B-side from Venus as a Boy SP (1993).
Various venues across the city, 15–24 Nov.
Bruno Heinen’s jazz-sextet transcriptions of Stockhausen’s Teirkreis music-box cycle led to an exquisite, crinkly, glistening album. A shame that it wasn’t done justice by this performance, maybe for James Allsopp’s absence, or the bassist’s. It was further tainted by infuriatingly poor presentation: it ran an hour later than advertised, and was prefaced by a patience-testing talk by Radio 3’s Max Reindhart (who opened with ‘I don’t really know anything about Stockhausen, but…’). The playing wasn’t special. Heinen has genuine talent, but it wasn’t on show. ★★☆☆☆
MooV, the strange and enchanting creation of Colin Riley, truly defies categorisation, drawing on jazz, folk, classical music, ambient music, and experimental electronica. Keys, kit, bass, vocals and cello all meld with sparkling electronics, synchronised with (and/or triggered by) his pianoing via Moog’s ingenious PianoBar. Riley embraces the true glitch ethos at the same time as assimilating it into an otherwise divergent practice: many moments feel wrong yet intentional — gorgeous modal arcs suddenly turn on you and splinter into disconcerting dissonance. Jazz UK called it right: ‘a criminally underexposed group’. ★★★★☆
Eyes of a Blue Dog are trumpeter/guitarist/electronicist Rory Simmons, along with Norwegian drummer/soundscaper Terje Evensen and UK-based vocalist Elisabeth Nygård. Their debut album Rise, was a revelational fusion of free jazz and grimy electronica, largely mediated through song. Its live incarnation differs in feel from the recording, but is no less astonishing for what it achieves — in some cases, quite refreshingly contrary to what is expected. There are issues of form and texture to be perfected (the repetitive build up of trumpet and live electronics is overly lengthy; perhaps its a matter of process), but otherwise they’re a knockout. ★★★★☆
Grasscut are becoming an increasingly familiar name in a number of different fields, which does credit to their pluralism. Whereas MooV and EoaBD traverse genres audaciously, this folktronica band timidly negotiates them. Not surprising, given its leader, Andrew Phillips, is a TV-composer, and prone to muzak. They are irritating on record, but surprisingly listenable live, mainly because the poorly-judged glitch-hop electronics totally recede, allowing the folk-rock layers to rise to the surface. It makes for a pleasant evening, though not worth making pilgrimage for. ★★★☆☆
Igor Gehenot Trio are very young. The stylistic comparison one immediately makes is with Esbjörn Svensson, since whose death many upcoming piano trios are rushing to fill the void he left, and take it to new places. That his influenced has reached both Manchester (GoGo Penguin) and, in this case, Belgium is something life-affirming for Scando-jazz fans. Gehenot’s softer compositions fall more into line with Erikson or Gustaven, albeit not quite refined. The denser numbers, however, are blazing fusions of EST’s electronica-inspired undulations and the fiery freedom of Chick Corea’s early avant-garde adventures with his Now He Sings trio. Notes fly off Gehenot’s keys, Sam Gerstmans is nimble on the bass and Teun Verbruggen’s rapid, fluid drumming is exhilarating. And to think that this is only the beginning of their career. ★★★★★
Sylvain Rifflet was meant to play a duo with vibraphonist Pascal Schumacher, who couldn’t make it because of an alleged management dispute. To everyone’s surprise, the sax extraordinaire braved the stage nonetheless with a searing solo set of angular improvised Philip Glass–esque arpeggio sequences, interlocking motifs, and a trick that made everyone gawp in astonishment: he tamed his circular breathing patterns and tongue-slaps into proper full-blown beat-boxing. At the same time as actually blowing the sax. This man didn’t need his absent partner: he was an effective duo in himself. His body writhed and rocked on stage with the shape of each piece, finishing not by design but simple exhaustion: he’d run out of breath and simply shrug. It was more than enough to elicit impassioned applause. Keep your eyes peeled for his name. ★★★★★
John Etheridge & Philip Catherine, giants in their domain and hugely idiomatic guitarists, have known each other for decades but not played together before. It shows: the set is all standards (opening with Freddie Freeloader — that gives you the gist) played fairly straight-up. It’s high-calibre playing, and obviously a very special occasion for fans of the two. If it’s not your thing, however, there’s little excitement to be had. ★★★☆☆
Nice gig. Would love to hear some of them sounds (Soundcloud or whatever).
Thanks! It was something a bit different for us. What we normally do is more noise-based and beatless; we’re hoping to release an album of that soon.
Versions of the more beat-based stuff we did on the night (optimistically billed as ‘ambient/glitchy ultra-chilled 2‑step IDM’) will be recorded in the near future, and hopefully we’re getting it professionally videoed.
The class divisions we grew up with have been replaced to a large degree by divisions of wealth. People are judged by how much they earn or how much they own and want to think they have arrived somewhere. In America everyone is called vice-president.