Music Blog

June 18, 2015

One musician I’ve been thinking about, and listening to, a lot is Ornette Coleman, who died last week. That generation that formed bebop and then what I called the heroic decade of modern jazz, the decade of avantgardism roughly 1955-65, are passing – the only major figures left are Sonny Rollins and Lee Konitz (Cecil Taylor isn’t playing any more). Most revolutions also show a continuity with what went before (even, maybe October 1917, in continuing an authoritarian tradition). Ornette Coleman’s free jazz revolution was also a continuation of bebop - his phrases were often pure bebop. Maybe that's...

March 27, 2015

Andy Hamilton witnesses a rare and utterly personal UK appearance by the US saxophonist and composer, cardigan and all.


Anthony Braxton's concert at The Lantern, Colston Hall on 20 January was his first UK show for 10 years and his only performance here on his current European tour. With his Diamond Curtain Wall Quartet, the 1994 MacArthur Fellow and 2014 NEA Jazz Master synthesised intuitive improvisation and interactive electronics. Braxton (alto, soprano and sopranino saxophone) was joined by Taylor Ho Bynum (cornet, flugelhorn, bass trumpet), James Fei (soprano, sopranino and alto saxophone, a...

October 22, 2014

Andy Hamilton enjoys the playing of Tom Harrell, Valery Ponomarev and others at a kind of Blackpool on the Black Sea.

At a press conference in Koktebel, festival founder Dmitry Kiselev explained the difficulties his Ukrainian team faced this year in Crimea. In its 12th season, the festival, like Crimea itself, has had a change of ownership, and the event was put together in just three months – while another festival, Jazz Koktebel, was begun in Odessa. "I wish success to my friends. The more jazz festivals the better", Kiselev added.

Ultra-cautious UK Foreign Office advice was not to travel to Crimea, an...

December 20, 2013

This year's Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival (HCMF) featured a plethora of piano recitals, including a two-piano day. Andy Hamilton paid a visit. Recitals by Philip Thomas/Mark Knoop,

Geneviève and Brigitte Foccroulle, and Ian Pace/Frederik Croene (two pianos) Fujikura 2nd Piano Concerto, Diamond Dust, Ellen Ugelvik.

Huddersfield’s remarkable two-piano day saw three recitals. The first was a series of duets on one piano by Philip Thomas and Mark Knoop, featuring sets of short pieces by Laurence Crane and Peter Ablinger, plus Cage’s Winter Music and Christian Wolff’s Duet I, and quasi a due by Kuns...

February 3, 2011

Published in Jazz Journal, Feb. 2011

Michael Bublé: The Biography

By Juliet Peel

Piatkus, 2010, £7.99

Juliet Peel, "experienced show-business journalist and writer, with extensive contacts in the celebrity world", has produced a biography of the "international singing sensation" who's blessed with a "huge and loyal fanbase", it says in the blurb. I hope they enjoy it. Although crass enough to be at times unintentionally amusing, the book's musical and artistic content is sparse.

Bublé's repertoire is the Great American Songbook popularised by Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald, and explored most searchingly b...

December 2, 2010

Pianist Sal Mosca was one of the most musically gifted of the Tristano School players who enjoyed a critically important position in modern jazz from the late 1940s onwards. As a pianist he was as gifted as Tristano himself. His style developed independently of Tristano's, and was quite divergent in his later years. Though not among the most well-known of those players, he was achieving recognition towards the end of his life, despite an uncompromising rejection of the commercial imperatives of his art. His searching, exploratory improvisations graced some of the most important Tristano School recording...

May 19, 2010

As part of the composer's 200th birthday celebrations, the second Chopin Forum – the first was in 1999

 – was convened by Chopin scholar John Rink, who, with fellow-participants Jim Samson and Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger, edits the New Critical Edition of Chopin published by Peters. Other participants were performers and teachers Kenneth Hamilton, Ronan O'Hora, Peter Donahoe and Kevin Kenner, plus piano restorer David Winston. With the possible exception of Jean-Jacques Eigeldinger's very scholarly account of Chopin's first Paris concert in 1832, almost every Forum presentation had a lively general appeal....

April 20, 2008

Andy Hamilton caught up with David Liebman between his masterclass and concert in Manchester

with guitarist Phil Robson's group, featuring bassist Aidan O'Donnell and Liebman's old partner, drummer Jeff Williams. This was the conclusion of a brief UK tour which began with a two night residence at the Vortex in London. I met the saxophonist in the RNCM cafeteria, a throwback to British cuisine of the 60s. But we were not downcast - David was going to eat elsewhere later, and anyway was in talkative mood. As time was quite limited, his verbal tempo in fact seemed to speed up through the interview, but not...

October 19, 2007

Jazz pianist Paul Bley is usually known for his spacious, restrained lyricism, honed with his formative years in the Jimmy Giuffre group and later with music composed by the women in his life, Carla Bley and Annette Peacock. In Bley’s 75th year, Andy Hamilton reassesses his career, highlighting his founding role in cementing the early 60s free jazz avant garde with Albert Ayler, Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra, and his pioneering synthesizer and electronics improvisations at the dawn of the 70s. 

"As time moves forward, the albums become more autobiographical, and lose a preset agenda. Now it's more a case of...

February 21, 2007

"I was labelled a free player when I first came to New York. Ornette Coleman and free jazz,

that was no problem for me – I would jump on that train too, and have a good time!" But Sonny Simmons has a curious ambivalence towards the free jazz that made his name: "I got sucked into the avant-garde when I was a young cat. I said 'This is the lick, I'm going with it'. But actually, I'd just as rather just play beautiful melodies, with my own compositions, with a groove. That's my true heart. Avant-garde and free, man, that's cool, but it only goes so far.... People want to hear a snap [he clicks a groove wit...

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An Interview with Ornette Coleman

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