BBC Introducing with Gilles Peterson and Jez Nelson, Band on the Wall. Monday 16th July 2012.
This was a little different to other MJF gigs. One, because it's recorded for Radio 3 and two, because the artists were chosen by Jez Nelson, Gilles Peterson and Kevin LeGendre, all from the BBC in some guise. The artists were selected from acts that had applied to the BBC Introducing scheme.
Bristol's 'Dakhla' were a perky two sax, trumpet and drum affair. This band were more about the horn arrangements than improvisation as such, drawing on a wide selection of traditions from balkan music to afro beat and funk. I particularly enjoyed Matt Brown's vibrant open ringing drum sound, giving his fab loose grooves an added low rumble tastiness. There were hints of Seb Roachford in there, as well as the Polar Bear sound generally, but Dakhla have very much their own thing, and very engaging it is too.
If 'Dakhla' weren't about the improvisation, 'Im' very much were, largely of the free variety. There was a certain genteel and rustic charm to this outfit, some elements of the sound having stirred up a little nostalgia for the BBC Radiophonic workshop themes. The deep echo reverb Hammond organ sound was also reminiscent of early 70s Pink Floyd, along with the filtered minimoog sounds adding to the retro vibe. Despite the generally unstructured approach, a number of arranged horn parts were layered in by the excellent sax and trumpet players. There was also some lovely woody sounding manipulated trumpet improvising that I eventually worked out was reminding me of Jon Hassell's contributions to David Sylvian's work. 'Im' inevitably are not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but hats off to them for a great little set, and the BBC for giving them this airing.
The last act of the night for me were 'Roller Trio'. They're one of those acts that cram lots of different styles in a track in what can sometimes sound like a bit of a scissor and paste job to some ears. The tracks tend to be quite long and complex, having lots of sections with dramatically different tempos, dynamics, time signatures, harmony etc. This can be a little frustrating from a listening point of view, especially when you really like a section, but it's what they do, so that's fair enough I guess. The playing's of a high standard, with some really nice grooves emanating from the drums of Luke Reddin-Williams (whose fragmented style and mannerisms were not a million miles from Manchester's own Luke Flowers). Sax player James Mainwaring and guitar player Luke Wynter can both also get round a tricky time signature while laying down some decent sounds. Ultimately though, there was something about it that I couldn't engage with to any great extent. Reductio ad absurdum summary: Trio VD without the distortion pedals.