REVIEW: Jazz In The Round – Wonky Logic, StringTing, Tony Kofi and The Organisation at Kings Place (2018 EFG LJF)

Wonky Logic, Jazz in the Round at Kings Place
Phone snap by Jacob Silkin

Jazz In The Round – Wonky Logic, StringTing, Tony Kofi and The Organisation
(Kings Place Hall Two, 24 November 2018. EFG London Jazz Festival. Review by AJ Dehany)

Jazz FM DJs Chris Philips and Jez Nelson’s monthly night Jazz In The Round came to King’s Place with a late announcement that it would not be taking place in the round after all. Onstage they presented three sets in two halves. Wonky Logic and StringTing represented separate electronic and acoustic directions of the ultra-modern. These were balanced against Tony Kofi and the Organisation’s traditional electroacoustic jazz in a cleverly curated evening.

Leeds-based musician and producer Wonky Logic (aka Dwayne Kilvington) led a killer duo with Eddie Nache (from Sons of Kemet). This is skronky, funky, dirty, groovy, looping nu-jazz psychedelic soul, very much part of the new electronic sound of London jazz. The in-your-face sound is musically multilingual, the patois and pidgin of younger musicians brought up on the internet and unafraid to mix up sounds and styles in an unprecedented way.

With samplers and looping machines and the unrepentant use of keytar, the sound is a feverish din of clustered chromatic tones. The jarring dissonance of the loops pierces into your brain. The rhythms are simultaneously banging and intricately detailed. Nache is a sick drummer with finesse and panache. The pairing is energizing and their connection and commitment are strong and hypnotic.

Jez Nelson asked them “You gonna record soon?” Wonky Logic is a guy who never seems to be quite in the same room as you. “Yeah? Nah,” he said. Jez paused. “No. [pause] Okay,” pausing again before asking uncomfortably “Are we doing a changeover?” There came a high-pitched voice from the next band offstage “No we’re not!” After a couple of minutes, StringTing came on. In a beautifully conceived touch of curation they felt like the acoustic counterpart to the electronic saturation of Wonky Logic.

Led by violinist Rhiannon Dimond, StringTing is one of the most exciting ensembles to have emerged recently from the stable of Tomorrow’s Warriors. Tonight the group was a trio of cello and two violins. They remind you of a mixture of Viennese harmony and gypsy gutsiness in their ferocious discordant playing. The trio rock standards in a way you’ve never quite heard before, with an appealing sense of menace, hammering percussively on the instruments.

Extreme versioning of some standard selections from the leftfield of the repertoire brought new energy to Joe Henderson’s Inner Urge and Thelonious Monk’s Brilliant Corners. Just as Wonky Logic is part of a new direction in electronic jazz, StringTing are are part of a jazz faction in the new crossover classical playing (alongside ensembles like Wooden Elephant).

Toni Kofi and The Organisation bring a hard-boiled post-bop sound with Pete Whittaker on Hammond organ, Pete Cater on drums and Simon Fernsby on guitar. The album Point Blank is a selection of tunes from the likes of Wes Montgomery, McCoy Tyner, Henry Mancini and Jimmy Smith. Tony Kofi plays the baritone saxophone exclusively here. Explaining why, he said that in Japan he found an album by the Pepper Adams/Donald Byrd Quintet with the baritone sax on the cover and he fell in love with the instrument. Later there was a problem with his regular sax at a gig. He had to go fetch the baritone out of the car to continue. In doing so he realised it could work for longer stretches.

Kofi is great and the baritone is pretty good. I wanted to like the group, but the Nord C2D Hammond organ setting just sounds like Blackpool Pier to me. With the organ and guitar and the straight-ahead drumming and musical selections, The Organisation has a sound I find anachronistic. The contrast between the modernity of the young acts in the first half and the traddiness of the older lads in the second was presumably deliberate, and conceptually I love that. It’s just that the organ sound made me think of the ghost train at a terrible funfair.

AJ Dehany is based in London and writes independently about music, art and stuff. ajdehany.co.uk

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