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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tomasz Stanko Quintet @ The Sage, Gateshead.

Tomasz Stanko - trumpet, Jakob Bro - guitar, Alexi Tuomarila - piano, Anders Christensen - bass, Olavi Louhivuori - drums.
Some years ago I read a collection of short stories by William Price Fox - "Southern Fried". They are magnificent tales of the American deep south - seek it out, I think it has been re-printed with 6 extra stories.
The particular story relevant to tonight's little adventure is a one called "The Rope". It's a story centred around a group of down and outs who challenge each other to name the worst place they have ever slept in. The winner was a doss house which had a room with a rope stretched across the middle - no beds - just a rope. The idea was that the 'guests' draped themselves across the rope and then tried to sleep. The most comfortable position was in the centre of the rope but if you were late arriving it meant you had to make do with the end of the rope and had to try and sleep at an angle. Not easy.
Tonight, I opted for a £7 standing ticket on Level 3 in The Sage's Hall 2. This was only marginally more comfortable than I imagine the rope to have been and possibly contributed to my cup not running over with joy.
Roz Rigby introduced the quintet who last night had been part of the London Jazz Festival and tonight were performing, possibly, as part of Polish Week in Newcastle. I wondered idly if they were having a Newcastle Week in Poland!
The first 20 minutes were of a dirge like nature; probing, introspective, long drawn out notes that suggested a lament to a fallen soldier or a departed love, possibly the introduction to a dream and indeed sleep did beckon but I fought it and won (or did I?).
The set was played non-stop without interval or announcement and there were moments when it came beautifully and excitingly to life. Tomasz does have a wonderful tone (so he should playing all those long notes) and when he chose to despatch some Miles-like runs he displayed an impressive technique and nobody slept.
But, having fortified myself by listening to his earlier quartet recordings I realised that I was really at the wrong concert. The fault is entirely mine.
Piano, bass, guitar and drums had their moments but by and large their role was supportive.
The attendance was good with Levels 1 and 2 close to sold out hence my being up there where the air is rarified.
Next time I'll opt for a seat in the stalls.

1 comment :

George said...

Sorry to hear of your Tomasz Stanko discomfort 'over the rope' Lance - Orwell refers to this kind of doss house in Down & Out.... where 5 star would be solid boards to hang over. There was another luxury in A J Cronin's Beyond This Place, where sacking was stretched between 2 ropes to make a line of low-slung 'hammocks'.
I really am sorry that Stanko didn't deliver for you as I was intending to go ; I've got friends in Poland who gave me some of his albums back in 2005 and I really liked them. As I write I'm refreshing on the most amazing coincidence of a title considering your comments: 'Suspended Night' ECM 2004, which is of its genre and I can see where you're coming from : I like this cool delivery as a nightcap but it's not the music to take your mind off rope burns in the armpit!

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