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Saturday, November 02, 2013

Arun Ghosh Sextet @ Sage Gateshead. November 1

Arun Ghosh (clarinet), Zoe Rahman (piano), Chris Williams (alto saxophone), Liran Donin (double bass & electric bass), Nilesh Gulhane (tabla) & Pat Illingworth (drums)
(Review by Russell/Photo by Ken Drew.)
Clarinetist Arun Ghosh recently released his third album – A South Asian Suite – and to celebrate the occasion embarked on a tour with his sextet. The itinerary included a visit to Sage Gateshead. The Gem Arts promoted gig (with a little help from Jazz North East and Sage Gateshead) attracted a good number of folk – regular jazzers, world music fans, Sage patrons, in fact, anyone with an interest in great music. Ghosh, hailing from the north west of England, brought huge enthusiasm and brilliant musicianship to the party.
The sextet matched him every step of the way. The band’s rhythm section had it down from the first bar of Gypsies of Rajasthan: drummer Pat Illingworth (remembered for a commanding performance with the Spatial AKA Orchestra at Sage Gateshead) gave a master class alongside tabla maestro Nilesh Gulhane with bassist Liran Donin ‘s commitment to the project clearly evident. Tunes ranged from the elegant to the explosive. 
Virtuoso pianist Zoe Rahman is elegance personified. She never fails to captivate, communicating with band mates, picking up on the subtleties of Ghosh’s compositions with a knowing smile, reciprocated by Donin, altoist Chris Williams, Gulhane and Illingworth. Ghosh himself, immersed in the music, danced, cajoled and, quite simply, enjoyed the whole experience. His solo flights drew upon innumerable Asian influences – the music of Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka – inspired by the fishermen of great rivers (River Song) to independence celebrations across the continent (Lal Qil’ah). 
Highlights were many, one such being an exquisite Rahman piano solo followed by After the Monsoon. The devotional Sufi Stomp (Soul of Sindh) really did stomp. In concert, one noticed the Ellingtonian voicings for clarinet and alto sax on intros, often as a prelude to fearsome blowing. Arun Ghosh may be the front man but he has put together a fine band, the group sound to the fore. The Gateshead audience demanded an encore and the self deprecating Ghosh said we would end with something from the ‘hippy dippy’ era. The Beatles’ (John Lennon) Tomorrow Never Knows sent us on our way…man.                       
Russell.
(PS: Photo by Ken Drew posted by kind permission of Sage Gateshead.)

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