FESTIVAL REVIEW: Alcyona Mick / Tori Freestone plus Jon Thorne’s Sunshine Brothers at the 2015 Manchester Jazz Festival

Tori Freestone

Alcyona Mick and Tori Freestone plus Jon Thorne’s Sunshine Brothers
(Manchester Jazz Festival, 5 August 2015. Review by Peter Slavid)

I am lucky enough to be spending a few days in Manchester during the Jazz Festival which is clearly second only to London now in its breadth, and arguably even better in its originality and invention.

So hot off the train I went to a really nice chamber concert by Alcyona Mick and Tori Freestone in the lovely St Anne’s Church. It was a really good contrast of styles – built around a common liking for Theolonious Monk. I’ve always liked Alcyona Mick’s piano playing since her days with Blink. She has a very crisp and classical sound, with some broken and percussive sharp edges. Freestone has a much more melodic, rounder sound – her recent CD In the Chophouse is well worth checking out. Together they got my mid­week visit off to a flying start!

Apparently the duo was nurtured in Ibiza where they met up to play Theolonious Monk tunes and then to write some of their own. This gig featured some of the best music from In the Chop House – said Chop House being just round the corner from the venue; and some nice tunes of Mick’s, and finishing with Monk’s Criss­Cross.

And in a complete contrast I went later in the evening to Matt and Phred’s to see Jon Thorne’s Sunshine Brothers. If ever a band was made for a venue this was it. A room heaving with close on 200 people – all of them about 30 years younger than me – and the effect was electric in more ways than one. I spotted quite a few bass players in the audience checking out Thorne’s cut-away electric double bass and Steve Lawson on what I gather was a 6­string electric bass guitar.

But this is a real ensemble trio – loops, electronics, screaming guitar. Prog Rock, cinematic – whatever label you choose it was ideal for this club environment and went down a storm.

And that was just my first day!

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