JAZZ ON RETURN JOURNEY
news collated by Norman Warwick
For Ribble Valley Jazz and Blues newsletter this month, Phil Lee, a new regular writer for the publication, offers an interesting discussion on the relationship between Jazz and the Blues, by forensic exploration of some carefully selected tracks.
His first choice is My Babe by the great Chicago blues player Little Walter. This wonderful track contains much that is familiar to our appreciation of great blues. The 12 bar blues chorus with its highly familiar harmonic structure and narrative form is enhanced by truly terrific harmonica playing.
The Blues originated in the Deep South often sung by slaves and newly liberated slaves. Many left the South to seek employment and a better life, settling in urban cities such as Chicago and Detroit. Phil´s second choice is Tom Waits outstandingly great song, Chicago, telling the story of one Black family contemplating moving to a better life in Chicago. The way Waits´ band creates the rhythm of a train is so effective and clever.
The Blues may have originated in the Mississippi Delta but they settled and developed further North. The third choice in this slection reflects that, being BB King’s The Thrill is Gone. this is a song by one of the great Blues artists who really did make that journey to Chicago.
Of course, jazz as we now know it would not exist without the Blues – simple as. The Blues format was the single most popular original template for jazz musicians. Since then, of course, much has been done with it/to it by various jazz “giants” as Phil´s selections illustrate.
His fourth choice demonstrates this very well – it is the great New Orleans pianist Alain Toussaint with a fabulous version of Cab Calloway’s blues standard St James Infirmary. Phil recommends this as ´most delightfully interpreted and adapted´.
He then moves on to the genius of John Coltrane, who built his tour de force A Love Supreme on a basic Blues riff not far removed from the one underpinning Willie Dixon’s masterpiece Seventh Son. The final part A Love Supreme – Psalm – is Phil´s 5th choice. Elvin Jones’ drumming and McCoy Tyner’s piano, are quite majestic´, he says. ¨Enjoy!!! This is jazz at its very, very best.
As Phil moves from one genius to another, we have the entrance of Miles Davis. Phil praises his magnificent All Blues in which he substitutes scales for chords to produce a wonderful adaptation of the Blues. ´You can just imagine yourself going round and round in a happy relaxed way all day long to this piece.´ Phil reckons and calls it ´more top drawer jazz´.
He then introduces us to yet another genius! He hails Charlie Parker – as one of the ultimate jazz improvisers around Blues riff. Phil has chosen Barbados, and he right in suggesting that if you shut your eyes you can imagine yourself in some lovely Caribbean bar listening to this.
The Hammond organ is often featured in jazzy Blues and Phil supplies evidence of that with track eight, The late great Roy Hargrove – trumpet player extraordinaire – uses Captain Jack McDuff’s Hammond to great effect for a truly wonderful piece of Bluesy jazz, Blues for Booty Green’s.
Phil then turns his attention to jazz that is a simpler affectation of that feeling of the Blues. Few do this as well as Frank Sinatra. He had a kind of what Phil calls the´White Crooner Blues.´ His next pick, therefore, is Sinatra (right) singing the ´totally perfect´ One for My Baby (and One More For The Road). We’ve all been there!
Next Phil introduces the great Cannonball Adderley bending the Blues HIS way and offering his OWN advice on how to overcome adversity – with Mercy, Mercy, Mercy.
Calling Howling Wolf arguably ´the greatest of the Chicago Blues players´, Phil tells us hios next chosen track is Do The Do from Wolf´s London Sessions albums; backing him are a fantastic collective of great British Blues musicians including Eric Clapton, Stevie Winwood, Bill Wyman and Charlie Watts in ´a pure Blues delight´.
Although Phil doesn´t go overboard about his final track selection for this álbum´ of music from the Jazz / Blues border he plays us out with one of the best love, jazzy Blues songs ever written; I’d Rather Go Blind in a sublime rendition by Etta James.
MUSIC FROM THE JAZZ / BLUES BORDER (Phil´s Picks)
Little Walter My Babe
on The Essential Little Walter
Tom Waits Chicago
on Bad as Me
BB King The Thrill is Gone
Alan Toussaint St James Infirmary
on The Great Mississippi
John Coltrane A Love Supreme Part 4 Psalm
on A Love Supreme
Miles Davis All Blues
on Kind of Blue
Charlie Parker Barbados
on Bird and Miles, Vol 2
Roy Hargrove Quintet Blues For Booty Green’s
on The Vibe
Frank Sinatra One More For My Baby
on Classic Sinatra
Cannonball Adderley Mercy, Mercy, Mercy
on Jazz Masters
Howlin’ Wolf Do The Do
on Howlin’ Wolf The London Sessions
Etta James I’d Rather Go Blind
on Tell Mama
Meanwhile, The Grand Theatre on York Street in Clitheroe, (the heart of Ribble Valley) is described on their web site (The Grand) as a multi-million pound auditorium in a superb state-of-the-art venue with great acoustics.It is also home to a professional recording studio offering world class equipment plus rehearsal rooms for contempoary dace. There is a café, too, with a relaxed atmosphere.
Ribble FM broadcast from the basement studios and present the weekly Jazz Show, so check out www.ribblefm.com
The Grand is beginning the careful process of bringing back live audiences, starting with an even called Cloudspotting, scheduled for the weekend of 6th to 8th August 2021 in the beautiful Gisburn Forest. this event with the clever name of Bleep Of Faith, has seen Lanzashiore music-minds come together to organise an advednturous music programme to blur the lines of jazz improvisation and electronics to encourage participation, performance and music workshop sessions. This event is being collaboratively presented by Ribble Valley Jazz And Blues and members of Lancaster / Morecambe collectives More Music and Hymns For Robots.
Tickets for the event include two nights camping. (eventbright).
Check the Ribble Valley Jazz And Blues web site for ticket details, too for the return of club events, RVJB are pleased to announce the resumption of live club events in 2021 on 3rd September at 7.00 pm with a double header featuring, from Slovakia; Lukáš Oravec Quintet and from Manchester, courtesy of Jazz North; the Nishla Smith Quintet.
Lukáš Oravec (right) first appeared in Clitheroe in 2014 and is a recognised trumpet improviser throughout Central Europe where he has won numerous awards and appears regularly on the festival circuits. He collaborates with leading jazz luminaries including: Bob Mintzer, Vincent Herring and Andy Schofield to name but a few. This time their English tour includes Alex Garnett on tenor sax, Jamil Sherif on piano, Jake Garside on double bass and Marek Dorcik (Spercasa) on drums. Expect straight acoustic jazz of the highest quality.
Nishla Smith, (left) by way of contrast, is a (Manchester) City Music Foundation artist currently on the Jazz North roster. Her quintet are due to release a debut album in the Autumn on Whirlwind Records.
Fundamentally Nishla is a singer and writer who likes to tell original stories through the medium of jazz and is aided by Richard Jones on piano, trumpeter Aaron Woods (Atephis) Josh Cavanagh-Brierley on bass, plus drummer TBC.
This quintet narrowly missed out at the on-line festival streaming in May due to an unavoidable covid delay in Australia. So, it is with great pleasure and anticipation we at last can welcome them to Clitheroe!
With Nubiyan Twist, to perform on 3rd October, There is already much to look forward to with RVJB,
Paste on-line magazine are already talking excitedly about a yet to be released album.
Songwriters and Asthmatic Kitty label-mates Sufjan Stevens and Angelo De Augustine (represented below) have announced a new collaborative album A Beginner’s Mind, due out Sept. 24th. Beginning when the artists embarked on a song-writing retreat at a friend’s cabin in upstate New York, the project developed after the pair noticed their music reflecting the movies they’d watch daily to unwind. The result is an album inspired by classic films, leading to ´less a “cinematic exegesis,” per a press release, and more a rambling philosophical inquiry that allows the songs to free-associate at will.´
The album itself is named after the Zen Buddhist concept of ´shoshin´ which refers to the state of seeing and accepting the world around you openly, like a child. Stevens and De Augustine employed that mind-set to write music without preconceived notions restricting the creative flow.
The pair have released Reach Out and Olympus, ahead of the album, both undeniably gorgeous and personal acoustic-based tracks from two songwriters renowned for their specialty in that field. Featuring lyrics that drift from the confessional to the divine, the artists sound centered, vulnerable and alive. Reach Out arrives with a video shot by the two artists, featuring their beloved dogs and edited by Jess Calleiro.
This article was put together by Norman Warwick, (left) weekly arts columnist for Lanzarote Information and owner and editor of the daily not-for-profit Sidetracks And Detours blog. Norman is a broadcaster writer and poet and is one of the four founding members of Joined Up Jazz Journalist, (JUJJ) formed in 2020. His three colleagues consist of Susana Fondon who is a frequent contributor to Lanzarote Information of interviews with musicians playing on the island. Steve Bewick, radio presenter, poet and recording artist and his pal Gary Heywood Everett, jazz historian and researcher, put together a weekly radio programme, Hot Biscuits, which can be found at
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