Jason Yarde/ Andrew McCormack
(Places and Other Spaces CD launch, The Forge, October 14th 2011. Review by Sebastian Scotney)
Saxophonist Jason Yarde and pianist Andrew McCormack are old friends and musical colleagues. They first started working together more than a decade ago as part of Tomorrow's Warriors. Their first CD as a duo was released in 2009, they have toured extensively as a unit since then. They were at the Forge on Friday night to launch the new CD Places and Other Spaces (Edition Records, reviewed here by Chris Parker). The vibe to the evening was one of the quiet celebration, a landmark passed.
The concert, like the new CD, does not rely on any looping or electronic effects, amplification was minimal. McCormack produced a huge range of different textures on Forge's Steinway, and Yarde always holds a clear melodic line. They are also both composers, with the capacity to think in extended paragraphs, and the sense of a devloping narrative came across even more strongly live than on record. The grooves, the building blocks can be angular, jaunty, but lines, the stories are not tricksy or over-clever at all.
They gave an insight into their compositional method when talking about their opener, D-Town , a reference to Dartington. McCormack had written the piano part, handed it to Yarde with the invitation to dream up a melody. That sense of unforced collaboration works well. The experience of working together means that they match volume, intensity, build particularly well, as if in a lockstep, taking the same direction.
They also work well with others' compositions. Bernstein's Something's Coming worked well, with contrasted tension/ urgency and repose
There was one major irritant at this gig based on interaction, and the duo's ability to shrink down to a pianissimo. A photographer with a smart camera and loud shutter proved completely insensitive to the ambience around him. He was circling, finding new places to shoot from. Quite why he couldn't have turned up for the soundcheck and snapped a couple of numbers and then left the audience in peace is a mystery. This review is late, for the reason that it needed a day or two for my blood to come back down off the boil....
I've calmed down now. It was a very good gig, and, unless that photographer is stalking them, the remaining dates on the tour can be recommended without hesitation