Sons of Kemet hasn't stood still since its debut Burn
(Naim Jazz Records, 2013) , as this set, drawn largely from the band's third release, the cheekily titled Your Queen Is a Reptile
(Impulse!, 2018), showed. The dual drum set-up of Eddie Hick
and Tom Skinner
cooked up a pulsating rhythmic stew, while tubaist Theon Cross
ploughed ferocious grooves, occasionally falling into melodic unison with Hutchings, who riffed and probed tirelessly. As tightly knit as the unit surely was, there was freedom aplenty to take the music this way and that, with Cross every bit as compelling as Hutchings in the improvisation stakes.
The crowd, pressed close to the stage, moved to the hypnotic beats from the outset, with more and more drawn to dance as the concert progressed. Caribbean roots music, heavy dub, futuristic funk, New Orleans second-line and free-jazz fused in a wildly euphoric fusion that was trance-like in its unrelenting intensity. At an hour and fifteen minutes this was, relatively speaking, a short headlining set, but trying to sustain music this potent, this explosive, or trying to dance to it for that long, rendered it something of a marathon experienceand an unforgettable one at that. Unlikely to be the party band at England's upcoming royal wedding, but highly recommended for all other festive occasions.
The best edition of Brilliant Corners so far? Such things are subjective but promoter Moving On Music does seem to keep on raising the bar. For the stylistic range and quality of music on offer, and for the adventurous nature of the programming, which often seems to say 'let's see what they think of this,' Brilliant Corners is arguably more progressive than many bigger and more illustrious jazz festivals. Still with the potential to grow its audience, there will be many, no doubt, who feel that the one main venuewith the odd satellite concertand the intimate nature of Brilliant Corners is precisely its forte. An essential event in Ireland/Belfast's packed festival calendar.
Photo Credit: Courtesy of Marcin Wilkowski