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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Sound 12 Festival at The Sage – Some Jazzy Surprizes

I went to this event expecting lots of folk and classical music, given by students from the local universities, and indeed I enjoyed such items as African drumming and Joseph Suk’s Serenade for Strings, but I was delighted to find that some jazz was also on the menu, just to prepare me for the extravaganza to come next weekend. This came from Newcastle University Saxophone Quartet, who treated us to a set of music in chronological order from medieval times to the present day. This included a lively 1920’s style version of Gershwin’s Somebody Loves Me, with some very tasty playing from Soprano Sax; Ellington’s Don’t Get Around Much Any More; and Joni Mitchell’s Blue.

Then appeared two people I know from the folk music degree, doing superb blues. Matt Price, resplendent in pinstripe suit and black trilby, on slide guitar and acoustic guitar, with Natalie Fisher, who sang superb full-throated heartfelt blues. First came St James Infirmary, followed by Careless Love. Natalie explained how these songs had originated as English folk songs. She then sang the traditional folk song Geordie, but did it in a bluesy style to lyrical accompaniment on the acoustic guitar, which married the two styles really well. The unaccompanied song Bad, Bad Girl was good, if you get my meaning, and Natalie explained that this was a goodnight ballad, which is a song using the last words of someone who is about to be executed as a criminal, so that the ballad can be sold to raise money for the family left behind.

Then I visited the sound installation which was in the small Squires seminar room. This was looped sound, each identical section about 5 minutes long, which was neither jazzy nor musical, and probably not meant to be. But it did start me thinking about the nature of music. It had been labelled as an installation, so I listened to it without prejudice, and made up a story for myself about it, as it reminded me of aliens coming to our planet. But if it had been labelled as music, I would have dismissed it as nonsensical. At least it made me think.

Ann Alex

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