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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.

Sunday, November 04, 2018

Review: Charkie Parlour @ the Globe - November 1

John Garner (violin, composer); Mark Williams (guitar); John Pope (bass); Russ Morgan (drums)
(Review by Ann Alex).
This was a thrilling evening of music, especially from a band which, according to Mr Garner, doesn’t actually exist, because they don’t have a website, haven’t yet produced a CD, and this was their first gig anyway! 

How best to describe this very varied music, all band originals, with influences from free jazz, classical, folk, Eastern music and South African music? I’ll start with the musicians themselves who are known to jazz fans from other bands. John Garner is a classically expert violinist who produced sounds which no violin ought to make, long slides, weeping, squeaking, scratching, besides the more ‘normal’ lyrical tunes, pizzicato, double-stopped chords, and even a cadenza which would have fitted well into a violin concerto by Beethoven.

Mark was quieter than other times I’d seen him, but giving us flowing tunes or jagged effects as required and lots of call and response with the violin. John simply did all sorts, sometimes down at the dusty end of the bass, tweaking, clapping, bowing,  much improvised I’d guess, and with quite a bit of comedy. Our drummer was a million miles away from swing for much of the time, sticks, brushes, mallets, hands, very adaptable and varied.

The sound was great, but even if you hadn’t liked the sound, it was so, so interesting to watch. The free end of jazz is very visual.

So what was played? Twelve or so long pieces, three of them from a suite composed by Garner. Garner explained that the suite was influenced loosely by the writings of Kahlil Gibran in his meditative book The Prophet. Garner had also thrown a dice to help decide the notes and chords to be used.

So Love began with a bowed bass and ‘scratchy’ violin, rather Schoenberg-like, rumbling drums, then pizzicato violin and lots of guitar riffs. The description doesn’t do it justice and it all worked well. The other two pieces from the suite were called Children and Giving.

The first tune of the night was a bit more conventional, opening with riffs and grooves from bass and drum, then a beautiful flowing folky tune from violin, bell-like guitar, a long guitar solo, ensemble climax, and repeated riffs at the end. The Bump, ‘to do with pregnancy’ said Garner, was amusing, with sliding violin, mad guitar, sounds which reminded me of a plane landing or of the music which goes with cartoons.

Foot Fluff was also funny, a short piece with, to my ears, Klezmer effects. Have Violin Will Travel featured ‘travelling’ music, lines of melody appearing to move along, and this morphed at some point into a John Pope composition called Ing. A tune for Halloween was followed by the final piece, There’s No Time Like The Future, which was a lovely hymn-like melody on violin, with improvisation from the others.  

The band play in Edinburgh early in the New Year and a CD is in the pipeline. I spoke to many of the audience who said how much they had enjoyed the performance, so I predict that this band has a promising future. A great evening, with much to interest lovers of more conventional jazz as well as those who like the more ‘free’ style.
Ann Alex

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