FESTIVAL REPORT : Match&Fuse 2014 at Vortex, Cafe Oto and Rich Mix, London

Dave Morecroft's World Service Project
Photo Credit: Davide Cardea

Match&Fuse Festival
(London, 2nd-4th October 2014. Report by Rachel Maby)

The main achievement of Match&Fuse Festival was to unify. On each of three nights of the festival, which was spread across three venues, Vortex, Rich Mix and Cafe Oto, there was a diverse mix of different musics, spanning from experimental jazz to heavy metal and rock. The eighteen bands involved included performers from several countries - UK, Italy, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland. However, the overall effect was to foster a common appreciation of new music and the art of improvisation, to promote and to encourage interaction and exchange between improvisers, and successfully to engage an audience in the performances.

Thursday night’s programme at the Vortex was a good example of this. UK Jazz pianist and European Young Jazz Artist winner Elliot Galvin opened the night, wowing the audience with his quirky and experimental compositions. Following this was Norwegian quartet Pixel, featuring singer/bassist Ellen Andrea Wang, who carried a far more lyrical and softer tone to their performance. This was then contrasted heavily by the hard rock and loud noise that followed on from Swiss Schnellertollermeier and Norwegian Synkoke. I enjoyed how the programming warmed you up for the rock out vibe the night ended on.

Friday night at the Rich Mix was a less intimate affair, being a bigger venue and a longer programme. UK band The Comet is Coming, led by Shabaka Hutchings (sax), and keys and drums duo  Soccer 96 – absolutely owned the night. They entered the stage full of energy and left with the crowd wanting more. Their performance was highly energetic and sweat-infused, with music that bridged the gap perfectly between tightly constructed techno and free jazz improvisation.

Saturday night featured performances at both the Vortex and Cafe Oto, giving the audience the freedom to roam between the two venues and choose which bands they wanted to see. This programme layout, if one took the opportinity to use it, best accommodated the festival’s free approach to music programming: If you weren’t into the experimental and free vibe at Cafe Oto, you could just cross the road and rock out to electronic/rock inspired beats at the Vortex. It wasn’t as clearly outlined as I would have liked, but I found myself enjoying the mellow tones and explorative performance of Lana Trio and John Butcher at Cafe Oto coupled by a funk and electronic infused performance of Lunch Money at the Vortex - the perfect combination for the evening.

The festival ended in promenade fashion as the Cafe Oto audience was led by The Eirik Tofte Match&Fuse Orchestra to the Vortex. The audience was guided around the corner by festival director Dave Morecroft, who conducted 26 musicians in a freely improvised cacophony of saxophones, trumpets and percussion. It was a heart-warming end to the three day explosion of music.

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