Review: Alice Zawadzki Band/Let Spin, Green Note (LJF)

Alice Zawadzki and Moss Freed


London Jazz Festival Review: Alice Zawadzki Band/Let Spin
(Green Note, Thursday 16th November. Review by Rob Edgar)


Last night, the cosy Green Note Café in Camden featured singer/violinist Alice Zawadzki's band and guitarist Moss Freed's Let Spin. In the Zawadzki band, the hippie culture of the late 60’s and 70’s has grown up; the band featured Kit Downes providing harmony (with some lovely ‘notes of added resonance’ chords) on his Hammond, guitarist Alex Roth created a kind of Aeolian harp effect (achieved by strumming the strings with the guitar’s volume on zero and gradually bringing it up), Jon Scott delivered some fine drumming with a myriad of different beaters and sticks (never over-powering, even with the venue’s diminutive size taken into account) whilst Zawadzki herself sang beautifully and played violin at the same time (no mean feat!). Dicho Me Habian Dicho, sung in the near-extinct language Ladino, was cyclical in form and had elements of folk, jazz and classical structures but with the trance-like hypnotic spirit of The Doors’ The End.

That wonderful gentle, lilting character was to define the first set before the Alice Zawadzki Band left the stage (to rapturous, deserved applause) and made way for guitarist/composer Moss Freed’s new project: Let Spin.

If the first group had a waft from hippie counterculture, by contrast Let Spin are firmly rooted in the modern, the hectic and the gleefully bizarre. When they first took to the stage for Awowawa it sounded as though we might be hearing an experimental rock group. Ruth Goller’s bass guitar was crunchy and a little trebly, doubling Freed’s (equally distorted) guitar in a way that was almost reminiscent of experimental rockers the 80’s Matchbox B-Line Disaster but with Chris Williams playing an anarchic Naima style solo over the top on his saxophone and Finlay Panter providing some pounding rhythms underneath. The band could start a tune in a fairly laid-back manner but it would quickly descend into organised chaos in the fashion of John Zorn’s Naked City album.

Each member of the band is also a composer which made for an fascinating, mixed bag of pieces. Saxophonist Chris Williams’s piece Shapes and Sizes was very sax-heavy, Williams pushing his instrument almost to breaking point, squeals and multiphonics popping out now and again in a solo which had the audience spellbound.

Up and At Them started out almost like a typical garage rock band but evolved into kind of eastern European, Hungarian/Bulgarian style with complex/irregular time signatures over a backdrop of distorted guitars.

The highlight though was Ruth Goller’s Castle Sea Ferry. The piece had some lovely chordal bass playing, the occasional biting dissonance and quite a few seemingly disparate ideas superimposed on top of each other which all came together and resolved at the end.

It was a night of two very different bands, both of whom captured the audience's imagination, but in different ways. Let Spin have an album recorded, apparently still in the rough stage. Yes please, and soon. 

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