Sunday, July 27, 2008

Radio Free Europe - Manchester Jazz Festival day 4

Monday 21st July kicked off with some decent weather for multi-euro starred 'EU3 + 1'. The set consisted largely of mellowish contemporary original tunes with fairly sparse arrangements, the bulk of the modern chordal harmony delivered by Uli Elbracht on the guitar. Some quite sophisticated tunes and an appropriately understated delivery all round set us up nicely for the day. I was disappointed there was no referendum at the end of the set.

It was then over to the Bridgewater Hall foyer for some american country sounds from Billy Buckley's 'Waggon Train'. I've seen Steve (Billy) a few times now and have always enjoyed his playing. He has great touch and feel and gets some gorgeous valve amp enhanced deep sounds out of his collection of electric and pedal steel guitars. The set comprised of mainly blues and country tunes but there was some lovely modal jazzy playing on one of the latter tunes. Festival stalwarts John Ellis on piano, Matt Owens on bass and Eryl Roberts on drums hit the spot nicely providing a good sympathetic backdrop to Steve's playing. Nicely written tunes to boot made for a great Monday lunchtime.

I had been looking forward to some contemplative solo piano from Danilo Rea as part of the evening double bill at the Royal Northern College of Music but sadly Danilo had a heart attack the night before and was unable to perform. I hope he's now recovering OK. The Gabriele Mirabassi Trio stepped in for Danilo by playing two sets. This was what you would call a nice quiet one with the acoustic classical guitar of Peo Alfonsi and the double bass of Salvatore Maiore accompanying Gabriele's vibrant and sinewy clarinet playing. The style was quite varied wandering from folk melodies to latin jazz. Gabrielle clearly loves playing and despite the band all being seated he was frequently half up on his feet swaying around with the sheer joy of playing. I would like to have heard a bit more of the guitar featured as Peo was also a lovely player but I wasn't disappointed overall despite the relavatively short sets.

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