Martin Speake: Intention

This is intelligent and stimulating jazz from leading saxophonist Speake, who shows he can compose, too. The playing might be complex, but it’s a non-threatening sound: not exactly laid back, but certainly not edgy. It’s an album that needs a lot of listening to, as it adheres to no one style, from blues to bop, […]

Panayiotis Demopoulos: Nina’s Clock

A Greek pianist playing improv jazz with a classical bent and a local connection? This doesn’t happen too often. This suite has 11 movements and is a reflection of moods, external stimuli and events as felt by the composer one night after recording sessions. He tells the story that links the tracks in the sleeve […]

Andrew McCormack: Graviton

Nominally jazz, if only for the instruments used, this ambitious album takes in everything from prog to bop. On his website McCormack explains that gravitons are tiny particles that carry the force of gravity. “It is what brings you back down to Earth when you jump,” he says, though how this applies to the album […]

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 […]