REPORT: Nicolas Simion at the Romanian Cultural Institute

Nicolas Simion playing tarogato

Sebastian reports from an evening at the Romanian Cultural Institute in Belgrave Square:

An all-too-brief set of music with liveliness,  humour and devil-may-care was a very welcome antidote and complement to more than two hours of speeches and earnest discussion dedicated to the distinguished Romanian poet and political figure Ana Blandiana.

We need levity. Just as the WDR Big Band at the WDR Jazz Prize concert in Dortmund chose to bring on multi-reed hero Nicolas Simion to bring informality to their proceedings and to send hundreds of people away happy, here he was again, to remind people that there is a brighter side to life, if you know where to locate it. Simion, however, brings a great deal more to this role than just  his humour, than the smile that resides deep in his musical personality. He is an extremely eloquent improviser, mood-setter and story-teller, with a range of improvising vocabulary which co-inhabits the jazz sphere and Eastern European music. And as an improviser on the Hungarian tarogato (an instrument which both Charles Lloyd and Joe Lovano have shown interest in), he is probably out in front of the pack. His sound on all the reed instuments he plays is focused, characterful, a delight. (Try his funky Transylvanian bass clarinet playing).

Guitarist Sorin Romanescu from Bucharest was an indispensable partner who also knows every twist and turn of the music they play together. And hats off to the Romanians for reaching out to two guitarists who both happen to be instigators right at the heart and soul and the centre of jazz in London Hannes Riepler and Nigel Price. The former played, the latter on this occasion just lent an amplifier. With the positive spirits of can-do musicians like all of these involved here, good things, fascinating collaborations can definitely start to happen.


Nicolas Simion on simultaneous tenor and soprano saxophones


Hannes Riepler, Sorin Romanescu, Nicolas Simion playing the closing number,
Belgrave Square Blues


Nicolas Simion and Hannes Riepler will both be playing next month at that tiny gem of a European Festival INNTOENE, held in the barn of a working pig-farm in Diersbach in Austria

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