Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Putting Jazz Front and Centre; the 10th Anniversary of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival Has Been Royally Celebrated at the Sage This Weekend. PAUL LORAINE Reports Back

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Putting Jazz Front and Centre; the 10th Anniversary of the Gateshead International Jazz Festival Has Been Royally Celebrated at the Sage This Weekend. PAUL LORAINE Reports Back

Article excerpt

Byline: PAUL LORAINE

IT is late on Friday night and Robert Glasper Experiment are melting the walls of Hall Two.

With the audience completely in thrall, Glasper asks how many of them own a particularly distant before-he-was-famous album. The oh-so-English unison call of 'yes' predictably follows but one brave soul decides to wait a few seconds and offer his own deadpan response: no. Glasper laughs. There is a lot to be said for honesty, he says.

I took this as a good lesson for this review. I know what follows will not necessarily be representative of the wider audience but I will try to maintain the spirit of honesty of our man in Hall Two nonetheless.

Glasper's band, his Experiment to give them their proper name, blew me away. From Mark Colenburg's rasping snare drum to the lush shifting harmonic progressions based around a common note - a hallmark of Glasper's writing - this was aweinspiring stuff.

Casey Benjamin's vocoder vocals were the perfect compliment to Glasper's warm piano and rhodes sounds. Colenburg was a powerhouse, moving between his kit and an electronic pad to add a dripping, new-soul snare sound to tunes like 'Ah Yeah'.

Glasper has always drawn from a wide range of music and we were taken from Nirvana's Smells Like Teen Spirit to a memorable version of Bill Withers' Lovely Day before Glasper even dropped in a reference to Dream by Fleetwood Mac. For me, this is what makes him a great musician - the ability to distill what we love about popular music and set it in an entirely new context.

My highlight of the festival, however, was a Manchester piano trio called GoGo Penguin who played to a packed Foundation Hall on Saturday afternoon.

The writing is of the highest calibre - catchy and often hypnotic piano loops played by the superb Chris Illingworth over the driving bass of Nick Blacka and wonderful touch and feel of Rob Turner on drums.

Their music has a relentless energy about it, nowhere more exhilarating than in the title track from their debut album, Fanfares. Again, this is jazz as a sponge for all that is interesting and exciting in the wider world of music. …

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