sun 14/07/2024

New Music Reviews

William Parker and Hamid Drake Trio, Baltic

Marcus O'Dair Hamid Drake and William Parker: A collaboration of open-armed accessibility

They began with a whimper, rather than a bang. Bronx bassist William Parker was still tuning up when Zhenya Strigalev, Russian by birth but a regular performer at this south London restaurant and vodka bar, summoned the first quiet squeak from his alto saxophone. Parker’s playing became gradually more deliberate, but it was hard to say exactly at what point the ...

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Herbie Hancock, London Jazz Festival, Royal Festival Hall

peter Quinn

A member of Miles Davis's legendary second quintet (“arguably Miles's best ever group” according to the Penguin Jazz Guide); a composer of standards (“Watermelon Man”, “Dolphin Dance”, “Maiden Voyage”, “Cantaloupe Island”) and soundtracks (Antonioni's Blow-Up, Bertrand Tavernier's Round Midnight); winner of over 10 Grammy Awards, the first for...

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Gorillaz, O2 Arena

David Cheal

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Brad Mehldau, Barbican Hall

Peter Culshaw Brad Mehldau: Introvert chic

Brad Mehldau is a cool cat. An intellectual one, introverted to the point of semi-autism, precise and clear. A strong mystique based on critic-proof good taste and hardly talking to anyone, least of all many music journalists (I’ve tried). At least that’s what I used to think before last night’s extraordinary show. He still looks a bit of a nerd, hunched over his piano and pale as a baby polar bear locked in the attic for too long, but this was a warm, enveloping trip of a gig. The 21st...

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Jazz Voice, London Jazz Festival, Barbican

peter Quinn

And we're off. Marking the official start of the London Jazz Festival, “Jazz Voice: Celebrating a Century of Song” provided a superbly paced and brilliantly conceived curtain-raiser. Hosted by Scottish actor Dougray Scott and presenting vocalists from both sides of the Atlantic, this paean to the art of song featured Guy Barker's consummate, high-spec arrangements lovingly performed by his hand-picked orchestra.

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Hjaltalín, Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen

Kieron Tyler

There’s a moment during Hjaltalín’s encore when bolero rhythms take over and you wonder if the Reykjavik septet have invented a new musical hybrid: a Ravel-driven makeover of Seventies-slanted soul. As singer Sigrídur Thorlacius lets rip on the thrillingly anthemic “Feels Like Sugar”, it’s clear that Hjaltalín aren’t bothered with current musical templates. They take from the unlikeliest sources, smoosh them together and end up sounding like no one else.

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Bellowhead, Bristol Old Vic

mark Kidel

Bellowhead are 21st-century genre-busters: punk music-hall madness born out of British folk, seasoned with a zeitgeist-friendly dose of multicultural spice. Sounds gimmicky? Well, not at all, as Bellowhead’s greatest quality, apart from being an outstandingly enjoyable live act, comes from the way they ride their eclecticism with brio and intelligence, inventing as they go a new folk music for our times.

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Ash, Liquid Rooms, Edinburgh

graeme Thomson Ash, with Tim Wheeler (right): Still providing the soundtrack to the uni disco circa 1995

So, did they play all the singles? Well no, not all of them, given that they’ve released 26 of the buggers in the past year alone, frisbeeing one out every fortnight in the sort of kamikaze experiment contemplated by only the truly inspired or the slightly desperate. Ash, on the evidence of last night's gig, might just be a bit of both.

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Dub Colossus, Bloomsbury Ballroom

howard Male The core members of Dub Colossus pose with a messenqo (a one-string fiddle)

I’d not been to the Bloomsbury Ballroom before, but over the past five years or so the likes of Amy Winehouse and Martha Reeves have played this plush Art Deco space. Somewhat disconcertingly, apart from the stage, the rest of the hall was in virtual darkness which suited Dub Colossus perfectly: this intriguing collective of British and Ethiopian musicians are purveyors of intense, atmospheric dance music who actually benefited from this dramatic lack of lighting which made the stage appear...

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Hot Chip/ LCD Soundsystem, Alexandra Palace

Russ Coffey

Unlikely cool. It’s what unites LCD Soundsystem and Hot Chip. They’re the geeks and outsiders who made it to being hip on the dancefloor. These improbable, subversive electro-pop heroes have united this autumn for what for fans has been a dream double-headline tour. Both bands have had albums out this year and both albums have been well received. But for James Murphy the rumours are that this may be the last tour he does as LCD Soundsystem.

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