Live review

Shake Stew at the 2022 Cheltenham Jazz Festival

Shake Stew

(Parabola Arts Centre – Cheltenham Jazz Festival. 30 April 2022. Review by Peter Slavid)

Shake Stew with Lukas Kranzelbinder (far left). Photo credit: John Watson/ jazzcamera.co.uk

The Cheltenham Jazz festival audience in the Parabola Arts Centre, part of the Cheltenham Ladies College, is normally fairly quiet and appropriately respectful. Not at the end of this gig. It’s a long time since anyone can remember the audience here erupting in a spontaneous standing ovation and then rushing out to buy up all the CDs and Vinyl they could find.

This is a prizewinning band that is already hugely popular and successful across Europe and further afield, but despite several previous attempts to bring them across, this was their first visit to the UK

The event started in dramatic style. Visually impressive, the stage was filled with three different basses at each end, two drum kits and a gigantic gong at the back, and no musicians. Then we heard some rather strange recorded voices from old American films and politicians. The band finally arrived in their trademark striped jackets, and the music began.

What makes this band special is the way they manage to mix constantly shifting rhythms, thumping bass lines, lyrical melodies and powerful solo and collective free improvisation.

There have been a few changes of personnel since they formeed for a festival in Austria six years ago, but without any lessening of impact. Recent arrival Astrid Wiesinger on alto was a particularly fierce and dramatic soloist. Mario Rom on trumpet has a successful band of his own and has slotted easily into this one. For this gig there was also a replacement drummer with Christian Eberle stepping in for Herbert Pirker. Whatever the changes they just seem to go from strength to strength.

The band is led by Lukas Kranzelbinder whose bass lines form the foundation for much of what happens. Despite occasional quiet passages, he drives the music with a pace that’s relentless and irresistible. The closing track from their first album provided a storming and hugely popular close.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Jazz on mixcloud.com/ukjazz and various internet stations

BAND:

Lukas Kranzelbinder: basses, guembri , Astrid Wiesinger: alto saxophone, Mario Rom: trumpet, Johannes Schleiermacher: tenor saxophone, Oliver Potratz: basses, Nikolaus Dolp: drums, percussion, Christian Eberle : drums, percussion

Categories: Live review

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