|The curtain-call at the King Crimson concert|
Photo: FIJM/ Frederique Menard-Aubin
The UK presence at the world’s biggest jazz festival in Montreal is not something new. It’s been written about before,,. The Montreal programmers know our scene very well, and are actively keen to bring the best of it to Montreal audiences.
This year, however, the UK presence almost reached the scale of a festival within a festival. Away from jazz, the biggest event was the big King Crimson concert, which has been written about fully by John Kelman (LINK). Closer to jazz, the list of acts was into double figures, with the events I attended asterisked, and briefly reviewed below:
Gwilym Simcock solo*
Binker and Moses
Portico Quarter (those four were part of a “UK marathon”)
Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur
Shabaka Hutchings and the Ancestors*
Neil Cowley Trio
Photo: FIJM/ Frederique Menard-Aubin
Jacob Collier filled the Club Soda venue to capacity, for his 96th solo show, which occurred on the first anniversary of his double Grammy-winning solo album In My Room. Everything felt right. The Club Soda venue is what the Jazz Cafe could be if the room were the right shape. The Montreal crowd is warm and welcoming. And after his miles on the road Collier knows exactly what buttons to press. It is an impressive show. Who knows what he will return with next time.
|Shabaka and the Ancestors|
Shabaka Hutchings and the Ancestors at Gesu
The depth and richness of the musical scene in South Africa – with the exception of a handful of ‘known’ artists – often seems like one of the great untapped resources in music. So it is to Shabaka Hutchings’ credit that he and the people behind him have enabled this band to make its mark on the Northern hemisphere. The band (Mthunzi Mvubu on alto saxophone, Ariel Zamonsky on bass, Tumi Mogorosi on drums and Gontse Makhene on percussion, were remarkable, and vocalist Siyabonga Mthembu engaged the audience completely. This was a set which communicated on many levels. We have covered Shabaka’s previous ventures nearly 40 times on this site. and it is very heartening to see his career simultaneously blossoming in so many areas. The Ottawa performance by this group received an ecstatic and in-depth review HERE.
Photo credit: FIJM/ Benoit Rousseau
Phronesis’ performance was remarkable for the big-canvas, almost improbably symphonic scale the trio can reach. Ivo Neame was nursing a bleeding finger, but as the evening progressed he found many ways to spring sudden surprises. He always keeps the listener on the edge of the seat, wondering what will happen next. As for Anton Eger, this review in French – which also has a good selection of the official photos of the gig – describes him accurately as “un batteur épatant.” (a fantastic drummer)
Polly Gibbons on the Rio Tinto freestage
Polly Gibbons’ appearance on a free outdoor stage, not just with regular accompanist/Musical Director James Pearson but also with a stupendously good North American band, completely held the attention of a big crowd out in the Place des Spectacles. The band was Shedrick Mitchell – Hammond B3, Richie Goods – bass, Mark McLean – drums and Paul Bollenback – guitar. A very impressive show.
Photo Credit FIJM/ Frederique Menard-Aubin
Gwilym Simcock Solo at Monument National
Gwilym Simcock’s solo piano repertoire has moved on a long way since Good Times at Schloss Elmau, which earned him a Mercury nomination back in 2011. It was not only impressive but (for example his version of the slow movement of the Grieg piano concerto) very moving. Surely, if he ever finds the time between touring with the Pat Metheny or the Impossible Gentlemen and doing composition commissions, another solo album must beckon.