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F-Ire Festival at Pizza Express preview

Here’s a preview by musician Peter Horsfall of the F-Ire Festival, from October 14-17 at the Pizza Express.

F-Ire Founder Barak Schmool’s Méta Méta to open the 2009 F-IRE FESTIVAL

Each of the four nights at the F-Ire festival offers a contrasting double bill, with some of the more established names on the last night, trumpeter/ BBC New Generation Artist Tom Arthurs, drummer Seb Rochford and this year’s winner of the SouthWest German Radio (SWR) Jazz Award, saxophonist Ingrid Laubrock.

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Méta Méta, led by the founder of F-Ire Barak Schmool, (above, photo: Andy New) will be opening up the Festival. Which is only right: just as F-Ire has been the inspiration behind the formation of other, younger collectives such as Loop and Cobweb, Schmool has tirelessly promoted creative music for many years, inspiring a generation of young musicians.

Schmool also brings strong inspiration to the projects he leads, such as Méta Méta. Schmool, on saxophone, is joined by vocalist Geraldo (of Grammy Award winners Yoruba Andabo), percussionist Maurizio Ravalico , pianist Nick Ramm , and bassist Tom Mason. Fusing the African rhythms of Yoruba religious music, Cuban grooves and contemporary jazz improvisation. Méta Méta is perhaps the clearest embodiment of the F-IRE aesthetic. Not to be missed.

Opposite Méta Méta on the first night are innovative guitarist Jonathan Bratoeff ’s quartet, featuring drummer James Maddren, bassist Tom Mason and tenor saxophonist Mark Hanslip. Bratoeff is a powerful presence on stage, and very assured on record to: check out Points of Perception on the F-ire label from 2005.

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The second night’s double bill has bassist Jasper Hoiby’s trio Phronesis. Their
debut album Organic Warfare is captivating, not just for the strength of Hoiby’s original compositions but also for his virtuosic bass playing. Joined by Danish drummer Anton Eger (seen earlier this year performing with Django Bates) and pianist Ivo Neame , the trio takes inspiration from rhythms and melodies from folk music from Africa, Cuba, Brazil, the Middle East and East Europe) and builds a very individual groove-base on them.

Opposite Phronesis , Peter Whittingham award-winning pianist Dave O’Brien will lead his band Porpoise Corpus through a selection of his own epic compositions. That ‘jazz-rock’ tag doesn’t quite do them justice: the band’s sound is its own, indefinable and extremely powerful. I heard the band on great form at the recent Mayor’s Thames Festival.

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F-IRE has also been important in developing links with musicians from further afield. A rare London show from saxophonist/composer Stéphane Payen highlights the collective’s strong links with similar musicians in Paris. Payen here presents his group ‘Thôt’ featuring Gilles Coronado (guitar), Hubert Dupont (bass) and Christophe Lavergne (drums) – you can expect experimental and rhythmically challenging music. Many young musicians in London will have come into contact with Payen and his band through educational workshops run by F-Ire. They should turn out in good numbers for Payen, the vibe will be very lively.

The Teak Project are an Indo-Jazz project from NY born, London-based guitarist Justin Quinn, percussionist Neil Craig and sitarist Jonathan Mayer. Mayer continues the legacy of his father , composer John Mayer (1930-2004), who did remarkable, life-long, pioneering work fusing the traditions of Indian music and western music.
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The final night of the festival centres on showcasing brand new bands and material. Polar Bear’s Seb Rochford (drums) and Ingrid Laubrock (saxophones) will team up with legendary theremin player Pamelia Kurstin. Kurstin and Rochford will have just performed a number of duo shows prior to this festival date (Cafe Oto 12th October, Modern Art Oxford, 15th October. So expect the Rochford/Kurstin duo and the ever-inventive Laubrock to have some surprises for each other at this performance.

Also presenting a brand new project on the 17th, the last night is trumpeter Tom Arthurs. He returns from Berlin to perform Postcards from Pushkin , with long-standing collaborator, pianist, Richard Fairhurst. Originally commissioned by the BBC and the PRS, the material is centred around quotations from the poetry of Aleksandr Pushkin and has been described by John Fordham of the Guardian as “intimately conversational.’’

F-IRE FESTIVAL 2009 – Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean street, Soho, W1. 14-17 OCTOBER 2009

WED 14 Barak Schmool’s Méta Méta / Jonathan Bratoeff Quartet, 7pm, £15

THU 15 Jasper Hoiby’s Phronesis / Porpoise Corpus, 7pm £15

FRI 16 Stéphane Payen’s Thôt / The Teak Project, 7pm £15

SAT 17 Seb Rochford, Ingrid Laubock + Pamelia Kurstin / Tom Arthurs + Richard Fairhusrt play ‘Postcards from Pushkin’, 7pm, £20

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