Live Jazz and Acoustic Music in Bristol

Really kicking in for the Autumn and Winter period with some cracking September gigs including Gilad Atzmon's Coltrane tribute and Josephine Davies 's Satori, with sage song writer Eric Taylor at Zion.

I'm making October a festival month with four gigs so I'm offering a season ticket for all 'OktoberJazzFest' gigs which could save you £16 across those four events! (see booking page).

Here's some navigagtion links for the up-coming gigs:

Sep 10 Gilad Atzmon 24 Satori 27 Eric Taylor

Oct 1 Christian Garrick 8 Craig Handy 15 Oli Rockberger 22 Malija

Cheers, Ian

*EBA* means Early Booking Advised

*EBA* Gilad Atzmon +OHE The Spirit of Trane

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

Gilad Atzmon

It is fifty years since the death of probably the most influential saxophonist in Jazz: John Coltrane.

Gilad Atzmon and the Orient House Ensemble attempt to reflect upon the beauty of the man’s music, with a new album dedicated to his music and ethos: Trane. John Coltrane (like his contemporary Miles Davis on trumpet) changed the sound of not only the instrument but the form of Jazz and its future.

Whether it is his patented sheets of sound, his rapid-fire improvisations, the advanced harmonic progressions, the sonic impact of probably the best jazz quartet….ever, or his lush interpretations of the most beautiful ballads, no aspiring music lover can afford to neglect the music of Trane. But Coltrane is far greater than the sum of his outstanding musical achievements. He was a voice of his generation, an artistic and revolutionary spirit; a man who transformed anger into love and plight into a humanist message.

Coltrane is for us, jazz at its best; an authentic creative wave of constant transformation and innovation. Trane is for us, first and foremost….a spirit. ~ Gilad Atzmon

If you have not witnessed Gilad in action before then you have yet to witness a force of nature! A larger than life character with a seemingly abundant store of energy, he not only tours constantly with his Orient House Ensemble band but works with many other projects including the Blockheads, Pink Floyd, Paul McCartney and Robert Wyatt. Yet still he finds time to be a political activist for change in his country of birth, Israel.

His espousals of critique against the perceived injustice of the Middle East situation, has brought him into direct conflict with many of his countrymen, with writings and insight based on a drive to stand up for the forgotten in the area; and to propose an alternative to the carnage that exits still.

As a musician, he finds a different outlet for his passion. Fire and energy exude from his instruments of choice: Saxophone and Clarinet predominantly, though he has time for accordion and ethnic woodwind instruments as well. The OHE, have become one of the tightest outfits around with piano and bass unchanged since its inception in the year 2000. It shows in live performances, where they merge the essence of Jazz with haunting references to sounds from the Middle East to produce evenings of exhilarating music that has an enthralled audiences worldwide. The band will be playing over 40 dates on this autumn tour, which is a mark of their popularity and passion for the music. They will be with us in Bristol on this evening in September and it’ll be one not to more

Josephine Davies - Satori

Sun 24 Sep 7:30 for 8:15 (£13/11)Hen & Chicken Book Δ


Satori is a brand new trio from Perrier Award winning saxophonist Josephine Davies, featuring drummer Paul Clarvis and bassist Dave Whitford. The chord-less line-up features open and playful compositions with plenty of space for improvisation. Influenced by the great live trio recordings of Joe Henderson and Julian Arguelles, Satori were inspired to create a similar feeling of freedom and exploration whilst also bringing a fresh and unique sound through original compositions.

Their debut album was released earlier this year on Whirlwind Recordings to rave reviews: consistently inventive ~ Jazzwise
..Spiritual, spiralling…slow-burning exuberance ~ UK Vibe

Those who were at the Bristol Jazz Fest’ this year, will recall the beautifully rounded tenor sounds that Josephine showed, performing with the engaging Alec Dankworth’s ‘Spanish Accents’ band. Since leaving the Guildhall School of Music (following two years with the National Youth Jazz Orchestra), Josephine is already showing she has a tone and an original voice on the saxophone, getting work with the likes of The London Jazz Orchestra, Ronnie Scott's Vanguard Band (led by Gerard Presencer), Jamie Cullum and the BBC Big Band.

A truly gifted and imaginative saxophonist, Davies undoubtedly possesses the art of the improviser and has produced an album of exuberant lyricism and consistently engaging tunes. ~ All About Jazz

Paul Clarvis is well known to Bristol audiences as he was a part of Andy Sheppard’s bands “Learning to Wave” (’98) and “Dancing Man and Woman” (2000). More recently Paul was involved in the 2012 London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony produced by film director Danny Boyle. He not only wrote Dame Evelyn Glennie’s part, but was Drum Sargent helping Rick Smith train the 100 drummers who took part in the event. He is a prodigiously gifted drummer and percussionist, equally at home in Jazz, Folk, Rock, World and Classical music and in any size group. His sense of time and beautifully poised touch, enables him to be intensely musical and therefore much in demand. He has also appeared on the soundtracks of literally hundreds of films from all the Harry Potter movies to Star Wars, the Lord of the Rings series and the Bond film, Skyfall.

It was the inclusion of Paul in this line-up that made me love the sound of Josephine’s trio, his work with Dave Whitford behind her luscious toned imaginative playing meant it this was a no-brainer to book them for the autumn programme. It is an improvisatory trio project reflecting the definition of its Buddhist title Satori – ‘a moment of enlightening presence and inner spaciousness away from the clutter of thought’.

Take a listen to the video tracks on the gig page for a sample of what to expect. I think this will be an evening of great beauty with tunes to make you think and more

Eric Taylor (USA) support by Stuart Warburton (UK)

Wed 27 Sep 7:30 for 8:15 (£12/10)Zion Community Space Book Δ

Eric Taylor

Last year, following Eric’s performance in October 2016 at the Hen & Chicken, I wrote in the Nov’ Newsletter:

Eric Taylor was a totally religious experience (and I'm not religious at all, but I imagine this is the nearest thing to it). At 68, he hasn’t got a fab' singing voice, but he's just plain magnetic in his sing/speak delivery with such a deep brogue, that has you hanging on every word, of every superb lyric. His guitar playing is something else. Not seen anyone play this style before! He may be back in 2017 (Sept’) don't miss him next time!

Eric Taylor is a sage musician, a lyrical genius and a master of the guitar. If you're familiar with the intricate Texas singer/ songwriter jigsaw puzzle, you probably already know a lot about Taylor. If you're not familiar with Taylor by name, you've probably heard his songs performed by people such as Nanci Griffith, Steve Earle and Lyle Lovett. He has created a multitude of fans and devotees that are legends themselves in the singer/songwriter realm, artists who have long considered Taylor to be a teacher and a lantern bearer, whose time is long overdue.

Taylor may sing of the past, of bar rooms and hay fields and even Johnny Cash, but his characters want the same things we do. They want love and redemption. They want some fun and happiness. They want respect and sometimes even a little vengeance. Taylor's people are just like us, it's just that their tales are exquisitely told. ~ Al Kaufman, Atlanta Music Guide

Taylor learned intricate blues guitar stylings from music legends Lightnin' Hopkins, Mance Lipscomb and Mississippi Fred McDowell while working at the Family Hand club. Later, he developed his own unique guitar picking style that would be imitated by many of his contemporaries from the early Houston days, such as Guy Clark, Townes Van Zandt, Robert Earl Keen, Lyle Lovett, Steve Earle, and Nanci Griffith. "There were no lines drawn in the sand between musical genres in Houston back in those days", Taylor remembers. "You were just a musician. I believe so many great writers came out of that scene because you could learn from others. Isn't that the point of this whole thing?"

A self confessed Socialist, left winger and proud of it, Taylor tours extensively throughout North America and Europe. He has appeared on Austin City Limits, Late Night with David Letterman, NPR's "Morning Edition" and "Mountain Stage" and BBC Radio. A mesmerizing performer whose shows will leave you wanting more and his tributes from others don’t come much better than these:

He’s the real deal. He was one of my heroes and teachers when I was starting playing around Houston in the early 70’s. ~ Steve Earle

I'm always the opening act when I'm around Eric. I love his voice, and he has a great narrative quality and sense of detail. He sort of takes you out of your own reality and into the reality of his songs. Its good writing no matter how you cut it. ~ Lyle Lovett

If you miss an opportunity to hear Eric Taylor in concert, you have missed a chance to hear a voice I consider the William Faulkner of songwriting in our current time, and you will miss the rare opportunity to watch the hands of one of America's most unusual guitarists, with lyrics that will nail your ear and mind. For me to say that Eric Taylor is one of the finest writers of our time is an understatement. ~ Nanci Griffith

A very gifted songwriter. It was a high point for me performing “Strong Enough For Two” with Eric at the Newport Folk Festival. Hope to work more with him. ~ Joan Baez

In 2016, The American National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences announced Eric Taylor has been nominated for an Emmy for Music Composition for songs written for the Storyworks TV documentary Road Kid to Writer: ‘The Tracks of Jim Tully’.

If you have heard and liked Otis Gibbs at our Jazzata gigs you will love this guy. There are some older videos on the gig page to sample and you can hear 10 minutes of last year’s performance recorded by BristolRon here, but watch it all in one go, as he segues two songs together and gives some banter.

For this year’s performance at Zion Arts I’m going to try and get everyone super-close-up for this soft spoken lyrical genius, make a more

Christian Garrick ‘The Spirit of Stephane’

Sun 1 Oct 7:30 for 8:15 (£14/12)Hen & Chicken Book Δ

Christian Garrick

If you’ve not been to a Chris Garrick concert before, you’re in for a real treat and a jaw dropping experience. He is technically brilliantly, rhythmically phenomenal and he does it all with humour and a down to earth approach. His range of work has covered every possible genre of music and entertainment; the guy can literally play the phone book! If you are not aware of him, he is currently the solo violin-voice of Poldark in the current BBC TV adaption of the Winston Graham stories and plays the theme tune.

The fabled French fiddler Stephane Grappelli is remembered and celebrated by Christian Garrick, Britain’s leading exponent of jazz violin, in a performance marking Stephane’s incredible legacy of 79 years of music-making. Christian met Stephane first, when he was only 8 years old at The Stables in Wavendon, an encounter that would influence him and his playing enormously.

Christian is an award-winning British jazz violinist, who learnt by the Suzuki method from the age of 5 and was the first jazz violin graduate of London's illustrious Royal Academy of Music. Surrounded by music from birth his father Michael Garrick MBE was a renowned jazz pianist and composer, his mother Susan Robinson, taught piano and clarinet peripatetically and sang with the London Philharmonic Choir. This home atmosphere led to early meetings with classical giants Olivier Messiaen, Itzhak Perlman and Zubin Mheta and diverse talents such as Jaco Pastorius, Spike Milligan, Nigel Kennedy or even Petula Clarke. Christian has featured as soloist with artists such as Wynton Marsalis, Nigel Kennedy, Bireli Lagrene, All About Eve, Caro Emerald, Martin Taylor, Van Morrison, Dame Cleo Laine and the late great Sir John Dankworth; even Dolly Parton and live on ‘Strictly’!

He is already my favourite exponent of his chosen instrument of his generation and could easily emerge as one of the great jazz violinists of all time. ~ Sir John Dankworth speaking in the early 1990’s

This is a wonderful swinging show in the instrumental tradition of the Hot Club of France and Django Reinhardt featuring favourites such as Sweet Georgia Brown, Strike up the Band and Ain't Misbehavin' together with beautiful ballads Flamingo, Nuages and The Folks Who Live on the Hill. Chris has put together a bravura line-up for this long running project more

Garrick plays marvellously bringing his own stamp to Grappelli’s relaxed lyricism, without losing the maestro’s sense of vibrancy... ~ Guardian

*EBA* Craig Handy Quartet (USA, UK + France)

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

Craig Handy

This is a No Brainer, top bracket gig!!!

From the time he arrived in New York at age 23 in 1986, saxophonist Craig Handy was acknowledged as a musician with big, burly tenor sound, sharp wit, and above all, individuality.

Labelled “a young star” by New York Times jazz critic Peter Watrous at the tender age of 27, Handy breathed life into these accolades through a number of important associations. Tapped almost immediately by the pioneering and profoundly influential drummer Art Blakey, Handy went on to hold his own on the front line of legendary bebop drummer Roy Haynes’ band, work with South African pianist Abdullah Ibrahim, and weave sensuous obbligati behind Betty Carter on the kind of tunes most young artists are presumed not to understand.

Since his early time with Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, Handy has contributed his lyrical, arresting, intensely passionate and uncompromising improvisations to ensembles led by Herbie Hancock, Wynton Marsalis, Freddie Hubbard, Joe Henderson, Ray Drummond, Elvin Jones, George Adams, Kenny Barron, John Hicks, and David Weiss, among many others. Handy was also a convincing and telegenic actor in Robert Altman’s 1994 film Kansas City, portraying saxophonist Coleman Hawkins. Delivering a Mingus-like brash and confident tone to the Mingus Dynasty, Big Band, and Orchestra for over 20 years, Handy also served as its musical director for much of this time.

Most recently, he’s received rave reviews for his performances with vocalist Dee Dee Bridgewater, leading Stephen Holden of the New York Times to comment: Mr Handy was the other key player. Throughout the show he exhibited a combination of sensitivity and audacity that suggested a telepathic connection to Ms Bridgewater, as he explored the timbrel limits of the flute and saxophones in much the same way that she used her voice.

This is a fresh line up for Craig. He plays regularly with Nicola in Europe who recommended he work with Jonathan, who then suggested Rod as the perfect fourth band member. They will play music from Craig’s recent New Orleans inspired 2nd Line Smith project (which is awesome - see video clips on main gig page), Jonathan’s acclaimed originals, and from the canon of the great Cedar Walton. May be a highlight gig of the year, it’ll cook....... read more

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