Thursday, September 27, 2012

Babel Babble, 25 September

Juhani Aaltonen and Heikki Sarmanto - War Trane from Conversations
Auri - Sajaja Sveslaud's from Beyond The River
Nils Landgren/Esbjorn Svensson  - Vallåt Från Jämtland from Swedish Folk Modern
Markku Ounaskari - Sjuan Mad from Kuara
Iro Haarla - A Window Facing South from Vespers
Kari Ikkonen and Karikko - Harmaja from The Helsinki Suite
Outhouse - Long Notes from Straw, Sticks and Bricks
Vinicius Cantuaria - This Time from Indio de Apartamento
Baptiste Trotignon - Du bist die Ruh from Song, Song, Song
Stan Sulzmann  - More Lemonade from Birthdays, Birthdays
Phil Robson - Lapdog from Impish
Dan Messore - Talk on the Step from Talk on the Step

Download on

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Babel Babble, 19 September 2012

Blink (with Vincent Courtois) - Waltz from Twice (babel)
Billy Jenkins - The Rust on the Screws of the Churchill Theatre from Still...Sounds Like Bromley (Babel)
Django Reinhardt - Stockholm from The Ultimate Collection
Mike Hobart - Thelonius from The Third Fish.
Thelonious Monk - Pannonica
Andrea di Biase - Antonimie from Oltremare
Stevie Wonder - Golden Lady from Innervisions
(Dedicated to Alev whose shows have just ended.
Sam Crockatt - The Golden Goose  from Flood Tide (Babel)
Elis and Tom - Modinha from Elis and Tom
Bach - Cello Suite no 1 Gigue (played by Andre Navarra)
Huw Warren - Don't Ask For Bread Unless You Really Want It (From Barrel Organ Far From Home)
Stian Westerhus - The Wrong Kind of Flowers from The Matriarch and The Wrong Kind of Flowers
Woody Guthrie - Alabammy Bound
Bob Dylan - Stuck Inside of Mobile With The Memphis Blues Again from Blonde on Blonde

Listen on

Babel's new gigs at the Vortex - View from The Tower

As we reach voting age at Babel, we are pleased to be launching a new series of themed performances exploring great British composition, drawing on the European and American scenes as well as other traditional folk musics.

This residency will be taking the form or a septet with arrangements by Dan Messore (of Indigo Kid fame). The house band will showcase some of the best and brightest, with a revolving line up and special guest from the national and international scene.

This first outing will comprise Huw Warren, Dudley Philips, Trish Clowes, Ivo Neame, James Allsop, Sam Leak, Phil Robson, Steve Waterman, Dan Messore and Iain Ballamy.

Tonight's house band is Dan Messore (Guitar), Rory Simmons (Trumpet), Tori Freestone (Flute), Trish Clowes (Tenor Sax), Ivo Neame (Piano), Dave Manington (Bass), Tim Giles (Drums). 

Sunday 2.30 p.m. £7
Book tickets here

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Jakob Baekgaard of All About Jazz interviews Oliver Weindling founder of Babel Label

During the last decade, British jazz has been booming and London has become, once again, one of the jazz capitals of the world. To get a feel of what's happening, the place for live music is no longer Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club, but a place called The Vortex, directed by Oliver Weindling. Weindling is also the man behind the visionary Babel Label that has given voice to many of the new musicians who have popped up from the underground. Whether it has been the musicians from the British experimental big band Loose Tubes or musical collectives like F-IRE, Loop or LIMA, Weindling has had his ears to the ground and discovered the sounds of future while they were still in the making.
Since Weindling started to document the music he liked on his Babel label, he hasn't looked back. In 2012, Weindling is as busy as ever with a release schedule that keeps on growing, and as the catalog reveals, his taste is exquisite, but eclectic, ranging from roots-music and blues to modern jazz and avant-garde metal.
All About Jazz: When did you form the label and was there any particular reason why it happened?
Oliver Weindling: Babel was formed in 1994. I was working with a few musicians like Billy Jenkins and Iain Ballamy, and was amazed how difficult it was at that time to get good music released. The press at the time only seemed to want to write about musicians when there was a new album. I had particularly got interested in the jazz scene around the time of Loose Tubes, when I met many of the musicians. Things had gradually evolved from my being involved with musicians as a hobby while working as an economist in a bank to my moving beyond that in 1989.
AAJ: What's the story behind the name?
OW: The name Babel is to reflect the Tower and the universal language of music. It has always been a concern of mine that, unlike that tower in the Bible, mine doesn't fall down.
AAJ: You also run a jazz club. Do you find that your activities as a label owner and concert-promoter influence each other or do you try to separate the different identities?
OW: I am one of the people who helps to run the Vortex, though perhaps the most active of the directors! It is structured as a non-profit club. I got involved there when it was being squeezed out from its previous venue and I realized that the philosophy behind the Vortex was similar to mine. Certainly I am influenced by what I hear in the club in terms of where recordings go and I get to know the musicians there.
AAJ: Do you favor a "live" feel on your recordings or do you prefer the sound of the studio? Is there a particular engineer you work with?
OW: As they say, recordings are recordings and live is live. Live recordings are great when they work, and indeed many of the classic recordings that I can think of have been of live concerts. Nevertheless, there are things that can be achieved in a studio of course. A few releases on Babel are based around live recordings, most recently the 2012 albumCatatumbo, which is actually a Vortex gig.
There are no preferred studios or engineers, though the scene here in London, which I am involved with, seems to gravitate towards a few studios and engineers. We are driven by what is good value as a studio and is sympathetic. So we even have releases on Babel which are recorded in Abbey Road—such as the new album by Blink, Twice—or just in the Vortex itself as with Catatumbo. It tends to reflect the preferences of the musicians. Overall, the process of recording is quite proactive.
I prefer to produce and work in partnership with the musicians. This is perhaps closer to how things were in the past. We are no longer in an era where a producer or label boss can impose his own views on the musicians. Certainly there are a few in jazz still where this approach is strong, but less than before. I look closer to the openness of some of the labels like Leo or Emanem where the musician has a strong relationship.
AAJ: How do you find your artists and how would you define the aesthetics of the label? As a producer, is there a particular sound you're looking for?
OW: I find the artists through listening, meeting and recommendation. I find that the decision to release an album with anyone is part of a process which may start a long time before. The aesthetics of the label are based on whatever I feel like. My view is that jazz is about an approach rather than a stylistic continuity.
I don't think that it's possible to say that there is a particular sound or approach. There may be at one particular time, and there will be connections through to the past because musicians listen to lots of older recordings or are directed through to them, either through recommendation of their colleagues or through investigation during their studies. So, in the early days, it was a "post Loose Tubes generation." Nowadays, for example, I am releasing a number of young musicians who actually all seemed to study at Guildhall School of Music around the same time.
It's less about the sound than about the attitude and where we are at any time. I prefer to release artists who are located around London, as it's easier for me! Though that too is not a hard and fast rule, since within the catalogue there are all sorts of exceptions. Some singer-songwriters with a bit of jazz in there, such as Paula Rae Gibson, some releases that veer towards heavy metal, such as Bilbao Syndrome, or compilations, such as Now's The Time. There will even soon be a piece reinterpreting Stockhausen's Tierkreis.
I like to feel that all the music is valid and has something to try and tell. Often musicians have a challenge to do something a bit out of the ordinary. In marketing terms that would be the "unique selling point."
I also have a belief that quality music can somehow sell, though it might take time for people to realize it. Unfortunately, for my bank balance, that can be a long time.
AAJ: Babel has done a lot to promote the new wave of British jazz. How would you characterize the British jazz scene and do you see any development over the years since you have been documenting the scene?
OW:The British scene has certainly always had an openness to it, in terms of the influences and attitude. London is a city of 9 million with great multicultural influences. So there is a great ability to respond. There is also a nice balance of respect and irreverence. Of course over the years there have been changes. Nowadays 90% of the musicians have been trained in music colleges, whereas when Babel started that was a minority, since there were hardly any conservatoire courses. Fortunately, though, the courses are run by musicians trained in the real world of the 1980s and are pushing students in a good way. At Middlesex University, for example, the course is run by Loose Tubes alumni such as Chris Batchelorand Stuart Hall. The result from there is that we have musicians like Led Bib over here, orJason Yarde or Stian Westerhus.
I am pleased that we have perhaps returned to an approach to jazz and music which was stronger at the end of the 1960s. There is a lot less self-consciousness about being branded as "jazz" or "improvised" or indeed any other category. Musicians can balance being themselves with the financial imperatives. I like the fact that some of them are trying out more unusual combinations of instruments or approaches to bring different styles together. There's a great attitude to improvisation in the broadest sense.
I believe that the consistency of Babel and the approach of the Vortex have both contributed to this by encouraging such an approach. Around the Vortex has developed something about the music and attitude, with new venues such as Cafe Oto having an overlapping approach and even blogs started focusing on the area of Dalston and its music.
AAJ: Could you talk about some of the key artists and albums that have been important in terms of the label's development? If you were to choose some highlights, what would they be?
OW: That's a very difficult one. I am certainly proud of many of the releases that have passed through Babel. I am constantly reminded of them all every now and then, when the albums get played in the breaks at the Vortex. I am proud to have released as many albums as I have by Billy Jenkins, who is a father figure to the scene and has an immense imagination and ability. Then there are a few albums which have since gone on to get important status. It delights me when musicians after a few years have pointed to Babel albums as their own personal favorites—such as Julian Arguelles' selection of 2006's Skull View.
I love the albums that I have done with Chris Batchelor and Steve Buckley, such as Life As We Know It and Big Air. Work with the various collectives in London, such as with F-IRE (artists like Polar BearAcoustic LadylandTom ArthursFinn Peters and Ingrid Laubrock), and with Loop's Outhouse, Fraud and Golden Age of Steam.
I am proud to have had two nominations for the major popular music prize here, the Mercury Prize, for Polar Bear's Held on The Tips of Fingers and Portico Quartet's Knee Deep in the North Sea. I regard that as quite a feat for a label that has basically been a one-man show. Then there is the documenting of a generation that has been a bit lost internationally—Christine TobinPartisans and Phil Robson.
Huw Warren is also a musician who has done great albums on Babel, where I always hear something new every time I put the albums on. Now, I am working with a range of musicians, from some doing their first albums, such as Bruno Heinen or Dan Messore through to bands like The Gannets, Vole and Partisans. When I travel to festivals and so on, I am amazed and proud of the number of musicians playing there who are keen on what the Vortex is about.
AAJ: What is your take on the new technology? Do you see it as an opportunity or a hindrance? Could you imagine Babel being a label that only released downloads or is it important to you that there is a physical product?
OW: The good news is that one can be all things to all people. I find it liberating that the power of the traditional shop chains has been lost. So we can go back and release CDs, downloads and even vinyl. Covers and packaging can be more or less lavish.
As long as there is interest in physical products as means of dissemination of the music, I certainly shall continue to release CDs and similar. I shall be sorry when the day comes that we can't give something material to friends, where they respond to the content, and that includes books. But there will be more and more download only releases, I am sure.
AAJ: What is the label's approach to packaging and design? You have worked with visual artist Gee Vaucher. Is there a particular visual style you aim for?
OW: The packaging should be reasonably priced. So we now have found out that CD packs can look more like gatefolds. The artists tend to work through the designers they like best and who properly reflect the music. We started working with Gee because of a connection with Christine Tobin. But subsequently this has meant that I have grown close connections with the Crass scene, such as poet Penny Rimbaud.
AAJ: Could you say something about your release schedule and some of your up-coming projects? What kind of music are you excited about at the moment?
OW: The Babel release schedule has picked up dramatically over the past few months. It is probably due to the lack of other outlets for much music to be released in this country, but also because there are a number of projects that excite me—and hence Babel. They include: Dice Factory (Tom Challenger, George Fogle, Tom FarmerJon Scott); Vole (Roland Ramanan, Roberto Sassi, Javier Carmona), Rae Forrest Project (Paula Rae Gibson, Mike Flynn); Now's The Time Vol. 3 (compilation of French/Luxembourg jazz by DJ Kevin Le Gendre); Barbacana (Kit Downes, Sylvain Darrifourcq, James Allsopp, Adrien Dennefeld); Tierkreis (reworking of Stockhausen's work by Bruno Heinen); Rachel Musson,Liam NobleMark Sanders' trio; Moss Freed Project; and Eye Of A Blue Dog (Rory SimmonsTerje Evensen, Elizabeth Nygaard).
To an extent, they show a consolidation of some of the music that we have been releasing over the past years. There's further work with musicians whom I have worked with before, but also a few that I have been aware of for a while, such as Paula Rae Gibson, Bruno Heine. I like the fact that many are part of a total desire to get music better known through playing as well as recording. We have moved away from the "project"/commission concept, whereby a period of rehearsal is followed by one or two concerts at festivals and then that's virtually it. Though some have great concepts behind them, such as Tierkreis or Moss Freed, where the guitarist has commissioned short writings stimulated by the music.
I also like that there are a few more albums where musicians are sucking in collaborators based abroad—though they might in fact have also studied or lived here for a few years or who feel an affinity to the scene here.
There is a great desire now over here for musicians to move more seamlessly between styles which might have been more separated, like composed versus improvised versus pop/rock. Musicians are getting known for playing outside what they are usually associated with. That happened with my releases by Amit Chaudhuri, who is known as a writer, or Gannets, where Fyfe Dangerfield is known as a member of the art pop group Guillemots. Liam Noble is known here more as a pianist in the purer jazz scene, and yet he is now the favored London pianist for Mary HalvorsonIngrid Laubrock and Peter Evans for their free improv stuff. Perhaps it's to say that I like music involving improvisation and challenge.

Babellabel on bandcamp:

Saturday, September 15, 2012

The Vortex Jazz Club's 25th Anniversary

VORTEX OUTDOORS is a one day festival celebrating The Vortex Jazz Club’s 25th Birthday. Held in Gillett Square, Dalston, VORTEX OUTDOORS will see 8 different performances on a specifically built stage in the square during the day and as the night draws in – the public are invited to The Vortex Jazz Club for a more intimate live performance which will run late into the evening.

Along with the live music, visitors can experience the purposefully curated Vortex Museum which will display previously unseen archive material from the historically important Vortex Archive. Visitors will also be able to learn about all the current aspects of this unique musical community which still nurtures and develops cutting edge music, offering the community an opportunity to learn about East London’s play in the British (and world) Jazz scene.

There will also be food/drink stalls, a Real Ale bar, BBQ and a 2nd hand record stall from Bradbury Street’s Eldica Records.

The Line Up

Nostalgia 77: Influenced by free and spiritual jazz, 60's funk and soul and afro sounds, Nostalgia 77 is Ben Lamdin who produces, composes and collaborates. His live performance for Vortex Outdoors will involve a full live band including: Riaan Vosloo – bass. Long time collaborator and original nostalgia 77 member. James Allsopp - reeds. Tim Giles – drums. Fulvio Sigurta - trumpet. Dan Nichols - joins the band on fender Rhodes.

Afrikan Boy: Grime MC Olushola Ajose aka Afrikan Boy has worked extensively with M.I.A and in June last year, released a mixtape 'What Took You So Long'.

Annie Whitehead World Music Workshop: Large jazz band under the direction of trombone virtuoso and composer Annie Whitehead. The group will perform works from Africa, Cuba and the Caribbean, America and the UK.

People Band: A legendary name in British improvised music since the 1960's, People Band continues to inspire and influence generations.

Township Comets: The Comets play the searing, joyous music of saxophonist Dudu Pukwana, a towering figure in South African jazz and the European free improv scene.

Electric Jalaba: Psychedelic space age gnawa from Soundspecies (electronics) and Simo Lagnawi (Morrocan Gnawa master)

Seeds of Creation: Legendary Seddik Zebiri, from Algeria and his multicultural band, Seeds of Creation, play an intriguing blend of traditional Berber music with reggae, Jazz and raw Psychedelic sounds.

DJ Koichi Sakai: Koichi Sakai is a Tokyo born, London based DJ, producer and musician who plays jazzy percussive selections.

2pm – late, Saturday 22nd September 2012, Gillett Square, Dalston N16 8AZ. Free

Contact: Oliver Weindling (+44) 7729 300945 / Clarissa Carlyon (+44) 7944 733043

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Babel artists at London Jazz Festival

Many artists closely associated with Babel releases are performing within this year's festival. I'll have to make sure that my bike is properly serviced to ensure that I can get to quite a few of them. Now up to 20. It'll probably increase yet further.

I'll improve this with links and so on as time goes on.

9 November
Examples of Twelves - Green Note.
Riaan Vosloo's band. A new Twelves album will be out on Babel in 2013.

10 November
Alexander Hawkins - Way In To The Way Out (with Corey Mwamba)
Southbank Centre 5.30

11 November
Township Comets - Vortex 4 p.m.
Brass Mask - Arch 61 9 p.m. (led by Tom Challenger)

12 November
Brass Mask - Vortex
Led by Tom Challenger

13 November
Barbacana - Vortex (ALBUM LAUNCH)
Batchelor/Crowley/Farmer/Williams - The Oxford

14 November
Fyfe Dangerfield/Rory Simmons - The Forge

15 November
Sam Leak's Aquarium - Southbank Centre 5.30 p.m.
Monocled Man - Amersham Arms (led by Rory Simmons)
Let Spin (with members of Moss Freed's Moss Project) - Green Note
Oren Marshall Charming Transport Band - Charlie Wright's

16 November
Fofoulah - Vortex (Members of Outhouse)
Julian Arguelles - Con Cellar Bar

17 November
Eric Legnini/Emilia Martensson - Kings Place
TrioVD - Bishopsgate Institute
Golden Age of Steam - Bethnal Green Working Men's Club

18 November
TrioVD with East London Creative Jazz Orchestra - Barbican
Hans Koller's Chasing The Unicorn - The Salisbury

Babel Babble, 11 September

Hadouk Trio - Aerozen
Joe Harriott/John Mayer - Partita
Golden Age of Steam - Butter Dome (from Welcome to Bat Country). [Album released next month with gig at Vortex on 4 October]
Enrico Pieranunzi - Canto Nascosto (from Raconti Mediterranei)
Collider - Horror Box (Re-Boxed) from Nantbach & Sandwich. Download here:
Acker Bilk/Stan Tracey - Stranger on the Shore.
Rae Forrest Project - Wasn't My Intention (from Pleasure of Ruin).
Billy Jenkins - Invocation/Yesterday Once More (from True Love Collection)
Bill Evans - Some Day My Prince Will Come (from Portrait in Jazz)
Cassandra Wilson  - Round Midnight (from Sings Standards)
Indo British Ensemble - Yaman (from Curried Jazz)
Steve Noble/Davey Williams/Oren Marshall - Episode No. 7 (from Flathead Reunion)

Order Duncan Heining's new book, Trad Dads, Dirty Boppers and Free Fusioneers
British Jazz, 1960-1975

Monday, September 10, 2012

View From The Tower

30th September 2012 
2.00pm @ Vortex Jazz Club

View From the Tower is a new series of performances focusing on British composition and its multiple influences. Marking the opening of the residency is a septet consisting of: Rory Simmons (trumpet), Tori Freestone (flute), Trish Clowes (tenor sax), Ivo Neame (piano), Dave Mannington (bass), Tim Giles (drums) and Dan Messore (guitar). 

Rory Simmons
I am a trumpet player/ composer living in London since 2000. Have several projects on the go, 4tet (music featured on this page) feat Ivo Neame-piano, Tom Mason-bass, Dave Smith-drums. Also formed chordless quintet CURVE with trumpet, tenor/clt, bari sax/bass clt with bass drums. Quite free with loads of densely composed stuff-and odd meters. Just started a new project, large emsemble playing music influenced by Dave Douglas's Parrallel Worlds, Stravinsky, Julian Arguelles Octet, Aka Moon, Bloodcount, Messian etc. Featuring 2 strings, 3 woodwind, 3 rythm section, percussion and me. All original stuff; quite atonal in places, folky in places, heavily composed in places and free in places! CURVE and my quartet are part of the Loop collective. Currently in the middle of a world tour with singer/pianist Jamie Cullum.

Tori Freestone
I've played saxes/flutes/violins with a wide variety of bands in a variety of styles including NYJO (1990-94), the Creative Jazz Orchestra, 'Orquesta La Timbala', and country legend Lee Hazlewood. More recently I've been working with Andy Sheppard, Rory Simmons' 'Fringe Magnetic' (two albums available on the loop label), pianist and composer Naadia Sheriff, Neil Yates and the N-Circle Jazz Orchestra, the E17 Large Ensemble, the Jamil Sheriff Big Band, 'Solstice' (a sextet featuring John Turville, Brigitte Beraha, Jez Franks etc), 'Compassionate Dictatorship' and my own trio.

Trish Clowes
I started having piano lessons when I was 4 and I quite often made up little tunes rather than practicing what I was supposed to be working on. 
I continued to do this right through my childhood and it was when I started playing jazz and improvising that it became more of a passion. I
t was my own love of composing and improvising that made me choose to make a career out of music, but in terms of mentoring, it has generally been the saxophonist/composer Iain Ballamy who has guided me along the way.

Ivo Neame
Neame attended The King's School, Canterbury, and studied jazz saxophone at the Royal Academy of Music in a year group that included pianist Gwilym Simcock. He was mentored by Martin Speake and Steve Buckley, as well as F-IRE Collective founder Barack Schmool. Neame has recorded and performed on piano and saxophone with leading jazz artists around world establishing himself as one of the leading composers and pianists on the British scene.
Dave Mannington
Mannington's dynamic quintet Rif Raff plays original music written by him. The starting point for the music is collective improvisation but compositionally it draws on as wide a range of styles including folk, electronic music, “classical” as well as contemporary modern jazz. He says that, the most important thing for us is to develop a band sound and understanding so each time we play the music can be re-invented together, often quite radically.
Tim Giles
Giles is a jazz drummer who won the Daily Telegraph Young Composer of the Year Award in 1992 at the age of 12 and has gone on to perform with a variety of jazz musicians. Giles was a member of Richard Fairhurst's Hungry Ants, and later formed his own group, Fraud, with James Allsopp who he met at the Royal Academy for Music. Both are members of the north London-based Loop Collective. 
Dan Messore
Messore has been described by Iain Bellamy as "a mature and confident musician with an individual approach to writing and playing.”  As someone who has inherited a diverse range of musical influences, it has undoubtedly formed part of his musical identity. Messore even cites the Brazilian Santa claus look-alike Hermeto Pascoal as an influence.  Messore's first album Indigo Kid released this year is an inspired piece of work mixing styles but at the same time succeeds in maintaining a coherence. 

Check out Babel Label

Wednesday, September 05, 2012

Babel Babble, 4 September

You'll be able to listen back soon on

Sean Bergin and MOB - Monkey Woman (Sean Bergin alto & tenor sax, Michael Moore alto & clarinet, Jan Willem van der Ham alto & bassoon, Alex Maguire piano, Ernst Reijseger cello, Tristan Honsinger cello, Wolter Wierbos trombone, Eric Boeren trumpet, Ernst Glerum bass, Han Bennink drums)

The Blackjack Hitters - G String Kwela (from Drum - South African Jazz and Jive)

Friedrich Gulda/Joe Zawinul - Volcano for Hire (from Music for Two Pianos)
Joe Morris - Embarrassment of Riches (from Today on Earth)
John Lee Hooker - Della Mae (from Lost Blues Tapes)
Paul Robeson - Joe Hill
Hank Mobley - Hello Young Lovers (from Another Workout)
Miles Davis - You Don't Know What Love Is (from Walkin')
Gannets  - Walking the Gannet
Ciocarlia - Ciocarlia (from Wild Sounds of Transylvaia)
Eyes of a Blue Dog - Deliverance (from Rise)
Dinu Lipatti - Chopin Minute Waltz
Eric Legnini - Trippin (from Bleu Blanc Jazz)
Norman Wisdom - Don't Laugh at Me

100 years of John Cage:


I am impressed by the likes of Belafonte in their importance for civil rights. He helped Miriam Makeba come to USA and also Robeson to perform to the miners of South Wales!