Gent Jazz Festival 2010: Days 6-9
The Japanese Soil & Pimp Sessions visited this festival in 2008. Even that couldn't fully prepare the small but discerning crowd gathered at the stage-front for this early evening set. The concept remains the same, and the shock is undimmed. Soil/Pimp tip the very essence of bebop, cool school and club groove into a cartoon compactor, ramming an entire week's old school jazz listening into an itchy, buzzing, hyperactive gush that can sate even the most hyperventilating no-attention-span screen-junkie. Such Tokyo speed-jazz is even more invigorating when the band has a large stage-space to commandeer, freeing trumpeter Tabu Zombie and saxophonist Motoharu to engage in an even more ridiculous amount of running and jumping, but rarely standing still. Shacho is the frontman who does nothing and everything at the same time. He doesn't sing, he doesn't dance, and his small electronics box doesn't really make a noticeable transformation to the band sound. He deems himself the Agitator, and that's precisely what he does to the audience. He hectors, encourages, mocks and generally exudes an indefinable authority over the groove. The Soil/Pimp crew hadn't changed much, but they're always guaranteed to deliver a rush of heady excitement.
The full star status of New York bluesman Joe Bonamassa doesn't seem to have reached Belgium yet, but this singer/guitarist still managed to pull a reasonable sized crowd. In London, he's been appearing at the Royal Albert Hall, and moving out of the blues ghetto to ensnare mainline rock fans. It's a testament to Bonamassa's skills that he can happily reach out in several directions without appearing to compromise his stance. The blues might get rocked up, but that's always been the case at times, since the 1960s. Bonamassa shrewdly divides his time between searing feats of extended guitar soloing action and a series of well-positioned ballad numbers, allowing the crowd's ears to rest momentarily. His only disadvantage is a presumably deliberate image-wall, erected to make himself appear 'cool' and distant. Behind his shades, Bonamassa doesn't give away much emotion, and his slicked-back hair and black garb promote an aura of unattainable mystique. Rory Gallagher he is not. Even so, if Bonamassa prefers to let his guitar do the talking, then he's a multi-lingual, maxi-syllabled king of loquaciousness.