There is a feast of jazz of all varieties and vintage to be sampled over the next couple of months in the Bath and Bristol area with a few intriguing, mainly co-incidental threads. The first has to do with the influential Tomorrows Warriors. They emerged in the late eighties in London as the Jazz Warriors and were sustained as an idea and incubator for talent by bass player Gary Crosby. The roll call of players who have made their mark on the British scene graduating from the varous incarnations of this band is lengthy; Courtney Pine, Andrew McCormark and Jason Yarde all performed in Bath at the festival back in May for instance. Tony Kofi, who has forged an international reputation, launched Bath’s Jazz at the Vaults sessions at St. James Wine Vaults in style the other week. Byron Wallen, another Warriors graduate with an international reputation returns to the Vaults on October 18th having loved his previous visit there. Meanwhile, the Lively Up Festival comes to Bristol. Its a traveling series of events celebrating 50 years since Jamaican independence and produced by the Tomorrow’s Warriors team. The latest spin-off of Tomorrows Warriors, the Nu Civilisation Orchestra performs at St. Georges Bristol on the 10th October performing music composed and inspired by the late Joe Harriot. They’ll be supported by the Bristol Reggae Orchestra, a phenomenal community music orchestra. It’ll be a great night. A second strong thread this Autumn is the quality of the other contemporary British jazzers visiting the area. If they’ll forgive the age reference, I’ve spotted at least three generations! Art Themen, tenor sax man supreme and Brit jazz scene living legend who started out jamming with Alexis Korner in the London blues scene of the sixties and inspired by Dexter Gordon and Sonny Rollins is back for another visit to Jazz at the Vaults in December. Bristol’s BeBop Club has fantastic programme this Autumn and two I’ll pick out for the the succeeding generations are Kate Williams on the 5th October, long established London based pianist and composer who brings a top notch quartet in a modern, straight ahead vein; a little sample on youtube here . Saxophonist Trish Clowes visits the club on the 12th, representing my third generation. Both her debut and recently released second album have caused quite a stir, blending genres and influences whilst retaining real improvisational flair. Although not a Brit, it would be odd not to mention the visit of American pianist Fred Hersch to Bristol on Thursday. Its a solo performance so his mastery of the instrument and take on the jazz canon will be on uncluttered display. Maybe not a household name, he’s definitely a giant and an influence on many current players (his former pupils include Brad Mehldau and Ethan Iverson of the Bad Plus). The final thread to pull on is the richness and quality of the local scene. Many of the players are themselves genuine stars. So regular gigs in Bath include the already mentioned Jazz at the Vaults (guitarist Denny Illett on the 4th Cotober, and be sure to check out Jake McMurchie of Get the Blessing on 29th October as well); Sunday evenings at the Ring o Bells are reliably first class and include occasional slots for Dave Newton and John Laws, that’s if you haven’t been lured by the programme at Gascoyne Place. In Bristol, in addition to the BeBop Club and St. Georges there’s a wealth of regular gigs indluding at Colston Hall Foyer (early evening and free), quirky, genre busting programmes at The Rose of Denmark in Hotwells and El Rincon in Southville programmed by Pete Judge (also of Get the Blessing) and notably a new session starting at the Fringe Bar in Clifton every Thursday from the 4th; Staring with the incendiary pairing of Andy Shepppard and James Morton this week and continuing with a weekly programme which includes a few slots of the Pushy Doctors who raised the roof at the Bell recently. What an embarrassment of riches. The main challenge will be deciding what to go to.
Autumn Treats to come in Bath and Bristol