As summer keeps going, there seems to be exciting growth in the Bath and Bristol’s local jazz scene if the Autumn programme is anything to go by. The familiar seems to be thriving; large venues with established programmes like St. Georges, and Colston Hall in Bristol, Wiltshire Music Centre in Bradford on Avon and clubs like the BeBop Club in Bristol and Bath’s Jazz at the Vaults session at St. James Wine Vaults all have great programmes. Encouragingly, new venues and sessions are appearing and new music by local players seems to be another theme.
There really is something for every jazz flavoured palate. The David Murray Big Band, and Hugh Masekela are undoubted international highlights of St. George’s Autumn jazz programme in October and November respectively. UK based American bass player Michael Janish brings a transatlantic quintet there in late November with the incredible Liam Noble on piano. Expect burning contemporary jazz. The main Colston Hall hosts Jamie Cullum and Madeline Peyroux and goes left-field with a double bill of the Roller Trio and Go Go Penguin , plenty of genres referenced with rock lurking nearby. In Bradford on Avon, Wiltshire Music Centre features classic Jazz with Claire Teal in October and Terry Seabrook’s Milestones (a recreation of Kind of Blue era Miles) later in the season with Larry Stabbins’ band with the fabulous Zoe Rahman on piano bringing their celebration of Coltrane in November.
The local club scene reliably provides week to week magic with local players of the highest quality often mixing with the country’s finest. This a regular occurrence at St. James Wines Vaults in Bath, the session hosted by a top drawer house trio led by bass man Wade Edwards with visiting soloists. Alan Barnes, not to be missed, is there on 19th September and then expect rising national stars Josh Arcoleo and James Gardiner Bateman in following sessions. Legend on guitar Jim Mullen is expected in November and Craig Crofton will be a Christmas treat. Excitingly there are new clubs appearing in Bristol. Fringe Jazz in Clifton is soon to celebrate a year of a weekly programme on a Thursday that features really fine bands of mainly Bristol musicians – Andy Sheppard, James Morton, Denny Illet are regulars. The Future Inn has also re-started a jazz programme weekly with Freight (Craig Crofton Sax), Andy Hague Quintet and Dan Moore Trio (played with Andy Sheppard, Pee Ellis, etc) coming up in September. Notably, Ian Storrer has put together a jazz programme for the Autumn based at the Hen and Chicken in Bedminster bringing really top class bands to Bristol. It starts on the 15th September with the Ivo Neame Quintet. Neame is the pianist in trio Phronesis who have forged an genuinely international reputation playing dense, fluent contemporary jazz. On the 22nd is altoist Martin Speake’s trio with the amazing Mike Outram on Guitar and in October Julian Arguelles’ Quartet with Kit Downes. If you wanted to taste the best UK has to offer in current jazz then this series is one to check out.
Bristol’s BeBop Club has secured a grant from Jazz Services/ PRS to promote bands playing their own material. They are using it to kick off an impressive Autumn programme with the George Cooper Quintet. George is a young, relatively new to the area pianist who is one to watch and catch if you can. The September programme also includes Andy Sheppard’s Pushy Doctors, another one not to miss. Original and new music is the focus of the newly established Bristol Composer Collective set up by Bath bass player Greg Cordez. They are playing monthly at The Wardrobe Theatre, White Bear Pub, Cotham Bristol. September 16th is the next gig. Expect to see Bristol and Bath’s finest musicians in unexpected combinations. Back in Bath, the Ring o Bells in Widcombe and Gascoyne Place both continue with weekly Sunday evening sessions of real variety and quality, both are free entry.
This is not a comprehensive preview, but there’s enough here to signal there’s a real spring in the step of the jazz scene in this part of the world as we head for Autumn.