REVIEW: Bureau of Atomic Tourism (B.O.A.T.) and Noble / Clarvis/ Lewandowski at the Vortex (2016 EFG LJF)

Hilmar Jensson with B.O.A.T. at the Vortex
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2016. All Rights Reserved


Bureau of Atomic Tourism (B.O.A.T.) plus Noble/ Clarvis/ Lewandowski
(Vortex, 14 November 2016; review and drawings by Geoff Winston)

The Bureau of Atomic Tourism is a serious bunch of international heavyweights led by Belgian drummer Teun Verbruggen, with its origins in a request from a festival in Antwerp in 2011 to explore the hinterland linking jazz, electronics, noise and rock.

Each member of its current sextet has graced the stage of the Vortex in various guises - Magnus Broo in Atomic, Jon Irabagon with Mostly Other People Do The Killing, Hilmar Jensson leading TYFT and Ingebrigt Håker Flaten with The Thing and Atomic, amongst others, while BOAT's earlier line-up played the Vortex in 2014 - and BOAT's recordings surface on Verbruggen's own Rat Records.

Verbruggen, as well as being the driving force behind BOAT, has received many awards, including the Jazzmozaïek Award for 'expansion, rejuvenation and renewal of jazz' - the fruits of which endeavours are precisely what this dynamic outfit had on offer at the Vortex.

A well-seasoned machine, but anything but mechanical, they dipped in and out of complex notated scores and improvised sequences, pooling creative authority and the confidence born of working that intense interface that is the cutting edge of the music.

Running on an underbelly of fat, flowing funk driven at a rate of knots they were equally capable of drifting into extra-terrestrial zones with a waft of Sun Ra's electronics setting the atmosphere, courtesy of Jozef Dumoulin's unrepentant, atmospheric Fender Rhodes deviations. Percussive intent carried through even at the quietest point as keypads and fretboards were tapped and Broo just breathed into the trumpet mouthpiece.

Composition credits were shared out amongst the group - with one of Irabagon's articulating BOAT's manifesto balancing free exploration and compositional discipline, as he allowed the melody to drift and then turned round to haul the band back to the score with several crisp counts of '2, 3, 4'. On a later number there was a sense of composed movements, each with its distinct character, touching Soft Machine territory with an extra brass overlay.

Solos were a delight - Broo absolutely flew as he built up to a screeching, emotional blast that emerged from a sensitive duo with Irabagon's raw, tender tenor tones. Jensson added enchantingly fluid jazz fretboard work which rubbed shoulders with his characteristically heavier rock-face chimes, and the power workhorses of Flaten and Verbruggen were equally at home maintaining the rattling momentum and applying a delicate touch.

Bright and glistening with musical optimism, BOAT are a force to be reckoned with.

Liam Noble, Paul Clarvis, Mark Lewandowski
Drawing by Geoff Winston. © 2016. All Rights Reserved


Earlier, Mark Lewandowski's trio with Liam Noble and Paul Clarvis delved in to the Fats Waller era with a sensitive, imaginative take on Waller standards, Jitterbug Waltz, Ain't Misbehavin' and Blue Because of You, adding a merger of a couple of lesser known New Orleans songs, and a spot of humour as Clarvis tapped out a solo with his old Riverdance tap shoes in hand - all being recorded live for an album on Whirlwind.

Bureau of Atomic Tourism

Teun Verbruggen – drums (Belgium)
Magnus Broo – trumpet (Sweden)
Jozef Dumoulin – fender rhodes (Belgium)
Jon Irabagon – sax (USA)
Hilmar Jensson – guitar (Iceland)
Ingebrigt Håker Flaten – bass (Norway)


Fats Waller tribute trio

Mark Lewandowski - bass
Liam Noble - piano
Paul Clarvis - drums

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