REVIEW: Laura Jurd’s Dinosaur at the 2018 Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Laura Jurd
Photo taken at Kings Place by Monica S. Jakubowska

(Parabola Arts Centre, 4 May 2018, Cheltenham Jazz Festival. Review by Peter Jones)

Cheltenham Jazz Festival director Ian George commented during the weekend that the current booking policy is all about bringing on young talent. This approach – combined with some miraculously beautiful weather – made 2018 festival the best this reviewer has yet experienced.

One example: the unassuming but prodigiously talented young trumpeter Laura Jurd brought her sci-fi jazz band Dinosaur to the Parabola Arts Centre, and in doing so launched their second album Wonder Trail. The difficulty of describing Dinosaur’s music is one of the great things about them: their sound is genuinely new, dominated (if that’s the right word) by Elliot Galvin’s synthesizer. There are echoes of earlier British electronica in Dinosaur’s sound, going all the way back to Soft Machine and – more recently – bands like Goldfrapp and Broadcast. But their music has a distinctive style of its own.

Laura Jurd and Elliot Galvin
Photo taken at Kings Place by Monica S. Jakubowska

It wasn’t always easy on the ear, as Galvin produced beeps and whistles, computer game noises, sometimes tinny and retro, as if emanating from some early ’80s video arcade. At other times it seemed ominous, shapeless, evolving into whirling storms of electronic noise.

Elliot Galvin and Conor Chaplin
Photo taken at Kings Place by Monica S. Jakubowska

When the focus shifted to Jurd’s trumpet lines, Galvin supplied background drones or heavy metal riffs, in combination with electric bassist Conor Chaplin. Her somewhat Tomasz Stanko-like playing was often accompanied by glittering reverb that served to emphasize the stark beauty of the melodies. Jurd and drummer Corrie Dick combined to sing Set Free, a chilly, futuristic folk song, repeating this chanting vocal effect on And Still We Wonder.

A bizarre trumpet/dress malfunction enlivened the end of the gig: Jurd had jammed the trumpet between her knees to free her hands to play a small keyboard. Somehow the instrument became snagged in the fabric, and an entertaining couple of minutes passed while she wrestled (successfully) to free it. To her credit, she was at no point flustered by this, commenting drily on a future career in comedy. However she is doing really quite well as a composer, band leader and musician, and that should be enough for anybody.

Laura Jurd
Photo taken at Kings Place by Monica S. Jakubowska

Categories: miscellaneous

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