Gulf-inspired Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

Now the Arab world has its own outpost in the form of Chip Wickham, a UK-born flautist, saxophonist and producer whose second album grew out of extended stints teaching in the GCC. (Supplied)
Updated 22 May 2018
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Gulf-inspired Chip Wickham ushers in winds of change on the jazz scene

  • “Shamal Wind” takes its name from the Arabic Gulf’s primal weather patterns, and there’s a distinctly meditative, Middle Eastern vibe to the title track
  • There’s rather less goatee-stroking to be found across the four further up-tempo cuts, which swap soul-searching for soul-jazz, soaked in the breezy bop of a vintage Blue Note release

PARIS: The hotly hyped “British jazz invasion” has been the toast of international scenesters for some months now, with breathy adjective-heavy sprawls penned on both sides of the Atlantic paying tribute to a fresh generation of musos who grew up not in the conservatoires but the clubs, channelling the grit and groove of grime into a distinctly hip, 21st century strain of freewheeling, DIY improvised music.

Now the Arab world has its own outpost in the form of Chip Wickham, a UK-born flautist, saxophonist and producer whose second album grew out of extended stints teaching in the GCC. “Shamal Wind” takes its name from the Arabic Gulf’s primal weather patterns, and there’s a distinctly meditative, Middle Eastern vibe to the title track, a slow-burning, moody vamp, peppered with percussive trills, with hints of Yusef Lateef to be found in Wickham’s wandering woodwind musings.  A similar spirituality drifts over “The Mirage,” another probing eight-minute dirge, featuring rising trumpet star Matthew Halsall, which sways with the languid trot of a camel crossing a desert plain.

There’s rather less goatee-stroking to be found across the four further up-tempo cuts, which swap soul-searching for soul-jazz, soaked in the breezy bop of a vintage Blue Note release. Recorded over a hot summer in Madrid, a heady Latin pulse drives first single, “Barrio 71” — championed by the likes of Craig Charles — with Spanish multi-percussionist David el Indio steaming up a block party beat framing Wickham’s gutsy workout on baritone sax.

Having previously worked with electronic acts, including Nightmares on Wax and Jimpster – and been remixed by US producers Andrés Carlos and Niño – one imagines the dancefloor was a key stimulus behind Wickham’s rhythmically dense, but harmonically spare compositional approach. Phil Wilkinson’s sheer, thumped piano chords drive the relentless nod of second single “Snake Eyes,” Wickham’s raspy flute floating somewhere overhead, readymade to be skimmed off for the anticipated remix market.

In truth, Manchester-raised Wickham is both too thoughtful, and too thoughtless, to truly belong to the London-brewed jazz invasion — Shamal Wind yo-yos between meditative meandering and soulful strutting with a wilful disrespect for trend.


Street artist Banksy splashes Paris with works on migrants

Updated 6 min 17 sec ago
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Street artist Banksy splashes Paris with works on migrants

PARIS: Banksy is believed to have taken his message on migration to Paris, which has seen seven works attributed to the provocative British street artist.
The works attributed to Banksy have been discovered in recent days, including one near a former center for migrants at the city’s northern edge that depicts a child spray-painting wallpaper over a swastika.
Nicolas Laugero Lasserre, editor of the Artistikrezo website that broke the story, said he heard a few weeks ago through contacts in the French street art world that Banksy was planning a trip.
He said he started looking for the works and came across the one in the northern Porte de la Chappelle neighborhood. The same wallpaper stencil was used in a 2009 exposition at the Bristol Museum, he said, describing it as “a real signature” of the elusive artist.
It didn’t take long for others to add — or detract — from Banksy’s work. First came the blue tag over the wallpaper. Then on Monday, another artist temporarily covered over Banksy’s work with a poster depicting a woman’s face, but the paper was quickly pulled off and an art restorer frantically tried to cover the works with a clear plastic.
Not all the works directly reference migration. One is a play on the 1801 painting of Napoleon crossing the Alps. Others show rats, including one that appeared to have been altered over the weekend.
“It lands at a key political moment, and for me that’s really the genius of Banksy,” Laugero Lasserre said.
Banksy’s publicist did not immediately respond to a request for comment.