Thursday, March 03, 2011

Babel sampler on Jazzwise

In April, Jazzwise will be including a new Babel sampler.
Here is the track listing and my write-up

Jazz is all about passion, commitment, obsession. In terms of the music, the musicians and their supporters. It is this which keeps jazz surviving even when the rest of the music “industry” wails.
This is the theme taken for the latest sampler of music on Oliver Weindling's Babel Label. Babel, in its 17 year life, has been about the same obsessive desire to bring to attention some of the great music developed and developing in the UK. An obsessive desire to continue.
Any album, be it from the early days of 1994 or from 2011 has a freshness to it. This means not just albums by Steve and Julian Argüelles, Huw Warren, Polar Bear, Acoustic Ladyland, Led Bib, Phil Robson.....
But they give a springboard for a major schedule of releases, some of which are included here, but also the likes of Alexander Hawkins and Lothar Ohlmeier, along with artists on our Vortex-linked imprint such as Dan Messore and Amit Chaudhuri. On this sampler, we look backwards and forwards, with classic tracks by Billy Jenkins, Partisans and Steve Argüelles, juxtaposed with some of the newer releases, such as Outhouse, Twelves, Sam Leak and the two latest BBC New Generation Artists (Tom Arthurs and Shabaka Hutchings)
Contact and get hold of exclusive online tracks by Christine Tobin, Paula Rae Gibson and others.

Billy Jenkins - Pointless Adornments from 'Suburbia'
Suburbia is a perfect merging of Billy Jenkins's angst and pride in South-East London. Great playing on the album from the likes of Mark Lockheart and Ramm père (Dave). He has recorded 8 albums on Babel and is certainly a national treasure, according to Penguin Guide.
trio VD - Rash (2:00) from 'Fill It Up With Ghosts'
The three Leeds-based Chris's – Bussey on drums, Sharkey on guitar, and de Bézenac on saxophone - show an exceptional focus and tightness, which understandably made this Mojo's jazz album in 2009 and the band making waves on the European festival circuit.
Blink - Mummy's Boy (5:13) from 'Twice' (forthcoming)
Chamber jazz by this trio, with the bass rendered unnecessary due to Alcyona's powerful left hand and Paul Clarvis's melodic drumming. The trio is completed by Robin Fincker on clarinet and saxophones. “Quirkily lyrical frames, with intriguing themes and sharp contrasts” (The Guardian)
Zed-U - Showroom Dummies (4:47) from 'Night Time On The Middle Passage'
BBC New Generation Artist Shabaka Hutchings towers physically above Neil Charles (bass) and Tom Skinner (drums) but certainly not in terms of the unanimity of purpose of the trio, shown to full punchy effect on this Kraftwerk cover. As John Surman wrote: “So exciting to hear young musicians who are prepared to branch out and explore a wide range of musical possibilities.”

Triptych - Dense Fur (6:31) from 'Amusia'
Richard Fairhurst is one of the few jazz Steinway artists in the UK and this is his foray into piano trio territory (with Jasper Høiby and Chris Vatalaro) where he confirms the importance of good melody and “great harmonic ingenuity” (Ivan Hewitt, Daily Telegraph)!

Partisans – By Proxy from 'By Proxy'
Together for over 12 years, and sounding better than ever on this, their third Babel album. Phil Robson (guitar), Julian Siegel (Saxophone), Thad Kelly (bass) and Gene Calderazzo (Drums) are now a supergroup and father figures for the bands that have followed. All have their own projects (with Julian just completing a German tour) but their work with Partisans (including a gig at this year'a Jazzahead) acts as a constant common thread.

Blue Moon In a Function Room - Vision On
In one of the earliest Babel releases, the ever-resourceful drummer Steve Argüelles recruits Stuart Hall, Billy Jenkins and Steve Watts to push standards to their limits. Not to be lost on this one is the irony of a great tune used on a TV programme for deaf viewers.

Twelves - Party Girls from 'The Adding Machine'
The “single” from the new release by a band led by bassist Riaan Vosloo now extended to being a quartet with Tim Giles (Drums), Mark Hanslip (saxophone) and given a rockier dynamic by Rob Updegraff (guitar)

Outhouse + Hilmar Jensson - Long Notes from 'Straw, Sticks & Bricks'
Outhouse is invigorated from the influences they have sought out individually and together over the years, such as Gambian Wolof drummers and a new core line-up with Tom Challenger and Robin Fincker on saxes, Johnny Brierley (bass) and Dave Smith (drums). Moving well away from their modest start in an outhouse in Golder's Green. They add Icelandic genius guitarist Hilmar Jensson for their latest album.

Golden Age Of Steam - Oboe or Glockenspiel from 'Raspberry Tongue'
The successor band to Fraud including both James Allsopp (reeds), Tim Giles (Drums) and with the addition of Kit Downes on organ. Prize winners all, and giving a bite and intensity to a strange-sounding choice of title.

Arthurs / Fairhurst - The Flirt from 'Postcards From Pushkin' (forthcoming)
Originally a BBC Proms commission, trumpeter Tom Arthurs and Richard Fairhurst have been working together for over 5 years as a duo, this being a follow-up to the album Mesmer.

Duw A Wyr - Bryniau Cassia from 'God Only Knows'
Welsh hymns interpreted as intense love songs. By the haunting voice of Lleuwen Steffan partnered by Huw Warren and often by Mark Lockheart on saxophone. Religion has rarely sounded sexier.

Mark Hanslip / Javier Carmona - Nipple from 'Dosados' (forthcoming)
The duo of reeds and drums could hardly be more intense than this interplay between Mark and Javier. Focussing on a part o- Strangersf the body which is …...

Aquarium – Strangers from 'Aquarium' (forthcoming)
Pianist Sam Leak's debut is a “fine achievement” (according to John Taylor), where James Allsopp, Calum Gourlay (bass) and Josh Blackmore (drums) join him on what Jazzwise called “lush chamber jazz”.

Acoustic Ladyland - High Heel Blues from 'Last Chance Disco'
Highly charged and dynamic, Babel catalogued the early life of this band, with Last Chance Disco being Jazzwise's album of the year in 2005.The album from which this is taken is one of the most successful on Babel.

There's so much to choose. So additional tracks available online include:

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