Lucky escape: Tony Kofi’s life-changing epiphany

Award-winning jazz virtuoso Tony Kofi has mastered a new songbook – and a new instrument – for his latest standards project, as he told Rob Garratt TONY Kofi could so easily have ended up a carpenter. Working on a building site aged just 16, a freak accident saw the teenager plummet three floors, landing in a coma he may never have woke up from. But when he came to three days later he had one simple demand – a saxophone. “On the way down I thought ‘this is it,’” remembers Kofi today. “Everything went into slow motion and I was … Continue reading Lucky escape: Tony Kofi’s life-changing epiphany

Phronesis parenthesis: A chat with jazz poster-boy Jasper Høiby

IF awards are anything to go by, then Phronesis are the hottest jazz act in the country right now. Their breakthrough album, Alive, picked up two very notable gongs last year – Jazzwise’s Album of the Year, and Mojo’s Jazz album of the Year, while the band were nominated for best group at Parliamentary Jazz Awards, and best jazz group at the MOBOs. All very impressive for a band who, on paper, are just a straight, acoustic trio – albeit one named after Aristotle’s term for “practical wisdom”. Very heavy stuff, but bandleader Jasper Høiby describes the band’s sound as … Continue reading Phronesis parenthesis: A chat with jazz poster-boy Jasper Høiby

Bland band: Interviewing Katie Meula

I’ve always had something of a soft spot for Katie Melua. Catchy-yet-soulful songs, tasteful jazzy production, and that breathy, inimitable voice. But her last record, The House, ditches that sexy blues-bar vibe for William Orbit’s electronica. No doubt hoping to “do a Ray of Light” (as he did with Madonna) with Melua, the results are a little flat, perhaps her least successful record to date. Interviewing Melua for the day job last month, I found it hard to draw her on the inspiration behind her songs. When my editor asked how the interview went, I described Melua’s chat as “safe, … Continue reading Bland band: Interviewing Katie Meula

Easily Led: Tripping on Led Bib at the Southbank

NO ONE would want to inhabit Led Bib’s world – a dark, uncompromising terrain; an audio acid trip of relentless rhythms, harsh harmonies and seismic sonics. Named after a protective garment worn in painful dentists’ operations, the Brit jazz-noise pioneers conjure propulsive, frenetic riffing and moody drones; at their best sounding like early seventies Miles Davis – the ragged yet haunting Live Evil particularly – at their worst like Nirvana with a sax solo on top. The bombast of drummer Mark Holub and electric bassist Liran Donin tack up the picture frame, with Toby McLaren’s distorted Fender Rhodes creeping like … Continue reading Easily Led: Tripping on Led Bib at the Southbank