Friday, August 31, 2007

Charles Mingus... George Russell... Benny Golson... Tal Farlow

Time has just run away this week – we are still waiting for the date to move house which is annoying but it will be very soon. So a quick post, little chat (You lucky people, to quote the immortal Brit Comedian Tommy Trinder).

As promised, a couple of follow-ons... here's the opening track from George Russell's 1959 album 'New York N.Y.' An ever-fascinating reconstitution of 'Manhattan.' Jon Hendricks jives in to open the suite – then the orchestra glance and feint at the theme. Bob Brookmeyer, Bill Evans, John Coltrane solo – a neglected masterpiece.

More from 'Mingus at the Bohemia.' 'Septemberly' runs two standards together – 'Tenderly' and 'September in the rain.' Mingus was always looking for new forms and structures – his exploratory work in the fifties is especially fascinating...

Benny Golson -another oddity. Not sure where I acquired this from (the late-lamented Rab?) – but a fascinating album. Golson arranged and conducted the sessions for his 1962 album 'Just Jazz' from which I have selected the old Bird line, 'Ornithology.' Alto here is by Eric Dolphy... like some kind of avant-garde skater – performing miraculous leaps and veering so close to running out of the area. A skittering grace... And absolutely stunning... Running onwards all too briefly with the baton...

I had a request to re-up the Tal Farlow from the other week, so here it is - 'Just one of those things.' To the commenter - I don't put up whole albums for various reasons - there are plenty of sites who do, for one. But if you want the complete set - check the original comment for my email and send me a message - I'll send you a link...

More cardboard boxes have arrived - off to go and sort out more crap to be packed...

In the Videodrome...

Sheila Jordan chats about George Russell...

I hear a guitar rhapsody...

Shoot the liquor to me Artie Boy... Pity they didn't shoot the asinine commentator...

Cecil T in Hamburg, 1995. This really is fascinating...

George Russell
Art Farmer, Ernie Royal, Doc Severinsen (tp) Tom Mitchell, Frank Rehak (tb) Bob Brookmeyer (vtb) Hal McKusick (as) John Coltrane (ts) Sol Schlinger (bars) Bill Evans (p) Barry Galbraith (g) Milt Hinton (b) Charlie Persip (d) George Russell (arr, cond) Jon Hendricks (nar)


Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus (b) Eddie Bert (tb) George Barrow (ts) Mal Waldron (p) Willie Jones (d)


Benny Golson
Bill Hardman (tp) Grachan Moncur III (tb) Eric Dolphy (as) Bill Evans (p) Ron Carter (b) Charlie Persip (d) Benny Golson (arr, cond)


Tal Farlow
Tal Farlow (g) Claude Williamson (p) Red Mitchell (b) Stan Levy (d)
Just one of those things


Another complicated week...

It has been another complicated week - fatigue and imminent house move conspiring to take me out of the blogging game briefly. But a couple of tracks will be loaded soon. Watch this space - as ever...

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Max Roach: A small tribute... part two... with Clifford Brown... Charles Mingus... Thelonious Monk... George Russell

Max Roach founded a quintet with Clifford Brown in the early 1950s – here is a track from their album 'Study in Brown.' 'Jacqui' was composed by the band's pianist, Richie Powell – Bud's brother - who died in the same tragic car crash that took Brownie. The young trumpeter had also played with the other drum giant of hard bop, Art Blakey. With Max, he had a band that during their brief existence arguably stands shoulder to shoulder with the Messengers. Brown was a stunningly fiery yet beautiful player who had no problems digging out the linear gold from the density of bop harmony at synapse-baffling high speeds. No matter the tempo, he never sounds rushed - it always seems as if he has the quiet interior space and time to figure things out and spin them into patterns of melodic wonder. To get a snapshot of Max in 1955 – listen to his solo here. A lighter touch than Blakey but those rolls contain a power held in subtle reserve. Harold Land is his underrated best and it's always worth remembering Richie P.

Max and Mingus, from 'Mingus at the Bohemia.' 'Percussion discussion.' Ominous dark bowed bass and the talking drums communicate on a strange track which is edging some way from the hard bop norms of 1955 – an epochal year in jazz, symbolised by the death of Charlie Parker. In a blindfold test, I suspect this might baffle a few people as to the recording date – it sounds pretty contemporary to me, outside of the bop chink a ching cymbals into a new rhythmic ground – it slips into conventional rhythm here and there but, in the main, this is searching stuff. And another great 'conversation' (thinking of those amazing duets between Mingus and Eric Dolphy) – two iconoclasts overheard discussing the future... Max was a drummer who had a deep interest in the melodic and timbral aspects of drumming and Mingus – well, no matter how abstract he might get, that powerful, pleading, raging voice is never far away to ground things into the all-too human, channelled through the bass and his various ensembles... Interesting how this prefigures later duo performances that found Max with a variety of musicians from Cecil Taylor to Dizzie Gillespie – a track that shows his range and curiosity.

The lines criss-cross and collide – Max had played with Monk on several famous sessions and Sonny Rollins had come into his and Brownie's band a couple of years earlier. Roach and Monk, colossi of the New York scene, also originally came from North Carolina way back, Newland and Rocky Mount respectively, although Monk was a few years older. This is them all together on 'Bemsha Swing' from the 'Brilliant Corners' album. Max switches between conventional jazz kit and tympani, which gives a deep rolling bottom resonance to Monk's theme. When Max solos, it is almost like a collision between the classical and the jazz world. Conventional wisdom always states that Blakey was Monk's best drummer – and they certainly recorded some wonderful tracks. But Max is well up to the mark on this album. And he fires off a couple of rolls that equal the mighty Blakey, to show his own power. Ernie Henry has a searing bluesy edge – yet another one who died young. And Clark Terry always seemed to be easy in whatever company he found himself in – but to slip into Monk's world so gracefully points to open ears beyond mere eclecticism...

Finally: a big band session with George Russell – 'A helluva town' is taken from the composer's 1958 album 'New York, N.Y.' Lot of Max on here... he introduces the track before Jon Hendricks enters with his proto-rap: 'Think you can lick it, get to the wicket.' Etc. Then he powers the band in – noted as a small group drummer in the main, Max had played with several big bands in the forties when he was starting out so he knew the form. Hard-hitting where required or subtle cymbal work in smart flicks of the percussive whip – this last track on the album (Charlie Persip was in the chair for the rest of the session) boots along nicely – leading into a solo section where he lets rip... A helluva town. A helluva drummer...

Clifford Brown/Max Roach
Clifford Brown (t) Harold Land (ts) Richie Powell (p) George Morrow (b) Max Roach (d)


Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus (b) Max Roach (d)
Percussion discussion


Thelonious Monk
Clark Terry (tp) Sonny Rollins (ts) Thelonious Monk (p) Paul Chambers (b) Max Roach (d)
Bemsha Swing


George Russell
Art Farmer, Ernie Royal, Joe Wilder (tp) Tom Mitchell, Frank Rehak (tb) Bob Brookmeyer (vtb) Hal McKusick, Phil Woods (as) Al Cohn (ts) Gene Allen (bars) Bill Evans (p) Barry Galbraith (g) George Duvivier (b) Max Roach (d) George Russell (arr, cond) Jon Hendricks (nar)
A helluva town


Sunday, August 19, 2007

Max Roach Tribute - Part One... with Dexter Gordon, Bud Powell and Miles Davis...

Things have been hectic here... out a lot, two disparate gigs attended and some family matters to engage with, plus the hassle of trying to sort out our moving house scenario – now the resultant and boring exhaustion... but slowly catching up...

With regard to the sad death of the great Max Roach – there are many fine tributes out there – Destination Out has some nice tracks and comments plus links... WKCR is doing a week long retrospective - I found this on friday morning and spent several hours tuned in to the music. It's on now, in fact - Sarah Vaughan with Bird and Diz - and Max. Amazing stuff.

So: a few tracks in my own small salute to a giant of music. In two parts...

Early Days...

Here's Max on a Dexter Gordon session from 1946. 'Long Tall Dexter,' a riffy twelve bar from the cusp of bebop. Introduced by Max's cymbals and drums, a fascinating track where everyone is starting to define the new genre in their own ways. Lester swoops in for his solo backed by a somewhat state of the art rhythm section. Leonard Hawkins follows – some slithery rolls behind him. Bud next. Max fills in the holes nicely throughout. At this distance, the move from swing to bop seems more of a slide than a jump...

1947 – the same rhythm section, but under the leadership of the pianist for a trio date. A romping uptempo gallop through 'Indiana.' Some markers being laid down here, I suspect. And some distance travelled in a year or so. Zappy exchanges between the pianist and drummer towards the end. So much crammed into two minutes forty five seconds...

A date with Davis – 1953, a year or two before the trumpeter started his major breakthrough. Something of a forgotten session, perhaps... Miles in relaxed form on a sway through 'When lights are low.' Space will out... Brief solo from Lewis coming with both hands before the usual more spartan single line peeps out. Max's hissing cymbals slowdrive it onwards...

In the Videodrome...

Re Max: Godoggo sent this Youtube url over in a recent comment... (and a couple with Art Davis on here and

I put up the second part a ways back...

And here's Max in the seventies on a ferocious session here...

Dexter Gordon
Dexter Gordon (ts) Leonard Hawkins (t) Bud Powell (p) Curley Russell (b) Max Roach (d)
Long Tall Dexter


Bud Powell
Bud Powell (p) Curley Russell (b) Max Roach (d)


Miles Davis
Miles Davis (t) John Lewis (p) Percy Heath (b) Max Roach (d)


Friday, August 17, 2007

Max Roach 1924-2007...

This is a sad year in the history of the music as another great figure is taken... Just heard the news that Max Roach has died at the age of 83. New York Times story here...
More later... condolences to his friends and family.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

broken link...

The Coltrane link below is now fixed...

Monday, August 13, 2007

We get requests... Ike Quebec... plus John Coltrane and Wayne Shorter...

A quick post - Zhao (and here) sent me a request for a re-up of Ike Quebec's 'Blue and Sentimental.' So here it is... Plus another track from the same 1961 album, 'That old black magic.' He does so well – some straight-up tenor juju here. Ike Quebec is a very appealing old school swinger – backed by crisp guitar from Grant Green and the old Miles bass and drum team of Philly Joe and Paul Chambers, this is the dog's testicles as we say over here...

While I'm here... may as well whop a couple up... to make it three tenors...

John Coltrane was starting to come into his own by 1958. Recorded three years before the Ike Quebec session above, listen to his long, questing solo on 'The Believer' to hear the tectonic plates of jazz moving. Modern jazz was already separating (some would say shattering) into different performative spaces by then. More so than had happened with the advent of bop. Maybe the trick is to realise how they were and are all related. Donald Byrd on fine form here, by the way...

Did I mention tenor juju? Here's Wayne Shorter playing, er, 'Juju.' From a 1964 date with the Coltrane rhythm section, interestingly. This is an alternate take, fascinating stuff. I upped the original track way back and wrote about it at some length here...

Also: I received some information from Godoggo which is worthy of wider distribution. As many will know, Dr Art Davis died recently. There is a very good appreciation of him here on The Jazz Cat site (scroll down for video and interview). His MySpace page has more music and on his web site there are interviews with Hank Jones, Elvin Jones and John Purcell. Plus Youtube performances - here's a couple of links

Ike Quebec
Ike Quebec (ts) Grant Green (g) Paul Chambers (b) Philly Joe Jones
Blue and Sentimental

That old black magic


John Coltrane
Donald Byrd (tp) John Coltrane (ts) Red Garland (p) Paul Chambers (b) Louis Hayes (d)
The Believer


Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter (ts) McCoy Tyner (p) Reggie Workman (b) Elvin Jones (d)
Juju (alternate take)


Saturday, August 11, 2007

Charles Mingus... Tal Farlow... Cecil Taylor... Sonny Rollins

Mingus in 1960. A stunning quartet sans piano, bravura stuff all round:

'This ensemble featured the same instruments as Coleman's quartet, and is often regarded as Mingus rising to the challenging new standard established by Coleman.' (From here...)

'What love' begins as slow meditation before the impeccable Ted Curson takes a long solo, starting mournful – a flamenco/spanish edge to it - becoming more jaunty with wonderful spiralling runs, over changing rhythms. Mingus next up, fast runs and pauses, a single note poked at several times – this is like eavesdropping on someone's private thoughts. Dolphy sidles in with low sinister bass clarinet before engaging in conversation with the leader. Richmond's cymbals join them then drums as the rhythm sort of staggers out – start stop start stop. One of the defining characteristics of 'jazz' was/is the manner in which instrumental tone was 'vocalised.' Here, you can hear them talking to each other, Dolphy especially hilarious as he imitates the rise and fall of a quizzical speech cadence. Answered by Mingus. They sound like a bickering couple. Funny and thought-provokingly brilliant – Mingus always painted on a broad canvas.

Linked to Mingus by his time with the Red Norvo trio, just before he branched out on his own, Talmadge Holt Farlow, a genius of modern jazz guitar, was something of an enigma. At the height of his fame, he dropped out of the profession and returned to his original career as sign-painter. Although he surfaced in later years (and sadly died of cancer in 1998), that return to small-town life has probably taken him off the radar for many. Listen to his blistering runs and odd phrases on 'Just one of those things.' It wasn't, believe me... Classic small combo modern jazz - he's well-supported by Red Mitchell and Stan Levy. Claude Williamson takes a matchingly fleet solo.

Cecil Taylor again. I like him... From his first album 'Jazz Advance,' and boy, it certainly was, 'Song,' featuring Steve Lacy on soprano saxophone. Now, this was recorded in 1956, the bass is solid, the drums unobtrusive, not stretched into the new pulses and time continua to come. Yet Taylor takes off in places to hint at what was not far round the corner. His piano fairly romps and stomps in places, blatting out clusters and dense runs. Lacy is cool, holding his own ground, seemingly unfazed by the surrounding furore.To have stepped out of Dixieland into this music was an interesting manoevre, to say the least. There is a wonderful freshness to this track, still retaining the virginal energies of its conception as new territories were joyfully explored. Hearing old masters still playing with youthful fire has been a special privilege the last couple of years - yet how much more thrilling must it have been for those who caught it the first time round...

Finally... Sonny Rollins. 'We kiss in a shadow,' taken from the ever-fascinating album 'East Broadway Rundown' that he recorded with Coltrane's rhythm section. (Freddy Hubbard was also on the session but only for one track). Contrast and compare time... Rollins, despite his own undeniable brilliance, lived so much in the shadow of Coltrane, despite out-living him and becoming a celebrated elder stateman of the tenor – perhaps we should consider these musicians more in the spirit of 'both/and' rather than 'either/or.' Partisanship is fine – and I am a stone archetypal fan in the sense of fanatic for a variety of musics. But it can get out of hand and lead to neglect of important contributors... Certainly in jazz... I'm thinking about figures like Jimmy Giuffre perhaps, or Lennie Tristano – or the sombre reality of being a genius unrecognised and unrewarded as in the case of the trombonist/free improvisor Paul Rutherford, who died earlier this week. Some bitter irony in the coverage of his death – I just noticed this extensive obit in the Guardian today by Richard Williams – as compared to the obscurity of much of his recent life, which poses many questions about how such cases of economic and artistic neglect can be dealt with – if at all... Ending on a sombre note – but it's a sad tale...

Charles Mingus
Charles Mingus (b) Eric Dolphy (b-cl) Ted Curson (t) Danny Richmond (d)
What Love


Tal Farlow
Tal Farlow (g) Claude Williamson (p) Red Mitchell (b) Stan Levy (d)
Just one of those things


Cecil Taylor
Cecil Taylor (p) Steve Lacy (ss) Buell Neidlinger (b) Dennis Charles (d)


Sonny Rollins
Sonny Rollins (ts) Jimmy Garrison (b) Elvin Jones (d)
We kiss in a shadow


Friday, August 10, 2007

Paul Rutherford - addenda... and a small tribute...

I received some more details about the unfortunate death of Paul Rutherford in the comments section - also regarding the funeral arrangements. There was apparently a mix-up about the times - but Bruce Rutherford, Paul's nephew, sent the correct details:

... However you have made a mistake on the funeral arrangements. The time is actually 2.30pm and not 10.30am Thursday August 16 at 10:30 am at Lewisham Crematorium in Hither Green Cemetery on Verdant Lane, London SE6 1JX. [The nearest station is Grove Park (trains from Charing Cross, Waterloo East & London Bridge). From there, it is about a 20 minute walk, or buses 124 or 284 can be boarded from the bus stop in Downham Way.]

Also in the comments are a couple of tributes:

Sent from Jean-Michel:

From MD
As you may already know, Paul Rutherford was found dead in his flat in S.E. London on August 5. The cause of death was sclerosis of the liver and a ruptured aorta.

Paul was one of the pioneers of free improvisation, and many consider him to have been the finest trombonist and one of the finest improvisers in the area. He was certainly a very distinctive musician – many players had been influenced by him to some degree (not only trombonists), but no one sounded anything like him. Among his most important performances were his unaccompanied solos, and those in his trio Iskra 1903 that contained Barry Guy and either Derek Bailey or Philipp Wachsmann. He was a gentle, kind man with an outrageous sense of humour, and will be sorely missed. However, he also suffered from bouts of depression, and was frustrated that he was not recognised more widely.

And from anonymous:

I had the pleasure of presenting Paul with drummer Harris Eisenstadt and bassist Torsten Muller at the Center for Contemporary Arts in Santa Fe, New Mexico in January of 2006. The performance was stellar and Paul was one of the kindest men I have ever met. I will never forget the performances, the evening spent with him, talking about the great musicians he played with and the music he made over the years and the scene we are trying to foster out here in the high desert that he was so supportive of. I know he was not recognized as widely as he should have been but every person who was in the audience that night walked out at the end of the show a true believer in the amazing talent of this man. He will be dearly missed.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I was at the Freedom of the City gig in May when Paul played with Marcio Mattos and Veryan Weston. He was tremendous... Here is a section from their set which displays all the qualities that for me - and many others - made him the pre-eminent free improvising trombone player...

Paul Rutherford (trombone) Marcio Mattos (cello) Veryan Weston (piano)

A 5.01 minute section from their set at the Freedom of the City Festival, Monday May 7th 2007.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Paul Rutherford 1940-2007... tailgating for the avant-garde...

There were posts on the BBC Radio 3 Jazz board about the death of Paul Rutherford. And elsewhere... another great musician gone (Art Davis dying last week - and the folk singer Tommy Makem).I saw Paul Rutherford a few weeks ago at the Freedom of the City festival (review here) and he blew up a storm in company with Marcio Mattos and Veryan Weston. Complete with clenched fist salute at the end of the set - Rutherford was a man with a deep attachment to Communism. It struck me as quaint at the time... thinking back on it now, more a sadness for lost utopias. Here was someone who held to his road, no matter what. And apparently never received much financial reward for his revelatory, inspiring experimental work on his instrument. What came across at that gig was how deeply rooted he was in the tradition, oddly enough... I'm trying to sort out a proper tribute later, as I have a recording of the gig as part of a larger file. For now, here he is with the cream of the crop on the Tony Oxley session 'Four Compositions for Sextet' playing 'Amass.' Opening on Evan Parker's tally-hooing call to action soon joined by Bailey and Rutherford et al. Rutherford comes through strongly about 4 minutes in but makes a strong contribution throughout to one of the definitive albums of the Brit avant-garde. Bliss was it in that dawn etc...

Here's Rutherford offering his own philosophy on music:

'If I didn’t like the music, I wouldn’t play it—simple as that. All the music I was involved with I enjoyed. Music was basically the goal.'

The interview with Clifford Allen in 'All that Jazz' that this extract is taken from is both a fascinating insight into the birth of the free improvising scene in the U.K. in the sixties and Rutherford's contribution to it - and a terribly sad description of what it cost him to follow his art for very little reward. One of the world's premier visionary musicians - stuck on a pension in the U.K. and rarely getting gigs...

Tony Oxley
Tony Oxley (d) Kenny Wheeler (t) Evan Parker (ts) Paul Rutherford (tr) Derek Bailey (g) Jeff Clyne (b)


Paul Rutherford...

I received a mail from a group I belong to saying that the renowned British pioneer of improvising trombone Paul Rutherford had died on Monday 6th August. Just checked around and his Wikipedia entry confirms this in its last sentence. Nothing else yet so... more news as and when...

Monday, August 06, 2007


Just doing a much-needed update to the blogroll - a couple dead and gone - some just changed faces and names. Scroll down to check them out... At some point this week I'll change the music on the flashplayer as well - been around a wee bit too long...

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Gil Evans... Ahmad Jamal... Thomas Chapin... Andrew Hill...

Back to the downloading game again... The sun has been shining and everyone is finally in summer mode so it has been difficult to concentrate on music...

Gil Evans recorded the John Lewis tune 'Concorde' for his album 'The Individualism of Gil Evans.' A boppish line led in by the bass that develops into a fugue that slowly spreads out to bring in the ensemble, this interpretation a long way from the intimacies of the Modern Jazz Quartet - an intriguing take on a theme that combines the crisp clarity of Lewis's love for Bach with the bounce and swing of the blues (that role taken by Milt Jackson's vibes in the original). A busy piece, the contrapuntal feel kept up throughout, featuring a snatch of violin to add a different timbre before a trumpet, presumably Thad Jones, soars over the ensemble. Dissolving into a quieter section beginning with an odd figure being tossed across that has a familiarity to the first few bars of Benny Golson's 'Blues March.' A nifty bass solo from Paul Chambers with staccato chordal chips from guitar and the drums keep it moving steadily along until the orchestra returns and a brief alto solo from Phil Woods. A somewhat rambling piece, but fascinating in the way Evans seems to carry on the 'European' and the 'jazz' mix of Lewis's intention – the deployment of violins, french horn and tuba against the powerhouse drums and timbres of the trumpet and saxophone. And quintessential Evans in the sonorities both deep and wide – always plenty of colour. And space: one can travel far in this Concorde...

Ahmad Jamal in Paris, playing live a track called 'Acorn.' Opening in rhapsodic flourish before settling down into a fast groove underpinned by bass and sharp drums. Some nice stomping descending left hand and long rolling single lines contrasted with thumping chords and hammered figures then moving into quieter, slowed-down passages – a lot of light and shade here. The occasional two-fisted attack gives an interesting flavour of earlier styles. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves, judging by the occasional exultant shouts...

Thomas Chapin playing the Monk tune 'Ask me now.' The melody of which always reminds me of Noel Coward's 'Someday I'll find you.' Solo alto introduces the track before Chapin is joined by his long-standing trio members Mario Pavane and Michael Sarin for a slow swing through. Some nice smeary figures that recall Johnny Hodges, giving a slightly world-weary feeling in places, although this is quite a joyful piece overall. Chapin was a very appealing player who seemed to hit the mark with his emotional content as much as his considerable technique – evidenced on the coda here especially. Recorded in 1996 for the album 'Sky Piece.' There is a good review by George Lane here...

'Black Monday.' Slow and knotty tune played by John Gilmore shadowed by the piano of the composer Andrew Hill and Bobby Hutcherson's vibes. Hutcherson takes the first solo, closely followed by Richard Davis's bass and the jabbing piano of the leader. Chambers fires off some interesting eruptions from below – the cymbal sound here is very clear. Then Gilmore enters in garrulous form to die off suddenly and let Hill through, prodded along by Davis's bass especially – continual counter-melodies that suddenly rush up the register. One notes that this really is a group performance – the drums and bass are up front throughout. Fire and intelligence...

In the Videodrome...

That Blues March

Ahmad Jamal darning that dream in 1959

Thomas Chapin discusses sound

Andrew Hill in concert

Gil Evans
Thad Jones, Louis Mucci, Bernie Glow (tp), Jimmy Cleveland, Jimmy Knepper (tb), Ray Alonge, Julius Watkins (fh), Bill Barber (tu), Andy Fitzgerald, George Marge, Bob Tricarico (ww), Steve Lacy (ss), Phil Woods (as), Harry Lookofsky (tv), Kenny Burrell (g), Paul Chambers (b), Elvin Jones (dm), unknown (celesta), Gil Evans (p, arr, cond).


Ahmad Jamal
Ahmad Jamal (p) James Cammack (b) David Bowler (d)


Thomas Chapin
Thomas Chapin (as) Mario Pavone (b) Michael Sarin (d)
Ask me now


Andrew Hill
John Gilmore ts, Bobby Hutcherson vib, Richard Davis b, Joe Chambers ds
Black Monday


Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Excursions into the gone provincial night... Review: Evan Parker/Ned Rothenberg/Black Carrot at Taylor John's, Tuesday 31st July, 2007

A tortuous journey on foot from the hotel – but I found Taylor John's eventually, tucked down by the canal. Coming in to a bar and the music space off from it just in time to catch the support band – Evan Parker and Ned Rothenberg. Only joking – the headliners, of course, but they had agreed to go on before Black Carrot – Evan Parker announced that this made sense as the other band would be louder and have more people on stage so could build up from them. Or he wanted to get home early! But whatever the reason – I wasn't complaining and the progression worked very well.

In this intimate atmosphere you were up close to the music – which was fascinating throughout. I've seen Evan Parker solo several times down the years and with various groups – but never in a duo. This was casual yet intense if that makes sense, the informal, friendly manner of the musicians contrasted with the range and complexity of the improvisations. 'Chamber music,' as Ned Rothenberg said at the beginning. They rang the changes on the available combinations of their horns – Parker on his usual tenor and soprano saxophones, Rothenberg on clarinet, bass clarinet and alto saxophone. Both of these men work in a wide variety of bands and formats and one can see that stylistic breadth in evidence tonight. Also the divergence – Rothenberg is completely at home with Parker, with a detectable stylistic kinship/(influence?) – but he has obviously fine-honed his own conception and techniques. They started on tenor and alto – Rothenberg giving out long notes that Parker joined with and dabbed round – slowly building until longer lines came in, spreading out the sound now. This was the pattern – long notes as a marker perhaps and skeins of melody spinning round them, with short melodic fragments held up and examined from every angle, shot through with their separate strategies for granularity and timbral extensions. They both took solo spots – Parker's an absolute masterclass in tenor playing, building those impossibly long-breathed lines up from basic fragments that were repeated from different angles until they folded into something else, the game perpetually moving onwards. Dazzled and dizzy among the swirls of notes at one point I had an image of birds spinning gracefully into dense flocks that continually broke and reformed in an image of sheer beauty. Rothenberg came up on his solo from a different angle – rolling up his right trouser leg – which made me wonder if we were about to participate in some arcane Masonic ritual – he damped his clarinet against his bare flesh to create a separate but complementary timbral level – moving from simulated wah wah (not just electric guitar – but equally sounding like a muted jazz trumpet from way back) to popping whoops - as he took the instrument on a quirky ride that encompassed its range from woody chalameau to high squirls. So much out of such a small object. In modern jazz, clarinet was shoved into the background by the saxophone (with honourable exceptions, Buddy De Franco, Jimmy Guiffre, Perry Robinson and recently John Carter and whoever you fancy) - perhaps improvised music with its emphasis on sound mutations as much as linear movement gives it a new lease of life... Towards the end, high notes from both horns created a strange exultant buzzing in a few heads. Entranced indeed... A superb delineation of improvised horn playing... Parker – well, I've been a fan for a long time, Rothenberg is a relatively new name to me – how pleasant to hear him live. A fascinating partner to the elder player – who is still up for a challenge. Note: there are some interesting free downloads of Rothenberg on his web site here... They also have a couple of albums that you can track down here...

Black Carrot are one of my favourite bands so it was a pleasure to catch them as well tonight. They opened up with that two drum tribal bang thang that brings you straight in to the music - before they proceed to dance around and away from the basic thump into the improvisatory swirl. They are getting a very full sound now with the addition of the second drummer Euan, who also fires off shards of rumbling electronics to further thicken the sound. Martin Summers joined them on bass clarinet – his un-miked playing a little lost in the dense sound surrounding but what I heard was interesting - adding a level of improv/jazz timbre to the bounce plus a sudden lurking flash in my mind of Bennie Maupin's deep runnings with Miles in the Bitches Brew sessions. For that is the point about the Carrot – they have a core style based on accessible rhythms which is flexible enough to accommodate – well, whatever they put there. The two drummers Tom and Euan fire off each other in satisfyingly snappy fashion and Ollie's amplified woodwinds and electric keyboard add splashes of colour and depth, veering gloriously into an r and b tenor honk and bark at one point. (In one of those synchronicities, I am listening to Junior Walker and the Allstars as I write this). Bass player Stuart Brackley's idiosyncratic (and immediately recognisable) improvesperanto vocals were less of a feature tonight – however, going into a semi-ballad at the end with an underscore of tender sparse electric piano. Carrot: the luurrve album, anyone? Seriously, it worked very well and gave a nice change of pace. The Carrot's 'fractured aural excursions' charabanc moves ever onwards...

They also have a selection of free downloads as tasters for various albums on their web site... and a couple of upcoming gigs (2nd and 19th August) with Nigel Parkin in London at the Portobello Film Festival... search through here...

Congratulations to Taylor John's, then, for putting on some challenging musics in an unpretentious and friendly environment at reasonable prices in the gone provincial night, as Jack may have said... I mean: Evan Parker, Ned Rothenberg AND Black Carrot – all for a fiver? I shall return... Soon.