Live Jazz and Acoustic Music in Bristol

After a Satori, Christian Garrick and the super Craig Handy we look forward to the end of the year with more gigs of quality, but again, all with a difference.

Soul Jazz vocalist and pianist Oli Rockberger's 5-piece band including folk violinist Hannah Read; contemporary jazz at its best with Malija; Folk/Americana at Zion Arts w/ Dana & Susan Robinson; the awesome piano of Robert Mitchell; and the straight ahead jazz of Dave O'Higgins and his quartet. December sees two gigs with Bristol's own Rock/Jazz stars 'Get The Blessing' and a fun Christmas special with Alan Barnes Octet project 'A Jazz Christmas Carol'.

Hope you can make it along to at least a few of these great gigs

Cheers, Ian

Oct 15 Oli Rockberger 22 Malija
Nov 5 Robert Mitchell 19 Dave O’Higgins
Dec 10 Get The Blessing 17 Alan Barnes

Oli Rockberger 'Sovereign Tour'

Sun 15 Oct 7:30 for 8:15 (£14/12)Hen & Chicken Book Δ

Oli Rockberger

This is a sort of crossover gig with our acoustic programme as the artists within Oli’s band play many sides of the acoustic spectrum. Occasionally someone comes along that has a natural stage persona with a voice that works within the genre they have chosen to occupy; plays piano really well; that writes tunes and lyrics that groove and tell a story; and makes a connection with your ear....I got that with Oli Rockberger.

The natural jazz grooves that easily crossover to soul, folk and pop are easy to hear and have a hook which is engaging and pleasing. The inclusion of folk violinist and vocalist Hannah Read (Sounds of Separation, Bruce Molsky, and Rosanne Cash and Julie Fowlis) makes for an interesting combination harmonically. I put on Oli a few Christmases ago to only a small audience, on the old upright piano and I really enjoyed his performance. Since then he’s been a regular keyboardist for the very popular Laura Mvula with whom he also provides backing vocals and moved back to London after 10 years of living in New York following graduating from Berklee College of Music.

Now, British soul-jazz singer/pianist Oli Rockberger is set to release his new album, Sovereign, on 20 October at Pizza Express Jazz Club London and is on the Whirlwind Recordings label. Rockberger has recently relocated to London after an extended stay in the US where he toured and recorded extensively with the likes of Carly Simon, John Mayer, Steve Gadd, Randy Brecker, Steve Jordan, Nathan East, Becca Stevens, Louis Cole and Chris Dave's Drumhedz. The keyboardist now divides his time between touring with Jazz FM Award-winning singer Laura Mvula and leading his own band, which tours for several UK dates to support the album release more

Oli can conjure up echoes of Randy Newman, Todd Rundgren and Peter Gabriel, yet still inhabit a sound world all of his own... ~ Jazzwise

Tour dates are: Soundcellar, Poole (12 Oct); Jazzata, Bristol (15 Oct); The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh (18 Oct); Album launch at Pizza Express Jazz Club, London (19-20 Oct) and EFG London Jazz Festival @ Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho (14 Nov). For full biography and a chance to listen to the album go to Oli’s website.

*EBA* Malija

Sun 22 Oct 7:30 for 8:15 (£13/11)Hen & Chicken Book Δ


MALIJA is Mark Lockheart’s (Loose Tubes co-founder, Polar Bear) current small group with the amazing Liam Noble (Christine Tobin, Dave Liebman) on piano and Jasper Høiby (Phronesis) on bass. They formed the group as a result of an invitation to perform at the Rochester Jazz Festival 2014 in New York and from the very first rehearsal had so much fun and musical empathy. They had all worked together previously on Mark’s 2009 album In Deep but this time they all decided to share the writing between them and explore a sound world without drums.

The pleasure of this trio in their close relationship is infectiously evident all over the set. ~ The Guardian (UK)

This sophisticated, genre-bending trio has been delighting audiences since its debut album release The Day I Had Everything on Edition Records. Driven by a commitment to ‘in-the-moment improvisation’ and collective musical banter, the band’s idiomatic sweep through bluegrass, tango, abstract grooves and shimmering landscapes is delivered with flair and playful abandon. Three distinctive compositional voices, all hugely influential in the London scene, combine to form a unique sounding group

….deliciously abstruse riches a-plenty, peppered with humour, melodic wit, irregular groove and a vivid descriptive quality. ~ MOJO

Malija has just recorded its second CD entitled Instinct and will be playing UK dates in their autumn tour and again in early 2018. Top class Jazz from top musicians, early booking is advised.......... read more

Robert Mitchell’s ‘Epiphany 3’

Sun 5 Nov 7:30 for 8:15 (£13/11)Hen & Chicken Book Δ

Robert Mitchell’s ‘Epiphany 3’

Robert Mitchell is an award-winning and critically acclaimed pianist and composer; this is his new musical project, released in 2017 as his 9th album entitled ‘Vigil For Justice. A Vigil For Peace.’ Recorded mainly in a piano trio format, the music is part of a bigger concept; a result and a step forward in Robert Mitchell’s pursuits as an innovator. It features new original music and poetry from a forthcoming collection.

The new Robert Mitchell album is I believe his best yet…. absolutely top quality jazz from one of the world’s finest ~ Gilles Peterson BBC Radio 1 and 6

Vigil For Justice. A Vigil For Peace is inspired by irritation with ongoing inequalities and a lack of justice for those most in need; unfulfilled potential, the failings of the political process and forced migration. It also has a positive message: refocussing on the special talents that everyone possesses and long lasting love, as an introduction to a larger work called “The Spirit Line”. The music is inspired by freedom, and infused with groove, power, grace, symbiosis, trust, love and loss. Encapsulated in the Zulu word ‘Ubuntu’, the essential human virtues of compassion and humanity. It contains straight ahead and odd metre Jazz, Latin influences, free form, funk and fusion; with inspiration coming from beat poetry/spoken word, hip hop and beyond. The poetry on the album is spoken by Thami Hlabangana as narrator, and is used ‘live’ as a recording, to complement the live performance

There is no doubt that Robert’s technical ability at the piano is masterful. His speed and accuracy has earned him plaudits from both Classical and Jazz worlds; however Robert has widened his outlook to encompass other musical influences and other art forms, making his work stimulating, entertaining and very powerful to listen to.

A different sort of evening that will make you think and feel, from your toes to your head and to your more

Dave O’Higgins Quartet

Sun 19 Nov 7:30 for 8:15 (£14/12)Hen & Chicken Book Δ

Dave O’Higgins

This gig with the Dave O’Higgins Quartet is part of a massive 33-date tour of the UK promoting the new CD, ‘It’s Always 9:30 in Zog’, from September through to December 2017 with the help of awards from the Arts Council of England and PRS Foundation.

Dave’s saxophone sound is highly personal and recognisable, with a clear sense of melodic development and adventure. He has a wide palette from Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, John Coltrane and Joe Henderson through to Stanley Turrentine and Michael Brecker.

The quartet is unashamed to swing….hard…very hard; drawing on blues and functional harmonies and the great tome of jazz vocabulary. The new music fizzes with life and panache, enhanced by this very able set of musicians whose backgrounds read like a ‘Who’s Who’ of the Jazz and music elite; Graham Harvey (Gerard Presencer, Incognito, M People and currently Stacey Kent for the last 8 years); Geoff Gascoyne (Michel Legrand, Everything But the Girl, Van Morrison, Georgie Fame, Sir Willard White, Dianne Reeves, Guy Barker, Claire Martin, and he played a major part in the rise of Jamie Cullum with whom he worked exclusively from 2000 to 2007); Seb’ de Krom (Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, John Scofield, Dave Holland, Clark Terry, Guy Barker and currently with the Tommy Smith Quartet)

O’Higgins plays with quite exceptional fluency and his fund of ideas never runs out. ~ The Observer

I first came across Dave O’Higgins playing with new wave jazz group ‘Roadside Picnic’ and has since gone on to huge success starting with his musical apprenticeships served with John Dankworth and Cleo Laine, Jim Mullen and Martin Taylor. Work followed with diverse artists such as Jamie Cullum, pop band Matt Bianco, Kyle Eastwood, the BBC Big Band, and Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Orchestra. His most impressive names on the CV are surely Frank Sinatra (the last London appearance - a week at the Royal Albert Hall in 1992) and a tour and album with Ray Charles (Strong Love Affair).

Dave’s big tone sound leads this kicking band, which will surely swing the house down, be more

Get The Blessing

Sun 10 Dec 7:30 for 8:15 (£14/12)Hen & Chicken Book Δ

Get The Blessing

…they may well be the most original and exciting band on the British scene at the moment. ~ Jazzwise Magazine

Bassist Jim Barr once remarked that Get The Blessing were “total outsiders” and “the punk entry” when they won the 2008 BBC Jazz Award for Best Album with ‘All Is Yes’. Almost six years later and four albums down the line, the same could still be said to hold true, albeit with a little more wisdom at their disposal.

…Seriously creative…Wonderfully irreverent ~ Mojo Magazine

Formed in 2000 to share a fascination with the improvisation and monophonic nature of Ornette Coleman’s earlier works and throughout this time, the line-up has remained the same throughout with Portishead rhythm masters Jim Barr and Clive Deamer on bass and drums respectively, Pete Judge on trumpet and Jake McMurchie on saxophone. All this despite other commitments for everyone, not least Deamer’s recruitment as Radiohead’s second live drummer in 2012. The band’s old friend, collaborator and Portishead guitarist Adrian Utley also makes the occasional guest appearance.

The momentum of creativity is undipped ~ BBC Music Magazine

The Bristol-based four-piece can now boast a truly international fan base. Since the release of ‘All Is Yes’ in February 2008, they’ve taken their musical vision round the world with successful tours and festival appearances in the UK, USA, Canada, Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Spain, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Dubai, Turkey, Macedonia, Slovakia, Slovenia, and more

GTB harness rock and jazz with uncompromising power ~ Time Out

Alan Barnes’s ‘Christmas Carol’

Sun 17 Dec 7:30 for 8:15 (£15/13)Hen & Chicken Book Δ

Alan Barnes’s ‘Christmas Carol’

And now for something completely different.

Like the Dickens classic itself, Alan Barnes’s “Christmas Carol” has something for everyone. A family night out that is also a treat for the jazz connoisseur; it will delight anyone who loves music or literature – or just Christmas!

This suite of pieces, takes the audience through the characters and scenes of ‘A Christmas Carol'. Readings from the original Dickens tell the story, and after each scene eight virtuoso musicians bring the characters and scenes to life, switching audiences from hilarity to pathos with a skill that would have done credit to Dickens himself!

A gruff baritone sax plays Scrooge, his lost love Belle is a lyrical alto, his clerk Bob Cratchit a cheery clarinet and Marley’s Ghost walks in the person of a swinging trombone. Just as Scrooge’s ghosts take him on a tour of his life, so the movements of this suite seemed each to have a benevolent presiding ghost, celebrating the spirit of jazz greats past and present.

The music and readings inspire the full range of Dickens’s imagination and emotion: from terror and remorse through to love and then irresistible joy: "God Bless Us Every One!"

Barnes is a true Dickensian. He is a serious reader of the novels. It is a clear blunder of providence that he was born too late to appear in their pages! ~ Hot News

Sure it’s Christmas, sure to be Fun, and sure to get some fantastic Jazz from a truly stellar line-up….so don’t be a Humbug and start your Christmas more