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Estelle Kokot/Jean Toussaint

A stellar duo of vocalist Estelle Kokot with one of our leading saxophonists Jean Toussaint.

Showcasing some of the songs from the current album The Sound of You (not yet released) as well as some interesting arrangements of originals and standards.

London has been fortunate to be the home of saxophonist Toussaint, since 1987, after he completed a period with Art Blakey’s Jazz Messengers

From The Guardian:

‘Estelle Kokot is fond of quitting after a triumph and starting over again. The South African singer-pianist triggered a buzz and vanished while it was still humming on the jazz scenes of London, New York and her homeland over the past decade.

Here at the Vortex, she was back at the starting line again, launching a new trio and a new repertoire. But though the outcome was mixed, with all three performers sometimes sounding as if they were riding their luck, this impulsive and idiosyncratic artist’s unusual talent glowed through.

Kokot’s sound is rooted in the passionate dynamism of the townships, mingled with a defiant soulfulness that sometimes unexpectedly echoes Annie Lennox. She is also an excellent arranger of her own and other people’s material. On her new project, Ungawa, she draws together originals and jazz classics, reshaping them to sound perfectly compatible side by side.

In South Africa Kokot usually performs solo, but at the Vortex she was supported by two sympathetic local partners: young bassist Ben Hazleton and drummer Gene Calderazzo. Calderazzo, a powerful presence in any band, gave the music colour and boldness, whether in restrained grooving or sonorously expressive mallet-work on solos. Hazleton was too quiet, but his whispering lines meshed well with Calderazzo in a largely untested partnership.

Kokot was more driven by her vision of the big picture than by the details; she occasionally veered off the microphone into inaudibility, and sounded uncertain of the way out of some vocal back alleys she had flung herself into.

Yet her powerful and soulful sound, her haunting, yodel-like slides across registers and her awareness of contrast and surprise made the music intriguingly sound at once both private and eloquent. Kokot’s reverie over a repeating piano hum and Calderazzo’s unwavering tick were compelling on Love Is Not Unique.

And her timing and sharp jazz intuitions cast fresh light on Round Midnight (through Jon Hendricks’s words to the song), which ended on a playfully stripped-down, minimalist revisit to the chords.

The ubiquitous So What was similarly pared down to its bare essentials, with Kokot spacing the phrasing and reshuffling the harmonic framework to recapture a startling amount of its original impact – without a horn player in sight.’

Read the preview on Londonjazz.

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