Kris Bowers plus Peter Edwards XOYO, London – EFG London Jazz Festival


Devices. Gadgets. Gismos. These things have become such a part of our day-to-day living that we take the technology for granted and become frustrated when it ceases to function properly. Jazz musicians turn to technology as well on occasion as both acts did tonight, with mixed results. Keyboardist Peter Edwards was clearly having problems with his technology as an unplanned hiatus was experienced by a nonetheless sympathetic crowd who were thanked for their patience at the end of an extended piece of electro jazz, which never really took off despite some nice moments.

Kris Bowers, from behind his mighty rig of keyboards, laptop, mixers and pedals experienced his own little snag in the form of an over-zealous audience wanting to join in with the infectious rhythms he was clapping and finger-clicking, which he would loop to provide percussion to a solo rendition of Juan Tizol’s ‘Caravan’. But it was the real deal, the men who rounded out his band that helped to make this such a strong gig. If there was any hint of hesitation at the outset, then it was gone in the blink of an eye and by the second song, ‘Wake the Neighbours’, Bowers, propelled by a frantic solo from guitarist and Marcus Miller sideman Adam Agati, had hit his stride. ‘The Protestor’ allowed drummer Richard Spaven to build the music to absurd heights of euphoria, something that he had done consistently throughout the concert.

Bassist Alex Bonfanti introduced ‘Vices and Virtues’ with a simple yet engaging riff, and Bowers again made the most of the technological arsenal available to him, looping a synth riff which freed him up to produce an intensely creative solo on the Rhodes. A quick stop to change a broken pedal again reminded us of the shortcoming of relying too heavily on technology in live performance, but overall, in this case the virtues far outweighed the vice.

– Mark Stokesbury