Livestream Review

Elliot Galvin and Laura Jurd (The Shape of Jazz to Come, streamed from Vortex)

Elliot Galvin and Laura Jurd
(The Vortex. Streamed on 8 April 2021. Review by Patrick Hadfield)

One of the few good things to come out of the global pandemic has been the accessibility of live streams. Whilst it might not be up there with revolutionary vaccine technology, the ability to see musicians play in New York one night, Aberdeen the next, and London the night after without leaving the comfort of your sofa has softened the devastating lack of live gigs and hopefully helped musicians keep going when most of their income disappeared.

Re-opening their regular series The Shape of Jazz to Come after a covid-enforced hiatus, the Vortex streamed a set by Elliot Galvin and Laura Jurd on piano and trumpet respectively. The pair had live-streamed from within their covid-bubble last summer, but although they regularly perform together in other ensembles – most notably in Dinosaur – they have rarely performed as a duo.

Recorded on stage in the Vortex, this show had the intimacy of a front row seat at the intimate venue: it felt really special, and a joy to be (almost) back at the Vortex.

And “the shape of jazz to come” was a fitting label for the show: whilst there were respectful nods to the past – the Monk-like feel of the opening number, Slow Loris, and some snatches of stride-like piano, for instance – there is a sense of inventiveness in their music, with Jurd and Galvin taking it in new directions. There were moments when the duo seemed rooted in avant garde “classical” music as much as jazz.

Jurd used a variety of mutes to manipulate the sound of her trumpet, particularly a sink plunger, and occasionally her hand pushed into her trumpet’s bell. Unmuted, she has a rich, warm tone. At some points she seemed to be playing abstract phrases, at others beautiful flowing lines of notes poured out.

The piano is sometimes said to be a percussion instrument, and there were occasions when Galvin took this literally, beating out rhythms on the piano’s body. He often reached inside the piano to manipulate the strings, dampening them or plucking them, as well playing a thumb piano. His piano playing is full of humour, too.

There were a few minor technical glitches, either at the Vortex, at my end or in the miles of cables between the two which reminded one how dependent on technology we’ve become. This was the first of a series, and lessons will doubtless be learnt. The concert ended abruptly, for example, but the sound was excellent and the stream looked superb – there weren’t any credits at the end of the stream, but those responsible for the sound and camera work deserve a round of applause.

The Vortex uses a platform for streaming that makes it a one-off event: watch it as if live or you’ll miss it. In some ways that’s a pity – I’d have loved to watch this show again – but it does make it more like the a real show at the club, and a special experience it was.

Patrick Hadfield lives in Edinburgh, occasionally takes photographs, and sometimes blogs at On the Beat. Twitter: @patrickhadfield.

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