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Tuesday, April 09, 2013

GIJF Day 3: Alexander Hawkins & Louis Moholo-Moholo + Bonga, Mwamba & Champion

(Review by Russell)
The closing concert of the 2013 Gateshead International Jazz Festival brought together two generations of improvising musicians. From Oxford, pianist Alexander Hawkins and from South Africa, drummer and elder statesman of the music Louis Moholo-Moholo
An opening support set featured three friends. Gateshead’s Andy Champion (double bass), Corey Mwamba (vibes) and Ntshuks Bonga (alto & soprano saxophones) first met and played together as a trio at the Bridge Hotel in Newcastle. To see them on stage together at an established international festival confirmed their individual and collective rising star status. Three improvised pieces developed from the stillness. Mwamba breathed life into his instrument, Champion’s fragile gossamer figures awaited their fate - a fate determined by Bonga’s penetrating alto. Mwamba’s vibes erupted in fury, bass responded, bow drawn then still once more. Louis Moholo-Moholo, virtuoso musician and hero of the Anti Apartheid struggle, met up with Alex Hawkins a few years ago and they have developed a lasting creative partnership. The South African is the senior partner in the relationship. The relentless drive from the traps invigorated Hawkins’ brilliant performance at the Steinway. Shouts of encouragement and audible expressions of joyful release from the drum master added to the drama of it all. The duo maintained eye contact for long periods, immersed in their music-making. A spontaneous, abrupt end came with Moholo-Moholo declaring he had said everything he wanted to say. Then a change of heart. He wanted to play on. They played on. A legendary figure of the music on the banks of the Tyne. Who would have thought it? Thanks Louis, thanks Alex. A gig to remember.       
Russell.                

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