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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Julie Sassoon (solo piano) + Travelers @ Jazz Café November 25.

Antonin Tri-Hoang (reeds); Francesco Diodati (guitar); Matteo Bortone (bass); Ariel Tessier (drums)
(Review by Steve H.)
This superb JNE/Schmazz double bill was served on two levels both literally and metaphorically. The night began on the ground floor. Berlin based Julie Sassoon performed a superb solo piano recital. It is hard to categorise her music -  is it jazz or is it improvised contemporary classical? But, frankly, who cares? it is simply spellbinding. Sassoon, after apologising to the audience for playing with her back to them, opened with an untitled piece which was something that just happened to take her mood at the time. This was followed by 44  at the conclusion of which Sassoon turned to the audience and explained the context of the next piece Land of Shadows.  
Six years ago, on her previous and inaugural visit to Tyneside, Sassoon played a solo gig at the Cluny. During this gig, whilst actually playing, Sassoon  had an epiphany about what direction her music should be taking. The focus of the work was to be her German Jewish roots (her great grandparents were murdered in Auschwitz by the Nazis)  and in 2009 she moved to Berlin to pursue this project. The piece, not surprisingly, was sombre, deep and dark convincingly conveying the horrors of that time. The set concluded with the upbeat New Lives taken from the same named 2006 album. This had the feel of an uplifting church organ recital. Sassoon’s playing is unique, her physical relationship with the piano fascinating to observe. The constantly changing rhythms and timbres of her playing are invigorating and the augmentation of the piano with vocal accompaniments add a spiritual dimension to the performance.
After a well deserved encore the audience made their way  upstairs..
The Travelers are a Euro Combo: Italian Diodati and Bortone on guitar and bass respectively heading from Rome to hook up in Paris with Frenchmen Tri-Hoang and Tessier on reeds and drums.  It took a while to get into this gig probably because I was still overwhelmed from the earlier downstairs performance. It was clear though from the first two numbers Locked Room and Sunday Supermarket that this was a very talented band. By the time the third number Just Played had completed I was completely won over by this tight blend of 21st Century jazz rock fusion. Diodati was particularly inventive with all the electronic wizardry at his disposal.
A  glorious ballad Olvidar  featuring Tri-Hoang on clarinet set up the rest of the evening perfectly. A Led Zeppelin tributeHouses of the Holy was followed by No Land Highspot. By the time the finale, Beraska, was played the whole room was buzzing. What I particularly liked about this band was that rather than each member taking formulaic stage-managed solos on a rotational basis the solos were integrated into the ensembles overall performance so that the groove remained unbroken.
A delighted and  fulfilled audience departed the Jazz Café and I am sure I could hear shouts of Bravo, Formidable and  Wunderbar echoing down Pink Lane.
Steve H.

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