Roundup Review: Gateshead International Jazz Festival



Peter Slavid writes:

Over the last few days you’ll have seen the various reviews that Rob Edgar has done from the Gateshead International Jazz Festival.  I’m not planning to overlap with those reviews, but I thought I’d try and give you another view of the event – and cover some of the less publicised events that attracted my attention.

The first thing to say is that The Sage, Gateshead is a terrific venue for a festival. Three different sized spaces let them put on everything from the big named Americans to more specialist groups, with lots of local acts in the free public foyer.

The Sage itself is a beautiful building – enhanced for the occasion by an exhibition of David Redfern’s  and Edu Hawkins' photos.  It’s in a good location, with good transport links – and if you get bored you can always stroll over to the Baltic Art Gallery.

What about the music?

I’m a big fan of Django Bates’s mindbending music so Friday got off to the best possible start with his Belovèd Trio (with Martin France standing in for Peter Bruun) and the Norbotten Big Band (reviewed HERE). Later that evening I went to see Glassonic – a most unusual concert on instruments made from glass (with bass and trumpet accompaniment). The instruments included the wonderfully named Sauvignon Blancophone – a set of tuned wineglasses. The whole thing was specially lit and was visually stunning!

Personally I think that its that sort of juxtaposition of the well-known with the unusual that’s a hallmark of Gateshead – and something that makes it such a great festival.

Saturday Concerts have been well covered elsewhere, but again there were two interesting gigs late in the evening. They couldn’t possibly have been more different – but both were excellent.  In Hall Two Courtney Pine was blowing up a Caribbean storm as only he can – lots of barnstorming soprano sax, Caribbean rhythms and circular breathing - with a handclapping and footstomping audience all having a great time. In the smaller hall James Mainwaring (Roller Trio) on Sax and Tom Adams on guitar combined with the electronics of Radek Rudnicki to play alongside a giant 10 foot high triangular structure onto which were projected a stunning set of visuals that synchronised brilliantly with the powerful music. It was mesmerising!

And finally to Sunday: Polar Bear and Shiver have been touring and have been reviewed many times so you don’t need me to tell you how inventive and exciting they are, but in the smaller hall there was a programme put together by Jazz North East. This featured the less well known but also brilliant Roby Glod – on a rare visit from Luxemburg - playing with Andy Champion and Mark Sanders. All three are fierce improvisers – Glod on alto and soprano – but he has a rare ability to retain a lyrical quality to his improvising alongside a fearsome technique and tone.

There were plenty of other gigs that I missed - sometimes I made the wrong decisions – that’s the nature of festivals. Overall this was a great weekend and I’d heartily recommend it for next year. The festival has also posted a selection of John Watson's photos.

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