2 london jazz fest gigs - the first

unusually i saw two jazz festival gigs last week.

not herbie hancock, fortunately.

the first was the william parker/hamid drake trio with alto saxophonist zhenya strigalev at the baltic restaurant. a strange venue in some ways, and the audience was split between expensive looking people eating and scruffy jazzheads nursing bottles of polish lager. parker is a hero of mine and this was a nice opportunity to watch him at work. wearing a beaming smile much of the time, he grooved, swang and squealed away in rock solid fashion. the set seemed to be mostly improvised, with a few ornette-ish heads thrown in at times. things were mainly kept at a reasonable intensity, though a spidery ballad near the start of the set opened up some nice melodic interplay between parker and stigalev. strigalev is one of those players that i've heard a little of but whose immersion in such a wide variety of projects makes you wonder what he actually really wants to do. still, it's a way of getting more gigs i guess, so fair play to him. in this context he coped pretty well, i thought. there was a bit of ornette, maybe even rollins (in his freer moments) in some passages. hamid drake is a restless groove machine, constantly shifting the ground underneath parker, who nevertheless dug in at every rhythmic shift. there's a lot of mingus in parker i think - that same elemental, er thing. a solo where he played with pulling the g string off the neck so it buzzed (sounding a bit like a large fly hitting itself against repeatedly against a window) was very reminiscent of charles at his punkest.

some things didn't work too well and sometimes drake's rock/funk tendencies got a bit much, forcing the music into stasis, which isn't where it wants to be. an encore featuring drake on frame drum went nowhere much, but my feeling was that they'd have been happy to go on all night if they could, and that counts for a lot. a nice gig.


Colin said...

I've been to a gig at the Baltic only once, but wouldn't want to return. I saw Sussan Deyhim sing a pretty dreadful set of standards. To do so, I had to stand in the corridor while posh people sat at tables ignoring the music and waiters raced past serving them.

I have seen no LJF gigs.

Peter said...

i can imagine. it wasn't that bad at the parker gig but i think the audience noise probably meant they had to keep a certain intensity level up in to be heard, which meant the music probably suffered a wee bit as a result.

i'm sad i missed the jazz on 3 thing with all them improv types, mainly because barre phillips was playing. other than that, i have no desire to see sonny rollins or john scofield or andy sheppard etc etc. :-)

Post a Comment