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Friday, December 14, 2018

Archipelago and Guests @ Bridge Hotel - Dec. 9

Christian Alderson (drums  & percussion); Faye MacCalman (sax & clarinet); John Pope (bass guitar)  + Fran Bundey  (iPads and  TC Helicon VoiceLive Touch); Lisette Auton (poet, spoken word artist).
(Review & photos by Ken Drew).  

One year ago, Jazz North East's end-of-year performance comprised two bands - ARTICLE XI and FAVOURITE ANIMALS for an end of year blast. This year's final blast of the year was 'Archipelago + Guests' hotfoot from their mini-residencies as part of their 'Between Waves' project where the trio worked with a different guest for each of their four performances at Cobalt Studios in October. Tonight, they were reunited with two of their guests to perform some of that work and to launch a digital EP of their ‘Between Waves’ collaboration.


With a slightly late start to find more seats for late arrivers, it was straight in by Archipelago with a rather loud and powerful number - reminding us of their power-trio garage-jazz approach whilst exploring ‘song forms and emotional narratives with riffs, silence, noise, grooves and improvisation’. This was followed by 2 readings/poems by Auton - gritty and witty and pretty direct is her style.  Then a third reading, this time nicely backed by the trio in a subdued manner initially, before winding up the angst towards the end almost turning the piece into a song. What a nice intertwining mix of words and music throughout this piece. Then over to Bundey, initially an instrumental solo piece (prepared iPads & devices) followed by another with the trio joining too with a  slow rhythmic tune with many effects throughout (reminiscent of LeafCutter John maybe).   The end of the first set was a piece by Archipelago Drift Ice driven by a strong beat, heaviness, and moments of melancholy.
Set 2 started with the guests - Bundey with an upbeat solo song then Auton with two more readings revealing more of her observational and humourous style. Next, a revelation by Archipelago - they have a singer within!  With Faye on vocals, this gentle tune increased in intensity to a climactic end, bookended by Pope soloing on bass. Then, a longer piece arising from the Between Waves collaboration  'Heartbeat' (you can see the graphical score for this on Auton's website) complete with trio backing and words emphasised by hand movements (which is often the case with Auton!). The final number was the trio with Bundey's electronic layers and vocal choruses & FX.   I'd like to have heard more of Bundeys work, even if just pumping up the volume beyond the shadows of the trio. And of course an encore. Despite being out of time (and beyond) they squeezed in a Don Cherry number to energise the audience for the journey home.

This was a packed night - both for the audience and the programme which was quite ambitious, aiming to cover solo work from each of the 3 bands/artists plus the inclusion of some of the output from their Between Waves project. Overall it gave an insight into each of the performers and what had emerged from the collaborations, but there is more untapped potential in there no doubt.  

Their Bandcamp release 'Between Waves' is due on 11th Dec.  Check it out, along with their Soundcloud tracks, with the volume at ‘11’ if possible.   
Ken Drew


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