|London Vegetable Orchestra|
EFG London Jazz Festival 21st Birthday Celebrations
(Southbank Centre. 24th November 2013. Roundup Report by Rob Edgar)
Yesterday was a day of celebration: It was the final day of the massive 2013 EFG London Jazz Festival (also the festival’s 21st Birthday Party). The new participants of Take Five Edition IX were officially announced.
Congratulations to the new Take Five cohort:
Laura Jurd: – trumpet
Dan Nicholls – reeds, keyboards
Peter Edwards – piano
Nick Malcolm – trumpet
George Crowley – saxophone, clarinet
Shama Rahman – sitar, vocals
Alex Roth – guitar
James Mainwaring – saxophone
The Southbank Centre was buzzing with excitement and free stages were dotted around providing an astonishing display of talent:
Sonsale – veterans of Take Five – were in The Front Room of the Queen Elizabeth Hall. Featuring vibist Corey Mwamba, bassist Andy Champion. It was a free set and had a very bass-heavy sound owing to the addition of cellist Valentin Ceccaldi. Mwamba used all manner of techniques, bowing, striking the bars with his hands or pinging them with a metallic beater at the top of the instrument, while Champion was furiously bowing the bass (culminating in an interesting solo which kept within a very melodically confined space) and Ceccaldi was snapping his strings against the cello’s fingerboard. The hero of the set was Sylvain Darrifourcq who played what can only be described as a toccata for drum set: quick, fluid rhythms were interrupted by jagged snare drum off-beats, and strange sounds were coaxed out of the cymbals by striking them with a coat-hanger.
The London Vegetable Orchestra (Warning, pun alert!) were entertaining, playing instruments made out hollowed out carrots, turnips, courgettes…Upon taking the stage it was clear the seeds had been sown for what promised to be an excellent performance. During their last peas (an impromptu cover of Watermelon Man) they were perfectly on the beet and the sound leeked from the stage. It was too short though, I wish they’d lettuce hear more.
Bold as Brass, a vast choir of over 100 brass players were led by Jason Yarde conducting his commission for the Birthday celebrations. It featured full, resonant chords, repeated rhythmic phrases, some dark clusters, and angular melody lines in the saxophones but at its core, it was a kind of jazz fanfare. Carleen Anderson was another artist who performed a celebratory commission. It was a choral piece that was fundamentally tonal, but the melodies often took unexpected turns, frustrating the sense of key. It was underpinned by a warm Fender Rhodes, but the sound quality was a little muddy making it difficult to hear the subtler elements.
There was an extended set by the European Sunrise Band (the “live embodiment of Take Five Europe”). It featured a stellar line up of Chris Sharkey, Daniel Herskedal, Marcin Masecki, Arielle Besson and more. I cannot understand why this group were only given the foyer to play in. Their sound ranged from impressionistic textures to rock elements, and expressionistic dissonances. Clarinettist Arun Ghosh stole the set with his subtly South-Asian inflected soloing.
It was the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it set by saxophonist Andy Sheppard which really blew me away. Sheppard performed his Serious commission alone on stage with his tenor saxophone, filling the Royal Festival Hall’s Clore Ballroom with easy, agile melodies and quick arpeggiated harmony notes. He recorded himself playing little motifs which were looped enabling him to play off himself eventually ending up with a rich sound, full of interlocking lines. The piece ended abruptly with a quote from the Happy Birthday tune and Sheppard promptly left the stage after just fifteen minutes.