Cheltenham jazz festival | Jazz review

Town Hall, Cheltenham

While the 2010 Cheltenham jazz festival had kicked in last week with Elaine Page singing standards, and the weekend included guest artistic director Jamie Cullum's sell-out show for the pop-angled Pursuit album, the event remained its quirky self. An absorbing Sunday programme ran from Empirical's tight postbop and Carla Bley's whimsical music to a jazz renaissance for guitar star John Scofield, who is currently swapping his recent gospel-wailing repertoire for pungently harmonised ballad playing and headlong Charlie Parker bop classics.

In the early afternoon, Bley's mournfully poignant reeds/brass harmonies and obliquely witty themes, Andy Sheppard's circular-breathing sax ascents against Paolo Fresu's sumptuous flugelhorn sound and Steve Swallow's humming basslines provided object lessons in making understatement unforgettable. Fly, the virtuosic US trio featuring saxist Mark Turner, bassist Larry Grenadier and drummer Jeff Ballard, was a harder-hitting contrast. Turner's long, lithe runs and purity at the top end of his range make him one of contemporary jazz's most distinctive voices.

Fringe Magnetic, the Loop Collective's 10-piece hybrid of classical strings and jazz instruments, sometimes plays its elegantly layered music with a kind of preoccupied erudition, but the spine-chilling roar of Andrew Plummer, the ethereal delicacy of Elisabeth Nygaard and the mellifluous urbanity of Cullum (who sat in on a song co-written by him, Nygaard, and leader Rory Simmons) raised the temperature with three very different vocal routes.

Vietnamese-American trumpeter Cuong Vu probably stole the day, with a thundering mix of orchestral electronic effects, flat-out improv of astonishingly assured audacity, unexpected dissections of a couple of standard ballads, and the raw power of a free-rhythmic rock trio – significantly furnished by the remarkable drumming of the little-known and very inaccurately named Ted Poor.

Contributor

John Fordham

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Cheltenham jazz festival review – Jamie Cullum leads rip-roaring lineup
Veteran players Lee Konitz, Archie Shepp and others rubbed shoulders with rising stars for a shoulder-shaking celebration of everything from blues to Afrobeat

John Fordham

05, May, 2015 @4:17 PM

Article image
Love Supreme Jazz festival review – smart balance of edgy and mainstream
From a gripping Laura Mvula to a rousing Jamie Cullum, the ambitious young festival covered all the bases, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

08, Jul, 2014 @4:06 PM

Cheltenham jazz festival

Cheltenham jazz festival once again showed an enduring instinct for quality, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

01, May, 2011 @5:59 PM

Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Various venues, Cheltenham

Various venues, Cheltenham

John Fordham

08, May, 2008 @12:12 AM

Review: Cheltenham Jazz festival, various venues, Cheltenham

Various venues, Cheltenham

John Fordham

04, May, 2008 @11:12 PM

Cheltenham jazz festival – review
This year's crowded weekender was the kind of upbeat celebration that makes jazz's perceived marginality hard to figure, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

06, May, 2013 @4:12 PM

Article image
Jamie Cullum review – likable star wins over the jazz cognoscenti
This gifted artist’s spontaneity and delight in his music was enough to get a members-only audience jumping up and down, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

18, Sep, 2014 @2:08 PM

Jazz review: Cheltenham festival, various venues, Cheltenham

Various venues, Cheltenham
There are jazz festivals at which the same swing beat and horn-chorus sounds start to merge but Cheltenham's bold programme does the opposite, writes John Fordham

John Fordham

06, May, 2009 @9:38 AM

Article image
Jamie Cullum proves a hit as guest director of Cheltenham jazz festival
Pianist plays pop and jazz, both old and new, in his first performance since birth of his daughter in March

John Fordham

02, May, 2011 @8:50 PM

Jazz preview: Cheltenham Jazz Festival, Cheltenham

Various venues, to Mon, cheltenhamfestivals.com

John Fordham

01, May, 2009 @11:01 PM