Sun Ra: The Early Albums Collection (1957-1963)

Sun Ra claimed he was an alien from Saturn on a mission to preach peace, and once he adopted his new name (after the Egyptian god) he denied all knowledge of the man formerly known as Herman. He’s got to be the jazz man for people who think they don’t like jazz; he reminds us […]

Dave O’Higgins: It’s Always 9.30 in Zog

If the title alone doesn’t want to make you buy this — it’s surely the coolest album name ever — the sleeve, evocative of the old Blue Note house style, should. O’Higgins is a Birmingham-born jazz saxophonist, who has recorded 19 albums as a leader, so while he’s new to us, proper jazz fans must […]

Denis Jones: 3333

Like The Courteeners, Denis Jones is from Manchester but unlike them he makes interesting music. On a website we found he was described as making “scuzzy Mancunian blues”, which is good, but misses out the word “electronic”. It’s the blues of a dirty city where residents have good reason to sing soulful songs, but it’s […]

Tom Misch: Geography

Years ago, we briefly flirted with trip hop/funk (Hull’s Fila Brazillia were a favourite) and this new album from Misch (born five years after Fila Brazillia formed) takes us back to those days: sleek, jazz-tinged funky pop that’ll be playing in any wine bar you care to enter for the next few years. There’s a […]

Joachim Kühn Trio: Love and Peace

Somewhere between easy listening and classical is this new CD from jazz pianist Kühn. The music has too much melody and edge to be bland, though it only kicks off into high-energy modern jazz at the end. If you want a thumbnail for the album, imagine a simple, slightly bluesy take on jazz standard Summertime […]

Laila Biali: Laila Biali

We usually Google bands to see other reviews, often on badly written geeky or student sites but it was telling that Biali’s top review was a syndicated one: she plays a brand of international smooth jazz that they probably play to soothe the evil souls of delegates at Davos. Music like that often leaves us […]

Echoes of Swing: Travelin’

Joyously cliched in places, this is a loving tribute to the old swing tunes, all with a travellin’ theme: Orient Express opens, with the piano and snare making a passable train impression before easy listenin’ sax comes in. As John Lewis nearly has it, this is never knowingly over-demanding and overall the quartet has the […]

Tom Millar Quartet: Unnatural Events

The Tom Millar Quartet is modern, fast and busy. They’re low on melody but there’s lots going on, and it’s more about the overall vibe, which is laid back. Millar said in an interview of his debut album as a leader that he “went on a musical journey”, taking in Brazilian and world music, as […]

Bob Chilcott: All Good Things

Nominally this is jazz but as far as jazz goes, it makes Bob James sound like Metallica; it’s more like music for a trendy evangelical church, though choral singers will probably love it, too. Vocal group Commotio figure highly. Chilcott recently worked with Congleton Choral Society, who loved him. The CD reminded us of the […]

David Braid: Songs, Solos and Duos

This is a CD that shows that good music is hard to categorise. Wrexham-born Braid is a classical composer only because he’s on a classical label and plays classical guitar, but with a nudge in any direction this could be jazz or acoustic/folk pop. His mingling of jazz with folk and classical make this an […]