JOSEPH TRIO & FRIENDS, KINGS PLACE, LONDON, FEBRUARY 2015:
'The London pianist Julian Joseph’s music unfolds as a dramatic
narrative with each twist and subplot marked by a stab, riff or
unexpected change of key. The foundations are solid: clear melodies
and strong harmonic structures. When the regular trio is performing,
bassist Mark Hodgson plays the holding role with an earthy resonance,
and the music is brought vividly to life by the intimate 30-year
musical relationship that Joseph has with drummer Mark Mondesir.
Fiery, nuanced and rich in detail, this is one of the great partnerships
in UK jazz, and at this gig each guest spot was underpinned by
a swaggering confidence.' Mike Hobart,
Financial Times, 9 February 2015 (4 stars).
INTO TRISTAN AND ISOLDE", LINBURY STUDIO, ROYAL OPERA HOUSE,
SEPTEMBER 2013: 'Pianist Julian Joseph’s
score is totally new and its premiere, starring the soulful voices
of Carleen Anderson, Christine Tobin, Cleveland Watkiss and South
African newcomer Ken Papenfus, was impressive. This is Joseph’s
third jazz opera, coming after Bridgetower, the true
story of an enslaved courtier in England, and Shadowball,
about segregation in American baseball, and it’s by far
the best. Arranged for his trio, reeds, trumpet and trombone,
the tempos were mostly leisurely, and each aria — "I
Was Dreaming", "Do You Believe in Love", "I
Come from Everywhere and Nowhere" — had a rich melody
line which hugged Phillips’s complex lyrics like a limpet.
Anderson’s pure soprano blended beautifully with Tobin’s
contralto, and when Watkiss and Papenfus added their Stevie Wonderful
tones to the mixture the finale was magical.' Jack Massarik,
Standard, 23 September 2013 (4 stars).
jazz pianist's take on Wagner's psychodrama may be a work in progress
– but it's a fascinating one. The music premiered tonight
was of a very high quality. Joseph started the evening with a
short improvisation based on the infamous "Tristan chord",
and some of his arias use Wagnerian harmonies – those twisting,
convoluted chord sequences that remain agonisingly unresolved.
There are some fine performances from his sextet, particularly
saxophonist Shabaka Hutchings and trumpeter Russell Bennett; while
vocalists Cleveland Watkiss (as Vasile) and Christine Tobin (as
Iuliana and Brigid) are tremendous. And an unexpected find is
Ken Papenfus from the underachieving Northern Irish rock band
Relish, whose Sting-like tenor howl is a perfect fit for Tristan.'
John Fordham, The
Guardian, 23 September 2013.
don't think I will hear anything more emotionally affecting this
year than Carleen Anderson singing "The Night He Died"
from Julian Joseph's new work in progress Windows on Tristan.
Just stunning. The ending of that section, with fabulous written
parts for Russell Bennett on trumpet weaving counter-melodies
and Shabaka Hutchings on deep-toned bass clarinet was - to my
ears - the strongest moment of an interesting and varied evening
of music being tried out for the first time.' Sebastian
23 September 2013.
BROWN BOMBER" & "SHADOWBALL DANCE SUITE", SADLER'S
WELLS, JUNE 2012: 'The Brown Bomber
dance suite was a superb piece of dance theatre. The dancers embodied
a multitude of characters epitomising the time of the second boxing
match between Schmeling and Louis. The boxers' training camps
with their attendant fans and young pretenders, the managers and
coaches were all brought exquisitely to life through well-developed
characterisation and well-chosen dance styling. Adding another
layer of vivacity to the piece were the no-expense-spared costumes;
it was like watching a dance version of the Bugsy Malone film...
Shadowball playfully mixed iconic baseball action: pitching,
batting and sliding into jazz style dance phrases which were performed
with panache to the accompanying swinging music played by the
Julian Joseph Sextet.' Lewis Wheeler, Cloud
Dance Festival, 24 June 2012, (4 stars).
JOSEPH: LIVE AT THE VORTEX IN LONDON, FEBRUARY 2012:
'Julian Joseph’s first headline release in over 15 years
is an intense solo piano festival performance from 2008 that resonates
with jazz club intimacy – operas, gigs and broadcasts maintained
an otherwise high profile. Joseph’s firm touch, self-sustaining
rhythms and melodic invention barely falter, there’s a lovely
ballad and Monk’s “Think of One” is appropriately
percussive. Highlight is Joseph sustaining the long internal logic
of “The Reverend” through climax to fade. A two-handed
romp, “The Six” rounds up the nicely varied programme.'
Mike Hobart, Financial
Times, 28 January 2012 (4 stars).
Joseph is a world-class jazz pianist with large-scale compositional
skills and a passport to the contemporary-classical world. ...
an arresting reminder of Joseph's powers and deep awareness of
the jazz tradition.' John Fordham, The
Guardian, 20 January 2012.
JOSEPH ALL STAR BIG BAND, RONNIE SCOTT'S, 20-22 OCTOBER 2011:
the expense. Just put a truly star-studded big band together and
the people will come. So spake pianist-composer Julian Joseph,
and his bold strategy seems to have paid off. His superband's
three dates sold out quickly and could probably have stretched
to a full week, just as major players did in the old days. As
he introduced them last night Julian could scarcely conceal his
pride. The sax section alone resembled a magazine-cover shot taken
at a post-festival party.' Jack Massarik, London
Evening Standard, 21 October 2011.
was the sense of a special occasion at Ronnie Scott's for the
first of pianist, bandleader and broadcaster Julian Joseph's three
big-band shows at the club. The curious, the devoted, the press,
and this gifted, popular and high-achieving pianist's own coterie
were hanging off the walls. The temperature was also racked up
by the sight of so many spotlit chairs on the bandstand. Big bands
on the grand scale of that widescreen jazz style's golden age
are a rarity these days. But Joseph recaptured the old thrill,
made its sound contemporary – and brought together a genuine
all-star cast.' John Fordham, The
Guardian, 21 October 2011.
Joseph’s 18-piece orchestra delivers big band essentials
with panache and polish. There are impulsive riffs and barnstorming
solos, sharp dynamics and well-placed stabs. And with flute and
woodwind added to the brass, there are rich high-end textures.
But the real draw is the way in which Joseph balances his big
band juggernaut with the rhythmic intricacy of his working piano
trio. Joseph and drummer Mark Mondesir toy with time and tug at
the beat. And, kept on pulse by the firm fretwork and woody tones
of Mark Hodgson’s double bass, their maelstrom of invention
alternates dense intrigue with simplicity and space.' Mike
Financial Times, 23 October 2011.
big band itself, anchored around the longstanding Julian Joseph
trio featuring the composer leading from the piano with bassist
Mark Hodgson and drummer Mark Mondesir playing from original material
that relies on no overall sectional dominance, its distinguishing
and winning attribute. The big band operates as a single entity
rather than say the horns, reeds, and rhythm section competing
for attention with the horns gaining the bragging rights as is
so often the case. Joseph has a signature style both in terms
of his composing, the nearest point of comparison perhaps is the
early-1990s iteration of the McCoy Tyner Big Band, and arranging
(more Oliver Nelson than Maria Schneider; less Gunther Schuller
than Quincy Jones).' Stephen Graham, Jazzwise,
24 October 2011.
for Joseph himself, he’s like some mighty machine that takes
a while to crank itself up to full power. Earlier in the evening
he seemed to be feeling his way, but by the halfway point his
angular lines and side-slipping harmonies were careering ecstatically
to the far ends of the keyboard. His fellow players clearly relished
them as much as we did.' Ivan Hewett, The
Telegraph, 24 October 2011.
is a community and educational project more than a stand-alone
musical drama, although Joseph's elegant mutations of 1930s Count
Basie and Cab Calloway themes, as well as astute deployments of
gospel music and blues, give the score fizz. Watkiss's sonorous
tones and dynamic subtlety hit the right balance of magisterial
and sympathetic, too, in his role as player/coach Satchel Paige.'
John Fordham, The
Guardian, July 2010.
says something about London’s artistic confidence that the
first jazz opera about US baseball and its long years of racial
segregation should have been conceived not in New York or Los
Angeles but here in London. Even more remarkably, its world premiere
was carried off brilliantly last night with 120 Hackney schoolchildren
shouldering the bulk of the load... Hackney 12-year-olds rarely
get a good press, either, so let it be recorded here that these
all-singing, all-strutting, all-acting boys and girls were the
stars of the show.' Jack Massarik, Evening
Standard, July 2010.
Joseph & The Sixteen: 'It
was only when the jazz players felt able to ignore their “charts”
and rely on gut instinct that things caught fire. Joseph’s
harmonic side-shifts and cadences took on his usual energising
swing, but also a Monteverdian “sigh” that seemed
completely natural. The
choir, too, loosened up; in one number there was a flamenco-ish
tang at the end of a phrase, which Joseph was able to seize and
run with. The final Salve Regina worked best, especially at its
final flourish, where Joseph and Hodgson spun a superb riff over
the concluding cadence. For a work in progress, this was impressive.
Let’s hope it’s only the beginning.'
Ivan Hewitt, The
Telegraph, July 2010.
of the Three Legged Elephants 5 star CD Review: 'This
set of originals, improvisations, and takes on pieces by everyone
from Jobim to Ravel are informed, inventive and defy all expectations...
outstanding.' Roger Thomas, BBC Music Magazine, January
Joseph & Mica Paris, Band on the Wall: Joseph
got the party started, mustering an epic version of Chick Corea’s
La Fiesta. He is a pianist capable of hinting at everything from
the florid virtuosity of Oscar Peterson to the economy and angularity
of Thelonious Monk... A smoky rendition of God Bless The Child
hit the spot, as did I’ve Got It Bad And That Ain’t
Good, with Joseph commending Paris’s version as equal to
those of Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole... By the time the
sinuous latin groove of The Ghetto struck up, the assembled company
were up on the dance floor – parquet reclaimed from a south
Manchester school – and singing along. Paul Taylor,
Life for Northern Souls, 28 September 2009.
Joseph & Matthew Barley ('Xtreme Cello') @ King's Place, London,
23 & 26 September 2009: 'grooving
patterns, double-time jazz variations and pushing swing... Joseph's
own slyly displaced blues, Dance of the Three Legged Elephants...
signalled the full-on release of the pianist's formidable fast-postbop
powers.' John Fordham, The
Guardian, 27 September 2009.
British Piano @ the Vortex Jazz Club, London, 24-25 September
the end of the second evening, came Julian Joseph, a pianist who
really does know how to shape a musical idea and make it more
and more intense until you're practically jumping out of your
seat with excitement. It had been a fascinating two days of music-making,
but this was in a different class.' Ivan Hewett, The
Telegraph, 26 September 2008.
compelling night's drama.' 'The Times, July 2007.
'Seamless, inspiring bridges between jazz and classical, black
and white. Every phase oozes instinctive musicianship.' The
Stage, July 2007.
'Joseph's excellent score, touched by both blues and
gospel, kept the action moving briskly... astute scoring brought
bold harmonic shading... Cleveland Watkiss was simply made for
the lead... However the real star of the show was Joseph. He has
shown that his talent as a composer is more than up to his ambition
as a conceptualist. Combining jazz and opera to tell a story of
tremendous socio-political significance is by no means a simple
task and Joseph has pulled it off with panache.' Kevin
Le Gendre, Jazzwise, August 2007.
Joseph - opera star? Certainly. Britain's most storming jazz pianist
is also a skilled composer and orchestrator, and his artful score
for the story of George Bridgetower, a black violin prodigy feted
by 18th-century high society, deserved its standing ovation last
night. A detailed jazz opera of many rhythmic variations and mood
swings, it was also richly melodic and as comfortable for classically
trained singers to perform as any such work since Porgy and Bess.'
Jack Massarik, London
Evening Standard, October 2007.
'Joseph has done far more than write a jazzy opera. The
score lets the nine-piece band breathe while tapping into orchestral
colours, and seamlessly blends composition and improvisation.
Joseph accurately references the compositional techniques of the
period, merging the disciplines of classical opera and jazz. Supporting
operatic vocals with walking bass worked a treat.' Mike
Times, October 2007.
FOR A DOWNLOADABLE PDF OF BRIDGETOWER REVIEWS.
is arguably the finest pianist of his generation - a brilliant,
dynamic presence'. Time Out,
regard Julian Joseph as one of the finest pianists since Thelonius
Monk'. David Millward, Daily
Telegraph, September 2006.
Billy Cobham's Art of Five, Dingwall's, 6 November 2003:
'Last night's fireworks between Billy Cobham and pianist Juilan
Joseph were spectacular... Joseph is a tiger at the keyboard...
Rarely has Cobham found so many of his sharpest accents bouncing
back at him with interest.' Jack Massarik, London Evening
Standard, 7 November 2003.
Don Braden, Pizza Express, February 2003: 'A scintillating
partnership... Julian accompanied with a dazzling stream of countermelodic
playing and harmonic challenges... Joseph's relationship with
his regular drummer Mark Mondesir is so sympathetic that their
performances merge into one intense and ecstatic voice.' John
Fordham, Guardian Unlimited, 15 February 2003.
Joseph Big Band, London Jazz Festival, November 2002: 'Julian
Joseph demonstrated once again his sophisticated and broad view
of large-scale, orthodox-tonality jazz. Later in the evening he
showed a contemporary sensibility influenced by both classical
music and soul in his big-canvas premiere, The Great Sage.' John
Fordham, The Guardian, 18 November, 2002.
Festival, March 2002: 'Julian Joseph captivated the highly
attentive audience, in total symbiosis with his profound command
of the piano, a very individual classical and modern repertoire,
unquestionable "soul" and a contagious love for the music - the
kind that speaks for itself and carries you away heart and soul".
G.E. La Revue du Liban, 9-16 March 2002.
with Carmen Lundy, Wigmore Hall, May 2000: 'Whooping and whistling
in the Wigmore Hall? Not quite the audience behaviour they have
come to expect in this temple of the arts… Joseph's meeting with
American vocalist Carmen Lundy produced some exceptionally suave
dialogues. All credit to the pianist for giving a platform to
a mature singer who seems to have been overlooked.' Clive Davis,
The Times, 12 May 2000.
Love You Madly ~ A Celebration of Duke Ellington', 29 April-1
Joseph is undoubtedly one of the finest inspirational jazz pianists
and composers to emerge this side of the Atlantic. Admired for
his accomplishments at weaving colourful textures and harmonies
in his music… amazing dexterity… rapturous applause.' Sara
Taukolonga, The Voice, 10 May 1999.
[Billy Strayhorn's Take the "A" Train] from a lightly skipping
theme driven by a subtly powerful rhythm into an altogether chunkier
affair, and then segueing into one of his own compositions, Washingtonians,
Joseph might have been serving notice on Ellington purists that
this particular solo recital was going to be strictly personal
rather than stiflingly reverential. Accordingly, Joseph's following
selection, I Got It Bad and That Ain't Good, was played
relatively straight and tender, but with occasional flashy runs
alternating with absorbing explorations of the song's chord sequence
which made it as interested in examining the structure and shape
of Ellington's music as in simply reproducing it… East St Louis
Toodle-oo re-emerged as a melancholy, almost bluesy piece
tinged with the pathos of spirituals.' Chris Parker, The
Times, 3 May 1999.
the most talented and exciting jazz pianist to have emerged from
the UK.' The Guardian, 29 April 1999.
of Ellington's natural-born heirs… Charm pure and simple, coupled
with absolute assurance. At the keyboard, these qualities weave
a deliciously seductive spell.' Michael Church, Sunday Express,
25 April 1999.
Joseph All-Star Big Band, Royal Albert Hall, August 1995:
'A true gentleman of jazz, Julian Joseph held the Albert Hall
in the palm of both hands at last Saturday's late-night Prom,
hypnotising us with laid-back asides between numbers of mesmeric
brilliance.' David Hughes, Mail on Sunday, 27 August
here for a printable