Blue notes

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 11 September, 2011, 12:00am


Following a typically quiet summer, fans of live jazz can look forward to a surfeit of gigs this autumn.

There are two jazz festivals - one organised by the Hong Kong Jazz Association this month and a second in October put together by JazzWorld's Clarence Chang.

And just in time to provide radio coverage of both, Charles Martin returns to the airwaves after a few years' absence, and this column is happy to welcome him back. Martin presented The Sound Of Surprise on RTHK Radio 3 for 12 years - for many essential listening. Martin's new two-hour show, 3O'Clock Jump, will air on Saturdays at 3pm.

He worked as a bass player in orchestras, including the Hong Kong Philharmonic, and in jazz groups before beginning broadcasting and writing. He was a Sunday Morning Post columnist for several years.

He says: 'Things have changed a lot since I did The Sound of Surprise - more artists are putting out their own recordings. While that means there's plenty of substandard music, there are also a lot of talented and adventurous people out there.

'I bring the best of that music onto the show. And there are well-established singers and players who have plenty to say musically - vocalist Karrin Allyson, guitarist Jimmy Bruno, for example - so I don't neglect them. And, of course, the masters both living and dead - Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Billie Holiday, Sonny Rollins, Charlie Haden. I play them because they're too good not to play.

'We'll be hearing from some great musicians who haven't hit the major labels yet: the Le Boeuf Brothers, identical twins who are big on the New York scene, and Nina Moffitt, a young jazz singer who won't remind you of Ella. And I don't intend to neglect the local scene either - Hong Kong has some very creative people making music here.'

Martin will also alert listeners to local jazz events. Firstly, he will feature artists who appear at this year's Hong Kong International Jazz Festival. Those who miss his Saturday show will be able to listen to it online at and there will also be a Facebook page. 'I'm encouraging people to talk back via Facebook and e-mail,' says Martin. 'It's much more fun when it's a two-way street.' Appearing this Friday at Peel Fresco and on Saturday at Backstage are the Swedish duo of pianist/vocalist Maria Kvist and saxophonist Linus Kase performing with bassist Rickard Malmsten and drummer Jack Greminger. They are highly recommended by Malmsten, and will also play the following week at Skylark, the Fringe Club and Joyce Is Not Here.

Take Three

Three albums likely to feature in the near future on 3 O'Clock Jump.

Stormy Monday (1962, Blue Note): 'I could name the obvious 'greatest albums', but it's more fun to name three that are rarely considered essential, but which are perfect in their own right,' says Martin, singling out Lou Rawls' debut album made with the Les McCann Trio.

Mingus at the Bohemia (1955, Debut Records): Charles Mingus live at the Cafe Bohemia with drummer Max Roach. 'The music jumps, swoops and flies in all kinds of unexpected directions,' says Martin.

Old Places, Old Faces (1996, Warner Brothers): a solo album from Crusaders' keyboard master Joe Sample. 'A little gem - the kind of recording that your heart embraces, even if your brain can't figure out why,' Martin says.