Multi-instrumentalist and producer Emma-Jean Thackray is set to release her first full-length album Yellow on Friday 23rd July. Having released smaller projects over the past few years, Thackeray is starting to become a household name in the UK jazz scene. Trumpeter, beat-maker, singer, composer, DJ and more, Thackray’s sound is often crafted solely by her. However, she is also known for collaborations with many other musicians, and this album is no exception - featuring an amazing array of musical friends, Yellow provides the listener with a sense of much-needed togetherness. Having only listened to the album’s singles before its release, featuring infectious dance grooves, moving lyrics, soulful vocals, and beautiful jazz harmony, we cannot wait for this debut!
Saxophonist Emma Johnson has just released her debut album Worry Not alongside her Leeds-based quintet, Emma Johnson’s Gravy Boat. Featuring Fergus Vickers on guitar, Richard Jones on piano, Angus Milne on double bass and Steve Hanley on drums, the album is a cinematic experience full of warmth, and a touch of northern soul. As Johnson puts it, ‘Written after a house flood and on the brink of the pandemic, the album (and the year awaiting it's creation) encapsulates a process of having worries, acknowledging and dealing with them, and allowing them to wash away.’ This sense of letting go, of continuous movement forward, and of acceptance, is beautifully conveyed throughout Worry Not. As a debut album from an up-and-coming female jazz artist on the northern scene, Worry Not really allows Johnson’s compositional voice to shine through, managing to both comfort and challenge the listener. The tracks are extremely cohesive as a journey, yet different enough to provide variety. This set of works feature catchy melodies, insightful solos, a continuous sense of movement brought through interesting grooves, and irregular rhythms which keep the audience on their toes. After such a long wait for the recording of this album, Worry Not’s execution and message do not disappoint.
täpp, or täpp collective, are a new and dynamic group led by violinist Rebekah Reid. Made up of ten different musicians and artists, the jazz collective incorporates many different influences into their work in order to create collaborative music which is both unified and unique. On June 18th, täpp released their debut album i like what i do // i do what i like on Bandcamp, sharing a new sound with their audience. i like what i do // i do what i like is a genre-defying album in many ways, through its varied and shared influences - the blend of classical violin arrangements, jazz harmony, groovy drum riffs, political spoken word, and industrial electronics makes for an eclectic listen. Yet, the sound is cohesive despite its unique nature. The way in which piano interludes are interspersed within the album alongside rap tracks, violin arrangements, and jazz drum grooves is incredible - it’s shocking that the album has any cohesion at all. Yet, täpp’s sound is extremely distinctive, and manages to perfectly blend these differing influences into one impressive, collaborative project. Featuring singer/songwriter And Is Phi, Chantelle Gabriella Jazz and Delali on spoken word, percussionist and producer Contours, Ayo Salawu and Abbi Phillips on drums/SPD and Alex Hill on piano and loop pedal, this album is not one to miss.
It will be 24 months come September since the last Lancaster Jazz Festival in 2019, a fantastic event that saw 44 performances all across the city, from over 200 artists and over 5000 of you lovely people in the audience to watch and support them.
CANYON is a new musical partnership between pianist Tom Harris and drummer Kai Chareunsy. Despite playing together for over five years, the duo have only just released their debut EP together under the name CANYON. After a year of ‘musical solitude’, Chareunsy and Harris decided to record a set of free improvisations together in January 2021, which became their debut EP canyon, exhibits i-vi.. The duo created four hours worth of music in the studio together, then condensed this expansive output into just 21 minutes. This EP features beautiful moments of intimate interaction between two incredibly individual jazz musicians, which are simultaneously freely improvised and earnest in intention. The duo’s ability to create moments of intensity and tension, yet also moments of beauty and solace within this stripped-back environment is admirable. The triumph of the EP is the attentive listening of both players, and their electric interaction with one another in each new moment.
Double bassist, composer and bandleader Dave Holland, one of the most accomplished and prolific musicians in the contemporary jazz scene, has teamed up with Edition Records to release another innovative album in 2021. Another Land features jazz heavyweights Kevin Eubanks on guitar, and Obed Calvaire on drums, creating a compelling trio set up. Although Holland’s musical style has always been extremely eclectic, Another Land adds a whole new genre to Holland’s personal canon. Featuring heavy blues rock influences, Another Land is a beautifully classic yet refreshing exploration from three incredible musicians. All of the album’s instrumental compositions were written whilst the trio were on tour together - Holland stated of the process ‘we were doing a continuous set, once we started we very rarely stopped, we just kept going.’ This sense of freedom created through live performance and live interaction is conveyed throughout the album, making it a fascinating set of grooves which are at once pensive and electric. A sense of deep emotional intention is maintained throughout, because of the very deliberate and tasteful musical choices - this album is extremely thought provoking. Everything about Another Land feels purposeful and conscious, yet simultaneously incredibly organic: what a beautiful balance to strike.
Archipelago are a North East trio fronted by multi-instrumentalist Faye MacCalman, and accompanied by bassist John Pope and drummer Christian Alderson. Archipelago are a band with innovative ideas and real creative potential - their music spans a huge range of influences, drawing upon the different individual musical backgrounds of each member. Echoes To The Sky is Archipelago’s newest release since 2017 - due for release on 25th June 2021, we were lucky enough to get a sneak peak at the album before its launch. Echoes To The Sky, a genre-defying album, features a similar set up to the band’s previous work, yet incorporates new elements such as synths and electronics, creating very new-world soundscapes. Creating contrasts between typical, traditional jazz playing and distorted, disorientating experimentalism, the trio are definitely one to watch in the northern jazz scene this year. In their own words, Echoes To The Sky is an album inspired by ‘transformation, loss and a sense of hopeful mystery’ - regardless of genre, this is a sentiment we can all connect with.
Having recently released There Is A Tide, a one-man album which featured Chris Potter on all 14 instruments and was later hailed one of the best jazz albums of 2020, Sunrise Reprise has a lot to live up to. This, and the fact that the last time Potter, Harland and Francies played together was on Circuits, means that the sense of anticipation and expectation for Sunrise Reprise was always going to be extremely high. Potter has been releasing albums for over 25 years now; his ability to continually refresh and renew his own musical style and output is an impressive accomplishment. Sunrise Reprise marks another new movement forward for Potter - with Eric Harland on drums and James Francies on keys, this album is an extremely modern exploration. Featuring synths and electronics as on Circuits, yet taking a new approach to composition and the musical journey, Potter’s new album is definitely a refreshing listen. Intense ensemble playing, virtuosic solos, emotional peaks and troughs - Sunrise Reprise is not an album to be missed.
On Thursday 6th May, we were lucky enough to watch an exclusive premier of ‘Parallels’, a piece by composer, guitarist and improviser Moss Freed. The Q&A which followed really allowed the audience to dig deeper into the music, and gave us a lot of food for thought. Freed has studied composition extensively, attending Goldsmiths to study for a masters in composition, and is currently researching composition for the Universities of Hull and Huddersfield. Freed’s newest composition, ‘Parallels’, was premiered as a performance by Alexander Hawkins on piano, Elliot Galvin on piano, kalimba and kazoo, and Maria Chiara Argirò on piano. A composition for three pianos, ‘Parallels’ was a challenging yet beautifully explorative piece which intended to bring together three different improvisers in order to see how they would interpret the piece differently, and without being able to hear one another. Freed explained that the musicians were working at different tempos, and were often given notated instructions to freely improvise without any restrictions. This made the piece extremely interesting to listen to, with new ideas and tonal centres featuring all the time. Although ‘Parallels’ may be a challenging composition at first glance, every listen illuminates something new - it’s a really stimulating and thrilling piece of music.
Back in 2019, Norwegian guitarist Casper Hatlestad played at Lancaster Jazz Festival. Having lived in many places and travelled often, Hatlestad’s compositions are often inspired by different cultures and places. After doing a BA and MA at Leeds Conservatoire, he then moved to Prague, and plays guitar as part of the band DOMI. He is set to release a full solo album later this year, Acoustic Tales From Prague - but for now has begun releasing some of his solo work as singles. We listened to ‘Bokka’ and ‘Ella’, which were released in April, and became completely immersed in this beautiful, acoustic music. Hatlestad’s style is characterised by intimate solo guitar playing, harmonics, a strong sense of movement and warm melodies. These singles are extremely accessible to any listener, and were inspired by some beautiful stories. On Spotify Hatlestad writes that his music ‘kept him sane’ during lockdown, and that his only wish is that listeners ‘find some peace, some calmness and mindfulness while listening’. We don’t know about you, but we certainly did.