Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

12

Bray Jazz Festival 2017

Ian Patterson By

Sign in to view read count
In addition, the pantheon of venerated instrumentalists in Indian classical music, as in jazz, has been dominated historically by men. Bray Jazz, however, has also championed important female instrumentalists. In BJF 2014, the sitar player Joyeeta Sanyal gave an outstanding performance in the Town Hall, and three years on, flautist/vocalist Shantala Subramanyam cast a similar spell.

A performance of around an hour and twenty minutes featured three ragas, the first lasting five minutes and the second and third each clocking in at over thirty minutes. Shraddah Ravindran on violin and Anirudha Bhat on mridangam (double-headed hand drum) were equal partners in a compelling three-way dialog, which began with Subramanyam's phone setting down a continuous tanpura-style drone.

Flute and violin engaged in a gentle to and fro, like birds greeting each other from neighbouring trees, before the first mridangam beats invited melodic union. Spurred by Bhat's modulating rhythms, flute and violin, as one, gathered momentum towards the thrilling finale. Although Subramanyam declared the third and final raga the centrepiece of the evening, in fact, the second raga—more of a three-way communion—was arguably the more impressive.

Melodic improvisation, a warming-up call-and-response of sorts, paved the way for more expansive and quite lyrical melodic improvisations, first from the Ravindran and then from Subramanyam. Another playful bout of call-and-response, and the trio's course, was re-directed by an explosive entrance from Bhat, which signalled a brief unison passage between violin and Shantala on vocals. Though first and foremost a flutist, Subramanyam is also a trained Carnatic singer—heard to great effect on her CD Jhenkara (Indian Music Makers) but this short vocal excursion finished rather too soon.

Still, for the remaining twenty minutes the Bray Town Hall audience was treated to an exhibition of interplay as beautiful as it was often exhilarating. The music at its most impassioned obtained rasa -heightened emotional states something similar to flamenco's duende. In jazz parlance, the trio was well and truly in the zone.

Subramanyam was consistently impressive with her melodic and rhythmic agility. Ravindran no less so—with the flutist repeatedly voicing the word sabaash as the violinist soloed—a word of praise and encouragement akin to the cry of olé in flamenco. So too Bhat—sometimes anchor, sometimes sail—whose rhythmic elasticity encompassed tender and fiery narratives.

The final raga, played in a five-beat cycle, followed a more gently lilting melodic course, although one laced with scintillating rhythmic and melodic improvisations. Bhat's kunnokol (vocal improvisation) was jaw-dropping in its fluidity, but teasingly short. His highly-charged mridangam solo, with flute and violin joining in the final burst, took the trio over the finishing line at full tilt, crowning a wonderful concert in grand exclamation.

The Shantala Subramanyam Trio's performance of ragas in Bray Town Hall suggested that this quiet magician of the flute is worthy of inclusion in any discussion of contemporary Indian classical virtuosos.

Beats And Pieces Big Band

One of the hottest tickets of BJF 2017 was for Bits and Pieces Big Band, the Manchester fourteen-piece ensemble making a return to Ireland following its triumphant performance at 12 Points 2013. Conducted and directed by Ben Cottrell, BAPBB is celebrating ten years together in 2018, and has earned a deserved reputation as one of the most innovative and exciting large ensembles to emerge from the UK since Loose Tubes. With its members involved in too many other projects to mention, BAPBB has been something of an on-off project, with just two releases in a decade, its debut Big Ideas (Efpi Records, 2012), and All in All (Efpi Records, 2015).

The good news, as Cottrell informed the audience in the Mermaid Arts Centre, is that a new album is in the pipeline and more concerts are planned for the tenth anniversary celebrations.

The multi-layered rhythms and vibrant overlapping brass lines of "Rocky" got the show off to a cracking start, with Cottrell an animated conducting presence on a tune that sounded like the bastard child of Charles Mingus and Frank Zappa. Without drawing breath, the band continued with the melodious "Pop," an uplifting tune driven by Finlay Panter's punchy back beat and featuring a fine muted trumpet solo from Aaron Diaz.

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

Shop Music & Tickets

Click any of the store links below and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

CD/LP/Track Review
  • Body by Luca Canini
Radio
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Body by Mark Sullivan
  • Body by Mike Jurkovic
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Live Reviews
Catching Up With
Live Reviews
Extended Analysis
CD/LP/Track Review
  • Open by Mark Corroto
Live Reviews
CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Body

Body

Northern Spy Records
2018

buy
Unfold

Unfold

Ideologic Organ
2017

buy
Vertigo

Vertigo

Northern Spy Records
2016

buy
Vertigo

Vertigo

Northern Spy Records
2015

buy
The Necks: Open

The Necks: Open

ReR Megacorp
2014

buy
Open

Open

Northern Spy Records
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Jazz Migration 2018 Live Reviews
Jazz Migration 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: December 13, 2018
Read Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot Live Reviews
Bessie Smith Empress of the Blues Tribute at The Cabot
by Doug Hall
Published: December 11, 2018
Read Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290 Live Reviews
Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018
Read U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin Live Reviews
U2 at Mercedes-Benz Arena in Berlin
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: December 9, 2018
Read David Johansen at The Space at Westbury Live Reviews
David Johansen at The Space at Westbury
by Mike Perciaccante
Published: December 9, 2018
Read Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Joshua Bowlus Trio at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: December 8, 2018
Read "Jazzahead! 2018" Live Reviews Jazzahead! 2018
by Henning Bolte
Published: May 3, 2018
Read "Vijay Iyer Sextet at The Village Vanguard" Live Reviews Vijay Iyer Sextet at The Village Vanguard
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: May 21, 2018
Read "12 Points 2018" Live Reviews 12 Points 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 14, 2018
Read "Molde International Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Molde International Jazz Festival 2018
by Luca Vitali
Published: August 31, 2018
Read "Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290" Live Reviews Joe Gransden's Big Band At Cafe 290
by Martin McFie
Published: December 9, 2018