Varied audience levels in November; nevertheless the quality of music this month was exceptional. Ian Sherwood clashed with the Eddi Reader gig at St Georges, and he suffered being a ‘newbie’ to the UK, however he will be back and he was outstanding. ARQ was well attended and the girls played their proverbial derrière’s off, ably supported by messers; Lodder and Birch. Tim Richards had a mega line-up on show, but not many did? Clive Gregson had a skinny crowd but gave his usual bravura show, in my opinion the best I’ve ever heard him, great songs and vocals, absolutely amazing guitar picking and riffs, all served up with smashing humour.

Christmas Present

As a tempter, I’m offering a bit of a Christmas present for the last two gigs of the year. Both these gigs are in association with super bass player Michael Janisch and his record label Whirlwind. They are both top bracket gigs (!!!!) and feature some amazing musicians from predominantly, across the pond (see below).

Cheers, Ian

Bobby Avey Project (USA)

Sun 7 Dec 7:30 for 8:15 (£14/12)Hen & Chicken Book

Bobby Avey Xmas

I did try and put this gig on at the Colston Hall in the Lantern to use the baby grand piano, but the venue was not available, however this line-up is too good to miss out on (I kid you not) and so we have the Hen & Chicken as usual. We have given Bobby the option of piano or borrow/cadge/steal a high quality keyboard (carrying a Baby Grand up the stairs is not possible for a one-off gig). Both will be available to him, he’ll decide which he wants to use.

Praised by the New Yorker magazine as, "A young pianist of invention and refinement", Bobby Avey has established himself as an emerging star on the international jazz scene. Having won the highly esteemed the Thelonious Monk Competition in 2011, for composition, he has gone from strength to strength. A solo piano album entitled Be Not So Long To Speak, came out in April 2013. Ben Ratliff of the New York Times deemed it “A record of mystery, patience, imagination and clear design. Keep an eye on this guy.” A trio album followed and has led to this unique project and a line-up of current “Most Wanted” players stateside. Indeed Puerto Rican Miguel Zenon apart from gracing the bands of Kenny Werner, the stunning pianist Danilo Perez and Jeff Ballards group; is also on the front cover of Downbeat magazine in the USA for the month of December, and has a 5-page spread inside!

Bobby Avey is a current member of David Liebman’s Expansions and the Dave Douglas Quintet. He is a past Yamaha Young Performing Artist on piano and graduated from Purchase Conservatory of Music, Summa Cum Laude 2007. Also in 2011 Avey received the New Jazz Works: Commissioning and Ensemble Development grant from Chamber Music America. The grant enabled Avey to travel to Haiti to record a Voodoo (Vodou in Haiti) Ceremony in the small village of Soukri and then create an hour-long suite grounded in rhythms found in Haitian Voodoo drumming. The suite, entitled Authority Melts From Me, pays homage to the Haitian Revolution and is his debut for Whirlwind Recordings. This tour is short and takes in venues such as The Bimhuis in Amsterdam, Band on the Wall, Manchester, Leeds College of Music, Pizza Express in Soho, London, the CBSO in Birmingham and us here in Bristol.......read more

It’s really some masterful ensemble work. You can’t help but wonder where the last hour went. As you restart the recording, you realize that you just don’t care. ~ Mark Saleski

... [Avey] has created a cliché-free work of progressive jazz that's virtually cinematic in its intensity. ‘Authority Melts From Me’ sees Avey break through as a composer of sophistication and depth. ~ Bradley Bambarge (Downbeat)

Oli Rockberger (USA / UK)

Sun 14 Dec 7:30 for 8:15 (£12/11)Hen & Chicken Book

Oli Rockberger Xmas

Most folk know I have a scant regard for performers who profess to sing jazz. Many are called, few are able to get the timing, swing and feel of this music. Very different from singer songwriters in the acoustic field, who can create individuality of style and complex wordsmith capabilities that appeals across a broad spectrum. However, I do have a track record of recognising when someone does get it spot on, and strive to bring them to Bristol; whether established artists such as Norma Winstone and Kate Westbrook or from early stages of their careers, vocalists such as Liane Carroll, Tina May, Stacey Kent and Gwyneth Herbert. All female you shout. True, historically there have been not many guys to choose from; and maybe I should have promoted the likes of the very impressive Ian Shaw or Cleveland Watkiss, but I did put on Jamie Cullum at the M Shed in the year he signed his first record deal. If you like Jamie Cullum, this is your bag, but Oli has a more cutting edge approach and even wider style options.

When talent shines through I readily put my own misgivings away: Oli Rockberger sounds the real deal!! He straddles the styles of jazz and popular music that Cullum has captured very successfully and has heritage right back to Nat King Cole and Frank Sinatra. Having won a scholarship to Berklee Music College in the States, he stayed on and moved to New York where he has gained much success. He’s since been back to perform at the London Jazz Festival and the very special Love Supreme Festival. If you like Jamie Cullum, this is your bag; but Oli has a more cutting edge approach and even wider style options

Whether you first discover singer/songwriter & pianist Oli Rockberger through his work as a solo artist, producer/arranger, studio keys sideman, or as 1/3 of acclaimed band/production team Mister Barrington, you will be sure to find a distinctive musical voice running through the rich and varied work he does. London born NY based Rockberger has appeared live/on recordings alongside Randy Brecker, Levon Helm, Gloria Gaynor, Jesse Harris, John Mayer, Steve Jordan, Chris "Daddy" Dave with Robert Glasper and Derrick Hodge, Nathan East, Jackie De Shannon, Steve Gadd and Les McCann.......read more

Oli can conjure up echoes of – Randy Newman, Todd Rundgren and Peter Gabriel - yet still inhabit a sound world all of his own. ~ Jazzwise (UK)