2010-10-01 Amit Chaudhuri launches new album at Vortex

Amit Chaudhuri, renowned author and singer, launches his new album "Found Music" at the Vortex on 2 October. Buy tickets here.
More info to follow and download. ‘We are used to intellectual, arty Westerners like David Byrne, Paul Simon or Brian Eno doing fusion records – here is a Calcutta-born equivalent, and as good as any of them' (Peter Culshaw, **** Songlines).

Buy tickets here.

2010-07-16 Richard Fairhurst's Triptych in Jazzwise feature plus lots of praise for new CD Amusia
Long-time established composer and pianist Richard Fairhurst's Triptych, his piano trio recently released their debut titled Amusia (with drummer Chris Vatalaro and Phronesis leader-double bassist Jasper Hoiby)has been interviewed for a main feature in the July issue of Jazzwise and a review in the magazine described the album as "...a welcome and distinctive addition to the crowded piano-trio scene" and Kevin Le Gendre on BBC Music website described "The technical standard as enviably high and the music expresses its own identity". With three Babel albums already under his belt as leader of Hungry Ants and one as co-leader in the leading duo Mesmer with trumpeter Tom Arthurs (another duo Pushkin is due next year) another Babel artist and current BBC New Generation Artist for jazz, Richard has been a Steinway International Artist since 1998. Amusia is available to purchase on the site here . Triptych performed as part of a double bill at the Vortex jazz club in Dalston with hip NYC piano trio led by Vijay Iyer in July 2010. If you missed you can still catch the band at the Con Cellar Bar in Camden Town on July 26th. See live page

2010-06-04 The Golden Age of Steam hailed in Metro, Jazzwise, BBC and FT features
The Golden Age of Steam (James Allsopp on reeds, Kit Downes on Hammond Organ and wurlitzer keys and Tim Giles on drums and percussion) hit the headlines in the music pages of london's Metro Newspaper in London with a lead review today with the following text, "
Citing inspirations from Ligeti and Coltrane to Captain Beefheart, they sculpt progressive aural explorations of space that range in character from avant-garde classical to deconstructed blues. Their debut album, Raspberry Tongue (Babel), is about as far removed from dinner party music as you can get – unless, that is, you enjoy subjecting your guests to unsettling grooves and Hammer Horror atmospherics. Opener Mr Apricot/Imaginary Handbag is a masterclass in unease from rising keyboard star Kit Downes, who alternates between Hammond organ and Wurlitzer. Meanwhile, the title track and Eyepatch provide ample opportunities for ear-shattering ensemble wig-outs, Allsopp's sax squawking its way into the stratosphere above Tim Giles's brilliantly empathetic drumming. It's not an easy listen but patience is rewarded." The trio also went down brilliantly in a feature in Jazzwise with a *** review advising readers to check out this "intelligent debut" while Kevin LeGendre on BBC music online said, "The Golden Age of Steam offer a tasty spin on trio music, showing how much scope jazz has for new combinations of instruments, and as such stands loosely in the lineage of Tim Berne's feted Hard Cell and the not so feted Ibrahim Electric."You can read the Financial Times review here and purchase the new album online here


2010-04-09 trioVD rampage across Europe showcasing critically acclaimed Babel CD Fill It Up With Ghosts
With a headline at The Garage in Islington tomorrow (Saturday 1 May), Leeds based trioVD go where jazz improvisers fear to tread. They will be playing from their critically acclaimed Mojo jazz album of 2009 Fill it Up with Ghosts which you can purchase online at our shop here. The Garage date tomorrow is followed by a tour that takes in big international festivals in France, Sweden Norway, Bratislava and Glasgow and the North Sea Jazz Festival. For more details of all live dates click here. The Garage date gets a feature preview in Time Out Magazine this week with Mike Flynn describing trioVD as "making some of the most exciting, mind-expanding, ear-baffling sounds to emerge from the Uk in a long, long time." and their headline show at the Garage as " a much deserved step closer to their (hopefully global) mainstream ascendancy."

2010-04-09 Richard Fairhurst launches piano trio Triptych's debut CD @ Vortex on 25th April
The pianist Richard Fairhurst is a longtime Babel recording artist, but his new release is a debut by his piano trio Triptych titled Amusia (with drummer Chris Vatalaro and leading Phronesis leader-double bassist Jasper Hoiby) and he launches the album, which is already available to purchase on the site here, at the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston on 25th April. Tickets are available online here. With four Babel albums already under his belt as leader and one as co-leader in the leading duo Mesmer with trumpeter Tom Arthurs, another Babel artist and current BBC New Generation Artist for jazz, Richard is a Steinway International Artist since 1998 (he also appears in duo with the great British pianist John Taylor on 16th and then 19th of this month solo at the Pizza Express Jazz Club in Soho) and has recorded three albums with Babel for his band Hungry Ants plus a BBC Jazz award winner for Best New Work Standing Tall from 2004. 'Triptych' is a highly appropriate name for pianist Richard Fairhurst's group, since it conveys both the stylistic homogeneity of the trio and (referring as it generally does to a central painted panel flanked by two side pieces whose content is shaped by the main picture) the artistic process at work within it. Fairhurst has been been playing professionally since his teens (he was performing with Iain Ballamy at Ronnie's way before he could legally drink there) and has recorded his seventh album for the Babel label, so his confidence and assurance as both composer and performer are givens; what is particularly striking about Triptych, however is the subtle cohesiveness, hardening where required into fierce interactiveness, of the group sound. Time Out Magazine said this about the band: Triptych are an exciting newly formed contemporary jazz trio led by prodigous young pianist Richard Fairhurst, with fleet-fingered Danish bassist Jasper Hoiby and skillful, energetic US drummer Chris Vatalro. Improvising in both cerebral and lyrical ways, Fairhurst's rabid imagination will doubtless further fuel the creativity of this trio.

2010-02-26 The Golden Age of Steam new album Raspberry Tongue now available in our CD shop here
The Golden Age of Steam is James Allsopp on reeds, Kit Downes on Hammond Organ and wurlitzer keys and Tim Giles on drums and percussion. Their debut CD has just arrived at Babel mansions and is available to purchase on the website here, part of the sell-out LOOP Festival taking place there this week. All compositions are written by James Allsopp, who with drummer Tim Giles formerly led the band Fraud who put out their eponymous album on Babel. The track titles have James' typically english surreal cartoon-ish touch ('Mr. Apricot/Imaginary Handbag' and 'For no Raisin') and the phantasmagoric CD sleeve illustration is also by James. The band blew away a full house at the Vortex in Dalston during the London Jazz festival in November and the CD lives up to the promise of their recent live outings. The CD will be on sale very shortly so watch this space.

2010-01-08 Babel in 2010: Golden Age of Steam, Twelves Trio, Paula Rae Gibson, Richard Fairhurst's Triptych

Following the success of last year's breakthough acts ZED-U and trioVD (winners of the Mojo CD of the Year), the Babel Label continues to lead the way with the exciting new wave of bands from the younger generation of jazz musicians in 2010 with the release of the debut from trio The Golden Age of Steam that includes reedsman-composer James Allsopp, drummer Tim Giles that people will remember as the co-leaders of Babel band Fraud and Troyka's Kit Downes on Hammond Organ. Meanwhile double bassist Riaan Vosloo's Twelves Trio make their second album (following the 2008 debut Here Comes the Woodman with his Splintered Soul), and include Tim Giles again on drums, ex-Outhouse saxophonist Mark Hanslip and the newest addition, the guitarist Rob Updegraff - a trio with a difference. Meanwhile singer-songwriter, artist, author and photographer Paula Rae Gibson who's first album Maybe Too Nude was released on Babel last year, brings out a special luxurious book You Gather My Darkness Like Snow, Watch it Melt for Babel that besides her photographic artwork and Novella, includes a CD featuring her new band with pianist Ivo Neame and vibraphonist Jim Hart who played a haunting set at the London Jazz festival Paula Rae Gibson. Meanwhile an established Babel artist though still only 32 years old , the pianist Richard Fairhurst (who has already recorded four albums as leader for Babel , three with the Hungry Ants and the BBC Jazz award winning Standing Tall from 2004), one as co-leader with tom Arthurs in the duo Mesmer and his piano trio Triptych make their debut titled Amusia (with drummer Chris Vatalaro and Phronesis leader-double bassist Jasper Hoiby). Richard is currently in duo with BBC New Generation artist and trumpeter Tom Arthurs and you can hear them live at Ronnie Scotts as featured on the BBC website here on this week's Radio 3's Jazz on 3 Programme.

2010-01-08 Leading author Amit Chaudhuri's This is Not Fusion CD out now on Babel-Vortex label
Amit Chaudhuri is one of India 's leading writers and novelists (click here and scroll down for leading newspaper reviews of his novel, The Immortals).This Is Not Fusion, a project in experimental music bringing together  raga with jazz, rock, and the blues, is a new joint release from Babel and the Vortex jazz club label offshoot. Besides open, experimental structures, it also has an increasing number of songs composed by Chaudhuri in its repertoire. In June 2008, This Is Not Fusion played again to a full house at the Vortex in London , as well as to a hugely appreciative and large audience at the Jazz Night, the Master's Lodge, St John's College , Cambridge. Amit Chaudhuri then had a full house appearance in July at the Big Sky Jazz Festival at Margate , England. He also played at the London Jazz Festival in Nov 2009. Music critic Ivan Hewett said in the Daily Telegraph, London, 'Chaudhuri's 'non-fusion' music creates a striking metaphor for the urban sensibility, which today is increasingly the condition of everybody, even those who stay at home.'
For more info about the CD, the artist and to purchase click on the album sleeve above.

2009-11-27 trioVD win the Mojo Jazz CD of the Year & bag 4-star reviews in both The Guardian/BBC Music Mag

trio VD's new Babel CD Fill It Up With Ghosts has topped the jazz albums of the year chart in 
Mojo magazine, January 2010 issue  (click They have also had very favourable reviews in leading music magazines and newspapers with BBC Music Magazine calling it "breathtaking" (click here) and John Fordham from The Guardian both giving a 4 star **** review. The Guardian review reads as follows:
'Leeds-based trioVD – the thrashy guitar, sax and drums trio – are likely to set Henry Purcell whirling in his grave on Saturday when they play the concert hall named after him for the London jazz festival's opening weekend. This group of former free improvisers takes music to extremes, but it isn't prolix – Fill It Up With Ghosts comes in at a lean 41 minutes. Melodic shapes, rhythm patterns, moods and textures change constantly, as the members (Acoustic Ladyland's Chris Sharkey on guitar, Christophe de Bézenac on sax, effects and voice, Chris Bussey on drums) shuffle and reshuffle improv and written material so you can't hear the joins. From a wild improv feel at the outset (chicken-clucking sax sounds, stop-start themes, collective instrumental chatter), the music shifts to soulful sax-led jazz, skids into raw-noise creaks, sprints into fast freebop, and then the compelling groove of the title track, with its driving guitar vamp beneath. This is urgent, engaging music with the longueurs knocked out, spanning jazz, world music and edgy rock.' purchase the CD
here or digital download here

2009-10-15 Full list of Babel artists at the London Jazz Festival in November

Frid 13 Nov (7:30pm) Christine Tobin & Phil Robson w Guildhall Jazz Ensemble @Guildhall, EC2Y 8DT (020 7638 8891)
Sat 14 Nov (7.45pm) trioVD (plus World Sanguine Report) Purcell Room, South Bank, SE1 8XX (0871 663 2500) Tkts £10
Sat 14 Nov (8.00pm) Amit Chaudhuri @ Arts Depot, 5 Nether Street, N12 0GA (020 8369 5454) Tkts £14/12 conc.
Mon 16 Nov (8.00pm) Twelves (pic left)+Shabaka Hutchings+Seb Rochford@ Green Note,Parkway,NW1(020 7485 9899)
Frid 20 Nov (8.30pm) Michael Wollny + Finn Peters @ The Pheasantry, Kings Road, SW3. ( 084 5602 7017) Tkts £10
Frid 20 Nov (8.30pm) Led Bib @ Vortex, Gillett Square, Dalston, N16 8JH (020 7254 4097) Tkts. £9
Frid 20 Nov (9.30pm) Polar Bear + Zed-U + Troyka @ Jazz Cafe, Camden, Parkway, NW1 ( 087 0060 3777) Tkts £12
Sat 21 Nov (Midnight) Paula Rae Gibson 'In the Dark' @ Vortex, Gillett Square, Dalston, N16 8JH (020 7254 4097) Tkts. £5
Sat 21 Nov (7.30pm) Christine Tobin @ Pizza Express Jazz Club, Soho, W1D 3RW ( 084 5602 7017) Tkts £15
Sat 21 Nov (8.30pm) Dave Kane's Rabbit Project + The Golden Age of Steam + Twelves @ Vortex, Gillett Square, Dalston, N16 8JH (020 7254 4097)

2009-10-09 trioVD release debut CD Fill it Up with Ghosts on November 9th plus launch dates

Recently returning from a European Jazz Network showcase in which they went down an absolute storm with European Jazz festival promoters, the Leeds outfit Trio VD (electric guitarist Chris Sharkey, saxophonist Christophe De Bezenac and drummer Chris Bussey) release their debut CD Fill It Up with Ghosts (sleeve, left) on Babel on November 9th. Launch dates have been anounced starting in Leeds at Seven Arts (recorded for BBC Radio 3' Jazz on November 3rd. Then a London launch will take place at the London Jazz Festival at the Purcell Room on November 14th. Described as ' "Tim Berne meets Queens of the Stone Age at a party thrown by Derek Bailey" the trio have now recorded their debut CD. The band have already attained cult status on the live circuit and are "rapidly making a name for producing some of the most progressive sounds anywhere in the country”, (Jazzwise) and for their "...earth-shattering, taking a sledgehammer to preconceived limitations of jazz... (Time Out). Last year's London Jazz Festival was hailed in The Guardian: "The terrific Leeds-based Trio VD followed up with an equally ferocious display, this time a fast, tight and awesomely expert conjunction of spiky high-energy compositions, uninhibited sax and guitar improv and machine-gun drumming".

2009-09-01 Paula Rae Gibson In the Dark monthly series of concerts at the Vortex start on 8 September

For the first of three In The Dark sessions Babel recording singer-songwriter Paula Rae Gibson will be performing with DJ Dan Lywood at the Vortex jazz Club in Dalston with whom she is recording a dance album. on the 8 September, 6 October, 21 November they will do a set in the dark, leaving the audience the chance to dance like they've never danced... listen like they've never listened. Her dark lyrics have more light and hope in them than ever, and when set to Dan's electronic dance beats, create the perfect way to sustain you through the week by chasing away all the demons. Paula is one of Babel's most intriguing artists with a visual aesthetic permeating all her work and has so far recorded an album titled Maybe Too Nude. To book click here

2009-08-25 Christine Tobin tour plus singing Leonard Cohen next Monday on Radio 2's Big Band Special at 10pm

Next Monday 31st August at 10.00pm BBC Radio 2's Big Band Special will broadcast Christine Tobin singing 3 songs by perhaps her biggest hero Leonard Cohen with stunning new arrangements by Joerg Achim Keller for a pared down line-up (11piece) of the BBC Big Band including Robin Aspland piano, Andy Panai and Sammy Maine on saxes. The songs are: Take This Waltz, A Thousand Kisses Deep and Dance Me To The End Of Love as part of the session of Joerg Achim Keller with the BBC Big Band at the Maida vale Studios. Following two more dates in Septmber in London Christine embarks on a big tour of Ireland, her first since becoming the only Irish-born Singer to ever win the BBC Jazz Vocalist Award. Seee all the dates on the Live page here

2009-08-18 Babel's 2008 Mercury nominated Portico Quartet set off on October tour

Portico Quartet, who's Mercury prize debut album Knee Deep in the North Sea was a joint venture between Babel and the Vortex Jazz Club, set off on a big tour at the end of October with current Mercury nominated Sweet Billy Pilgrim. The dates are as follows:
Sat 24 Oct BRISTOL Old Vic; Thu 29 Oct BASINGSTOKE The Anvil Mon 2 Nov LONDON Koko 0870 264 3333); Tue 3 Nov MANCHESTER RNCM; Wed 4 Nov EDINBURGH Electric Circus Thu 5 Nov GLASGOW The ArchesSat 6 Nov MIDDLESBROUGH Town Hall Crypt Sat 7 Nov BIRMINGHAM CBSO Centre; Sun 8 Nov BRIGHTON & HOVE The Old Market. To purchase Knee Deep in the North Sea on CD click here or on digital download click here

2009-08-11 Kevin LeGendre's CD compilation 'Now's the Time II' free launch party Frid 21 August @RFH Ballroom

A special launch event for the new CD compilation 'Now's The Time II' (Babel Records) will take place in the Clore Ballroom athte Royal Festival Hall next Friday 21 August. The album that received a four star review by John Fordham in the Guardian features a superb set of contemporary jazz that covers everything from fusion to avant-garde and all points in between. Loz Speyer, Babel artist Julie Sassoon and Jason Yarde are amongst those performing live and Kevin Le Gendre, who compiled the album, spins the tunes for this extended night of top free music. You can purchase the CD for just £5 by clicking on the sleeve above

2009-07-o8 Now's the Time II earns **** CD review in The Guardian (available for just £5 here)

Jazz broadcaster and journalist Kevin LeGendre Journalist of the Year at this year's Parliamentary Jazz Awards, has received a **** review for his compilation of cutting edge contemporary jazz Now's the Time II in today's Guardian Film and Music supplement.
The review read as follows: " Anyone familiar with the taste, breadth, seriousness and good-humour of the critic and broadcaster Kevin LeGendre will anticipate a rich contemporary mix with strong dancefloor underpinnings on his second Now's the Time compilation. This one pulls together pianist Lafayette Gilchrist (known for working with free-jazzer David Murray), playing probing, rhythmically multilayered but playful funk; UK trumpeter Loz Speyer's edgily free-flowing reshufflings of Cuban dance beats; the two-sax lineups of the Bloomdaddies and David Binney's and Donny McCaslin's Lan Xang (rocky and free-jazzy respectively); young Blue Note piano star Robert Glasper' and Britain's Jason Yarde in a typical piece of time-stretching and startling harmony. Added to that are Seb Rochford's drumming and the majestic soul- jazz voice of Eska Mtungwazi. M-base guitarist turned session player David Gilmore is caught here in lyrical acoustic mood with Sharif Simmons's atmospheric spoken text on Music Revolutions, and saxophonist Steve Lehman can be heard on the tautly twisting avant-funk track Vapors. As LeGendre writes: "Improvisation, the overwhelming desire to pass comment on a given musical statement, to subtitle the title, has its place in any jazz school of thought - be it bebop, avant-garde, third stream or fusion." Now's the Time II says amen to that." You can purchase the CD for just £5 by clicking on the sleeve above


2009-07-21 Ex-Babel recording band Led Bib shortlisted for this year's Mercury Prize with third album Sensible Shoes
Led Bib, drummer Mark Holub's band who released their second album Sizewell Tea on Babel in 2007, Have been shortlisted for the Mercury Prize with their new album Sensible Shoes on American label Cunieform. This is what pop culture journalist Paul Morley said about Sizewell Tea, their highly praised previous CD on Babel, "If you don't go near jazz because it just isn't damned noisy enough, then come back to life to try the deliciously uncivil new Led Bib album." Led Bib are the third Mercury nominated band from the jazz category to have a connection with Babel, the first Polar Bear was nominated with a Babel album, as was last year's entry Portico Quartet. You can buy Sizewell Tea on CD by clicking here or on high quality digital download here

2009-07-17 Christine Tobin plays Big Sky Fest in Margate(25 July) & date at Vortex singing Carole King's Tapestry album
The Big Sky Jazz Festival in sandy Margate kicks off on Friday 24 running until 26 July with Nigel Kennedy opening at the Winter Gardens while on Saturday 25 July Babel artist and current BBC Jazz award winning singer Christine Tobin appears on the main stage at 3pm with her full band of Phil Robson guitar, Liam Noble piano, Kate Shortt cello, Dave Whitford double bass, Thebe Lipere percussion and Simon Lea drums. For more details click here. On 8 August Christine will play a gig accompanied by pianist Liam Noble at the Vortex, in Dalston N16 interpreting the songs from the classic 1971 album Tapestry by great singer-songwriter Carole King. For more details click here

Excellent reviews coming in thick and fast for Partisans' new CD 'By Proxy'
The Partisans' fourth album By Proxy officially released this month has been receiving rave reviews from all corners of the jazz media. Alongside the Nationals The Times and The Guardian giving the album 4-star **** reviews over the past week and the Scotsman calling it, "one of the most consistently inventive and original bandscurrently operating in jazz", Jazzwise Magazine has already given the thumbs up along with several top jazz websites and blogs including Birmingham Post jazz editor Peter Bacon's award winning Jazzbreakfast that halied the CD as "Thoroughly original, thoroughly of its time", "inspiring" by Londonjazz and "Marvellous" by Jazzmann. You can buy the album directly and easily here by clicking on the sleeve left.

2009-07-03 Zed-U earns praise in CD reviews for The Guardian and Jazz Journal Magazine
The Guardian jazz critic John Fordham chose Zed-U's new album Night Time on the Middle Passage for one of his picks of the week with the review reading as follows: "For anybody whose first acquaintance with sax/clarinet newcomer Shabaka Hutchings came via his imposing contribution to the Anglo-US Liberation Music Orchestra at Ornette Coleman's Meltdown last week, this trio recording - also featuring Neil Charles, formerly bassist with Empirical, and drummer Tom Skinner - might be surprising in its reserved impressionism and subtly textured reflection. Hutchings's skills as a fierce free-blaster were called upon at Meltdown, but here he plays more sparingly and wistfully, at times almost classically. The set confirms Zed-U as a group of real promise, from the folksy feel of The Forest through the initially smoky and then rougher feel of Roki. Hutchings pulls off an emotional Albert Ayler vibrato on Surman 1, and there's a stomping, thrashy feel suggestive of Acoustic Ladyland on Chief. This is a band that knows how to make punchy music without the usual cliches." Garry Booth in Jazz Journal Magazine meanwhile told us to, "seek out Zed-U's experimentalists and they'll give you something to think about." See full review here

Big Air CD described as 'the best British jazz record for 20 years by journalist Brian Morton

Distinguished journalist Brian Morton (co-editor of famous Penguin Guide to Jazz on CD) gave an incredible endorsement of the recent Big CD in this month's Jazz Journal. Here is the full text of the review : "
This is the best British jazz record for 20 years, even if two of the members are from across the pond. It's funky, edgy, raw, polished, 
full of wry humour. It opens misterioso, then The Wizard kicks in, driven along by the composer's soaring trumpet and an equally good  reply from Buckley. Black's downtown approach keeps things deliciously simple and Melford plays with both muscle and delicacy; her harmonium  intro to The Road, The Sky, The Moon is a delight in itself. Batchelor's Song For The Garlic Seller has its own kind of pungency, with less of the rhythmic bustle his partner seems to favour, though it does eventually explode into life. The electronic sweetenings don't always seem integral to individual  tracks and the loopy intro to Garlic Seller is the only dull spot on the record; why didn't it simply begin with that sinister whistle and piano melody? Airlock, also by Batchelor, is again piloted by Marshall and Black, with the composer weaving a nice line over the top; not much evidence of Melford at first, but she's there, keeping it all in shape. There are folkish elements, of a vaguely Balkan provenance, and  plenty echoes – it's already a cliché about this group - of Ornette and Don Cherry back in the day. And so it progresses: strong writing, impeccable playing from all concerned, and delivered in Peter Beckmann's flawless, detailed sound. It's probably one track too long for perfection, but it's so nearly there, and it stands up strongly against anything comparable out of the US at the moment.
Brian Morton

Ingrid Laubrock wins SWR Jazz Prize
Ingrid Laubrock has won the SWR Jazz Prize, worth €15,000, and one of Germany's most prestigious jazz prizes. She released the album Let's Call This with Liam Noble on Babel in 2007.

2009-05-26 Phil Robson wins Jazz Musician and Kevin LeGendre, Journalist of the Year at Parliamentary Jazz Awards

Babel's leading guitarist Phil Robson, (who has recently performed with Dave Liebman and Donny McCaslin and whose most recent album Six Strings and the Beat also received a nomination for Best CD) received the Jazz Musician of the Year award and Kevin LeGendre (whose compilation of cutting edge contemporary jazz Now's the Time II is a new release on Babel), won Journalist of the Year award at last week's Parliamentary Jazz Awards held in the Terrace Pavilion of the House of Commons. Hosted by broadcaster Paul Gambaccini, the awards were organised by the All Party Parliamentary Jazz Appreciation Group and sponsored by music licensing company PPL and Jazz Services.

2009-05-08 Tom Arthurs and Richard Fairhurst duo at BBC Proms on 31 August and City of London Jazz Festival in July
Babel recording artists, the pianist Richard Fairhurst and trumpeter Tom Arthurs (a BBC New Generation artist), who recorded their duo for the 2007 Babel release Mesmer, are one of very few jazz artists to perform at this year's BBC Proms on 31 August. Previous to this on 8 July they play at the City of London Jazz Festival for a special commision and live broadcast.



2009-04-17 Zed-U and Partisans new releases coming in June and Triptych (Richard Fairhurst) in September
Babel announces the exciting release of the third album for the label from Partisans (see pic nearest left)co-led by guitarist Phil Robson and multi-reedist Julian Siegel with the incendiary rhythm section of bassist Thaddeus Kelly and drummer Gene Calderazzo. Partisans have been a major player over the last decade on the UK jazz scene as well as being an inspiration to the current new generation of London bands, the album is set for release in June is titled 'By Proxy' and contains mostly originals by Robson and Siegel with a couple of covers, one by New York downtown legend and previous collaborator, guitarist Wayne Krantz especially written for the band and a rather special Julian Siegel arrangement of Ellington's 'Prelude to a Kiss' remixed by bassist Thad Kelly. Look out for an exclusive interview feature in the June issue of Jazzwise Magazine. Meanwhile one of the new generation of bands coming out of the scene Zed-U (see pic furthest left) make their awaited debut for Babel. There's currently a feature on the band in the current Jazzwise. Making an impact already with their heady live performances last year at the London Jazz Festival and supporting Polar Bear at Ronnie Scotts, The trio's energetic, improvised-driven kind of ‘jazz-thrash' makes considerable use of electronic loops and effects and features electric bass from Neil Charles, saxophonist and clarinettist Shabaka Hutchings and key F-IRE collective member/drummer, Tom Skinner. News also of an album by Triptych featuring Babel artist pianist Richard Fairhurst, LOOP Collective bassist Jasper Hoiby and US drummer Chris Vatalaro about to be recorded and due for release in September. More on this soon.


2009-04-07 Big Air CD bags hat trick of 5-star reviews in Guardian, List, BBC Music Magazine
Following The Guardian's maximum star review at the beginning of last month, the five star ratings keep rolling in with another two appearing very recently. First the April edition of BBC Music Magazine in which Roger Thomas states 'International bands like this one are usually about finding common ground; the Big Air quintet on the other hand is more a celebration of uncommon ground." describing the CD as containing "some wonderfully rumbustious music " and "the kind of uninhibited yet articulate roar-up that only a group of this calibre could handle. " While Kenny Matheison in The List in Scotland says " There are no passengers here – all five players make telling contributions to what is already shaping up to be one of the most engaging, exuberant and inventive albums of the year. " Purchase the CD now online here


2009-03-31 Revised tracklisting: Sampler covermount CD from Babel on Jazzwise April Issue
To celebrate 15 years of the Babel Label issued another Jazzwise Magazine covermount CD in our series of samplers, this one entitled 'View from the Tower' (sleeve left). The Magazine is now in the shops or you can subscribe or place an early order at the Jazzwise website.
Our sincere apologies for wrong track listing. The actual track listing is as follows,
The actual track listing is below:
1/ Billy Jenkins & the Fun Horns - Arrival of the Tourists (from Mayfest '94)
2/ Finn Peters - NR Shackleton Goes to the Circus (from Su-Ling)
3/ Polar Bear - To Touch the Red Brick (from Held on the Tips of Fingers)
4/ Outhouse - Foreign Meat (from Outhouse)
5/ Julian Arguelles Octet - Qaanaaq (from Skull View)
6/ Zed-U - Forest (from Zed-U)
7/ Paula Rae Gibson - Black Hole (from Maybe too Nude)
8/ The Hungry Ants - Manhatta (from Myrmidons)
9/ Huw Warren - Xibaba (from Infinite Riches in a little Room)
10/ Phil Robson - Louisiana (extract) (from Six Strings and a Beat)
11/ Christine Tobin - Dreamland (from Secret Life of a Girl)
12/ Fraud - Wrong Brain (extract) (from Fraud)
13/ Acoustic Ladyland - Om Konz (from Last Chance Disco)
14/ Big Air - The Road, The Sky, The Moon (from Big Air)
15/Led Bib - Shower (from Sizewell Tea)
16/ Portico Quartet - Zavodovski Island (from Knee Deep in the North Sea)

2009-03-10 Zed-U monthly Electro Jazz residence at Trouble Tune continues on 18 March
Held on every 18th of the month, Trouble Tune is trio Zed-U's monthly residency at Hayward's Gallery's Concrete Bar on the South Bank of two improvised live sets of music. It continues in March with special guest and Babel recording artist multi-reedsman Finn Peters. The band takes creative control of the programme each month selecting their own special guest performer from a peer group which includes some of the UK's most successful jazz musicians. Recent highlights include Leafcutter John, Dave Okumu and Jason Yarde and last month's appearance by Seb Rochford.
It's free entry and starts at 7-10pm. Zed-U will make their debut on Babel, one of the bands to watch on the London jazz scene they've played the Vortex, two live dates at last year's London Jazz Festival and supporting Polar Bear at Ronnie Scott's.

2009-03-06 Big Air new CD receives ***** 5-star review in The Guardian
In today's Guardian John Fordham gives a maximum 5 star review to the new CD on Babel by Big Air. The text is as follows: "Former Loose Tubes musicians Batchelor and Buckley formed this occasional international quintet in 2001. They involved the Cecil Taylor and Andrew Hill-inspired (but more contemplative and invitingly lyrical) American piano virtuoso Myra Melford, New York downtown drummer Jim Black and the extraordinary UK tuba innovator Oren Marshall. The group always sounded somewhere between the Dirty Dozen Brass Band, the Art Ensemble of Chicago and Mike Westbrook, with Melford's piano torrent gushing through the middle - and this long-postponed recorded example of that chemistry has been worth the wait. Tight, funky episodes with Marshall pumping the bassline and Melford jamming clustered runs and jagged chords into the spaces give way to brooding grooves in which Batchelor's flaring, late-Miles sound unfurls over Black's implacable pulse. Softly hooting, echoing loops spin across dark space, underpin penny-whistle folk melodies and then erupt into whirling Balkan dances; staccato sax-led polyrhythmic shuffles over ducking and diving tuba figures suggest Tim Berne; and Melford's harmonium imparts a hypnotic hum to the intro of The Road, the Sky, the Moon before the lovely contrapuntal weave of this standout track develops for trumpet, tuba and bass clarinet solos in succession. The tunes are all terrific, and they're explored with a shifting variation of mood that's never off the boil." Purchase the CD online here

2009-02-09 Indie CD market to open monthly in the Vortex
On Sunday 22 February, the Vortex Jazz club in Dalston, London and Babel will host the first of what promises to be monthly CD music markets for independent jazz labels. The market will run from 1pm-6pm (For more information about taking a stall please contact stephanie@vortexjazz.co.uk ) This is also a chance for fans to buy direct and for labels to set out their wares at minimal cost. If it works, then Vortex will look to expand into the Square for the summer. The Babel Shop is already up and running at 9 Gillett Square next to the Vortex and is gradually building up a stock of new CDs that, with the demise of CD retailers in the UK, is becoming hard to get hold of. So please visit the shop if you are at the Vortex or in the area or just want to be able to see the CDs that you're purchasing.

2009-01-19 Christine Tobin Group first live gig of 2009 at the Vortex on Saturday
Don't miss one of the UK's most unique jazz singer-songwriters Christine Tobin's first gig at the Vortex since April last year. This Saturday 24th of January, she will be singing with her full band at the Vortex. It's also her first gig of 2009 with her full band. Expect a selection of Tobin classics from a range of her own CDs as well as some beautiful Brazilian songs and striking renditions of Leonard Cohen. There will be a special surprise song for the much spoken of "credit crunch" (not an original).
The band are Phil Robson guitar, Liam Noble piano, Kate Shortt cello, Dave Whitford double bass, Thebe Lipere percussion and Simon Lea drums. ('A jewel of the London jazz scene, streets ahead of the pack. She should be on a global stage, rubbing shoulders with fellow troubadours like Cave, Mitchell and Cohen' (**** John L Walters – The Guardian).
For bookings see: The Vortex Jazz Club, 11 Gillett Square, London N16 8JH or click here | Bookings 020 7254 4097 
ALSO On Sunday 25th Christine Tobin will be at The Stables, Stockwell Lane, Wavendon, Milton Keynes, MK17 8LU.
Box Office - 01908 280800 /email:  stables@stables.org. For more info about the gig click here

2008-11-19 A warning....
...only that we'll be releasing some new albums in 2009. Including Big Air, Zed-U (Shabaka Hutchings, Neal Charles, Tom Skinner and produced by none other than John Surman), Indian writer-musician Amit Chaudhuri, and a new Now's The Time Vol. 2 compilation put together by Broadcaster/DJ Kevin Le Gendre based around his now sadly defunkt contemporary jazz show on BBC Radio London.

2008-12-28 Portico Quartet feature in Time Out, The Guardian, Evening Standard!
Titled 'The Buskers who Came in From the Cold', The Guardian music writer Jude Rogers' interview feature with the Mercury nominated Portico Quartet appeared in the newspaper on Monday 18th August. Here is a sample:

"The Portico Quartet are arguing about whether they make jazz or not. They do so good-naturedly over coffees and pastries on London's South Bank, a few metres from the place where their career began - not on a glamorous stage in one of the grand halls, but on a concrete walkway where they busked for loose change. They have come a long way: two days before we meet, their debut album, Knee-Deep in the North Sea, was nominated for the Mercury prize. The winner will be announced next month.

Percussionist Duncan Bellamy, the youngest of the group at 22, is ticking off baby-faced saxophonist Jack Wyllie: "You hate the jazz critics, don't you, Jack? You're so militant about it! I don't think you need to worry, you know. They'll get old and die soon, and we'll be the new guard and it'll be fine. So fuck it!" The laughter of the group's other members, percussionist Nick Mulvey and double-bass player Milo Fitzpatrick, ripples out over the river. Bellamy, who has a pierced eyebrow, is confirming what many people already suspect: that if the Portico Quartet are a jazz group, it's not jazz as we know it.
(For the rest of the article click here)

Portico Quartet feature in Time Out
An interview with Jack Wyllie here ahead of their London Jazz Festival show.

Yesterday's Evening Standard carried the following strapline under 'Mercury's mystery band':
" Portico Quartet are the surprise on this year's album of the year shortlist, and their vibrant sound could make them the winners in 10 days' time" The rest of the article can be read here

2008-08-06 Portico Quartet four-star live review at Rough Trade East in Independent
Shortlisted for the Mercury Music Prize last month, Portico Quartet step out on the live circuit through August (see the live page for details). Just before their appearance at the excellent Big Chill Festival the band played a set at Rough Trade Records shop in Brick Lane, East London on the 30th July, a **** review in the Independent appearing as follows:

"Get yourself down to the National Theatre without delay. There's a good chance that you might catch Portico Quartet busking outside it. To see this genre-defying south London four-piece is to witness four young, very talented instrumentalists crafting sounds like you've never heard. Besides, how many Mercury Prize nominees do you know who still work the streets? An intimate crowd assembled for another free gig in Rough Trade East, the now award-winning Brick Lane record store. In the heart of London's über-cool east, 50 seated Shoreditch fashionistas, plus a gabble of standing aficionados and casual shoppers, were treated to 45 minutes of songs from Portico Quartet's critically acclaimed album Knee-Deep in the North Sea – with three new tracks thrown in, too. For those who've never heard Portico Quartet, the band's sound revolves around the hang, like a steel drum only with more of a dull oomph to it. Having picked it up at Womad, Portico experimented – playing with hands and mallets – and eventually made the sound their signature. The hang is used by front man Nick Mulvey for different effects: to lilt the beautiful melodies of the album's title track; to whip up the mesmeric drones of "Steps in the Wrong Direction"; and to thrash out catchy, infectious hooks as on the accomplished "Cittagazze", where drummer Duncan Bellamy joins in, also playing on a hang, and double bassist Milo Fitzpatrick pats out a rhythm on the body of his upright. All of which is to say nothing of the majestic saxophone played by Jack Wyllie. For listeners attracted by Portico's minimalism, its gentle chord progressions and its African rhythms, the sax will be the most difficult presence to get used to. That's jazz, they say. But, aside from some astounding, attention-grabbing solos, it's easy to forget that Wyllie is there at all, busting a gut on soprano as the sound is used to such good effect it simply adds another layer to this musically complex whole. Each performer has the freedom of spirit that his jazz roots demand; yet the sound they produce has a strange, comforting simplicity to it. And if tonight's selection is anything to go by, the band's new material is even better than Knee-Deep. Gone is some of the whimsy that crept on to that album, to be replaced by pared-down hypnotism. Much more attention seems to have been paid to the art of building and releasing tension. Yes, there were times when the group appeared to lose its way. Elements of timing and tuning were botched. But they always came back together. They always returned to that grass-roots, organic sound that has taken them from the South Bank, via intimate venues like this, to – who knows: Mercury Music triumph?" Andy Sharman (The Independent)

The Channel 4 website also has a review of the gig, ending with the following: "Try to imagine the coolest film never made. We mean really cool. Steve McQueen and Samuel L, on 'Easy Rider' choppers, in a French film-noir spy film, infiltrating a Yakuza Samurai cult. Portico Quartet would provide the soundtrack. Whichever side of the jazz fence you sit on, they deserve your attention."

2008-07-18 Phil Robson's Six Strings and the Beat is CD of the Week in the Evening Standard
Already acclaimed by John Fordham in the Guardian as a "hot contender among European releases for 2008", guitarist Phil Robson's 3rd album for Babel has now just received album of the week in the Evening Standard. Jack Massarik gave it a **** stars writing the following review:

"Jazz and strings make uneasy bedfellows but guitarist Phil Robson avoids the usual pitfalls with this sparkling suite for viola, three violins, cellist Kate Shortt and Austrian double-bass maestro Peter Herbert. Boosted by Gene Calderazzo's propulsive drumming, his 10 original pieces stay strong, forsaking syrupy sweetness in favour of nimble bluegrass, grungy punk, supple straight-ahead swing and two unsentimental ballads, gracefully sung by Christine Tobin. This is innovative music, performed with crisp precision and rhythmic elan, and it's a substantial achievement by a fine player who has not hitherto been particularly noted for his writing.

Babel News Last updated 2010-07-16

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