We’re thrilled to bring back Made in the UK for the sixth consecutive festival!
This year’s exhilarating program in part reprises two of our greatest hits of previous years. Of the three UK bands included in the festival, two (Phronesis, Neil Cowley Trio) appeared in previous editions of the festival and return by popular demand, the third featured band is London’s rising star trumpeter Laura Jurd, and her band Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur.
Phronesis (2013, 2015) and the Neil Cowley Trio (2010) represent contemporary iterations of the piano trio at the top echelon, one of the most loved formats in the wider world of jazz. Although these trios have very different focuses, each of them leans towards a kind of burning intensity, one through complex jazz rhythms, the other with pulsating rock beats, yet both are fully capable of sensitivity and nuanced detail when the musical situation calls for it. Without a doubt, they’re some of the most interesting, accomplished and energetic young cats on the European scene and they’ll surely be festival highlights.
NEIL COWLEY TRIO
Neil Cowley’s Trio last played the festival in 2010 and was one of that year’s most cited discoveries by folks close to the festival (including staff)! Their first release was 2006’s Displace and now they’re onto their fifth with the Arthur C. Clarke concept album Spacebound Apes (2016) – an ambitious work that includes an interactive website, a graphic novel, and a sheet music single. Neil Cowley is also the guy who played the piano intro on Adele’s Hometown Glory. Cowley’s trio (Rex Horan on bass, Evan Jenkins on drums) has much more of a rock and electro beat influenced sound with thundering beats coupled to hook driven themes and occasional melodic ruminations. Much more an instrumental rock band blitzkrieg vibe these guys are possessed and hit it hard. If you dig the Bad Plus – chances are you’ll love Neil Cowley’s Trio.
This year they’ll headline our Canada Day lineup (free to the public) July 1st at Performance Works on Granville Island – get their early for a seat as this will be one of the most popular free shows of this year’s festival.
Check out their video, “Sparkling.”
LAURA JURD’S DINOSAUR
Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur is one of the emerging UK jazz ensembles that presenters (and audiences) across the pond, in the UK and Europe are most enthusiastic about. Their debut album Together As One was released on Edition in 2016. Since her rapid ascendance on the London creative scene beginning in 2010, she’s moved from strength to strength and established an impressive reputation in a very short time. Dinosaur has appeared at the Berlin Jazz Festival, 12 Points in Dublin, Jazz Sur Son 31 in Toulouse and the band is looking to broaden their reach by performing on more and more international stages.
I first heard her music at the 2016 edition of Bremen’s Jazz Ahead conference (I was on the jury for the European showcases). The concept is strong and charismatic. With an edgy, bold, and spirited vibe Dinosaur’s music incorporates electronic sounds in a compelling approach that has its antecedents in electric Miles. Interestingly both Laura and Dinosaur drummer Corrie Dick are appear on Phronesis bassist Jasper Høiby’s first album as a leader, Fellow Creatures. The Dinosaur lineup is completed by Elliot Galvin on keyboards and Connor Chaplin on bass. We’re very excited to host their first appearance in Vancouver at the Roundhouse on July 1 at 3pm.
Finally there’s Phronesis – not just a fave trio, in fact one of my favourite bands period. “Phronesis” is the Greek word for a type of wisdom or intelligence. Comprised of Scandinavian and British musicians, the band Phronesis has emerged to become one of Europe’s most highly regarded piano trios. Since 2013 I have had the good fortune to get to know these guys – meeting and hanging with them initially at Bremen’s excellent JazzAhead conference (along with their wonderful manager Sue Edwards) – and subsequently other Nordic festivals. Not just great musicians, they’re also really nice cats.
They’ve chosen their name well; such wisdom and intelligence has been coupled to a potent yet controlled energy that finds the music fitting the descriptor spot on. Founded and originally led by Danish bassist Jasper Hoiby (lived in London for over a decade). Phronesis (with pianist Ivo Neame and Swedish drummer Anton Eger) is now a fully fledged democratic co-operative and has been described as the most exciting trio to emerge on the European scene since E.S.T. The music bares little resemblance to that Swedish trio, instead exhibiting a more propulsive hot-blooded rhythmic approach to the music that often grooves harder in unexpected ways. Rhythmically they are nimble, technically gifted with great virtuosity and the compositions possess enough complexity to keep everything interesting.
I read an interview with Jasper Hoiby a few years ago where he cited Chick Corea’s late 60s seminal Now He Sings, Now He Sobs as a watershed listening moment in his musical development that has ultimately been very influential in determining the Phronesis approach. In hindsight, it’s clear that Now He Sings, Now He Sobs (Chick’s second album) has been influential and along with Jasper I believe it to be one of the great piano trio (with Miroslav Vitous and Roy Haynes) sessions in modern jazz history.
As much as I’ve enjoyed the previous albums by Phronesis (especially their debut Green Day), their second disc Walking Dark completely blew me away and they haven’t disappointed with their subsequent discs third and fourth trio discs Life to Everything and Parallax. This year they’ve released The Behomoth; their most ambitious album yet finds them collaborating with the Frankfurt Radio Big Band with a program of arrangements of Phronesis classics by Julian Arguelles (who performed at the fest in 2013).
Much of what I want to hear in a modern jazz piano trio is contained in the vessel of Phronesis. The music is extremely worthy of repeat listening; complex and nuanced with varying tempos and time signatures – the band swings hard when the music calls for it and there’s always something new to catch the ear. This band is one of the most sophisticated and exciting piano trios on today’s jazz scene. We’re very proud to present this trio at the festival for the third time. Not to be missed. June 25 at Performance Works 7pm.
ONE MORE THING:
While we’re on the subject let’s note that the amazing trio (and one of our most popular UK bookings in the 2015 festival) GoGo Penguin come back in September (9 and 10) for an exclusive two night run at our club: Frankie’s Jazz on Beatty Street. So in a way Made in the UK extends to our season and that’s awesome!
Sadly, it’s on a bittersweet note that we bid a fond farewell to the architect of Made in the UK – our fallen comrade the late John Ellson who along with John Nugent (Rochester Jazz) is directly responsible for this important annual initiative that’s succeeded in bringing so many great UK jazz bands to perform at select festivals in the USA and Canada. We dedicate the sixth edition of Made in the UK to John Ellson who died last September at the age of 64. A jazz impresario of the old school Mr. Ellson was active in a multitude of capacities; arranging tours with legends, artist and road management and notably he was a co-founder of Serious Productions (along with John Cumming) the producer of today’s London Jazz Festival. Apart from that he was a very dear friend and I’ll miss him and his amazing humour – the hangs were always monumental.