Review – Here’s to 20 years of jazz

2012-07-03 10:48

If you’re asked how the All-Star NYF Closer gig at the Standard Bank National Youth Jazz Festival went, say it unfolded like a tale of six men in awe of one another’s chops.

Anton Goudsmit from the Netherlands was there with his guitar, and he is a monster too.

The man stepped on stage as part of an international band that included Norwegian alto saxophonist Morten Halle, Karl-Martin Almqvist from Sweden on tenor sax, Swedish bassist Daniel Franck and from here in South Africa, Andre Petersen on piano along with Ayanda Sikade on drums.

They opened the set with a piece titled Wars of Perception, written by Petersen. The song is marked by the horns taking first flight on solo sequences.

The excitable energy of the playing only set the scene for the high powered dishes that followed.

The pianist, as the writer of the chart, kept cutting in incessantly on the centre-right side of his keyboard, improvising imaginative linear phrases, all in the higher registers of his instruments.

However, last night found full fruition with the fourth contributed composition.

Penned by the guitarist, titled Boom Petit, it starts out with Goudsmit churning out clusters of colourful lines with Sikade knocking sophisticated drum pulses to help him find his place in time.

Franck walked his bass right behind them, he is a kind of beast on the bass too.

All of this created a tasty harmonic march.

The up-tempo cipher organised by the rhythm section became a perfect context for horns to weave ribbons around each other until the whole thing burned itself into a funky groove with the guitar taking reign.

Line after gut-bucket line, they churned out the funk, with only passion and impeccable chops – instrumental virtuosity – sustaining the interaction and keeping the encounter from exploding like supernovas do.

The band followed up this jamboree with a piece written by Almqvist, “Woodstock Cape Town”. An ode to that town. It is another gutbucket tune that’s as blue as that windy city can be.

The band drove it like a strict and unforgiving groove.

Sikade and Franck keeping a tight lid on time thumping and marching the army like they’re men on a mission.

As the tunes followed one after the other, it became clear that no other band could have been better suited to celebrate the 20th anniversary of this jazz festival.

It has been convening her to honour musicians and teachers that come to Grahamstown to perform for the audiences every year.

This year only there’s been 350 young South African jazz players gathered to safeguard our nation’s jazz future. The European musicians understand this too.

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