Comings and goings in jazz world

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 27 December, 2014, 12:08pm
UPDATED : Monday, 29 December, 2014, 11:42am

Looking back on 2014, apart from the cancellation of the Hong Kong edition of the North Sea Jazz festival, we had a pretty good year for live jazz and blues.

The Jazz World Live Series brought us performances by the Larry Carlton Trio, the Robben Ford Band, Max Ionata and Dado Moroni, Hiromi Uehara's Trio Project, the Oz Noy Trio, the Eddie Gomez Quartet, Masters of Bass, Alex Sipiagin, Alessandro Galati and his Trio, and other less jazz-focused artists.

The Hong Kong Arts Festival brought us Gregory Porter, John McLaughlin and the 4th Dimension, Madeleine Peyroux, and Roberto Fonseca. In December the Count Basie Orchestra played Macau.

Local players maintained busy live schedules, with Grappa's Cellar presenting Allen Youngblood, the Stray Katz Big Band, the Victoria Jazz Band, and singers Jennifer Palor and Ginger Kwan.

One of the highlights of the year at Grappa's was the October gig by a band featuring pianist Jeremy Monteiro, organist Alberto Marsico, and local guitar hero Eugene Pao.

Kwan and Pao both played residencies at The Peninsula hotel's Salon de Ning which started presenting live jazz.

The management of Peel Fresco in SoHo opened a new live music venue, called Orange Peel, in Lan Kwai Fong.

Mainstream and traditional jazz was well represented at Ned Kelly's Last Stand, where musical director Colin Aitchison played host to some fine musicians visiting Hong Kong.

The Summer Jazz Festival at City Hall presented local jazz, featuring the Saturday Night Jazz Orchestra, Shaolin Fez, Youngblood and Jazbalaya, and Chris Polanco and Azucar Latina among others.

The Fringe Club hosted several big bands, and along with Backstage Live, presented performances by locally based jazz musicians with international reputations such as multi-instrumentalist Ted Lo, guitarist Teriver Cheung, and drummer Nate Wong.

In April trumpeter, singer and long-time Victoria Jazz Band leader John Hubbard died on his 70th birthday. His loss was deeply felt, but the band continue, as Hubbard would undoubtedly have wished.

Other jazz musicians who did not survive the year were violinist John Blake Jnr; clarinettist Acker Bilk; saxophonists Aaron Sachs, Mike Burney, Klaus Kreuzeder, Kathy Stobart, Vic Ash, Fred Ho, Med Flory, Joe Evans and Arthur Doyle; trumpeters Kenny Wheeler, Gerald Wilson, Joe Wilder, Lionel Ferbos and Roy Campbell Jnr; trombonist Wayne Henderson; guitarists Carlos Emilio Morales and Ronny Jordan; pianists Horace Silver, Joe Sample, Brian Lemon, Renato Sellani, Frank Strazzeri, Kenny Drew Jnr and King Fleming; bassists Charlie Haden, Jack Bruce, Buddy Catlett, Juan Formell and Chris White; drummers Idris Muhammad, Frankie Dunlop, Al Harewood, Dick Berk, Sam Ulano and Bud Spangler; percussionist Milton Cardona; and singers Jimmy Scott, Jackie Caine, Kerrie Biddell and Margie Day.

The music world also lost guitarists Johnny Winter, Teenie Hodges, Dick Wagner and Arthur "Guitar Boogie" Smith; saxophonists Bobby Keys and Raphael Ravenscroft; keyboardists Ian McLagan and Ikey Owens; bassists Bill Sinegal, Glenn Cornick and Rick Rosas; drummers Bobby Gregg, Rod de'Ath and Bobbie Clark; and singers Bobby Womack, Joe Cocker, Little Joe Cook, Rosetta Hightower, James Govan, Lee McBee, and Duffy Power.

New music continues to be recorded and older recordings reissued in multiple formats, including increasingly popular audiophile vinyl.

Whether live or on record there should be plenty of good music for us to listen to in the New Year.

Take Three

Many of the best jazz albums of 2014 were reviewed here in the past year, but there aren't enough Sundays in the year to cover them all. Here are three that weren't.

Kin (2014, Nonesuch): Pat Metheny reconvened the Unity Band of 2012, renamed Unity Group to recognise the addition of multi-instrumentalist Giulio Carmassi. A winning combination of memorable melodies, strong group rapport, and high-level improvisation from the soloists, guitarist Metheny and saxophonist Chris Potter.

Last Dance (2014, ECM): This sequel to the 2010 Jasmine collaboration between bassist Charlie Haden and pianist Keith Jarrett was the last music issued under Haden's name, just over a month before his death. A thoughtful musical conversation between two old friends and a fine swan song for Haden.

In My Solitude (2014, OKeh): Branford Marsalis plays unaccompanied on tenor, soprano and alto saxophones in San Francisco's Grace Cathedral, with the instruments recorded so intimately you can hear the hammering of the keys. Solo jazz improvisation at the highest level covering many moods and the music of many eras. A triumph.