REVIEW: Daylight Music at Union Chapel (2018 EFG LJF)

Ranjana Ghatak
Publicity Photo

Daylight Music
(Union Chapel, 24 November 2018. EFG London Jazz Festival. Review by Peter Slavid)

Daylight Music is a unique and very unusual programme of music. All the gigs are on a pay-what-you-can basis and have been running for nearly ten years on Saturdays throughout the year from 12noon to 2pm. This was the 295th such event and on this occasion was part of the EFG London Jazz Festival. The atmosphere is very different to most jazz events, very casual and informal, people move around and chat, there are lots of children in the audience.

The Union Chapel is one of London's finest live music venues. A beautiful building with terrific acoustics. For Daylight Music it is set up with a cafe at the back and people are encouraged to wander up for coffee and cakes during the show.

The next difference was that as soon as the doors opened the music started with the Albatross Saxophone Quartet,  a young group from the Guildhall School of Music and Drama. They weren't on the bill, but they filled in the gaps between the acts with some pleasant pseudo-classical sounds. The first advertised act to perform was Ranjana Ghatak, a London-born Indian classical singer who performed with only the sound of a Tanpura drone and an expressive voice. She wasn't billed on the London Jazz Festival website, although she does have a link to jazz through work she has done in the past with Liran Donin. After another tune from the saxophones we heard Hilde Marie Holsen. She plays trumpet, but heavily processed through electronic filtering, and accompanied by lots of electronic sounds from her laptop. The result is very atmospheric and ethereal, and sits on the edge between jazz and electronica. The highlight of the evening for me was a one-off collaboration with Pete Wareham on tenor sax and Ivo Neame playing the chapel’s restored Willis organ. Wareham is probably best known from his work with Melt Yourself Down, and Neame from Phronesis, but both have appeared in lots of other environments, although probably nothing that prepared them for this.

This was an improvised set with Wareham front of stage, and Ivo Neame hidden away behind the scenes playing the organ. What was impressive was the overwhelming sound. Pete Wareham has a powerful sound on the saxophone and that was essential to let him stand his ground against the massive organ behind him.

There were times when Wareham would start a melody and Neame would join in with some counterpoint and then overlay some power chords. At other times Wareham would improvise over an organ backing. The abiding memory is the magnificent sound of that organ as Neame coaxed increasingly original and fascinating chords from it to fill the hall with sound.

Next week Daylight Music presents the London Accordion Orchestra with special guest Dillie Keane.

Peter Slavid broadcasts a programme of European Modern Jazz on mixcloud.com/ukjazz

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