As I’ve retrieved from the memory banks gigs and moments that have stopped time for me, raised hairs on the neck or caused the pulse to race, I’m struck how many have been quiet or understated, and how many have been at festivals (large and small), and almost never the big headline gigs – not that they weren’t often all that was promised; it is my glance over the shoulder of course. So here are a few:
Mid-Saturday afternoon at Bath Jazz Weekend, an upstairs room on a corner in Bath, January 2019 Karen Street‘s band playing her tune Peace and Will Harris‘ bass intro slows the clocks for a moment. I remember it as sunny, but I think the curtains were drawn.
Another space and definitely sun-lit: St George’s Bristol bathed in light on a Sunday lunchtime as Huw Warren leads a sublime quartet playing his settings of Dylan Thomas’ poetry. It’s March and Bristol Jazz and Blues Festival (my review for ‘All About Jazz’ of the festival is here)
Cheltenham Festival in May was a feast in 2019. I still thrill at the memory of an evening in a basement listening to Nubya Garcia (London Jazz Review here). On a Sunday evening we were transported by the gentle wizardry of Marc Copland‘s solo piano set in the intimate surroundings of the Parabola Arts Centre (review here).
Ambleside Days Festival in late August at Zeffirellis: A dazzling line-up for the festival, but on a damp, Lake District Saturday afternoon a (oh let it not be!) one-off gathering of harmonica (Duerloo), piano (Chisnall), violin (Zawadzki), guitar (Walker), percussion (Sirkis) enchanted and their closer Strange Meeting. I wrote a piece for London Jazz News about the gig here. A review of the festival for ‘All About Jazz’ is here.
London Jazz Festival was epic as ever, but a couple of weeks later at the Vortex, Bridges with Seamus Blake brought their beautiful Nordic sensibility meets New York tyro set to London. An unmissable one for me.
Picking moments out doesn’t diminish the more regular outings, but these are ones that have gripped me and stuck in the memory and added colour to life in 2019.