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Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Mike Papapavlou: Interim Guitar Recital, Newcastle University. January 23

(Review by Russell).
The wood panelled Recital Room in Armstrong Building, Newcastle University has a certain austere feel to it, just as it should be at a prestigious seat of learning. Interim recitals are being held throughout the week - classical, folk and at two o’clock today a jazz guitar recital by Mike Papapavlou. Mike has been on the scene for a couple of years and it was obvious from first hearing that he could play. He has sat in around town - Dave Weisser’s workshop at the Chillingham, the Jazz Café and Hoochie Coochie to name but three hangouts. 
A gig is one thing, formal assessment another. Mike chose three pieces, one for solo guitar and two tunes accompanied by friends Ruairidh Patfield (electric bass) and Lewis West (drums). The solo piece - one of the great tunes - In a Sentimental Mood has taxed the very best talents. In his recital notes, made available to the listener, Mike referred to the Ellington/Coltrane recording: ‘This majestic version gave me inspiration to arrange the piece for solo guitar’. So, the stakes were high! Mike respected the melody and settling into his performance, improvised effectively. One down, two to go. Our man in the spotlight introduced Ruairidh and Lewis and somehow you just knew it was going to be alright. Blues on the Corner (McCoy Tyner) proved to be an inspired choice. Mike observed: ‘the form of the piece is a twelve bar blues however the harmonic extensions and the use of quartal harmony give it an exciting edge’
You said it Mike! This was exciting. Great playing with excellent support from bass and drums. At its conclusion one or two of the assembled gave it the jazzer’s seal of approval with ‘Yeah!’. Was this the done thing in a recital? Who cares! The Fall of Stout, a tune by Scottish guitarist Kevin Mackenzie, concluded the examination. The trio got to work on this one with space for Ruairidh and Lewis to do their stuff. Mike and Ruairidh smiled as they exchanged ideas and Lewis joined in the fun on a freeform section. I don’t know what the examiners thought but I reckon it was First Class Honours. Catch Mike gigging around town. As Mr Weisser might say: ‘Nice cat!’
Russell          

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