British jazz is having a bit of a popularity rise at the moment, due mainly to London's the F-IRE collective. They are group of "musicians, dancers and visual artists commited to developing and sustaining creativity"(taken from their website) are and damn hot.
The main protagonists in the collective, well the ones who have had the most success, are two bands, who feature mainly the same members, Acoustic Ladyland and Polar Bear.
Acoustic Ladyland consist of a saxophonist (Pete Wareham), bass player (Tom Herbert), keyboardist (Tom Cawley) and drummer (Seb Roachford) and play, hmmmm punk jazz seems the best way to describe. Its so energetic and powerful but full of fun at the same time. Taking inspiration from Coltrane, Hendrix (you can guess that from the band's name) and punk, the music hits you in the face but its still has time to for expression and freedom. I caught them at the Metro Club in London last year and was very impressed. And the drummer has amazing hair.
If Acoustic Ladyland are your teenage sibling, who wears Cons, studded leather jackets, safety pins, swear and spit alot, get drunk in the park on cheap cider and listen to The Ramones, then Polar Bear are same sibling, who's now at uni, got into electronic music and taken a few too many drugs. Comprising of three member of Acoustic Ladyland, drummer, saxophonist and bassist, another saxophonist (Mark Lockheart) and an eletronic guy (Leafcutter John) are added to the mix. They are alot more experimental than Acoustic Ladyland, with alot more room for improvisation but still keeping the simple chorus-like melodies. The two saxophonists have quite different styles, Wareham's sound is thinner but man can he blow, whereas Lockheart's sound was fuller and richer but he doesn't seem to go off on one as well. The addition of Leafcutter John's electronics are a bit hit and miss, sometimes complimenting the music and sometimes detracting from it. I caught them in Derby last week, as part of the Derby Jazz season, and thought they were excellent even though they lacked the energy of Acoustic Ladyland, the band really is about their talent
Here's a few tracks for your listening pleasure:
Buy these and free the musical notes: