Wednesday, November 19, 2008

so much jazz, so little time *

Alan Barnes Octet, Esbjorn Svensson Memorial, Tommy Smith Youth Jazz Orchestra @ Southbank Centre, this week

The London Jazz Festival is, in my view, a fine and noble thing: ten days of gigs all over London--many of them free--featuring top class jazz musicians of many creeds and various hues (Scandinavians in particular seem to feature heavily this year).

I'm not done with it yet, but already I've managed to fit in a) an authoritative and sensitively presented appreciation of the work of Swedish groundbreakers E.S.T. whose pianist and main composer, Esbjorn Svensson, so tragically died last year, and b) one of the best gigs I've been to in the last twelve months courtesy of saxophonist, bandleader and part-time stand-up comedian, Alan Barnes.

E.S.T. has been a name I've known for a couple of years although I never got to hear their music and sadly will never now see them live. Better late than never I'm sure but my Amazon shopping list gets another hammering as a result. This is what they're good at...

On Monday I went on something of a crash course on the music of Duke Ellington. Firstly an interesting talk presented by Radio 3's Alyn Shipton featuring Alan Barnes and Tony Faulkner. Faulkner has taken various tunes from Ellington's huge repertoire--mainly scored for big band--and arranged them for octet. Performing approximately three hours' worth of them this evening were Barnes and some of the greatest jazz players I have ever heard. Step forward in particular Tony Coe and Andy Panayi, masters respectively of the clarinet and flute.

* with apologies to John Fordham

No comments: