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Friday, January 21, 2011

Schmazz Factor @ The Sage Gateshead. January 20th

Schmazz @ The Cluny chose to present the 2011 Battle of the Bands event at The Sage in Gateshead rather than Schmazz HQ down in the Ouseburn Delta. It paid off in one respect - a good number of punters, some of whom were new to Schmazz, filled the Northern Rock Foundation Hall.
Triffid, formerly know as the Harley Johnson Trio, had the honour (drew the short straw?) of being first up for examination. Judging panel in place, audience attentive, the trio began rather quietly with pianist Johnson seemingly rumaging around under the lid of the Steinway looking for his sheet music. Ah, this was the performance! Bassist Ivan Scutt played quietly, perhaps too quietly. The set, in the form of a suite, rarely took off and it remained to be seen what the other entrants had to offer.
Hannabiell & Midnight Blue were, as they say, something else. Hannabiell is an energetic, all action, up and at 'em performer. Bass trombone, percussion and mbira were her instruments of choice. Her main instrument - trombone - was given such a working over that the great Gary Valente could well decline the offer of a toe to toe encounter. Blast after blast, legs and arms flayling, this was some show. The band - piano, bass and drums augmented by saxophone and two further percussionists played African jazz, funk and soul and more.
Paul Taylor, pianist with Long Lonesome Go, performed solo. Taylor took the time to talk about his approach to improvisation. Elements of twentieth century piano composition with, perhaps, a French influence were evident to my ear. This was a good set.
Soznak is a street band well know to shoppers on Northumberland Street in Newcastle. With the lights dimmed, the band - brass and rhythm section - marched into the hall with instruments lit by what appeared to be Christmas tree lights (an amusing touch, today they can go back into the loft until the end of the year). Leader Paul Miskin plays trumpet Township style, the band clearly enjoys the art of performance and it was a fitting end to the competition. The judges retired to deliberate over two hours plus of diverse musical entertainment. The interlude was the perfect opportunity to bring to the stage Carpus Trio winners of the inaugural Schmazz Factor competition. The trio gave a stupendous display. Virtuosic, tight, powerful, just great.
The judging panel returned to give its verdict. Triffid's drummer Rob Bates was commended, so too Paul Taylor. The winning entry - Hannabiell & Midnight Blue - was greeted with shrieks of delight.
Worthy winners, the band can be heard again (for free) in the King's Hall in Newcastle University at 4:00 pm, Thursday 3rd February. Russell

1 comment :

Ian said...

i think 'musical entertainment' is certainly the way it turned out. Unfortunately, i was hoping for jazz rather than theatre! the quieter entrants certainly shot closer to the mark for me.

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