Review: Nt 2, Barry Guy New Orchestra at Cafe Oto

Barry Guy New Orchestra at Cafe Oto
Drawing by Geoffrey Winston. © 2014. All Rights Reserved


Barry Guy New Orchestra
(Cafe Oto, 21 May 2014; second of 3-night residency; review and drawing by Geoff Winston)


The second night of the Barry Guy New Orchestra residency took off right from where they left off on the first - and how!

Herb Robertson deconstructed his trumpet - literally! In his stunningly inventive solo spot he linked the mouthpiece to the leadpipe with his clenched hand, caused all kinds of visceral airflow, vocalisings and assorted sounds. As the instrument's components were reunited, gusts of breath were made visible, catching the light on exit from apertures; the mute was brought in to play and braying, mewling and sharp blasts were released with playful precision.

Cue Evan Parker on soprano sax, to form a concentrated dual-drive continuum with Robertson which set up his own euphonic solo where different parts of the register were activated simultaneously and with singleminded intensity. Agusti Fernandez blended in effortlessly and initiated his solo piano spell, finding space and depth in lashings of high-energy runs and richly resonant chordal barrages before being rejoined by Robertson and Parker.

Jürg Wickihalder began his duet with Per Texas Johansson by playing, with breathy application, the wrong end of his soprano sax. Johansson added a light, fluttering ethereality in his peregrinations on clarinet. A rare jazz lick momentarily surfaced in the search for new harmonic variations in the finely wrought lattice constructed by the duo.

The quartet of percussionists, Raymond Strid and Paul Lytton, with Hans Koch and Per Åke Holmander on bass clarinet and tuba respectively, created an enchanting parallel universe of tiny sounds that vibrated with eye-twinkling humour. The tuba purred, cooed and burbled; the lightest of bowings, scrapes, clanks and tics populated the space, which took on a nautical edge as the crew navigated forward in unison.

Barry Guy, watching from the wings, rightfully looked very pleased with the way this carefully constructed first set had panned out. Guy, Parker and Lytton then reconvened for their famed trio that had Guy, spring-loaded, moving so quickly that his every gesture disappeared in a coup d'oeil.

Finally, Vosteen, a glorious composition from Evan Parker which had the whole orchestra under his wing. Taking its name from Guy's previous home in rural Kilkenny, Ireland, where the piece was sketched out by Parker during a visit, this carefully nuanced amalgam of delicately coloured harmonies and individual extemporisations began with Holmander's barely audible whistling through the tuba. Guy added trembling, bowed high notes and Fernandez dragged blocks slithering over the wires to subtly build up the texture before Parker, raising his right arm skywards, issued the first of his hand signals to indicate a change of pace and instrumentation.

A mellow, thoughtful tone permeated the entire composition, which was not without its high tempo swells as the whole ensemble found itself swept along on the crest of a gentle, many-layered wave, a captivating and fitting finale to an evening of sparkling music.

Barry Guy / bass director
Johannes Bauer / trombone
Agusti Fernandez / piano
Per Åke Holmlander / tuba
Maya Homburger / baroque violin
Per Texas Johansson / sax, clarinets
Hans Koch / sax, clarinets
Paul Lytton / percussion
Evan Parker / sax
Herb Robertson / trumpet
Raymond Strid / percussion
Jürg Wickihalder / saxophone

See the Preview of the BGNO residency, Geoff Winston's interview with Barry Guy HERE

Supported by the Swiss Arts Council Pro Helvetia

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