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Thursday, May 02, 2013

MoPoMoSo @ Summerhill Bowling Club. April 29, 2013

(Review by Russell).
Twenty one years and counting. London-based free improv music promoter MoPoMoSo (MOdernismPOstMOdernismSOwhat?) was established in 1991 by John Russell and Chris Burn and by way of celebration a cast of thousands took to the road on a national tour. A Better Noise, Tyneside’s premier promoters of all things improv, usually hole-up in Morden Tower, West Walls, Newcastle or the nearest available telephone box. As hosts of the Newcastle leg of this once in a lifetime tour, the defiantly subversive bunch   looked for somewhere more palatial. A city centre theatre location? An area with significant foot-fall perhaps? No, no, no. A former suburban bowling club in an off-the-beaten-track location…where else? Down the years the Great and the Good have bowled a ball or two on Summerhill’s lauded lawns (WG Grace, no less and Wor Jackie, Newcastle United’s most famous No.9, to name but two). And now, in the year 2013, an undisputed giant of the music walked through the gates. Reeds maestro Evan Parker engaged in quiet conversation, listened to his fellow improvisers as they took to the stage and waited with characteristic patience to make his contribution to the festivities.
The evening began with local improvisers Posset (Joe Murray) and Mariam Rezaei (turntable). Murray has been a familiar face on the scene for a number of years developing a found sound landscape utelising low-fi tapes and voice. Turntablist Rezaei, an occasional collaborator, spun a web of tungsten, snaring Murray and audience in an all too short set. Brevity was of the essence as an ever-changing roster kept to a tight schedule.
The duo of Kay Grant (voice) and clarinetist Alex Ward have developed a highly sophisticated set of improvisations. Grant, from the New York scene, now resident in London, ignited, then, in turn, reacted to Ward’s virtuosic clarinet playing. ‘Telepathic’ doesn’t tell half the story. Seemingly impossible reaction times to each other’s creative excursions - explosive, tangential - rewarded the listener time and again. This was a superb set.
On paper the Alison Blunt Trio looked the pick. Violinist Blunt’s string trio - Benedict Taylor (viola), David Leahy (double bass) - have worked together for three or four years and all three hold down coveted  chairs in the London Improvisers Orchestra. The trio began as improvisers so often do - somewhere, out there, not at the beginning, middle or end, just ‘there’. Ornette Coleman has been doing it for years and this set was nothing short of sensational. The pin-drop, attentive audience listened rapt to a slow movement of exquisite beauty. Then an inattentive member of the bar staff dropped a pint glass shattering the near-silence. This ‘happening’ triggered the most remarkable (and memorable) of reactions; in a nano second all three musicians reacted to the involuntary interruption with a furious eruption of sustained full-on ‘out’ playing. Brilliant! What a set!
The maverick Pat Thomas (piano, keyboards, electronics) arrived in Newcastle with his electronic box of tricks (mini keyboard attached) but no piano. No matter, the man is a genius and he played a blinder. Big beats, cartoon capers and the most dazzling ‘keyboard’ work this side of Art Tatum/Thelonious Monk/Cecil Taylor  had the crowd baying for more - and they got it!
Top of the bill - House Full of Floors - couldn’t go wrong. We were there for Evan. Parker (tenor), John Russell (guitar) and John Edwards (double bass) could not have been more comfortable in one another’s company. Parker, eyes shut tight (sounds familiar!), listened to Russell’s idiosyncratic inventions then sign-posted new directions as Edwards’ physical workout exercised the trio without any concessions to the elder statesmen. A memorable night in Summerhill.  .        
Russell.                                     

2 comments :

Paul Kelly said...

Greetings from the phone box - are there any still in use.
Mopomoso was amazing, great players making exciting music with no hold barred. And a good review. We should do this again!
And huge thanks to Sound and Music and tour producer Alice Eldridge for making it happen.
Paul

diane jones said...

You'll need to find a phone box then Paul since I understand that there will be no future better noises at the Tower.

Excellent review Of a brilliant evening Russell, and yes please do do it again Paul...

diane

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