Live reviews

‘The Whirlpool Series’: Opening night at the Vortex (Rebecka Edlund, Jakub Klimiuk, Marta Gornicka, Kasper Rietkerk)

‘The Whirlpool Series’ opening night
(Vortex. 3 October 2023. Report by Sebastian Scotney)

L-R: Rebecka Edlund, Marta Gornicka, Jakub Klimiuk, Kasper Rietkerk. Phone snap.

This was not so much an evening of “Be Still My Soul” as “Be Dropped My Jaw”.

The first night of the new ‘Whirlpool Series’ showed above all the levels of collective and collaborative musicianship and ‘instant composing’ being reached by four of the graduates who have just emerged from the London conservatoires. Their ability to co-operate and dovetail with each other to create something new – particularly considering the four had never met before – and the way they were able to create flow and to tell a story together was nothing short of astonishing.

‘The Whirlpool Series’ is a brand new scheme. It is the brainchild of Oliver Weindling, and gives recent London jazz graduates the opportunity to curate evenings at the Vortex. A brief outline of the scheme and its objectives, as written by Weindling, is below

The four performing last night as a quartet were Swedish vocalist Rebecka Edlund (ex-Trinity Laban), guitarist Jakub Klimiuk and vocalist Marta Gornicka (both Polish and ex-Guildhall) and Dutch saxophonist Kasper Rietkerk (ex Royal Academy of Music.) A total of six musicians have enrolled; the two others are Brits Alex Lockheart and Caius Williams, but both were otherwise busy last night, and will be joining for subsequent events.

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Edlund’s singing reminded me of something I read many years ago to describe the late Jane Manning: “Whether sky-diving through the musical stratosphere or negotiating the fearsome complexities of the latest score to be written for her…she could always be relied upon to deliver [..] pinpoint accuracy of pitch and theatrical panache.” Edlund is clearly any composer’s dream in the presence and energy she gives. She and Marta Gornicka, a great singer who seems more deeply ‘jazz’, combined and extemporised brilliantly together.

Guitarist Klimiuk has an ability to create a warm harmonic ambiance around the sound of the others, it is only a matter of time before someone mistakes his sound and his generous spirit for those of the great Bill Frisell. And Kasper Rietkerk has developed an impressive armoury of electronic effects, which he knows how to use sympathetically, supportively and collaboratively.

It was fascinating to witness the first flowering of this venture, and also to hear all four of these at this stage of their careers. The hope for ‘Whirlpool’ is that it might attract either philanthropic funding or enter into partnership. The contrast with this scheme and similar, well-funded ventures in France or Germany is stark. And yet the preliminary work to get it off the ground has involved some very good joined-up thinking by the people who run the courses at the conservatoires. However, to really prosper it probably needs an organisation, like Aldeburgh Music say, or a venue or festival (somewhere, anywhere!) to get involved. That said, of one thing in particular there can be no doubt: the jaw-dropping quality of these musicians means that ‘Whirlpool’ certainly deserves to succeed.

The next event of the series is on 6 November


(Quote begins) “Newly graduated jazz musicians may be overwhelmed at how to take their first independent steps as professional musicians. To help with this we at the Vortex are delighted to announce the Whirlpool Series, a monthly series of gigs showcasing new music by recent graduates.

The series takes its name from the tune (and album) by John Taylor, one of the leading jazz pianists and educators this country produced. It has been set up in collaboration with the course heads from the three main London colleges: Royal Academy of Music, Guildhall, Trinity Laban.

A panel of six curators, two from each college, will programme the nights.

To encourage the creation of new connections, both professional and musical, each gig will involve musicians from the three colleges, collaborating on new music. We expect this programme to grow, and in the future we want to also offer mentoring, streaming and more, helping the graduates to market both themselves and their music.” (Quote ends)

LINK: Vortex Jazz Club website

Categories: Live reviews, Reviews

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