FESTIVAL REVIEW – OXYD at Manchester Jazz Festival 2015

Alexandre Herer - Fender Rhodes; Oliver Degabriele- electric bass;
Thibault Perriard– drums; Julien Pontvianne- tenor saxophone; Olivier Laisney trumpet
(The Soup Kitchen, Manchester Jazz Festival, Wednesday 5th August 2015. Review by Peter Slavid)

I was only at the Manchester Jazz Festival for a few days, but as I have already said in a previous review I was hugely impressed by the breadth of the festival, and the imaginative programming epitomised by this gig which was the highlight of my few days.

It started with a fiercely improvised collaboration between Manchester’s Efpi Collective, led here by Anton Hunter, and the OnzeHeuresOnze collective from Paris. It was in The Soup Kitchen, an impressively bouncing, all standing, and as will become clear an appropriately grungy club gig. This scratch band was good, and the quality of the individual musicians shone through - but like all these collaborations it sometimes found it hard to get going properly – it sounded great when that happened but you had the feeling it would be really terrific after a few more performances.

The second half was from French band OXYD from the OnzeHeuresOnze collective, led by keyboard player Alexander Herer, in a set apparently based on songs from Nirvana – although not very obviously so.

This was a really impressive performance with very tight, intricate and imaginative arrangements, full of surprises and startling changes of pace. To the loud delight of the audience delicate improvisations would suddenly explode into heavy prog-rock beats with ferocious drumming driving the band forward. At times the music reminded me of Norwegian jazz rock bands like Elephant9, but this performance had more wit and more light and shade. Herer’s use of the Rhodes was particularly fresh and had been outstanding in the first set too.

In Manchester we were lucky enough to see them in a real intimate club environment that was ideal for this sort of music. Despite some ferocious and at times very free improvisation, I’d like to think this music is accessible enough to appeal to a much bigger audience, and hopefully they’ll be back soon – meanwhile the CD sales seemed to be going very well!

Peter Slavid is the presenter of an internet radio show, available via Mixcloud.com/ukjazz

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