July 25, 2010

V4YS Concert Review - Nice Jazz Festival - Stanley Clarke Band & Hiromi / Bojan Z Tetraband / Eric Legnini Trio / José James & Jef Neve - 21&22/07/2010

Imagine an antique roman site surrounded by a beautiful garden full of olive trees on top of a hill overlooking one of the most beautiful city on the French Riviera. You picture it? Not yet?  add the groovy sound of cicadas and you should make it :

So here you are, on the posh district of Cimiez in Nice where the Nice Jazz Festival has been settling each month of july for more than 50 years. The place offers 3 different scenes with a programmation usually focusing on jazz but with a backdoor opened to many more musical styles like groove, funk or electro.
This 2010 edition is a bit special as it is the last time the festival takes place in this exceptional location before moving next year closer to the city center. I could not miss this last Cimiez version all the more as some of my favorite jazz artists were present on the fantastic line-up. So here a few impressions of the two great days I spent there this week!

The Stanley Clarke Band & Hiromi :
Stanley Clarke & Ronald Bruner Jr.
Legendary fusion jazz bassist Stanley Clarke was my first "choice" of the evening. It was the first time I was seeing him live. I was absolutely stunned first by his outstanding bass/double bass play but even more by the amazing performance of Japanese pianist Hiromi who participated in Stanley latest album.
During this 1-hour long fusion set she alternated between smooth and more agressive ways of playing, and also impressed the crowd with a great stage presence (often playing standing in front of her piano when the groove was too unresistible). I really have to dig her own albums and I'm looking forward seeing her when she'll be visiting Paris. A name to watch for sure!
A special mention also to Californian drummer Ronald Bruner Jr. for his brilliant act full of enthusiasm and energy!
Below a short video showing some Hiromi's action!

Bojan Z Tetraband :
Bojan Z
Second stop of this night was franco-serbian pianist Bojan Z who is one of my favorite contemporary jazz artist.
Josh Roseman
Together with Sebastian Rochford on drums, Ruth Goller on bass and Josh Roseman on trombon, he offered a jazz set mainly composed of tracks from their 2009 album titled "Humus".

Contrary to the Stanley Clarke set where the interaction between each musician was strong and the "band" spirit evident, the atmosphere of this concert was totally different as each musician was more introverted and focused on his ow play. Coupled wih a more demanding free-jazz-like sound, it required a bit more attention to get into it.
Ruth Goller

But I did!
Sebastian Rochford
Very much in fact as the outstanding rythmic frame set up by Ruth Goller and Sebastian Rochford (I loved his funny Christ-like way of looking deeply up in the sky while playing), the amazing spiritual trombon sound of Josh Roseman and Bojan Z warm rhodes or piano lines are the kind of treats I cannot resist for long!

Eric Legnini Trio :
Eric Legnini, Thomas Bramerie & Frank Agulhon
Last but not least I ended this jazz evening with Eric Legnini Trio.

Eric's recent album called "Trippin" is a little gem where the groovy style of this outstanding pianist is at its best. Whether he is playing Piano or Rhodes, (like he did during this set) he delivers the kind of jazz that I find it hard to listen to seated!
For this Nice show he was joined by Frank Agulhon on drums and Thomas Bramerie on double bass.
The trio mainly focused on tracks from the "Trippin" album. The perfect rythmic support from Frank Agulhon and Thomas Bramerie opened the way for Eric's talent and ispiration. I particularly enjoyed their live versions of "Casa Bamako" and "Trippin". Being a Rhodes keyboard addict I took an immense pleasure to listen to his laid-back grooves!
Below you can get your heatlhy dose of Rhodes vibes with this small video of "Trippin" :

José James & Jef Neve - Coltrane Project
José James
Us singer José James is probably the most frequently mentionned artist on this blog as I firmly believe he is one of the most outstanding talent of the current jazz/soul scene.
Besides two amazing nu-jazz/beats albums (The Dreamer in 2008 and Blackmagic (our review here) in 2010) he teamed up in late 2009 with Belgian Jazz pianist Jef Neve to revisit Alice & John Coltrane legendary music.
José wrote or covered some lyrics on several Coltrane's tracks like Lush Life, Central Park West, A Love Supreme and the duo, joined by Michael Campagna (sax/clarinette), Neville Malcom (double bass) & Richard Spaven (drums), gave three exceptional live shows in late 2009 (Brussels, Paris & London) that were more than 2-hour long.

Jef Neve
The Parisian concert at the New Morning was one of the best live act I ever attended (all musical styles included). I loved it so much that I included this project in the blog's "2009 favorites records" list even though no recordings came out of it. They currently offer shorter versions of it in several jazz festivals and I was particularly happy to catch them for a second time.
Richard Spaven
The 1-hour long set in Nice on July 22nd was equally brilliant albeit really too short!
Next to these 4 talented musicians sensitive interpretation of Coltrane's music, José deep and powerful voice adds a spiritual touch respectful of Alice & John Coltrane's legacy. Once again it was a moment of reflexion and grace.
Jef Neve, José James, Michael Campagna, Neville Malcom &  Richard Spaven
For those interested in this project the full 2-h long Brussels show from october 2009 is available in video streaming here (courtesy of a belgian network).
Also the duo recorded recently a splendid record on the Verve label, called "For All We Know" (our review here) which is a selection of classic jazz songs they brilliantly adapt to their tastes.

Below a video of "Lush Life" in Nice :


  1. Loved the Hiromi/Clarke clip! She is an amazing talent. Go to You Tube and watch her with her own band Sonic Bloom. It will blow you away. I've been a Stanley Clarke fan for over 30 years. You have not lived a full life until you've had Stanley actually standing on your table jamming on the Alembic bass! The man can work a room. I saw him in 1979 play with Ron Wood and Keith Richards as the "New Barbarians". Stanley had an extended solo and the arena (20,000 fans) just went into a wild frenzy!

  2. Thanks for the tip, will check Sonic Bloom!