TRISTAN; Lifestyle (Isolde Records)

Wednesday, 04 May 2016 18:59 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

Lifestyle_Itunes_Tristan_CoverCurrently there's some great soul coming out of the Netherlands. Amsterdam band, The Tibbs have just released a blistering homage to 60s soul (see previous review) and now jazz funksters Tristan give us their latest long player –the 15 tracker that is 'Lifestyle... a very different kind of soul music to the Tibbs but like them delivered with enthusiasm, passion and a respect for the music's roots!

To set the scene for the album Tristan issued a single in April. It was a lively, bubbling 'I'll Be Around' (no, not the Spinners' song!) that featured the band's regular vocalist, Evelyn Kallansee. The cut typifies what we could call 'The Tristan Sound'... a cocktail of the sounds of Incognito, the Brand New Heavies and even EWF and Tower of Power but with its own distinct flavour - simply 'cos it's coming from a European perspective. You won't be surprised to learn that the album boasts lots more that's similar... tunes like 'Admiration', 'Trouble' and indeed the LP's title cut.

Variety comes with the doleful balled 'Spirit One', on which the air of melancholy is increased by the clever use of harmonica. Then there's a dark broody 'Group Up' which features guest vocalist Francesco Cottone. The album's principal guest though, is US soul man, Heston. He features on a sweet ballad, 'Love Leads The Way' and you can hear the difference he makes to the Tristan sound by comparing it to the (included) original version that features Ms. Kallansee. No disrespect to the lovely Evelyn, but I think the soul crowd would go for the Heston version every time! Mr H is also up front on what is the LP's outstanding cut.... 'Feet Back On The Ground'. This one's what good modern soul is all about... proper song, great melody, passionate vocals and sympathetic arrangement and production. 'Let Me Breathe' is almost as good... but it just lacks a little focus.

Elsewhere... there's jazz/funk meanders and brash beaters climaxing in a short sweet end piece... 'Night Time' which could have escaped from a West End musical. Yep, there's a lot on this album... maybe a bit too much! Sometimes, of course, less is more and with tighter sub-editing, Tristan could have a great album here. What they have is a decent one, enlivened by that 'Feet Back On The Ground'

(BB) 3/5

Last Updated on Wednesday, 04 May 2016 19:07


THE TIBBS: Takin’ Over (Record Kicks)

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 19:36 Bill B E-mailPrintPDF

Cover1500x1500The Tibbs are a Dutch soul and funk outfit. The latest line up is Elsa Bekman (vocals) Henk Kemkes (guitar) Michael Willemsen (bas) Bas de Vries (drums) Paul Jonker (Hammond) Berd Ruttenberg (baritone sax) Coen de Vries (tenor sax) Siebe Posthuma de Boer (trumpet) and since 2012 they've been wowing audiences right across the Low Countries with their contemporary twist on retro soul.

Their first recordings were for German collectors' label, Tramp but, now signed to Record Kicks, they've just released their debut, full long player. The eleven tracker that is 'Takin 'Over' was heralded back in March with a double A sided single. 'Next Time' exemplified the Tibbs's current sound.... pacey and full of energy, it was aimed straight at the dance floor. 'The Story Goes' was maybe a little more stately and certainly much more melodic. With punchy brass, catchy chorus and an all-too-short trumpet solo, the cut had a peculiar magic and that specialness still shines out on the album. It's the standout on 'Takin' Over' ... not only for the qualities just listed but because it offers relief from the driving, frantic dance numbers, like 'Dog Days' and 'Get Back Tuesday' – that last one perhaps the most authentic recreation of the classic Northern sound I've heard in the last few years. 'Washed My Hands' is another proper old school soul groove and like 'Get Back Tuesday' worth checking by any Northern collector who wants something just a little different.

The album also offers a couple of meandering ballads on which vocalist Elsa Bekman channels Amy Winehouse. Then there's the set's only cover – a fast, Northern-slanted version of ? And the Mysterians' '96 Tears'. The album oddity? That's a tune called 'Armada'. This one's moody and atmospheric and with its chilly vibe intro it could be an outtake from the soundtrack of a 60s art house movie, but that soundscape's not the Tibbs' norm. File 'em under "fast, furious and frantic!"

(BB) 3/5

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2016 19:48


David Sanborn @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1/5/2015

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 11:22 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

David_S_smallNow seventy years old and with probably thousands of gigs under his belt, veteran alto saxophonist David Sanborn can be forgiven for occasional memory lapses. Talking to the audience in between songs at this Sunday evening concert, he claimed he had never been to this part of the UK before, but this writer can attest that Sanborn played at Cheltenham Town Hall back in 2001 as part of that year's jazz festival. No matter. At least, thankfully, Sanborn still remembered how to play the sax, which he did with his customary sense of soulfulness and vigour even though he was safely ensconced on a stool for most of the night. His set began with a driving take on Stevie Wonder's 'Another Star' which segued into a tasteful rendering of 'Maputo,' the classic Marcus Miller-penned opener from 'Double Vision,' Sanborn's classic 1985 collaboration with Bob James. With its seductive mid-tempo groove, the track highlighted the great band that Sanborn had behind him. They included MD Rick Peterson on keys, Nick Moroch on guitar and drummer Billy Kilson, plus a bassist and percussionist. The tropical vibe of 'Camel Island' was followed by a drums and percussion breakdown and then a great rendition of the self-penned ballad, 'Ordinary People,' from his latest album 'Time & The River,' which spotlighted Sanborn's distinctive crying alto sound. After that, the band shifted gears for a searing chunk of muscular funk which then morphed into the Sanborn favourite, 'Chicago Song.' The saxophonist's band certainly knew how to groove, providing a solidly syncopated platform for Sanborn's molten horn blowing. 


Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2016 12:47


Christian Scott a Tunde Adjuah's Stretch Music @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1/5/2015

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 10:39 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

ChrisUnequivocally one of the coolest cats in contemporary jazz, this charismatic New Orleans trumpeter, composer and designer (he recently won a Jazz FM award for his innovative Stretch Music app), makes music that is forward-looking while acknowledging the past. For this particular concert, Scott didn't appear with his usual Stretch Music band but instead united with noted Paris-based Kansas City-born alto saxophonist, Logan Richardson, to deliver an extemporized set that largely comprised what he called 'classic jazz.'

The performance began, though, with the brooding 'West Of The West' - taken from the horn man's 2015 album 'Stretch Music' - before Scott's band launched into a fast and furious take on Herbie Hancock's seminal '60s bop tune, 'Eye Of The Hurricane.' Driven by Luques Curtis's foot-tapping walking bass and Corey Fonville's bustling drums, it featured a sparkling solo from Scott, followed by Logan Richardson and then Martinique-born Paris-based pianist,  Tony Tixier, who impressed with his dexterous and inventive improvisation.  In fact, the virtuosity of all the musicians on stage was jaw-dropping. If 'Eye Of The Hurricane' was a nod to jazz's past then the next number, a new composition that was a jaunty hip-hop-influenced groove garnished with intertwining horns, went back to the future. After that, the band offered up a lengthy exploration of Coltrane's modal classic, 'Equinox,' which allowed more inspired instrumental sparring between Scott's trumpet and Richardson's alto.

It was an experience akin, perhaps, to listening to Freddie Hubbard and Jackie McLean play together at the peak of their respective powers back in the '60s, though, of course, Scott and Richardson bring a completely different sensibility and concept to their instruments. Indeed, with his use of delay and reverb effects, Scott creates different textures and fascinating sonorities, which were especially evident on an atmospheric version of a modal tune by his uncle, Donald Harrison, called 'Kind Of New,' which tipped its hat to Miles Davis. The set concluded with  Scott's own composition, 'The Last Chieftain,' a churning groove characterised by intertwining melodic tendrils voiced by trumpet and sax. It brought the curtain down on a superlative show that allowed UK listeners to appreciate up close arguably the two foremost American horn players in contemporary jazz right now.


Read SJF's interview with Christian here

Last Updated on Tuesday, 03 May 2016 12:57


Becca Stevens Band @ Cheltenham Jazz Festival 1/5/2016

Tuesday, 03 May 2016 09:02 Charles Waring E-mailPrintPDF

BeccaThe Cheltenham Jazz Festival, which celebrates its twentieth anniversary this year, has always aimed to present a broad range of different styles of music under the 'jazz' umbrella and therefore an artist such as North Carolina singer/songwriter, Becca Stevens - whose unclassifiable but allusive music draws together elements taken from  jazz, folk and pop - seemed a perfect fit.  Stevens possesses one of the most striking voices around today and can be heard guesting on recordings by Brad Mehldau, José James, Ambrose Akinmusire and, most recently, Snarky Puppy. Her voice has a beguiling, girlish charm but is never twee and characterised by a ravishing purity of tone. Backed by empathetic three-piece band (bassist Chris Tordini, drummer Jordan Perlson, and pianist Oli Rockberger) and alternating between the mandolin-like charango, ukulele and guitar (both acoustic and electric), Stevens proved that she is a formidable songwriter as well as accomplished singer and musician. One of the standouts of her performance was a rendition of  the haunting 'Thinkin About You,' the killer cut from her 2015 album, 'Perfect Animal.' There were other highlights too - spellbinding renderings of songs from her current LP that included 'I Asked,' featuring some mesmeric charango playing,  'Imperfect Animals,'  an agitated  'Be Still' as well as a some new material. The best of the latter was 'The Muse' - which Stevens said had lyrics written for it by David Crosby (of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash fame) and is taken from her forthcoming album 'Regina.' It proved to be a delicate but absorbing meditation on creativity and inspiration. Stevens also served up a strikingly beautiful stripped-down arrangement of Stevie Wonder's 'Always,' which was delivered as a duet with pianist/singer Oli Rockberger. Tremendous stuff.



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