Off Minor

Musings of a Jazz geek

Back In Your Town 15/3/07: Ravalico/Khroustaliov, Ashley Wales/etc

Posted March 16, 2007

Two groups at March’s Ashley-Wales-curated-improv-night Back In Your Town, at The Red Rose club, Finsbury Park. (Sorry, no decent pictures, again.)

Maurizio Ravalico & Isambard Khroustaliov
First up was the duo of Maurizio Ravalico (percussion) and Isambard Khroustaliov (laptop). Ravalico was really impressive. (He has a great website with some nice mp3’s, including a few with Khroustaliov…) He had three sort-of upright drums, on top of which he had various things like gongs/cymbals, singing bowls (??), marbles, etc, creating some very captivating pulsating, tumbling textures. Khroustaliov was providing some processed feedback, that helped to sustain these great waves of sound. Ravalico explained that the pieces weren’t entirely improvised; they had been ‘worked out’ somewhat before hand. But this is good; the music was essentially quite minimalist (probably the wrong word, really), but they were able to avoid any dead-air, and it was all really engaging.

The pair have recorded a CD together, plus there are the afore-mentioned mp3s. Check them out!

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Bohman Brothers Present, 7/3/07: Adam Bohman / Alan Wilkinson, and others

Posted March 9, 2007


Back to the Bohman Brothers Present… at London’s Battersea Arts Centre.

Adam Bohman & Alan Wilkinson
Adam Bohman is a genius, scraping all sorts of mad funky sounds out of a table of found objects and constructed instruments composed of bent pieces of wire and the odd fork. He did a solo at the last BBP… I went to, but I liked it better here because I think he was being pushed more by the fiery influence of Alan Wilkinson on saxes (although that meant that there was none of Bohman’s great poetry and jokes). Wilkinson is great, just so loud and powerful. Bohman’s stuff was all miked up and amplified, so it was a perfect match; the guttural scraping, rasping sounds playing brilliantly against the honking lines of the sax. They played a relatively brisk single piece; Wilkinson wanted to play on, but Adam Bohman decided that they had to move onto the next act. However, later there was some sort of agreement that it sounded good enough to record (if so, it’d be excellent if I could hear some more…). I also bought the recently released Adam Bohman / Roger Smith Emanem CD Reality Fandango (which they were flogging on the front desk); I’ve currently only listened to the small 3-minute pieces, but it sounds pretty damn excellent so far…

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Boat-Ting, 4/3/07: Lol Coxhill / Steve Noble / John Edwards, and others

Posted March 6, 2007


Wow, Boat-Ting is just the best thing ever. Back again on Monday…

Steve Noble, Lol Coxhill, John Edwards
These guys were playing at the last Boat-Ting I went to (the last but one-one)… They’re all awesome, but I think I preferred their performance tonight… It seemed to get off a bit more. Tho that might have been because I’d nabbed the sofa seats at the front, so they were playing right into my face.

Last time I wrote that I didn’t really feel like I got Lol Coxhill, but I sure do now… I think I wrote some bollocks about him being more meditative and developing than other kind-of blasting players that just play all sorts of random screams. Well, that’s partly true I think, but he was playing with bursting energy that I hadn’t seen him pull out the (very few) other times I’ve seen him. John Edward’s playing was also really inspired tonight (not that it’s usually not inspired) but there was a lot of inventive sounds coming out; they all seemed like they were pushing themselves just that little bit further. They played three improvisations, the last piece was a cool short thing with Lol Coxhill starting off with some great little melody that exactly showed how it’s nonsense to say that Free Improv doesn’t know how to play tunes.

Still haven’t bought any Coxhill records, probably should have bought something from the front desk :(

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McCoy Tyner Septet, at the Barbican

Posted February 27, 2007

McCoy Tyner

Ticked off one of my life’s great missions: to finally get to see McCoy Tyner play live. I’ve missed the opportunity quite a few times, but he’s so important to me as a musician (what with the fact that he played on A Love Supreme for a start). Anyway, got a good seat to the performance, Barbican was ok… Last time (first time) I went there was to see Wayne Shorter at last year’s London Jazz Festival, and the sound was terrible. A bit better this time, but could still do with some work…

Anyway, enough about irrelevant technicalities, it was McCoy Tyner, omg!!!!11!!!1!!! The gig was some sort of tie-in to the Impulse records birthday thing that’s been going on for, what, quite a while now (??) inasmuch as: it was the McCoy Tyner trio, with the septet coming in to play a few ‘classic’ Impulse records tracks at the end…

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Boat-Ting, 5/2/07: Lol Coxhill / Steve Noble / John Edwards, and others

Posted February 9, 2007

The Yacht Club, on the River Thames, London Embankment

Yay, second time back (first time back) to the Boat Ting (or is it Boat-Ting?) club at the Yacht Club, London Embankment… On a boat, on the Thames, good music, excellent.
Once again, four groups / ensembles… Not quite as excellent a night as the first one; not really sure why… things were a little more sparse this time…

Steve Noble, Lol Coxhill, John Edwards
Last time, Steve Noble and John Edwards were playing with Alex Ward; this week they were joined by Lol Coxhill, forming a trio that I’d previously seen performing in the QEH foyer at last year’s London Jazz Festival. N+C+E are presumably a more formal group, since they’ll all be back again at Boat-Ting on 5th March…

Anyway… This was interesting, because the N+E+Ward group was really Hard, Rocking, Power… Lol Coxhill is a bit more meditative, I guess? A bit more rolling and developing rather than a continual onslaught of random, new ideas and directions; a completely different style of playing and music.

Steve Noble is my new favourite drummer, and I’ve seen him loads, now, in the last few months… (Well, ok, a few times.) I wrote about him briefly on here before… His arms are a constant flurry, dragging stuff off and on his kit, continually trying to produce new sounds… More of a drum-kit percussionist than straight-up drummer… He’s really fantastic and engaging to watch… You don’t have to just sit back and breathe it all in…!

John Edwards is always great… Is he the hardest working bassist in London? There haven’t been many times in the last few months when he hasn’t been playing… Perhaps I’m just picking obvious gigs to go to. In any case, he’s still a genius. Steve Noble is God; John Edwards is God too.

Lol Coxhill. I think I’ve seen him about four times, now? I don’t quite know what to make of it all, because he’s great, but difficult to pin down because his playing seems a lot more thoughtful than a lot of his contemporaries… That means his playing doesn’t really seem to instantly grab me as much as anyone else, but that’s probably a good thing and means he’s less full of tectonic tricks, a more intelligent (?) player. Anyway, I don’t know what I’m talking about… I need more Lol Coxhill records…

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Bohman Brothers Present: Steve Beresford / Sharon Gal, Steve Noble / Alan Wilkinson

Posted November 3, 2006

Sharon Gal at the BAC

It was great to finally be able to get back to one of the Bohman Brothers’ improv nights, this Wednesday; the last time I went to one of these things, they were still in the loft-space in Bonnigton Square (Vauxhall), but they’ve now moved to the Battersea Arts Centre, just outside Clapham Junction… Which is good, because it means cheap return tickets in and out of Guildford :) Plus there’s a handy bar downstairs (although the room itself is a little tight).

Tonight was two duos: Steve Beresford (piano) + Sharon Gal (voice), and Steve Noble (percussion) + Alan Wilkinson (saxes). Both did two sets of single improvisational pieces.

Sharon Gal at the BAC The Beresford / Gal thing was cool (see post image); Beresford is about the only european free-improvising pianist that I really honestly like; he’s always full of cool ideas, knows when to shut up, and really tight across the keys. Although this was actually the first time I’d seen him without Evan Parker :/ Gal was pretty funky… Vocals never really turn me on, but this was pretty cool.

The Noble / Wilkinson duo was really fantastic; the screaming lines were extra awesome in the confines of the tight performance space, right up close. I had forgotten that I still have an Emanem CD of theirs (Free Base) that I’d never really got round to listening to, properly… That’s now sitting in my CD drawer ready for a good opportunity…

If you’ve never been to one of these gigs, and you’re in the area and able to, it’s well worth it. It’s only a fiver to get in, the audience is tiny (less than a dozen people) yet the music is so great. Adam Bohman was seemingly worried that there weren’t many people there, in the audience, that night… Hopefully that doesn’t mean it’s dwindling away towards a point of non-viability?

Alan Skidmore Quartet – at the Coventry Biggin Hall

Posted September 29, 2006

Alan Skidmore at the Coventry Biggin Hall

Alan Skidmore (saxophone), Steve Melling (piano), Ian Palmer (drums), Mick Coady (bass)

Really excellent gig tonight by Alan Skidmore and, what is apparently, his current working quartet. Although Skidmore is well-known as a strong follower of everything Coltrane, tonights gig was particularly heavy (actually, full) of Trane compositions (and arrangements) in a gesture to celebrate what would have been JC’s 80th birthday, last Saturday.

This is the second time I’ve been able to see Skidmore (the first time was also in Coventry), but he’d managed to bring a much better band with him, this time. Actually, a really phenomenal band… Skidmore was on fire throughout… The pianist was able to pull the lever and drop into McCoy Tyner mode as and when required… However, I was totally blown away by Ian Palmer, who is just a truly magnificent drummer. ‘Pulled out a staggering drum solo somewhere towards the end of the first set (a proper extended solo, with the band letting him carry on until he was begging them to come back)… It was probably the best single drum solo that I’ve ever witnessed, just in terms of shear power, fluidity, and also originality and a fantastic sense of lyricism… Rather than just kicking up some great rhythms, everything seemed to be going somewhere with definite purpose. I mean, it’s usual for me to come away from most gigs and decide that that respective drummer is now my best drummer in the world, but this guy Palmer was really something of a surprise!

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