May has been been a rather special and musical month. Kicking off with the Cheltenham Festival and the long awaited much heralded return of Loose Tubes, now thoroughly reviewed and lauded (a couple of tasters here and here) local gigs have kept up the intensity. Jon Turney was gripped by the Hilliard Ensemble‘s Bath Festival visit with Jan Garbarek, a lovely account in LondonJazzNews. The exhilarating trio Phronesis touched down in Bristol late in the month for a great gig (preceded by an epic day, hanging out with Bristol musos by all accounts). My account of that will appear in Jazzwise in due course (the gig that is..), but they made waves wherever they played. Peter Bacon, as ever, captures the thrill from their Birmingham visit. That had been preceded by a frenetic week of quality from Printmakers in Bradford on Avon, Jazz at the Vaults in Bath and Riff Raff in Bristol. In between, there’s been plenty of listening and the opportunity to review two very different, but great new CDs for LondonJazz – very nice to get the chance. Tim Garland‘s Song to the North Sky showcases the breadth of his interests in a two CD set, one of his small band Lighthouse and the other with an orchestral string section (My review here). If that one draws on a career of music making, so too does Jake McMurchie‘s debut release with Michelson-Morley, Aether Drift. It’s been a long time coming, but worth the wait. Some of this material had its first airing at the Bristol Composers Collective, a reminder that their monthly below the radar gigs are well worth checking out. My review, again for London Jazz here. The annual workshop weekend, Play Jazz Weekend was sold out, intense and a lot of fun, I performed my usual tea making, sandwich ordering duties with a bit of accompanying singers thrown in – a separate post coming about that one. The connection between musicians and an extensive networks of courses and weekly workshops (a taste of just how many there are here) is worth musing on briefly. Rounding it all off with a visit to Ronnie Scott’s to hear the London Vocal Project was icing on the cake. If they start crowd-funding to make a recording of their ‘Jon Hendricks lyrics to Miles Ahead’ project, I’ll be first in line.