IT WAS recently mentioned in this column that York has a plethora of friendly and dedicated musicians and fans. This was demonstrated on Monday night at The Phoenix Inn when all of the loyal regulars clubbed together for a card and wedding present for myself and my singing bride-to-be, Kate Peters. A lovely and much appreciated surprise from a great audience.

The first of two regular Thursday evening jazz nights is at The Pavilion Hotel, Fulford Road at 7pm. York pianist Kieran White will be joined by woodwind all-rounder Tina Featherstone. Music is in the bar area and non-residents are very welcome. The same applies at The Red Lion Hotel in Poppleton from 8.30pm where drummer/vocalist Ken Hickey brings a quartet for some straight ahead jazz classics.

One of this week’s highlights comes from the York University Jazz Orchestra, which is performing works by pianist and composer Horace Silver at The City Screen Basement Bar on Friday evening. The band is joined by special guest Chris Batchelor on trumpet who will be adding an extra layer of improvisational excellence to Paul Baxter’s arrangements.

Karl Mullen will be wheeling the red busking piano in to Kennedy’s Bar, Little Stonegate at 1pm on Sunday, joining myself on bass and Paul Smith on drums for some relaxing lunchtime jazz. Leeds-based drummer Matt Parkinson brings a band to The Phoenix Inn, George Street at 8pm.

Rounding off the week as always is the ever-popular jam session at The Phoenix Inn on Wednesday from 8.30pm. Musicians of all abilities are invited to sit in with the friendly house band which is led by trumpeter James Lancaster.


Album review: Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble, The Whistle Blower

WHETHER you question his politics or not, it would be difficult to question Gilad Atzmon’s musical abilities. Having released a string of albums under his own name, he has forged a reputation as one of the hardest-working jazz musicians in the country. The Whistle Blower fuses classic jazz improvising with middle-eastern influences to create a unique and gripping set of compositions.

The album opener Gaza Mon Amour eatures a driving groove beneath a catchy eastern melody. This is followed by a pair of contrasting ballads which showcase Atzmon’s lyrical soprano playing as well as an excellent bass solo from Yaron Stavi. The Coltrane influence is present on Let Us Pray which develops in a style similar to the master work, A Love Supreme. The track builds through 11 minutes of intense modal improvisation.

There is more world music influence on The Song with Atzmon demonstrating his accordion-playing skills, which inject another layer of variety to the record. An interesting and intelligently constructed album.