REVIEW: Michael Janisch's Paradigm Shift at the Vortex

L-R: Alex Bonney, Cédric Henriot, Jason Yarde,
Michael Janisch, Paul Booth, Andrew Bain



Michael Janisch's Paradigm Shift 
(Vortex, 3rd September 2015. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

I can't imagine a band which could give a composer more variety of timbre, pulse, pace, style, than the one Michael Janisch has assembled for this 35-date tour, of which last night was the first. It somehow felt like a huge newly-designed ship was being sent down the slipway and into the water, and as a bystander one got occasional glimpses of its scale.

The added complication that this opening gig was being recorded live for later transmission across all the countries of the European Broadcasting Union may have had the effect of keeping the band's heads down rather than - as yet - enabling them to go for broke and see how fast this ship can really travel, or the height of the waves which it will be able to handle when it gets out to sea (Fishguard watch out!) .

At one level it has the instrumentation of a classic American hardbop sextet with a trumpet and two saxophones, piano bass and drums, capable of steaming through angular tunes at frenetic pace. But with that as a given, the fun starts. Cédric Henriot also has a synthesizer, Paul Booth sits down and picks up an alto flute or a lugubrious didgeridoo, Jason Yarde needs no excuse or encouragement or apology to play completely free improv. Alex Bonney, alternating between trumpet and laptop, has a live feed from all of the acoustic instruments and the permission to distort them, echo them, and to make purely electronic sounds too.

That sense of a band constructed to give expressive variety is also there in the shifts of pace and of pulse. Those transitions from mood to mood can either be dramatic or organic, and what we got was a series of surprises and sudden re-routings. I had the sense that at the source of it must be some kind of underlying narrative; there is surely reason, forethought, planning in these complex compositions. I think it might have helped if some of the stories that have led to these pieces had been given. I enjoyed the fact it was happening, but would have liked to know why.

I caught the very end of the previous set, the first ever live encounter onstage of Iain Ballamy with Tom Cawley's Curios with Sam Burgess and Joshua Blackmore, which will also be part of the EBU package. This new combination showed the quality and authority which the seasoned players on our scene can deliver without fail, every time.


Paradigm Shift

Andrew Bain - drums
Paul Booth saxophone, flute, didgeridoo
Jason Yarde - saxophones
Alex Bonney – trumpet and live electronics
Cédric Henriot – piano
Michael Janisch - bass

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