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Sunday, June 04, 2017

Notes from day one of the Durham City Jazz Festival. June 2.

(Review by Steve T)
I returned home in the early hours after Friday night wanting to write my review while I was still buzzing but, with a DJ set to prepare and an early start the next day... I find, writing this on Sunday morning, I'm still buzzing.
This is a multi-venue event across the city with the focus on an outdoor area at Fowlers Yard and the Empty Shop Just across the river. The Empty Shop already has the coolest regular jazz night in the region and will have made many new friends this weekend, with its eternally friendly welcome from festival co-creator Carlo and his eternally patient partner Ali.
Three bands at the Empty Shop meant I didn't get to the Old Cinema Laundrette for what I believe was their first foray into Jazz with Mick Shoulders Swing Manouche, but people began trickling down with reports of a sell-out and a triumph, some who hadn't heard Lord Edis before, some not realising he was the clarinettist. He returns to the Festival tonight (Sunday) with Triptych.
Three trios at the Empty Shop on Friday, first up Senza Frame with a Durham Uni connection and I wasn't sure at first how up my street it would be, but I quickly came around to their futuristic grooves from drums, some impressive 'proper' piano playing and a third playing mostly electronic sounds and occasional sax.
Toon band Taupe next and the type of free-blowing soundscapes Jazz North East put on at the Bridge in Newcastle and these were up with the best of them.
With everything that's going on in the North East, and Durham doing better than most, it feels like we're on the cusp of something great with Faye MacCalman and Archipelago surely at the forefront. Fresh from her tour with the Unthanks, they were more rhythmic and melodic than I'd expected. I always try to buy albums from up and coming bands but I'd have bought there's anyway and have fast-tracked it to the top of the ever-growing heap.
Festivals are often as good as their jam sessions and this was a blinder. With the absence of a bass, up-stepped trooper John Pope from Archipelago to give it some order, a solid backbone and some sterling soloing. Faye and the saxophonist from Taupe briefly made up a three sax section but their places were gradually taken by ordinary punters. By definition these feature musicians of mixed abilities and it fell to precocious teenage guitarist to take control with one of those solos which should have been too long but you wanted  it to go on and on. Pope favourite Spain brought a memorable night to a close.
If we can get this on quickly enough, please try to get to Fowlers Yard this evening (Sunday) for the Steve Glendenning Quartet featuring the extraordinary vibraphonist Chris Jelly. Then face the choice between brilliant multi-saxophonist Sue Ferris, with another teenage whiz-kid Matthew MacKellar depping on drums, or a two minute walk to the Empty Shop for our very own Duke Ellington, Lord Paul and a trio Triptych.
Steve T.

2 comments :

Russell said...

Great review Steve!

Steve T said...

Sorry you couldn't make it. Trust you are well.

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