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A new number, "Break" began with a ruminative piano intro, sharply developing into a surging trio dynamic, punctuated by fleeting shifts of momentum and culminating in a bass and trip-hop drum break. "Fanfares" followed a similar patternthe initial hushed aesthetic suddenly exploding. The anthemic "I Drown in You" and short and breezy "Last Word" shared spacious melodies that contrasted with busy rhythms.
There was greater immediacy about "Garden Dog Barbecue," which bristled with energy from the get-go; Illingworth chipped and hammered at the keys, sculpting feverishly over a punchy bass-and-drums metronome. The sudden brick-wall ending was the logical resolution to such combustion. The encore, "Hopopono," a delightfully catchy poppish tune rounded out a vibrant, energizing set.
Brilliant Corners 2014 succeeded in providing a diverse, attractive program. In embracing tradition and modernity there was a little of something for everyone. The platform given to local artists underlined the Made in Belfast character of the festival, while international acts of renown helped ensure sell-out crowds. The world premiere of Piers Hallawel's "Sound Carvings, Strange Tryst" set a precedent that marks Brilliant Corners out as a young festival with progressive intentions, placing it alongside innovative jazz festivals such as Poland's Jazztopad.
The informal, buoyant atmosphere and sold-out venues at most of the gigs attested to the local appetite for high-quality jazz/creative music. Moving On Music puts on these types of gigs throughout the year but there's an undeniable sense of civic celebration about a festivaland Belfast still needs a lot more of that medicine. Hopefully, with support, Brilliant Corners will dig its roots deep into Belfast's cultural soil and bloom for many more years to come.
Photo Credit Courtesy of Stuart Calvin/Moving on Music