Since the demise of RTE Lyric’s Jazz Alley, which broadcast every week from the first weekend of the station’s existence until it was axed at the end of 2015, there has been no regular national programme devoted to jazz. The Hot Box aims to fill that gap with former Jazz Alley presenter Donald Helme.
The Hot Box sets the best of Irish recorded jazz in the wider context of the universal language that is jazz worldwide. It tries to emphasise accessability and sheer enjoyment, and is building an audience well beyond the shores of its home country.
This Hot Box is a special Xtra in memory of John Abercrombie who passed away on August 22, 2017 at the age of 72. In The Hot Box 18 we celebrated “guitar” and though it would be fitting to include an extra special show for Abercrombie.
John Abercrombie was an American jazz guitarist, composer and bandleader. His work explored jazz fusion, post bop, free jazz and avant-garde jazz. Abercrombie studied at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Massachusetts. He recorded his debut album, Timeless with Manfred Eicher's ECM label, and recorded principally with this label since then.
In this edition of The Hot Box, Donald Helme rejoices in the rebirth of Dublin Guitar Night (last Tuesday of every month) in its new venue, The Grand Social, and presents a wide ranging soundscape of guitar from Frank Vignola to Laurindo Almeida, from Eric Bibb to Phil Upchurch, and of course, a couple of local heroes too, Hugh Buckley and Nigel Mooney.
The guitar is far and away the most popular instrument in blues, rock and jazz, and that is reflected in the audiences it always attracts. Enjoy nearly an hour and a half of guitar in The Hot Box #18.
The 17th iteration of The Hot Box finds us back in pursuit of jazz piano genius by delving into the files, and this time around we have reached the letter F.
F finds us in rich territory with Cuban maestro Roberto Fonseca, Italian Antonio Farao with top-drawer US bandmates, and the Flanagans, the late Tommy spelled with an “A”, and the young Irish master Scott, spelled with an “I”. The programme concludes with two tracks from 84 year-old Dave Frishberg, swinging pianist, songwriter and vocalist.
In The Hot Box #16 we take a listen to many of the just-released new albums, and also pay tribute to one of jazz’s most luminous pianists, who died in June from cancer at the age of 60, Geri Allen. Geri featured in Hot Box No.7 when we checked out pianists filed under the letter A!
The new material includes a wide range of singers from the latest wonder voice in America, Jazzmeia Horn, to our own Aoife Doyle from her new, self-penned quartet album “Clouds”. Also included are tracks from Diana Krall’s latest album “Turn Up the Quiet”. The show also makes good an omission from Pianists filed under the letter D from Hot Box 12, where tracks from Irish pianist John Donegan were unavailable. John’s new solo album, Jen’s Progress is duly sampled here!
Continuing the epic series on piano players in jazz, Donald has reached the letter E, where he finds one of the most important and influential pianists of all time, Bill Evans. It is probably true that almost all piano players in the modern era have been, to some extent, influenced by Evans.
He was something of a prodigy and began earning money from his music whilst still a teenager, but it wasn’t until he was 30, in 1959, and recorded with Miles Davis on the biggest selling jazz album of all time, Kind of Blue, that he reached beyond a small base of aficionados and found a wider public.
This is a BIG Hot Box, responding to the demands of listeners for a Big Band Special. However, it doesn’t contain the standard historic fare of Basie, Ellington and Herman. Instead you’ll find the one-off bands of bassists Ron Carter (celebrating his 80th birthday this year) and Christian McBride, the modern sounds of both Bob Mintzer’s Big Band and The Big Phat Band from Hollywood, California, and from above the 49th Parallel, the Grammy winning band of trombonist Rob McConnell, The Boss Brass. You’ll also find some tracks laid down by Dublin’s Hot House Big Band, now commencing a residency at Harry’s on The Green.
As a pause for breath, Hot Box 14 also features new material from Irish jazz singer Edel Meade, from Brazilian singer and pianist Eliane Elias’ new album on Concord, “Dance of Time”, and from New England pianist Pete Malinvarni’s new album “Heaven”.
In the 13th edition of The Hot Box, Donald looks for pianists filed under the letter D, and plays pieces from Aaron Diehl, Kenny Drew Jr, and Jim Doherty. Some omissions of course but as a generality, surnames beginning with D seem not to provoke adoption of the piano as an instrument of choice!
As widely celebrated, the year 1917 saw the beginning of recorded jazz, but was also the birth year of Ella Fitzgerald, Dizzy Gillespie and Thelonius Monk. Ella at 100, a 4-CD box has just been released on Verve, and Jon Beasley’s MONK-estra Volume 1 offers some tempting examples of Monk restated for a big orchestra. (Don’t worry, Dizzy comes along in the next Hot Box!)
The “Unreliable Memory” in HB13 continues reflections on The Fox Inn in Ashbourne Co. Meath, epicentre of jazz in Ireland in the late 1960s, where unbelievably, Keith Jarrett was in residence for a week at the precise moment he was starting out as a leader, after his popular sideman role with the Charles Lloyd Quartet. And the Fox also hosted one of the most important figures in vocal jazz, Jon Hendrix, on two separate occasions, plus another third of the popular vocal group Lambert, Hendrix & Ross, Scotland’s Annie Ross.