Brassroots/Mimika Mak Murtic Double Bill
(Rich Mix, 14th November, LJF. Review by Adam Tait)
Rich Mix in Bethnal Green is a small venue with a maximum capacity of 350 standing. Nevertheless, there is still something of the cavernous feel of the much larger Roundhouse about it. Last Wednesday, a chaotic melee was swarming around it, and the place was abuzz with expectation.
Mimika Mak Murtic are one of the most visually striking groups you are likely to come across at the moment. Dressed all in virginal white and going about their performance with an almost military precision, they’re hard to look away from. After a while however, Mimika’s stage presence begins to approach the frightening. While not playing, all the musicians stand dead still, instrument rested over their left shoulder, staring towards the back of the room. For large portions of the performance they seem almost oblivious to the audience.
The 15 musicians create swimming, fluid music. The vocals are tense and packed with emotion. Part of what seems most exciting about Mimika is the cultural blend in their music. At times their music seems somewhat reminiscent of New Yorkers painted in an Art Deco fashion and snapping their fingers, at other times Eastern European colours can be heard. The lively rhythms of Balkan beat mix with snappy hip-hop beats, all of it held together with the vibrancy of jazz.
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Brassroots are an eight-piece band formed on the streets of East London, combining at least five different nationalities, into a cohesive unit. There is a snappy liveliness to their music that excites audiences, but they also manage to embody the slurred essence of New Orleans jazz and funk. American Trombonist and frontman Jerome Harper makes the crowd comfortable and talks to them like everyone in the room is an old friend.
Brassroots grab hold of what makes jazz, jazz and somehow to conflate it with something else. They make it beefier, bolder. There’s such terrific impact to their music. They just seem cool, in everything they do. Their version of Seven Nation Army drew an excited reaction from the crowd.
Putting these bands together was a great idea, because their innovative approach to brass music is something they very much have in common. The chaotic nature of the venue on the night was a bit of a drain, but once you found your spot and firmly planted your feet, the stage became the firm focus for all of us.