Monday, July 21, 2008

La Manca Latino - Manchester Jazz Festival day 2

Blimey, so it's here again already, the thirteenth Manchester Jazz Festival and always the highlight of the Manchester jazz year - where did the year go? I couldn't make the opening Freedom Principle night at trof3 but by all reports the Bits and Pieces big band were especially kicking.

So I made my way down to St Anns Square on Saturday morning for the first full day. The event kicked off handsomely with Suzanne Higgins' 'Bossa Nouvelle'. Some great sunshiney sounds were proferred to fend of the mixed weather, bringing smiles aplenty to the dedicated crowd who refused to budge despite the frequent rainy spells. There were some tasty arrangements of classic latin tunes such as 'How Insensitive' and even a version of the much loved 'Girl from Ipanema' - quite brave I thought. It was good to hear a full band arranged version of this classic that can so easily sound a bit cheesy in it's usual dinner jazz duo setting. I especially liked there closing number that added a bit of a funky edge to the latin flavours and featured a ballsy bluesly solo from ever energetic Mike Walker.

This was swifty followed by the 'John Ellis Band' complete with steel drums from Kenji Fenton taking the uplifting mood set up by Bossa Nouvelle in an African and folky direction. The first track was an extended and quite jolly rolling piece that was enjoyable to begin with, but I was beginning to feel it needed to move somewhere. An irritating headache due to lack of food was doubtless not helping my appreciation though.

I returned after gaining some sustenance hoping to see '12twelve', the final act in the square. Not sure why, but they went on about 40 mins late so I was only able to catch the first track. A shame, as it sounded like it was going to be a good one. Following the great success of last years spanish import, MJF decided to play the same card again in more or less the same slot. It looked to be equally promising, the low strung guitar of Jaime Pantaleón indicating this was going to be a bit different, and the mention of krautrock giving an extra frisson of excitement.

True enough when the first track got going the free jazz and psychedelic elements were immediately present over a cruising swing beat and swaggering bass line from the rhythm section. A nice bit of echo pedal excess from guitarist Jaime reminiscent of Pink Floyd Live at Pompeii was fab to hear in a jazz context. Must check their MySpace me thinks.


Anonymous said...

I thought the Barcelona boys were goddamn rubbish. Wooooh! wooooh! the guitar boy felt was how things were going but gaaah! gaaaaah! I think was the audience response and a lot of people just walked away.

In addition, they made no attempt whatsoever to engage with the audience either during or after the thrash - sorry, performance - and walked off immediately after finishing like slamming a door.

The MJF crew were wandering around the festival with a questionnaire and the following day I overheard someone say "Barcelona", and they were not happy, and nor were most people.

I have no idea if this is representative of Spanish jazz - probably no such thing is possible - but these boys were the pits.

Ade said...

Fair enough. I thought they sounded promising from the first few minutes but I have heard a few other people agreeing with you since.