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Monday, October 12, 2009

On The Outside Festival. Sunday Oct. 11 part 1.

Day 3.
A festival on the scale of On the Ouside is a major undertaking with hiccups such as delayed arrivals at airport or railway station being nothing unusual. Early Sunday afternoon presented another challenge with the Tyne Bridge all but inaccesible due to major traffic jams to the north and south of the river.
This, the penultimate session, got underway shortly after the advertised start time of two o'clock with, inevitably, one or two latecomers rushing into the hall to hear the first set. Four musicians; one from Brazil, one from Germany, one from Scotland and one hailing from just around the corner.
South American cellist Marcio Mattos, a veteran on the free jazz scene, linked up with bass clarinetist Rudi Mahall (a vital presence throughout the weekend), Graeme Wilson (tenor and baritone saxes) and Guitar Rising Star (as 'Down Beat' would put it) Chris Sharkey. Mahall's sound is gutteral, insistent, urgent. Foot-tapping, in something approximating a syncopated style, he leads the ensemble first this way then that. Wilson, cool, detached, listening all the while, never wastes a note. Sharkey, Gateshead born, is a remarkable talent. Technique, style, vocabulary - he's got it all. A good start to the afternoon.
The second set presented the duo of New Yorkers Rob Brown (alto sax) and Daniel Levin (cello). Brown is, as they say, 'the real deal'. Gifted, with a disguised bop sensibility, he knows what to play, when to play it and crucially when not to. Levin is a quite sensational cellist with a dazzling technique (imagine Du Pre or Isserlis as a jazz or free jazz player) and a pork pie hat to boot! I'd venture to say this was the set of the weekend.
The following set saw one change to the advertised line-up with drummer Chad Taylor being replaced by Gunter Sommer. 'Baby' Sommer was joined on stage by the brilliant French bassist Bruno Chevillon, pianist Marilyn Crispell (possibly the stellar name at this year's festival) and 'Man About Gateshead' Chris Sharkey. Sommer and Sharkey traded, Crispell captivated, Chevillon conquered.
Andy Champion had a hand in determining the cast list for the afternoon's closing set. A long time admirer of French guitar virtuoso Marc Ducret, Andy insisited that he share the stage with him at some point. So, this was his opportunity in the company of Raymond MacDonald and Alan Tomlinson. Champion favoured a percussive approach with extensive use of the mallet. The session drew to a close with hand shakes all round.
Russell.

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