INCOMING

INCOMING

'Heaven' on 24/7

2018 review. “The bark of a dog flew by” — from A Goat’s Song, by Dermot Healy There, on O’Connell Street, in from the river Garavogue, bartender Declan was smiling. The opening afternoon of the Sligo Jazz Festival is where our story begins …

Published: 9 Nov 2019. Updated: 13 months.

2018 review. “The bark of a dog flew by” — from A Goat’s Song, by Dermot Healy

There, on O’Connell Street, in from the river Garavogue, bartender Declan was smiling.

The opening afternoon of the Sligo Jazz Festival is where our story begins continuing into the evening towards the remains of the day when a new audience of concert goers arrived at the Hawk’s Well theatre for singer Liane Carroll and friends, “ladies of jazz” themed – three nights before the moon dances this weekend at its fullest high over Knocknarea.

Nestled as a major strand within the umbrella of the Sligo Jazz Project that includes Ireland’s most internationally known jazz summer school students for the summer school come from far and wide. Under Declan’s attentive watch for instance Jason, a pianist from Los Angeles, was enjoying the vibe squeezing in among the punters explaining a bit about how great Yoshi’s in Oakland is and enthusing about Joey Alexander. While with a shorter distance to travel another pianist from Warrenpoint, county Down, riffed on how happy he was to be in Sligo as a student after previous visits spectating.

Super busy festival director Eddie Lee, playing double bass in the tiny corner band space teaming with Pigfoot drummer and percussionist Paul Clarvis, the Impossible Gentlemen co-leader guitar great Mike Walker and graceful Irish alto saxophonist/clarinettist Ciaran Wilde, arrived bar side in the break to kindly fetch a beverage for Paul hemmed in by his kit.

As the temperature rose a scrum of jazzers piled in, several standing with their axes on their backs straight from the classroom. Summer school was out for the day. Hargadons was full of players and fans, regulars staking their spots well ahead of the late-afternoon start. ‘Lady Be Good’ and ‘Stardust’ were the highlights for me in a standards strewn set. Chatting to the Jimmy Giuffre-loving Ciaran afterwards by the door we discussed Paul Whiteman and that incredible rehearsal gliss that inspired George Gershwin to write it into Rhapsody in Blue.

The main event of the day was Liane Carroll and Friends in the Hawk’s Well theatre, introduced by BBC Jazz World presenter Linley Hamilton, Hastings singer Liane with equally wonderful singers Emilia Mårtensson and a soulful Sara Colman, the fine Joe Henderson-esque tenorist Meilana Gillard plus David Lyttle on drums always an interesting listen, and WDR big band bassist John Goldsby a rock.

In the short time beforehand I headed to Shoot the Crows nearby and there chatted to short story writer Louise Kennedy about the unity of Samuel Beckett, Morton Feldman, and W. B. Yeats in Séan Doran’s upcoming ‘Three (or more) Billboards Outside Enniskillen & Sligo’ border installation while examining her precious copy of the Selected Poems by the late Dermot Healy just launched at the Tread Softly literary festival which is running concurrently in town alongside the jazz.

In the Hawk’s the pianist Malcolm Edmonstone was a perfect listening accompanist and highlights of the first set for me were the languorous ‘Heaven’, a slice of Sacred Concert Ellingtonia.

WDR big band trombonist Shannon Barnett showed her versatility during her solo features especially when she moved into an avant Samuel Blaser-like space.

Over at the Riverside jamming got underway for the evening session afterwards. Scott Flanigan, above, was on piano early on, Steve ‘Dakiz’ Davis on drums. Cork jazz festival director Sinéad Dunphy was vigilant presiding over the stageside sound desk especially when one young singer needed a bit more volume, and among the many jammers Paul Booth, of the Steve Winwood band, playing on a beautiful vintage Conn tenor saxophone, blew everybody off the stage not that it was a cutting contest at all. What a sound. SG

Tags:

Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock at the Barbican, London

2015 review. Last time Corea and Hancock toured extensively together before this tour began in March was 37 years ago. That partnership of the two former Miles Davis players who had experienced great success with their own bands by then separately …

Published: 9 Nov 2019. Updated: 7 months.

Next post

2015 review. Last time Corea and Hancock toured extensively together before this tour began in March was 37 years ago.

That partnership of the two former Miles Davis players who had experienced great success with their own bands by then separately with Return to Forever and Headhunters drew on a different side of their artistry than jazz-rock fusion or jazz-funk to produce the expansive and intimate albums An Evening with Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea in Concert recorded in San Francisco; and later, switching the billing, CoreaHancock.

Coming on to the Barbican stage to a sea of applause, there was a little banter between the two, no tense beginning here. Herbie produced a Miles Davis impression, “You gotta look at the shoes”, he growled with a grin on his face, in his case a shiny smart casual pair, in Chick’s colourful Nike sneakers. Each player had an electronic keyboard by their side in addition to a concert grand and the concert began with not notes from any instrument but a rustle of sheet music from Herbie. “Did you get that, Bernie?” he asked the sound man, as the microphone picked up the sheafing of manuscript, the fanning paper merging with the unceremonious lifting up and banging down hard of the piano lid in a jagged fashion from Corea as if he was using bellows to stoke the fire.

The early part of the concert, there was no interval, it was one continuous set, was quite abstract with imagistic blocks of chordal experimentation and plenty of eye contact between the two. Neither indulged in question-and-response type statements that you sometimes get in overly elaborate two-piano concerts and this was more integrated and all the better for it but hard to read. More about shifting lines and the sharing of darting rhythmical ideas and hardly any riffs let alone beat in the early sections. Before they began the pair asked the audience if we wanted “something” (i.e. something prepared) or “nothing” (free improvisation), and certainly the early part was, as hinted by Herbie, the free improv side.

As the concert progressed there was more prepared material and compositions of their own that both could play in their sleep including some of Herbie’s most familiar and often played classics ‘Cantaloupe Island’ and later ‘Maiden Voyage’ to the applause of recognition from the sold out audience. And there were also some incredible keyboard samples intermingled among the grander piano gestures and tumbles of notes, Corea by now having taken off his light jacket to reveal a white T-shirt with a pink square design on the side, proceeding to trigger clave-like latinate percussion while Herbie conjured post-‘Rockit’-type whoops and chirrups and little boings and surprises from his keyboard rig.

The pair played with dim purply hues as their backdrop in the stage lighting and there was a mellow vibe partly encouraged by this. Some of the best moments were the quieter solo sections from Herbie and the way the pair deftly unpicked the theme from Rodrigo’s ‘Concierto de Aranjuez.’ Audience participation in the encore was subtly done with different sections assigned a note to form a big choral effect swelling as Chick and Herbie waved their arms like a conductor, “complex harmonies” Corea commented by way of introduction, and this actually worked well, the audience “sitting in with the duo” as Herbie kindly put it.

Stephen Graham