After the success of the first live event at the Centrala venue in Digbeth and the ongoing series of videos recorded with Paul Dunmall, Lee Griffiths and Mark Sanders, Fizzle/TDE Promotions follow up with two excellent events in June.
The first up is a double bill at Centrala on Sunday afternoon June 20th (doors at 2pm, first group on stage shortly afterwards) with the Charlotte Keeffe Quartet and the Shirley Smart James Arben Duo.
Charlotte Keeffe is a fine musician whom we heard on Lee Griffiths’ Phonome video recording where her eloquent and expressive trumpet made a major contribution to the success of that recording. For this gig Charlotte will be leading an eye-catching quartet that features Moss Freed on guitar, Ashley John Long on double bass and on this occasion the brilliant Will Glaser on drums. Charlotte’s approach involves a movement between her compositions and both individual and collective improvisation, an approach that I find generates some of the most stimulating music to be heard on the current British jazz scene.
You can hear an example here.
The other part of this attractive double bill features Shirley Smart on cello interacting with James Arben on flute, clarinet and saxophones. They met while touring with the Ethiopian musician Mulatu Astatke, and their playing and discussing together while on tour led to an approach to collective improvisation that draws on various styles of music, Middle Eastern music, classical music as well as improv. I find that the description below captures their music very well:
Smart’s interest in music of other traditions and cultures is never far from the surface and is wholeheartedly embraced by Arben. The music moves quickly, the duo immediately grasping what each other is about, and reacting accordingly. The flow of ideas and the speed in which they are picked up and allowed to develop is quite remarkable, with rhythms and melodies popping up in the least expected places. These are explored, sourced for inspiration and further ideas, and the pair move on. (www.jazzviews.net)
You can hear an example here.
The Centrala venue proved to be an excellent venue for Fizzle’s first post lockdown gig. It’s the right size in that it is possible to have a socially distanced audience without losing the atmosphere of a live gig. There are tickets available at the moment at http://www.fizzlebirmingham.com, but the last gig suddenly sold out in the week before the gig. Details of the venue address are on the website.
One of the most interesting aspects of the current jazz and improvised music scenes is that the instrumentation of groups is much more varied than the standard modern jazz line up of a quartet or quintet. When I first started listening to jazz, one rarely heard other than the expected front line of saxophone and/or trumpet plus the piano bass drums rhythm section, but today we are not surprised to hear cellos and violins improvising with the more expected instruments. And we are accustomed to hearing electronic effects adding to the textures of the music.
We see this with the forthcoming video of Sarah Farmer on violin and Annie Mahtani on electronics generated on her laptop from recordings made in various locations including the islands of the Azores. In the very interesting interviews that are interwoven with the music, Sarah and Annie talk of how Annie prepared her sounds, shared them with Sarah who then worked out a tentative plan of how she would react to them. But in the actual recording – at the excellent Sansom Studios – they extended that initial plan and reacted spontaneously to what the other was doing. The result is a very beautiful set of music that merits listening more than a single time.
The video will be launched on Tuesday 27th June at 8pm on https://youtu.be/4YsZCVJ2Lis. It will remain online afterwards.
I’d also like to mention that Andrew Woodhead’s album of his Pendulums project that brings together church bells and improvisation is launched this Friday 11th June: you can access information about it here. Richard Williams on his The Blue Moment site describes the project as ‘a quite stunning achievement’. You can read his review here.