Matt Wates this year brings his sublime Sextet to the Museum after playing as a duo last year. The Matt Wates sextet is currently one of the 'hottest' small groups in British jazz, winning Best Small Group in the British Jazz Awards in 2001 (Matt himself won the Rising Star Award in 1997). The Sextet was formed in 1998, and its personnel has remained fairly consistent. It now consists of Canadian tenor saxophonist Steve Kaldestad (who was taught by Lee Konitz), the redoubtable Martin Shaw on trumpet, pianist Leon Greening, bassist Malcolm Creese (who leads the group Acoustic Triangle), and the outstanding drummer Steve Brown. Matt Wates' fluent and lyrical style of playing has been likened to Canonball Adderley (whose small groups of the late 1950s offer perhaps a stylistic blueprint for Matt's own group) and Paul Desmond.
The Branco Stoysin Trio perform Branco's beautiful Latin & Balkan-inspired music. Augmented by the sublime Leslee Booth on 6-string bass and the imaginative Buster Birch on percussion, the Trio has established itself as one of the most original and consistent acts in the UK. Branco began playing guitar at the age of 15 and very soon found a love of jazz and Brazilian music, influenced by Joe Pass, Charlie Parker and Antonio Carlos Jobim.
The amazing voice of Ellen O'Brien, all the way from the USA and fast becoming a household name in the States. Ellen has the stage presence of a bad-ass Boston white girl cycled through a heavy dose of Chaka Khan. She steps up to the mic, smiles that thousand-kilowat smile and right away she owns the room. Then out comes comes that big, big, BIG voice. There's R&B in her. Gospel. FM pop and straight-down-the-line jazz. But she's more than just a pro with amazing chops. You listen to Ellen for two minutes and you know she's not just about riffs and blowing you away with technique. Ellen can do that, all right. Only, way more important, she's got true soul - and that's the starlight that shines when Ellen sings. She is a 3-time winner at the Apollo in Harlem, has sung with the Boston Pops, and sold out the legendary Blue Note in New York on her first visit.