Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Gaume festival

When I was away in Coutances last weekend, I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of one of my favourite annual festivals - in Gaume in Belgium (not far from Luxembourg and even closer to the trappist brewery at the monastery of Orval). Run for the past 25 years by Jean-Pierre Bissot, he has consistently had many great names of jazz but before they had been recognised elsewhere.
So he explained that Esbjorn Svensson played at his festival as early as 1992 (!), nearly a decade before his trio became famous. Over the past 6 years that I have been going there, I have been particularly impressed by his choices of pianist, including Simon Nabatov, Stefano Bollani (again well before his ECM fame). So it is to the pianists that I often look first. (By the way, Colin Vallon from Switzerland is on that wish list. He is about to record for ECM. I heard him in Gaume 2 years ago. Another is Eve Beuvens, whom I heard last year.) We'll book them at the Vortex when we know that a few more people will show up to agree with this judgment.
So this year's tip for the top is Omri Mor from Israel, playing Andalujazz, which is based around the sephardi music in Algeria.
Also there will be many of the Belgian favourites including Philip Catherine and Greg Houben.
Overall it's 24 concerts over 3 days. The admission price will be around €80. What a bargain.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

New on Babel for part of the rest of 2010

Some of our newest releases include:
Triptych (Richard Fairhurst, Jasper Hoiby, Chris Vatalaro)
Golden Age of Steam (James Allsopp, Kit Downes, Tim Giles)

With copies ready soon of:
Twelves (Riaan Vosloo, Rob Updegraff, Mark Hanslip, Tim Giles)

And for the autumn:
Outhouse with Hilmar Jensson

With whatever else is blown from the volcanoes.

Saturday, May 01, 2010

And now some more of the jazz

Even with no Cheltenham, there's lots of Babel-ish jazz to enjoy over the weekend. TrioVD at the Garage tonight. And Outhouse get ready for their recording with Hilmar Jensson by performing together at the Vortex on Monday. Golden Age of Steam was as monumental as usual last night.

A political bit, and a financial bit

I realise a couple of things recently which frustrate me. (And I'm going back to my roots of studying PPE and being an economist.)
1. About this election. I never realised the extent to which Labour has gerrymandered over the past decade. They can get the smallest number of votes, but still be the largest party. The strength of the Lib Dems has shown this up.

2. The banks clearly want something new to have to trade. No more CDOs, corporate shares to bankrupt. So they try it out on Greece. It has an implicit possibility that I'm sure they'd love. If the Euro collapsed they can get back to the game of currency dealing with all the arcane ones which they can use of carry trades, such as drachma, peseta etc. At present, the existence of the euro means 16 less that they can play around with. Yet they have the traders - ranging from MIT Ph.Ds to Essex traders - needing something to do to make money. A few guys sit in Goldman Sachs creating some off balance sheet deals for Greece. Do they link that to the photo on the front page of the FT yesterday of riot police?
Probably not. Yet they should.