Sunday, 17 October 2010


Friday was a really good day "jazz wise".
Out at a gig on Friday night at the Queens Hall to see the SNJO with guest Arild Anderson playing a selection of music to celebrate 40 years of ECM. Very fitting in a way that Europe's leading jazz label should be celebrated by Europe's finest "jazz orchestra".
Really like the SNJO and I really like Arild Anderson, so it was going to be a winner from the start this one. But it exceeded my already high expectations.
I've always viewed ECM music as being predominately jazz tinged with a Northern European influence (both classical and folk), and there was certainly some fine examples of that at the gig - Garbarek's "Molde Canticle" and Andersons own "Hyperborean" and "Independcy IV". But, it is also home to an awful lot of more "mainstream"/American influenced jazz and there were a few rousing examples of that as well with Pat Metheny's "Bright Size Life" and Dave Holland's "May Dance" really giving the trumpet and sax sections a chance to let it rip.
Interesting to hear so many pieces I'm familiar with "done large" in a big band setting. Chick Corea's "Crystal Silence", originally for piano and vibes is completely changed when done for a big band. Likewise Garbarek's piece, originally for a quintet, has a real "ethereal" quality - the saxophone sighs rather than sings, but with a big band setting the work opens up. The work remains the same but the "feeling" of the work is "re-imagined" to borrow a term. 
As is always the case with the SNJO, "guest" performers are given a bit more time "up front" than most of the other musicians, but never too much to bore the listener. Anderson however, could have played for the entire two hours solo, and I don't think the audience would have grown bored of watching him, pluck, slap, bow or caress the bass.
Over the moon that one of my favourite tunes of all time, Keith Jarrett's "My Song" was used for the encore.

Outstanding solo of the evening? Alyn Cosker ditching the sticks and playing a stunning accompaniment for Anderson that evolved into a solo using his hands on the drums and cymbals. Though Ryan Quigley's trumpet solo must have been a close second.

Heard that this concert (and the other three in the "tour") might be getting recorded and might eventually get released by ECM. Really hope that they do.

Why else was Friday a good jazz day? Well at lunchtime I picked up a CD by the Pete Letanka trio, then on the way to meet Anne at night I went into a shop and found a Charlie Mingus album I fancied - for "ten bob"!! Love a bit of Mingus - jazz tinged with "anger". Good edgy stuff.

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