Jazz Musings: May

Suffolk jazz star Polly Gibbons is about to release a new album. The timing couldn’t be better as the Framlingham lass has been nominated for a Jazz FM award. Polly is up for a Vocalist Of The Year gong and must stand a very good chance of collecting it. After some time away from the jazz scene she has certainly got the bit between the teeth again. The CD, Is It Me?, is officially released on May 12 and is launched four days later at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in London.   

The longest running modern-jazz club in East Anglia continues to go from strength to strength. The Cambridge Modern Jazz Club was founded by the late Joan Morrell back in 1972 and currently meets at the Hidden Rooms in Jesus Lane. This month two hugely respected saxophonists are there. Firstly the legendary Art Themen brings his New Directions Quartet to the city where he began playing jazz alongside Dave Gelly and Dick Heckstall-Smith. Art later teamed up with blues players Alexis Korner and Jack Bruce before a long term link up with Stan Tracey established him as a British jazz great. Art Themen adores Cambridge and is back there on Thursday, May 11. A fortnight later Chris Biscoe will be at the club with his new band. The baritone player explores the freewheeling styles of Gerry Mulligan and Paul Desmond and among his band mates are alto sax star Allison Neale and guitarist Colin Oxley.

Another of our region’s modern-jazz clubs is the one in Colchester held at the town’s Arts Centre in Church Walk. The Swiss trio Vein are there on Thursday, May 18. They don’t come over to the UK that often and are well worth a look. It’s great to have the club back in action. You may recall, it originally ran from 1983 to 1996. Chairman Steve Wright then mothballed the venture. He was coaxed out of retirement a couple of years ago and the re-launch has gone extremely well. His club shouldn’t be confused with the Colchester Jazz Club which specialises in trad. That club meets in Marks Tey Parish Hall these days and last year celebrated its 60th birthday.

This month’s star turn at the Norwich Jazz Club is one of Jamie Cullum’s favourite young guitarists Remi Harris. He’s been labelled ‘the exciting new voice of Gypsy Swing’ so a lively night is in store at The Maddermarket  Theatre on Tuesday, May 16.  Pianist Simon Brown holds regular open mic/jam sessions there on the second Monday of most months with free admission to music makers. Later in the year Simon’s trio will be backing Tina May at The Maddermarket. The date for your diary is Tuesday, July 18.