Live reviews

Bruce Barth and Barry Green (GMF Online Concerts)

Bruce Barth and Barry Green (GMF Online Concerts) (15 and 16 April 2020. Review by Sebastian Scotney)     Solo concerts from pianists Bruce Barth from his home in New York, and Barry Green from the south of Holland have been the first two events in a nightly series instigated by Stephen Keogh’s Global Music Foundation. Links to the next events, a concert by Champian Fulton tonight and by Edward Simon are below. I caught the whole of the first session and the tail-end of the second.    

Bruce Barth. Screenshot by Arnie Somogyi

The Global Music Foundation has been running its popular jazz courses and festivals for several years, and successfully promotes the active belief that strong and purposeful communities can be built be around an enthusiasm for jazz music played and taught at an astonishing level. Other live-streams have been building big audiences in the last couple of weeks. That has been the case (as it very justifiably should!) for Liane Carroll’s Wednesday 8pm gigs. I also heard rising German bass star Lisa Wulff recently declaring complete her astonishment to find that a thousand people witnessing her Facebook concert. “A thousand… at a jazz gig….wow!” she said. These GMF concerts are not like that. They have the character of a small, friendly house-party. They are done on the ZOOM platform and the audience is muted during the music, and then unmuted for the Q and A. Some of the participants in the audience are either other faculty members or students from previous GMF courses. The vibe is totally welcoming and friendly. What I hold from Bruce Barth’s gig is his simple love of the tunes, the material he chooses to play, and how that is so much at one with his winning way of making the performance of a tune completely captivating. In the Q and A after the show, he held up the manuscript of one of the tunes he had played, Arthur Herzog’s “Some Other Spring” as a treasured object. And that was exactly how he had brought out the joys of the tune in performance. In Barry Green’s performance I heard the encores – “Misty” and Ellington’s “Don’t Get Around Much Any More”. And here it was all about subtlety and disguise. With subtle re-harmonisation and displacement, Barry Green finds marvellous and quite remarkable ways to keep the tune there…but to have hidden it at the same time. The artistry that these pianists can bring to solo piano performance is something special. But when one knows what astonishing musical partners they are, this current enforced diet of solo performance reminds me of what heights they can reach live. I went back to a favourite recording by Bruce Barth and saxophonist Steve Wilson, a live duo CD: HOME: Live in Columbia, Missouri. I can’t wait to get back to live gigs, but in the meantime this GMF initiative, this welcoming community, is a very good place to be. LINK: Booking link for concerts by Champian Fulton and Edward Simon

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