Brighton Alternative Jazz Festival blasts off with Birchall, Brand and more

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With its emphasis on adventurous programming and bids to redress the gender imbalance permeating current mainstream jazz summits, this two-day fest was a tonic to those seeking a genuinely leftfield option. The first night was largely given over to the aesthetically spiritual, with Woven Entity kicking off with a mouse seemingly trapped in their collective Jackson, conjuring a deep weave of ethnological textures, bolstered and partially given form by guest Julia Kjær’s necessary brassy interjections.

Sarah Gail Brand’s Sextet followed, showcasing a potent suite of polyphonic melodies, secreting a libidinous R.E.M. cover and some clownish crowd interaction amid a triumphant set of Ayler-inspired gospels. While some of Brand’s slapstick stagecraft might alienate some, there’s simply no denying the power of her compositions.

Transcension – the premiering hook-up between Mancunian saxophonist Nat Birchall (pictured top) and Canadian drummer Franklin Kiermyer – rode out the opening night with a dazzling take on Sun Ship-era Coltrane, buoyed by the rippling ivories of talented young pianist Davis Whitfield (pictured above). Birchall’s tone was pure and reverent throughout, a cleansing flame to anoint the after-show apostles.

– Spencer Grady

– Photos by Michael Putland

For the full festival round up see the November issue of Jazzwise – out 22 October – subscribe here to save money and get a fantastic jazz CD FREE