|L-R: Wayne Shorter, John Patitucci, Danilo Perez,
These were two performances at the Barbican on the last day of this year’s EFG London Jazz Festival.
Wayne Shorter Quartet – main hall
The Wayne Shorter Quartet performance-in-two-parts, incorporated a set from the quartet on their own and then joined on stage by a Polish wind-and-brass dectet of classical players for a new commission. It was a fascinating juxtaposition.
There is no small band in the world with the played-in-ness, the ability to land as one, to find new avenues, to be suddenly inspired and break loose as this group. Every mood every tempo is established and set the moment it arrives, no doubts, no adumbrations, no preliminaries, it is about full and instant expression of a mood, an attitude, a vibe, a tempo which, once it is established, can lead straight to something else. Wayne Shorter’s utterances are increasingly epigrammatic, he is almost like the guest they all know who has freedom to do whatever he wants – whether it is to whistle, or indeed just to listen. That guiding spirit of complete freedom is something to be aspired to. The group – apart from Shorter – play with sheet music, but it is not a barrier in any way.
The arrival of the Polish wind players of the LutosAir wind ensemble for a newly-composed piece created a different vibe. The wind-writing reminded me of the slow build of sections of Berlioz’s Te Deum, repetitive figures but always with a clear sense of direction. There were written sections, with the quartet involved interspersed with sections for the quartet alone. There was no mistaking the passion and involvement of the young wind players, but the twists and turns and traffic signals in this hybrid form served as a reminder of the sheer joy and freedom and utter completeness of the unbeatable quartet.
|Eve Risser’s White Desert Orchestra
Eve Risser’s White Desert Orchestra
Eve Risser’s White Desert Orchestra were making their London debut on the Barbican freestage. Having attended – and been bowled over by, and reviewed – the premiere of her large-scale work now called Les Deux Versants se regardent (the two sides – of a canyon – look at each other) in early 2015, I was fascinated to hear how the ensemble, which has been granted much higher profile at several European festivals has progressed.
These are the top French players of Eve Risser’s generation, and they are totally and unmistakably committed to her as composer in the same way that a group of Brooklyn-ites of the band Secret Society has committed to Darcy James Argue. The last two years have brought that feel of a band with common purpose a lot further. They relish the range of textures and expression inherent in Risser’s writing that can be brought out in performance. The juxtapositions of sheer beauty and sheer power and /or anarchy she conjures up are one of a kind. In the challenging setting and tricky (ok pretty hopeless) acoustic of the Barbican’s foyer, a lot went missing, and the group were more reliant than usual on sheer performance energy to draw in a crowd – which they did. An incredible intensity build à trois at the end from Julien Desprez on guitar, Fanny Lasfargues on bass and Sylvain Darrifourcq on drums will stay in the mind for a very long time. The White Desert orchestra will have made new friends on Sunday, and are bound to be back for some other festivals, hopefully where they belong – on the main stages.