Electronica and jazz haven't exactly been easy bedfellows over the years, but the EFG London Jazz Festival has surfaced with a few gigs over the last few days that have laid to rest any doubts about the hybrid's major expressive qualities.
There was still lessons to be learned earlier this week from old school approaches at the Rich Mix with veteran James 'Blood' Ulmer and trio offering up his own wonderfully blistering take on Hendrix-charged electric psych-blues and jazz rock. Two nights on, same venue and saxophonist Donny McCaslin's exhilarating Blackstar quartet played a blinder with Mark Guiliana's breathtaking real-time organic amalgam of programmed beats and Jason Lindner's sinisterly futuristic synth power on originals and majestic Bowie-song interpretations. Belgian drummer Teun Verbruggen's transatlantic The Bureau of Atomic Tourism were also a force to be reckoned with over at Dalston's Vortex, with the feral Norwegian electric bassist Ingebrigt Haker Flaten's growling grooves underlining a cohesive, ferocious yet atmospheric free jazz-metal racket.
But the best was still to come at Kings Place with an inspired meeting of the supreme Italian trumpeter Enrico Rava, pianist Giovanni Guidi and the innovative Brit electronica artist Matthew Herbert. They quickly set up a transcendental symphony of Herbert's treated industrial 'found sound' with ghostly nostalgic echoes of film soundtracks (from Lalo Schifrin to Nino Rota), jazz age swing, contemporary classical music and Miles-like flugelhorn sketches. It was out of this world and the one to beat going into the final weekend of the festival.
– Selwyn Harris
– Photo by Tim Dickeson