You can read 19 more articles this month
London Jazz Festival
THIS year's London Jazz Festival was something of a praise song to cosmopolitan jazz piano and it begins with Cuba.
When two keyboard stalwarts, Chucho Valdes from Quivican and Gonzalo Rubalcaba from Havana, play opposite each other at two pianos on the Barbican stage, the musical genius of the revolutionary island swings and surges.
Valdes's rippling runs up the keys and Rubalcaba's emphatic, hard-struck and crystalline notes chime the shared bells of piano joy, melody and rampaging improvisation.
It's as if each of their magical instruments has many more keys than they actually have and they evidently enjoy their London meeting as much as their enraptured audience.
At the Cadogan Hall, veteran Polish trumpeter Tomasz Stanko is joined by the much younger members of his New York quartet — Detroit drummer Gerald Cleaver, bassist Reuben Rogers from the Virgin Islands and another Cuban pianist, the brilliant David Virelles.
Stanko's terse, rasping and nerve-cutting horn, starkly blown, provides generous solo opportunities for his bandmates. And, as Rogers's bass dances, Cleaver's drums mix subtlety and power and Virelles fuses waves of Caribbean
rhythm and New York stride, the quartet swing like fury.
It's a long time since Abdullah Ibrahim, then Dollar Brand, exiled himself from apartheid South Africa and met a marvelling Duke Ellington in a Zurich night club.
His US band Ekaya play proudly as they reinvent some of his old tunes at the Royal Festival Hall, including a spirited version of Scullery Department, written by his old bebop jazz friend from The Jazz Epistles, alto saxophonist Kippie Moeketsi.
Ibrahim reminds his listeners of the time when black musicians waited for their gigs to begin in segregated Johannesburg hotels and you can feel that his bandmates, in particular drummer Will Terrell, bassist Noah Jackson, altoist Cleave Guyton and trumpeter Andrae Murchison, are reliving similar times from their own civil rights history.
The wonderful pianist Zoe Rahman plays a memorable lunchtime set at Soho's Pizza Express, with her Anglo-Bengali roots to the fore. She strikes the keys with her characteristic power and beauty on Ibrahim's Sunset in Blue, Ellington's Single Petal of a Rose, her own Dantastic — dedicated to her son — and a scintillating These Foolish Things.
Like Ibrahim, Virelles, Rubalcaba and Valdes, Rahman makes you thank the Earth for the piano and all those musicians globally who have loved and mastered it.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by joining the 501 club.
Just £5 a month gives you the opportunity to win one of 17 prizes, from £25 to the £501 jackpot.
By becoming a 501 Club member you are helping the Morning Star cover its printing, distribution and staff costs — help keep our paper thriving by joining!
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by become a member of the People’s Printing Press Society.
The Morning Star is a readers’ co-operative, which means you can become an owner of the paper too by buying shares in the society.
Shares are £1 each — though unlike capitalist firms, each shareholder has an equal say. Money from shares contributes directly to keep our paper thriving.
Some union branches have taken out shares of over £500 and individuals over £100.
You can’t buy a revolution, but you can help the only daily paper in Britain that’s fighting for one by donating to the Fighting Fund.
The Morning Star is unique, as a lone socialist voice in a sea of corporate media. We offer a platform for those who would otherwise never be listened to, coverage of stories that would otherwise be buried.
The rich don’t like us, and they don’t advertise with us, so we rely on you, our readers and friends. With a regular donation to our monthly Fighting Fund, we can continue to thumb our noses at the fat cats and tell truth to power.
Donate today and make a regular contribution.