Friday, November 23, 2012

6 For 7 Thursday 22nd November 2012 Seven Jazz, Seven Artspace, Chapel Allerton, Leeds

Wind and rain lashed the streets of Chapel Allerton in Leeds as, within the confines of Seven Artspace, the faithful Seven Jazz audience waited good-naturedly for events to unfold. Seven Artspace has, for a number of years now, provided a home for a variety of events that would probably have not found an outlet within the city. This evening was part of a two evening event to mark the fifth anniversary of Seven Jazz who have helped nurture both established and new jazz talent in the area.

Seven Jazz run a series of instrumental workshops on a regular basis from Seven Artspace, to provide a platform for, and encourage, scholars of jazz music. The evening began with three tunes performed by the twelve piece Saturday afternoon workshop band under the umbrella of the “English Songbook”. The band itself, made up of players from an astounding range of ages, tackled “You Were Born to Smile”, Lennon and McCartney’s “Norwegian Wood” (or “Gledhow Valley Wood”) and Limehouse Blues. Under the direction of a number of participants, including Kim Macari, the players were allowed the opportunity to display their personal prowess within the framework of these tunes and gain experience in a performance setting.
New music made up the remainder of the evening programme, commissioned specially by Seven Jazz, directed and composed by trumpet player Kim Macari. Macari moved to Leeds in 2008 and studied Jazz at Leeds College of Music. She has had occasion to play alongside a veritable who’s who of musicians including Tommy Smith, Kenny Wheeler, Mike Gibbs and Arild Anderson. The ensemble for tonight’s 6 For 7 performance comprises Macari on trumpet, Riley Stone-Lonergan on tenor and soprano saxophone, Ant Law on guitar, Declan Forde on piano, Tom Wheatley on bass and Steve Hanley on drums.  “It’s Cold Outside” begins with a meditative bass solo, before developing into a series of melodic passages that illustrate how easy it is for these musicians to move among intelligent melodies, inspirational and rousing solos and the experimental and avant-garde. Each improvisation displayed a level of sympathy between the individual musicians which was both a pleasure and a privilege to be part of. 

The lullaby “I Need You Here” featuring trumpet, bass, drums and piano conveys a fragility of playing which at times became reminiscent of Chet Baker in its naivety and purity. If circumstances allowed, this would be essential cigar smoking music. “Puella Aeterna (Eternal Girl)” is measured, yet brimming with hope and expression. A tune concerned with bees and ants such as Macari’s “Hive Mind” one would expect to be hectic and demanding, and, hanging on hysterical piano lines, one was reminded at times of the free form performances of pianists such as Cecil Taylor. Intimate saxophone and piano, an almost caricature of the husband and wife relationship, characterises “Delius”, whilst the concluding arrangement of the evening “Settled” is good-natured and blissful.  The obligatory encore was, good humouredly, provided by “The Usual Suspects” which, again, was agreeable yet mischievous and frenzied. 

The atmosphere within the venue was welcoming and gracious, and made more so by a raffle during the interval, which helped draw musicians and audience together as one. For the thirty or forty people present, an intimacy was created which was entirely conducive to creating and listening to these intelligent and wholly gratifying arrangements. 

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