Review: Julie Sassoon at Now’s The Time 2/ South Bank

Lothar Ohlmaier (tenor saxophone)/Julie Sassoon (piano)/ Milo Fell (drums)

(Clore Ballroom , South Bank Centre, 21st August 2009)

I dropped in briefly to Kevin Le Gendre’s evening at the South Bank, where he was curating/ compering/ live DJ’ing/album-launching..and generally multi-tasking. I caught the end of the first set from a group featuring Loz Speyer on trumpet and a particularly impressive Jason Yarde on alto.

Julie Sassoon has moved from her native North-West of England and now lives in Berlin, so this was a rare sighting. Her solo album on Babel was extensively and well-reviewed in 2007. What held the attention then, and again, live, last night, were those left hand idees fixes, in her compositions such as “Safe Passage” and “Forty-Four”. Maybe it helps as a listener if one tends to listen low rather than high. I know I do. Yes, in the upper register there are different things going on: you hear Sassoon singing wordlessly, ethereally. There’s Lothar Ohlmaier on tenor saxophone often retreating into higher registers and sustaining a line, and bringing in a lot of different colours and timbres and contrasts. And there’s also Milo Fell, the ideal partner for this combination, free, creative, inspiring. But Sassoon’s authoritative left hand holds my attention, and I hope she’s back in London before long.

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