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Bebop Spoken There

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Saturday, November 30, 2013

Sonsale + Collaborations Trio @ Sage Gateshead. November 28

(Review by Russell)
A double bill of familiar names and faces: regionally based musicians (bassists Andy Champion and John Pope), national names (Corey Mwamba, Chris Biscoe and Roger Turner) and from France, Valentin Ceccaldi and Sylvain Darrifourcq. The Northern Rock Hall at Sage Gateshead attracted the committed. Chris Biscoe performed earlier in the day at Newcastle University as ‘Biscoe & Co,’ and the same line-up – Biscoe (reeds), John Pope (double bass) and Roger Turner (percussion) – played a set of approximately one hour as the ‘Collaborations Trio’ offering four freely improvised pieces. The quality of the acoustic was in marked contrast to the ‘difficult’ space of the King’s Hall.
The musicians performed close up, the audience in raised tiers. Biscoe, in casual lounge suite, displayed a mastery of his instrument, be it alto, soprano or bass clarinet. The Cat with the Hat, John Pope, stood his ground, looking and sounding all the more at home having come through with flying colours at their lunchtime gig. The Gateshead man made less use of the bow and his contribution was all the better for it. Drummer Roger Turner is a treat anytime – visually as well as musically. Eyes closed, deep in concentration, he picked up sticks, brushes, sticks, more sticks, the tools of his trade. The drumming fraternity should have turned out in droves, in the event, two or three were there. There was much to admire and learn from someone of Turner’s pedigree.
The other half of the bill – Sonsale – returned to Tyneside, the place where it all began. One senses a real friendship between the four musicians. Corey Mwamba (vibes) is a frequent (and most welcome) visitor to Tyneside and has struck a vital partnership with bassist Andy Champion. The Frenchmen – Sylvain Darrifourcq (drums) and cellist Valentin Ceccaldi – are master musicians and all round good guys. The Paris-based duo work across the spectrum, largely Leftfield, contemporary ‘new’ musics. Darrifourcq, an impish character right out of a Godard movie, is a phenomenal talent. Some dyed in the wool jazzers would, no doubt, struggle to hear ‘jazz’ in his playing. No matter, he is one of those musicians you have to hear before you die (guitarist Mike Papapavlou, currently studying in NYC, should check him out. Another one for your list Mike!).
Darrifourcq played jazz kit plus. The ‘plus’ being the entire collection of his (mother’s?) kitchen pots and pans, alarm clocks and a zither! An amazing musician and well worth a trip to Paris to hear him.
Valentin Ceccaldi made a major contribution to this Sage performance. Diminutive, seated (all the more so), he straddles the ‘out’ scene and conventional strings’ settings. This gig heard him in out mode. And how! Is it legal to inflict violence on a defenceless cello? In a sustained, brutal attack he set up a glorious finale. Smiles beamed – Mwamba to Darrifourcq, Darrifourcq to Mwamba. Andy Champion, with ‘game face’ on, couldn’t resist an approving glance, a nod to Ceccaldi to his right. The Girl from Ipanema sprung from Mwamba’s vibes (your reviewer didn’t pick up on this at the time), the ever alert Champion latched on to it, one of the joys of the music. There is talk of Sonsale performing in France. As and when dates are confirmed they will be posted to this blog and it is recommended flights be booked to Paris
Russell.                      

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