Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Flamenco Sketches - Manchester Jazz Festival day 8

Another Manchester regular, Paul Farr kicked off another not so regular even sunnier Friday morning 25th July with his cryptically named Paul Farr Band. This was another quite funky bluesy Scofieldly affair with some tasty 335 guitar playing of exactly the sort I like, nicely overdriven when appropriate and teasingly just sneaking off into controlled feedback sustain at Paul's leisure. There were some good tunes too though they were perhaps getting a little samey sounding over the course of a full hour.

This was the first time I've seen Neil Yates added to this band who's great line up consisted of Luke Flowers on drums and Sylvan Richardson on bass. Neil was using a delay unit very effectively to overlay multiple horn lines creating a horn section of sorts. He also providing some nice ambient drone layers to backdrop the guitar and some general swirling reversed and pitch shifted sound effects enhancing the overall aural pleasure. This really added to the impact of the band and the material. Probably the best guitar improvising came on a slow tune near the end that I wasn't so keen on overall but it provided a good foil for Paul to kick on. It was good to hear a band that seemed well rehearsed and really on it as well.

In the same spot a good few hours later the rather odd looking Crill Bones took to the stage with fake blood stained torn dinner suits. In the course of the set guitarist Jasper Wilkinson alluded to the stage attire hinting that the story behind it may be libelous so we'll have to imagine that one. Great fun they were too. Good time vibes with some nice grooves and decent lines and horn hooks over the top. Some nice and solid funky stuff too from Ollie Collins on bass, especially on a track featuring some Parliment style wah-wah sounds and a nice bit of improv. Jasper was a very entertaining frontman and quickly got the afternoon crowd on his side.

It was over to the Green Room for the evening double bill. First on was the solo piano of Robert Mitchell. Robert has a highly impressive and enviable technique but the material left me cold. It was harmonically very complex and too dense and rich I found. It's possible that it would reward repeated listening but was too much to take in one go. Even so I still think there was too little variation in the density and I was wishing for some of the sparsity and thoughtful note placement of Les Chisnall. That well worn adage comes to mind.

The second half of the bill brought a dramatic shift of gear with the shamelessly retro fusion of the Polo Orti Quintet. It was a loud and high energy set featuring some nice playing from ex Manchester based sax player Fermin Rivero, now based back in Spain. Well there was no disputing it was classic 70s jazz-fusion through and through and received a mixed response from the audience though many clearly loved it. I think again it could have done with a bit more variation in approach for me, particularly from Polo's keyboard sounds. He clearly loves his Herbie style synth tones and stuck with them for the whole set. An entertaining enough evening but I guess I probably wouldn't end up checking these acts out again I suspect.

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