ChicagoXLondon at the Barbican (2022 EFG LJF) – London Jazz News

Chicago X London — Jeff Parker, Ben LaMar Gay, Angel Bat Dawid, Alabaster DePlume

(Barbican. November 13, 2022. Live review by AJ Dehany)

Cassie Kinoshi, Theon Cross, Asher Simiso Gamedze, Angel Bat Dawid… and the audience. Photo credit: Ash Knotek/Serious

You could call 2022 the “Chicago edition” of the London Jazz Festival, a celebration of the creative relationship between Chicago and London, a longstanding exchange that has enriched each side. The flagship concerts of Anthony Braxton, Henry Threadgill, Matana Roberts, Makaya McCraven are an essential program.

The Barbican’s Chicago X London gig was a substantial check-in to check out with sets from Chicagoans Jeff Parker, Ben Lamar Gay and Angel Bat Dawidwhose group included the British Cassie Kinoshi and Theon Cross, and a set by British saxophonist and poet Alabaster DePlumewhose album Gold sparkles among the flagships of the International Anthem label, which houses Makaya McCraven, Emma-Jean Thackray, Ben Lamar Gay, Irreversible Entanglementsand the late trumpeter Branch of Jaime.

From Alabaster Feather. Photo credit: Ash Knotek/Serious

Between sets, the concert projected footage from Jaimie Branch’s 2017 visit to the Total Refreshment Center in Dalston, a venue and record label that has played a pivotal role in fostering Chicago-London dialogue and leading the new British jazz sound. His death this year was a shock and the wound is still very fresh. Alabaster DePlume talked about working with Jaimie Branch and asked if we’d like to hear anything we haven’t heard. It sounded a bit like marching band music to me, but you have to assume there’s untold riches to be hoped for somewhere. The strongest element of the 32-minute set was the group harmonies, which were beautiful but also uncannily reminiscent of the Manson family. Alabaster DePlume himself bothers; he proclaims unifying, universalizing feelings to go forward in the courage of our love, but his manner is acerbic and aggressive. That doesn’t suit me, even though I think music is a great synthesis of influences and energies.

gay ben lamar possesses an easier charm, and his album Open your arms to open us is an equally eclectic elaboration of disparate energies, a vision of musical ‘Pan-Americana’. His set at Berlin Jazzfest the week before really made me sit up and listen. He lamented that every time he’s invited to London it’s for short sets, but there’s a lot in this set, from the skronky front blowing to the rhythmic vocals and a punchy yet tender and atmospheric feel with Edhino Gerber on guitar. , Matthew Davis on sousaphone, and Tommaso Moretti on drums. Hopefully the next time he’s invited to London it’ll be for a longer set! He paid tribute to the people of the Chicago and London communities, simply stating “all we have to do is share and grow”.

Jeff Parker was highly anticipated, but his solo guitar playing might have felt too intimate and personal for the large space of the Barbican Hall – see for contrast this review from Montreal This Summer (LINK). It was an individual expression, but it went against the grain of an evening celebrating community dialogues.

Angel Bat Dawid. Photo credit: Ash Knotek/Serious

One of the most authentic expressions of the Chicago X London design has been the fusion of the Chicago Soothsayer Bat angel Dawidwith Cassie Kinoshi on sax, Theon Cross on tuba and Asher Simiso Gamedze on percussion. Her solo sets can turn into something akin to group music therapy sessions, and even here she joked, “I’m here to hypnotize you. I’m here to change your mind, to brainwash you! and urging us to “Learn the real story. It’s sad to have to say that. An Angel Bat Dawid concert is never normal, and this one was a riot, with everyone on their feet and screaming. “What is happening here?” she asked. “We have entered a portal to another world!” It’s a familiar world of Archie Shepp’s intellectual-spiritual art music, but as it moves quickly from reed to reed, there’s also some new vocoder stuff that felt more compelling here. made with the young players, and a weird f’kd-up Für Elise that certainly made it sound otherworldly.

It was Angel Bat Dawid, with Ben Lamar Gay, who went the furthest to interest the coda of the evening’s events, a well-meaning but listless assembly of all the players from the previous four sets, for a meandering enigma through Jaimie Branch’s Love song for assholes. It was one moment in a long evening of moments that we loved and hated in equal measure, but an evening that, for the most part, vividly showcased the enduring energy and vitality of the Chicago-London dialogue.

AJ Dehany writes independently about music, art and more.

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