Live review

Tim Garland, Federica Michisanti, Hermine Deurloo, Nani Noam Vazana/Abel Selaocoe at the 2019 Manchester Jazz Festival

L-R: Jason Rebello, Tim Garland, Yuri Goloubev

Manchester, 2019

Photo credit: Abby Hilton/mjf

In our second round-up report from the 2019 Manchester Jazz Festival, Rob Adams writes about Tim Garland’s Weather Walker Trio, Federica Michisanti Trioness, Hermine Deurloo, Nani Noam Vazana /Abel Selaocoe and Sanem Kalfa/George Dumitriu


When he began planning his 2019 programme, Manchester Jazz Festival’s artistic director, Steve Mead thought that his Celebrating Europe strand might be a valedictory salute.

Instead, with Brexit still dominating the news, his selections, including Italian bass player-composer Giulia Valle’s trio and the remarkable French vocalist and electronics artist Leïla Martial’s group, offered a reminder, to those of a pro-EU stance, of just some of the reasons for staying “in”.

Tim Garland’s Weather Walker Trio

Over the festival’s final three days, there were reminders, too, of the UK jazz scene’s quality, with vibraphonist Orphy Robinson paying an initially faithful and in the end exuberantly adventurous tribute to Blue Note mallets master Bobby Hutcherson, Elliot Galvin artfully remodelling the piano trio template, and saxophonist Tim Garland’s Weather Walker Trio giving a Sunday afternoon masterclass.

Garland’s group – with the marvellous Jason Rebello on piano and the utterly superb Yuri Goloubev on bass – is rooted in the folk music-influenced, pastoral atmosphere of the album from which it takes its name. Yet there is much heat and harder-edged soloing present also, especially when Garland works up a groove on tenor and Rebello brings out his biggest shots.

Federica Michisanti Trioness

Another bass player with Italian connections, Federica Michisanti led a trio of the same instrumentation as Garland’s in a lunchtime session at St Ann’s Church the following day and created music that was, by turns, beautifully logical and quietly questing. An initially ominous slow march, stated confidently by Michisanti and the deeply resourceful pianist Simone Maggio, acquired light and airy soulfulness with Marcello Allulli’s arrival on tenor, and the threesome hit a particularly enjoyable stride with some playful Monk-styled bop.

Sanem Kalfa & George Dumitriu

At the heart of the Celebrating Europe programme there was, each day, an introduction to musicians from or based in the Netherlands, courtesy of the Jazz Promotion Network’s project with Dutch Performing Arts support, Going Dutch (*).

Vocalist Sanem Kalfa and guitarist-violist George Dumitriu brought together their respective Turkish and Romanian roots and their adopted English in a set that was subtly enhanced by electronics and was striking for Kalfa’s apparent ability to reach everyone in the audience individually. Her songs spoke of love, sadness, joy, anguish and humour while Dumitriu’s empathy on both guitar and viola captured each of these emotions aptly and concisely.

Hermine Deurloo

Chromatic harmonica virtuoso Hermine Deurloo drew on songwriters including Paul Simon and Jacques Brel and her mentor, pianist Misha Mengelberg, as well as playing her own attractively crafted compositions in a Sunday lunchtime set that danced, swung and moved the listener with her from-the-heart, blue note-rich playing.

Simon’s Fifty Ways to Leave Your Lover shuffled brilliantly, offering Deurloo’s rhythm section – actually the superb pianist Rembrandt Frerichs’ regular trio with bassist Tony Overwater and drummer Vinsent Planjer – the opportunity to both accompany with warmth, depth and energy and improvise with superb, spontaneous invention.

The influence of Toots Thielemans is, perhaps inevitably, noticeable in Deurloo’s harmonica style but she has also developed her own language, with occasional hints of her background as a saxophonist, which makes her soloing genuinely investigative and always, but always, highly musical.

Abel Selaocoe

Photo Credit: David McLenachan/mjf

Nani Noam Vazana with Abel Selaocoe: Both Sides of Africa

Almost wrapping up the festival – and it would have been an ideal choice had it been in the closing slot – was a song cycle that brought together adopted Mancunian, cellist Abel Selaocoe and the Amsterdam-based singer, pianist and trombonist Nani Noam Vazana.

Featuring songs and stories from Selaocoe’s South African upbringing and Vazana’s Sephardic background, Both Sides of Africa was a very personal and enrichening presentation that traced the Sephardim’s connections to Morocco and told of Selaocoe’s experiences learning an essentially European instrument in a Soweto township.

He manages to make the cello sound, fingerstyle, as naturally African as it is a bowed vehicle for Bach sarabandes and despite the two musicians representing opposite ends of the African continent and quite different cultures, with guitar and charango from Jorge Bravo and Ayoze de Alejandro’s percussion, their music gelled with a strong, unified sense of purpose.

Folk wisdom, passionate Ladino songs, township chanting, almost choirboy-like singing, pain, sadness and myriad other emotions flowed throughout a special Manchester Jazz Festival commission that even managed that rarest of commissioned work features – a finale with a wordless chorus that could be heard on innumerable lips as the audience filed out. A concert, as with Kalfa and Dumitriu and Deurloo and Frerichs, that could well invite further performances in the UK.

(*) Rob Adams is an advisor to Jazz Promotion Network’s project with Dutch Performing Arts support, Going Dutch.

Categories: Live review

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