Round up: Azhar Saffar, Jazz Factory, Emma Hutchinson

Much as I love my CDs (and mp3s, 4s etc), its  good to remember jazz is a live music. The visceral excitement of sensing a band go up a gear in a heartbeat as somethings clicks is unbeatable. Friday last week at the Bebop (27th) we arrive a bit late – sorry Azhar – but walked into the rythmn section really fizzing. Anders Olinder on piano and keyboards and Will Harris on bass were really driving the band. They both play a bit ‘up’ on the beat and impart a real sense of energy and excitement to the simplest of swing tunes. A mark of class. I liked Azhar’s repertoire as well, ranging from Chic Corea, John Mclaughlin tunes, through originals and even a beautiful ballad credited to Kurt Elling which summoned a show stopping melodic bass solo from Will Harris – I swear everyone stopped breathing. On Monday, I popped into the Jazz Factory concert,  an end of term concert for the Bradford on Avon based workshops. This is one up for the inclusive end of music making. My random pleasurable moment was wondering what the approx 14 year old alto player and the flute player who could surely have been his gran, chat about whilst waiting their turn to have a blow on C-Jam blues. There are a good 50 ish people involved in this on a regular basis. I do sometimes wonder, if there are that many people doing the music (there are a number of other such workshops in the area) why the relatively few jazz gigs struggle for audience. Emma Hutchinson down at the vaults tonight had pulled a few folk in, but numbers have been a bit low this autumn. I hear that its likely that the pub will only support a monthly gig from January. Wade Edwards has sustained a minor miracle keeping the gig going. My source tells me that Iain Ballamy will be down at the end of January to put the trio through its paces so that will start the new year with a bang. If you can’t wait that long, get down to Future Inn in Bristol on Sunday to see Iain with his stellar ‘Anorak’ band.

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