Monthly Archives: November 2007

Acoustic Ladyland, Fulborn Teversham and Luke Barlow Band

Acoustic Ladyland, Fulborn Teversham and Luke Barlow Band

Luminaire

Thursday, 22, November
Setting the tone of the evening, the Luke Barlow Band warmed up the Luminaire crowd with their jaunty, post-modern cacophony.  Recently playing an explosive set at the Vortex with his other band, Gannets, clarinetist Alex Ward is a busy guy.  Also playing guitar in this project he dueled with pianist Barlow, in some challengingly dense counterpoint improvisation.  The freer periods of the set were, however, playful and melodious enough to keep the overall sound accessible and fun. 

For leading the way and helping to re-invigorate the entire Brit-jazz scene nationwide, the evening could only belong to Seb Rochford and Pete Wareham.  In their first incarnation of the evening they took to the stage as recipients of a rapturous applause from a crowd eager with anticipation.  Fullborn Taversham was able to straddle many genres; they could be called an indie band, although at times there was a fierce puck element in what they were doing; they also used jazz rooted improvisation whist still managing to lace their compositions with melodious pop throughout.  During tunes such as ‘Off Song’ talented vocalist Alice Grant almost spat her lyrics out; full of attitude, this leading lady was irresistible to watch.

By the time that Acoustic Ladyland took to the stage there was a dense cloud of excitement hovering over the sold out club crowd.  As ever, Pete Wareham owned the stage, dominating the spotlight throughout.  The band played fast and with some serious energy, managing to squeeze a huge number of songs into the set.  Blending a punk rock style attitude with the virtuosity of jazz (throwing in a little bit of Slayeresque tub thumping for good measure), Acoustic Ladyland were able to work the crowd up into a frenzy.  From the first beat till the last this band was a whirlwind of excitement, and before the gig was over, a large section of the audience was involved in a mosh pit that most decent metal bands would be proud of.  Any attendee who had expecting a serene London Jazz Festival gig was badly mistaken.

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Tord Gustavsen Trio at The Barbican, London

Opening with a three part suite, the Tord Gustavsen Trio immediately covered the audience in a warm and soothing cloak of sensitivity.  Their musical themes and ideas were laid out like a blanket on top of the frosty Norwegian ground.  Structurally sparse and icy like their native land, yet at all times maintaining a rich melodious quality, their compositions felt like coming in from a snowy night to sit by the fire.

Pianist Tord Gustavsen had a whispery sensuality about him that came though in both his personality and equally in his writing.  Hunched over his keys like a younger Bill Evans, Gustavsen seemed totally engrossed in his intricate playing; only occasionally rising passionately to his feet.  However, it can not be said that his volume or density matched the intensity of his performance.  Applying notes sparingly, in tiny fragmented phrases, the pianist created a musical landscape that was serene and natural.  Like the rippling waters of a vast Scandinavian fjord, the melodies had beauty without needing to be sensational.

On tracks such as; Tears transforming, Draw Near and Vicar Street an affinity to classical and spiritual music from the west was evident, the harmonies and rhythms found in the trio’s arrangements feeling more akin to the European jazz cannon than their American counterparts. 

The drumming from Jarle Vespestad initially felt over simplified, but with further observation his approach fitted perfectly with the bands overall direction.  Barely a snare shot throughout the entire concert, his intuitive use of the cymbals was highly effective using his instrument as a light atmospheric timbre, rather than a driving pulse.

Sadly however, audience members were leaving before the end and the feeling that the seemingly endless performance, albeit technically good, was quite frankly… well dull.  A simple lack of diversity or dynamics made the time drag, unfortunately leaving those watching it feeling isolated, bored and regrettably unmemorable.