|Laura Jurd Quartet at Match & Fuse Warsaw 2015
Photo Credit: Thuy Duong Dang
Match & Fuse Festival Warsaw
(Mózg Powszechny, Warsaw. 12th June 2015. Second day of three. Report by AJ Dehany)
Our own Laura Jurd Quartet‘s Polish debut which opened the second day of the festival was warmly received. The trumpeter herself and expressive drummer Corrie Dick are both sensations who have made big names for themselves straight out of the blocks. Compared to other genres, jazz doesn’t really thrive on hype. Their secret is just that they’re really, really good.
Against a background depicting the pin-cushion Saint Sebastian, Polish band Kinsky is like the Residents crossed with the Birthday Party, a confrontational mix of bellicose rock and performance art, complete with costume changes (the singer turning from a Polish Mark E Smith into Louis XIV), a bizarre dance segment, the deployment of a strobe light into the eyes of the audience, and the use of a hairdryer to send plastic bags into the air. You have to experience them. Fly to Poland.
Relocating from the Powszechny’s larger Teatr auditorium to the small Mózd bar is an inspired curatorial touch; later in the night the intimacy of a venue becomes a bigger part of what connects the music to the audience. Eyeball to eyeball with the bands, you can hear every click of the guitar pedal.
OKO from Dublin got us dancing to their turntable scratch rhythms and cut-up vocal samples and atonal squelchy circuit-breakery sounds during which very briefly the guitarist played what I think might have been the first actual walking bassline of this ‘jazz’ festival. The guitarist, mark you. Trying not to corpse, the band accompanied a bizarre unprintable recorded monologue before kicking into massive held stoner rock power chords that shifted into a transporting workout in 5/4 that just got heavier and heavier before lifting into an almost spiritual sounding groove.
French quintet Alfie Ryner brought a tremendous power driven by strenuous brass themes and cycling rhythms that drill into your chest and burn into your brain. Sometimes you know it’s in 4/4 (or 8/8) but it can sound deceptively like all time signatures all at once. Some advanced dancing is required. Big on sound, their set’s conclusion was monstrous, positively Mahlerian.
As I went back in for the customary Match & Fuse intra-band collaborative finale, someone outside was saying that the secret to, well, just ‘the secret’ is to never rehearse, never. But a little can go a long way and tonight’s Eirik Tofte March & Fuse Orchestra just sounded more intense and realized. The system of hand signals, or ‘sound painting’ seemed to guide the musicians in a surprisingly precise-seeming way while naturally retaining the inherent freedom of improvisation. I’ve never seen a jam session forced to do an encore before, but this is what happened. The music concluded on a gloriously discordant brass rhythm figure and some proper elbows-on-the-keys discordant stabs, a fitting end for an evening of very forceful music. Hanging out while the dust settled, the Irish guys were asking around for some nasty techno/rave option to continue the party. It was getting light, and I fled for my life.