicality, and is thoroughly recommendable.” London Jazz on Pete McCann’s ‘Range’ plus latest reviews

Enjoying some 25 years as a highly respected sideman on the New York circuit, multi-faceted jazz guitarist Pete McCann brings his fifth solo album Range to Whirlwind Recordings – a recording of new material that distills his vast experience of working alongside some of jazz’s greatest artists, including Kenny Wheeler, Lee Konitz, David Liebman and Pete Erskine.

Range, its title a metaphor for the breadth of his colorful musical career as well as the diversity of the sounds expressed so eloquently here with longstanding personnel of choice – John O’Gallagher (sax), Henry Hey (keys), Matt Clohesy (basses) and Mark Ferber (drums).

Here are the highlights from the latest reviews received for Range:

Range maintains a real buzz through its vibrancy and impressive musicality, and is thoroughly recommendable.”
London Jazz (full review)

Range is an album of varied styles, mostly jazz with some interesting exceptions but above all it has been put together by intelligent musicians and will repay repeated listening to appreciate the intricacy of the music.”
Sandy Brown Jazz (full review)

“For 25 years guitarist Pete McCann has been active at the forefront of the New York scene, and his new album Range is loaded with an illustrious quintet.”
4 Stars, Switzerland on Sunday (website)

“Guitarist Pete McCann and his quintet tackle ten of McCann’s forthright originals on the excellent Range. With the vigorous bass and drums team of Matt Clohesy and Mark Ferber anchoring the group’s sound, McCann, keyboardist Henry Hey and alto saxophonist John O’Gallagher are free to indulge their improvisational fancies.”
Stuart Kremsky

Listen to a full length track:  ‘Mustard’ from Range


Review round up for Mikkel Ploug’s At Black Tornado plus video from Danish TV appearance and details of solo appearance with the Royal Ballet.

Danish Guitarist Mikkel Ploug has been in the Danish national press and on TV due to his unique practice routine (see video left).

Here’s a link to the newspaper article (see) and to see Mikkel’s TV appearance with more examples of him practicing click: here

Mikkel will be playing solo guitar with the Royal Ballet at the Royal Theatre in Copenhagen on 22nd and 27th October, 3rd, 5th, 6th, 11th and 18th November and 1st December. For details or tickets click: here


Meanwhile recent release At Black Tornado (scroll down to hear a full track) has been enthusiastically received by the European music press and the latest highlights are printed below:

“Guitarist Ploug’s trio session has a talkative style that’s plenty charismatic… rich textures and sharp melodicism keep the ear riveted throughout… occasional flourishes of folk-rock are a nice touch.”
Bird Is The Worm (website)

“A Danish guitarist with a sound partly reminiscent of Mark Ribot, his country-blues-ish twang is written all over this likeable, long-standing trio recording of his originals.”
JazzTimes (website)

“Everything flows and as a result of a decade of existence of the trio ​is ​perfectly interlocked. Ploug has been one of the favorites ​of ​guitar nerd​s and​ certain magazines, now he should also be perceived beyond.​”
Leipziger Volkszeitung (website)

“​Definitely worth listening to for people who think they have heard everything.”​
Musik Reviews (website)

“Quiet, prudent and careful, very harmonious and relaxed… much elegance is on broadcast… independent and original​.”
Musik An Sich (website)

​”​​It’s rare to hear a trio where the acoustic bass pulsates with such warmth, drums play so unpretentiously and refined yet at the same time with such strong rhythm, and guitar plays with such grace.”
Saarbrücker Zeitung (website)

​”M​usic full of inspiration and self-confidence​.”​
Sol (DE) (website)

​”An emotional trip.”​
HiFi & Records (website)

“Vibrant, interesting music.”
Jazz NYT (DK) (Blog)

“​Presents the fun, commonality and connection in groove of the three musicians who have toured extensively as a unit the last decade on jazz stages worldwide.”​
Rheinmain Magazine

​”​Mikkel Ploug from Copenhagen plays a nimble guitar, semi-acoustic, Gibson, vintage look. And this vintage impression runs pleasantly through the whole album recorded together with bassist Jeppe Skovbakke and Sean Carpio ​on ​drum​s​​.”​
Sound And Image

​”A unique album.”​

“​The trio sounds as natural in the studio as on the live stage.”​

​”A highly individual sound… the maximum economy executed without any note gluttony… A thoroughly enjoyable affair.”


Here’s Comacina Dreaming from At Black Tornado


Kora Band receive 4 star reviews from The Evening Standard and All About Jazz for ‘New Cities’ (release day Friday 23rd October) and appear on STV Edinburgh.

The Kora Band, an ensemble which integrates the uniquely entrancing timbre of the kora — a traditional 21-string harp from West Africa — into a jazz context, present their third release New Cities and first for Whirlwind.

New Cities presents a suite of compositions constructed on the foundations of traditional west African Mandinka music. Each song takes an element from a traditional piece, deconstructs it, and uses the resulting material as the basis for a new composition.



Prior to it’s release on Friday 23rd October, New Cities has already received 4 Stars in both The Evening Standard and All about Jazz. Here are the highlights:

An inspired third release for The Kora Band, a transatlantic quintet exploring the links between contemporary jazz and traditional West African music.”
4 Stars, Evening Standard (see below)

“The Kora Band doesn’t really sound like any other group. This is an amazing feat, in a century supersaturated with music of every hue, and a convincing testament to the innovative sound of a jazz band successfully incorporating non-Western traditional instruments.”
4 Stars, All About Jazz (full review)

“New Cities is an accomplished work.”
Bebop Spoken Here (full review)

Kora Band also made an appearance on STV Edinburgh last week. Watch it on STV’s Twitter timeline here


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