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Brilliant Corners 2023

Brilliant Corners 2023

Courtesy Manuel-Miethe

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It was as if Archie Shepp had somehow slipped into Black Sabbath’s ranks—an alternative universe for sure.
Brilliant Corners
Black Box
Belfast, N. Ireland
2-11 March, 2023

One of the highlights of Belfast's music calendar, Brilliant Corners' eleventh annual shindig served up thirteen concerts over nine days. As ever, the main venue was Black Box, where audiences were treated to the best of Irish, British, European and North American jazz and improvised music.

Heavy snow threatened to disrupt proceedings, while industrial action in France threw a slight spanner in the works. Promoters Moving On Music, however, have seen it all before in 27 years of putting on gigs, and its team rose to every challenge. A number of musicians paid glowing tribute to MOM from the stage, with Alexander Hawkins hitting the mark when he described Belfast's veteran music promotors as "a real beacon of creativity."

It is not just MOM's enlightened programming, but the care and respect with which it treats the musicians. That could mean the mundane stuff like sourcing a particular cymbal or acoustic guitar, but it also means taking jet-lagged musicians on a walk to the top of Cave Hill to clear their heads and gaze down on Belfast in all its glory. This translates into happy musicians who give their all on stage. Binker Golding said as much during his set—where he certainly held nothing back—on the final evening.

Nearly every gig saw musicians praise MOM, drawing applause from appreciative audiences who have come to know, at gigs throughout the year—and down the years—that MOM is synonymous with great music. Brilliant Corners 2023 was no exception.

BC 2023 began in a new venue for the festival. Accidental Theatre is a snug and kooky little arts theatre in the city center that hosts comedy, music, theatre and dance. If the venue has a credo it is creative collaboration, bringing together artists and audiences in the spirit of community enrichment.

Fitting then, that this improvised music night should be a collaboration between the Sonic Art Research Centre (SARC), of Queen's University, and Brilliant Corners' Moving On Music.

SARC's state-of-the-art performance space has opened its doors to numerous year-round gigs by Moving On Music, including memorable solo piano performances by Craig Taborn and Vijay Iyer, the contemporary classical music of ConTempo Quartet and electronics courtesy of Matmos. This latest SARC/MOM collaboration was the second event in the Handmade Music series, a monthly celebration of experimental music.

A crowd of around a hundred, seated or standing in semi-circular formation before a raised stage, was treated to three performances of very distinctive character.

Alan Niblock

For decades, Belfast bassist Alan Niblock has made fearless improvised music with the likes of Evan Parker, Paul Dunmall, Mark Sanders and Lol Coxhill. In a departure from his typical collaborative settings, however, Niblock performed solo. His short but episodic thirty-minute set, saw him undertake a sonic journey of rhythmic verve, narrative imagination and textural breadth, plucking, slapping and rubbing the strings. A variety of bows, orthodox and less so, enhanced his color box, while palms on wood induced organic squeals and groans.

Despite the bow-driven experimental sounds that intermingled happily with walking-bass patterns, there was a through-composed feel to the music's flow, broken as it was into five pieces. A string of beads attached to the bass strings between bridge and tailpiece emitted surprisingly atmospheric sounds when Niblock shook his bass. This was one of two striking compositions featuring spoken-word performance, another new avenue of artistic exploration for Niblock. His lyrics—enigmatic poetry touching on governance, freedom, spontaneity and change—were framed by strong, jagged rhythmic lines.

Conceptually bold, provocative music, played with unwavering intent. This may have been only Niblock's second ever solo performance, but he appears to have discovered a whole new lease of music life.

QUB Ensemble

Upstairs, in a smaller room, the Book Bar, thirty people congregated for QUB Ensemble. QUBe is a collective from the aforementioned SARC, directed by Paul Stapleton and Conor McAuley and comprised of students, staff and guest musicians. QUBe appears in all shapes and sizes, diving into the music of John Zorn, Sun Ra and other contemporary composers who, likewise, don't fit easily in any one box.

For this iteration of the collective, Paddy McKeown on acoustic guitar, Robert Coleman on melodica, and Bihe Wen on recorder were making their debut as a trio. With Coleman's melodica the shimmering, melodic centre, Bihe on recorder and slide-whistle added bird-like, angular counterpoint, while McKeown juggled faintly sketched, folksy figures and damped-strings percussive accents.

These Handmade Music improvised sessions are short by design, but a mere ten minutes gave the trio little space to develop a properly meaty narrative.

Lara Jones

Downstairs once again, the audience showed music lovers' patience as London-based Lara Jones grappled with wires, cables and plugs to get her equipment operational. Once up and running, she delivered a forty-minute set of electronic beats, sampled and processed sounds.

Armed only with a laptop, a midi keyboard and occasional vocal riffs, Jones layered fat dance beats, swirling ambient textures and nimble keyboard patterns to conjure a coursing stream of music that was rhythmically vital and primal in its intensity. Frequently beautiful and consistently engaging, it was impossible to remain indifferent before such personal, uncompromising music.

Jones' influences are not obvious, but she doubtless stands on the shoulder of giants who paved the way, electronic pioneers and sound sculptors such as Suzanne Ciani, Delia Derbyshire, Pauline Oliveros and Wendy Carlos, whose individual and collective histories are documented in Lisa Rovner's must-see documentary film Sisters With Transistors (Metrograph Pictures, 2021).

Worth checking out too, is J-Frisco, the avant-jazz trio that Jones—a classically trained saxophonist—co-habits alongside Megan Roe and Jemma Freese.

Jack Charles Kelly Trio

No stranger to Brilliant Corners, bassist Jack Charles Kelly has graced the local jazz scene for several years, internalizing the language of bebop and the Great American Songbook. This support slot to Run Logan Run was something of a departure, with Kelly delivering three original compositions. This was only their second airing, following a slot at Scott's Jazz Club in January, and the first performance of this particular trio featuring drummer James Anderson and guitarist Stephen McClenahan.

A country-ish, Bill Frisell vibe permeated the melodically bright "Daisy Hill," with Anderson progressing from brushes to sticks as McClenahan stretched out, exhibiting a beautifully clear tone. Without pause, the trio continued with the ballad "You Are The River," which brought a tasteful solo from Kelly, a musician who feels every note, and another quietly scintillating intervention full of harmonic depth from the impressive McClenahan.

Anderson, a habitual collaborator with Kelly, played with equal measures control and freedom, coloring the music with textural breadth and rhythmic guile. The intuitive understanding between these former housemates was clear. A short but rewarding set concluded with "Hate Crime," a laid back, melodically cheery tune of handsome design.

Kelly's chops are well established, but he is clearly developing as a serious composer and as a leader who recognizes good company. The hardscrabble years of low rent gigging and busking, plus eighteen months in America playing jazz, and Americana/bluegrass with Indiana group The Debutantes, are paying dividends. The road ahead looks bright for Jack Charles Kelly.

Run Logan Run

Try slapping a label on Run Logan Run and see if it sticks. Jazz rock? Psychedlic jazz? Spiritual jazz? Neo-jazz metal? Suffice it to say, saxophonist Andrew Neil Hayes and drummer Matt Brown have probably heard them all, and more besides, while they go about making music that is theirs and theirs alone. Run Logan Run has released four albums since 2016, winning the Montreux Jazz Festival New Talent Award in 2019, a leg-up that would lead to a collaboration the following year, also at Montreux, with John McLaughlin.

For its Belfast debut, the band rolled out music from Nature Will Take Care of You (Worm Discs, 2022). That album features strings and a brass section, but there was none of that in Black Box. Instead, Hayes and Brown were joined by guitarist Dan Messore and electric bassist Beth O'Lenahan.

The set roared and soared from the start, with the doomy churn and growling riffs of "Growing Pain" bleeding into the ethereal, tenor saxophone-led "Where Do You Go?"—a little like Girls in Airports with punchy break-beats. Messore, a spiky, cutting presence throughout, used pedals to conjure a synthesizer-like tone on a mazy solo. Vocalist Annie Gardiner featured on several numbers beginning with "Project Pigeon," her voice floating over driving grooves, billowing saxophone and Messore's waves of sound. Amid the heady maelstrom there was space for subtle percussive colors (strings of bells)—an intoxicating fusion of contrasts.

At the rockier end of Run Logan Run's spectrum on the "Searching for God in Strangers Faces," O'Lenahan's fuzzy bass was a potent anchoring force in the face of ferocious drumming and saxophone-cum guitar wailing. It was as if Archie Shepp had somehow slipped into Black Sabbath's ranks—an alternative universe for sure. From proggish metal to the Ozric Tentacles-esque sci-fi of "Give Me Back My Slippers," the music probed far and wide.

The encore, "Caveman Disco," delivered a potent mash-up of thumping dancefloor rhythms, jazz-funk melodicism and alt rock edge. A memorable gig that has surely earned Run Logan Run a Belfast following.

Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra

Now in its thirtieth year, the Ulster Youth Jazz Orchestra took up its habitual festival slot on Saturday afternoon. As usual, the house was full, with family and friends of the musicians out in force. With Paul O'Reilly at the helm, the 25-piece orchestra tore into the standards repertoire with gusto.

Quite the start it was, too, with Yoko Kanno's theme "Tank," from the Japanese sci-fi anime series "Cowboy Bebop," and a swinging version of Henry Mancini's iconic "The Pink Panther." Cartoon music seems ripe for serious big-band treatment and Frank Zappa, for one, would likely have approved of the UYJO's repertoire and the verve of its delivery.

From Nat Adderley's "Work Song" and Charlie Parker's "Now's The Time" to Herbie Hancock's "Cantaloupe Island," there was plenty for the UYJO's soloists to sink their teeth into. Trombonist Peter Alcorn, guitarists Ben McCleery and Jack McGoldrick, tenor saxophonist Joshua Baker, bassist Phil Acheson (Walter Page or Jaco Pastorius, it's all the same to him) and keyboardist Theo Ray all impressed. Drummer Ben Watson kept immaculate time.

Singers Kate Fitzsimons and Yasmine Fitzpatrick gave confident performances on standards old and new, with Nina Simone's "Feeling Good" a rousing highlight. A lively rendition of Astor Piazzolla's "Libertango" (what else?) rounded the set off in style.

How many of these musicians will go on to pursue a career in jazz? Probably very few. That reality is less to do with their talent than with the lack of opportunities. It was great to see Black Box packed with relatives and friends of these young musicians for the UYJO extravaganza, but to ensure that there is a jazz future for those who aspire to one, then support for jazz initiatives year-round is necessary to grow and nurture the scene.

Sarathy Korwar

Saturday evening saw London-based drummer, tablaist and composer Sarathy Korwar lead a quartet in his singular brand of Indo-jazz. Most of the set came from Korwar's criticaly acclaimed Kalak (Leaf, 2022), a production-savvy, electronically filtered roots album that stretches the boundaries of Indo-jazz.

Infectious groove and bags of percussion were the staples, with Korwar's touch light yet propulsive. Tamar Osborn's bowels-of-the-earth baritone saxophone and lyrical flute playing brought extremes of gutsy gravitas and dancing levity, while keyboardist Alistair MacSween's plied dreamy, jazz-inflected lines. Percussionist Magnus Metha colored everything, with congas central, though shakers, cowbells, and frame drums were in constant rotation.

Harmonized chant, intricate four-way hand-claps and free-wheeling flute combined on "Remember Begum Rokheya," a rhythmically infectious tune inspired by the early twentieth century Bengali feminist, activist and science fiction writer. There has always been a political aspect to Korwar's music, giving voice to the disenfranchised, though he wears it lightly.

All hands were on percussion deck for "That Clocks Don't Tell But Make Time," but there were other layers at play; electronics played an important role throughout, a filter for bright, folksy melodies and contemporary rhythms alike. There was a gently cantering quality to much of the music, including the encore, "Bismillah," and it was tempting to imagine where this music might have gone with a heavy, dub bass line or a soaring Indian vocal, something to lift it into the stratosphere.

Ant Law/Alex Hitchcock Quartet

It was the first time in Belfast for saxophonist Alex Hitchcock and drummer Sun-Mi Hong. Guitarist Ant Law, on the other hand, was making a swift return following his appearance with the Scott Flanigan Quartet at BC 2022, while bassist Jasper Hoiby is no stranger to the city, having toured here on several occasions with Phronesis. The quartet presented music from Same Moon In The Same World (Outside in Music, 2022).

Four tunes flew by—ripe with fluid solos of contrasting character from the co-leaders—before the band drew breath. Captivating individual play was not in short supply across the set, but never felt gratuitous. Mood, dynamic flow and group interplay were equal protagonists on contemporary tunes refreshingly free of obvious influences.

Law and Hitchcock also perform as a duo from time to time—notably supporting Hong's headlining spot at the EFG London Jazz Festival in 2022—and their trading back and forth on "Chrysalis," over Hong and Høiby's bustling groove, provided visceral excitement.

Hong worked her kit with an artisan's flair, keeping lightly swinging though flexible time. She rationed thrilling interjections, but when featured, as on "Vivid," a group vamp granted her licence to really stretch out. Hong's intro led the way on the brooding "Don't Wait Too Long," her rumbling mallets punctuated by tinny splashes from a small Korean cymbal suspended at knee height. Hitchcock's soft lowing ushered in a passage of tone-poem refinement, before Law's infectious riff launched the saxophonist on an uncluttered, lyrical course.

New material also figured, a welcome indicator that the Law/Hitchcock Quartet is looking to the future. Høiby stole the spotlight on a slower number with a trademark singing solo before the quartet signed off with the lively "Colors," Hitchcock and Law saving their most untethered soloing—with a knowing sense of theatre—for this charged finale.

Johanna Summer

The Yamaha Grand piano stood not on the Black Box stage, but on the floor, bringing Johanna Summer that much closer to the audience, who can rarely have enjoyed such a close-quarters encounter with a world-class pianist. With one white spotlight illuminating pianist and piano from behind, and another in front, the rest of the room was cast in darkness—an aptly dramatic setting for the music that unfolded.

Both classically and jazz-trained, Summer has carved out something of a niche with her improvised versions of classical pieces, documented on Schumann Kaleidoskop ( 2020) and Resonanzen (2023), both on Siggi Loch's ACT Music label.

Taking the microphone, Summer's introduction was half-apology, half spoiler-alert, explaining that she would not be trotting out "swinging Tin Pan Alley tunes" but instead, largely improvised classical works.

Beginning with her take on Maurice Ravel's "Le Tombeau de Couperin," Summer proceeded to lift the bonnet on—and tinker rather splendidly with—piano works by Bach, Schumann, Beethoven, Schubert, Tchaikovsky, Scriabin and Mompou. At times, the pianist would veer into open-ended improvisational terrain where vamps served as springboards to tumbling lines flecked with bluesy undertones. In these moments, Summer's muse seemed more Keith Jarrett than Bach. And from these more jazz-centric excursions, Summer would emerge into Schubert or Schumann's worlds.

After forty minutes, Summer took a brief break. The room stirred again. In the second half it only took the dimming of the lights to induce silence in the room, fractured only by the occasional creak of Black Box's wooden floorboards.

Leaning into the music, Summer's body language conveyed intense focus, whether applying a gossamer touch or drawing thunder from the keys. Technically dazzling, Summer glided from skeletal impressionism to stormy rhapsody, summoning a kaleidoscope of moods, especially in the fertile middle ground. A thrilling workover of György Ligeti's "Musica Recercata" brought the concert to an impassioned conclusion.

Called back to the piano for one more, Summer offered Robert Schumann's achingly pretty "Träumerei," bookending her liberal interpretation with music-box delicacy. Beautiful though it was, the lullaby-esque intimacy in effect extinguished the flames of the stirring Ligeti finale. This was arguably one performance whose power could only be slightly diminished by the convention of the encore. Still, a remarkable show of pianistic virtuosity, improvisational flair and feeling.

David Helbock

The disruption caused by transportation strikes in France meant that singer Camille Bertault was stranded in Paris, leaving her duo partner David Helbock to fend for himself. Happily, Holbeck was on terra firma. A winner of Montreux Jazz Festival's solo piano competition in 2007, Helbock has half a dozen solo piano albums under his belt. His tribute to one of the greats of film music, Playing John Williams (ACT Music, 2019), formed the concert's backbone.

Few on the planet are unfamiliar with John Williams' music. But with the exception of relatively faithful readings of the themes for Schindler's List and Saving Private Ryan, the odd rumbling crescendo aside, Helbock's were radical and often tempestuous deconstructions. It was also a fairly random program that flitted from Williams to jazz, classical, pop and original compositions.

Beginning with an excerpt from Beethoven's 7th Symphony, then moving swiftly onto Williams' theme from ET Helbock frequently employed the piano's innards, damping the strings with hand or towel, plucking pizzicato-style or swiping like a harp—even sounding chords. Impressive, Helbock's stride piano athleticism, his left hand holding a ludicrously fast circular motif as his right pounced on and toyed feverishly with the melodic contours of Superman.

Is it possible to sound more like Thelonious Monk than Monk himself? Helbock answered that questions with a ghostly version of "Round Midnight" followed by his own perfectly wonky, stride-fueled "Monkaholics Anonymous." The reharmonizing and rejigging of tempi rendered some of the pieces almost unrecognizable, as was the case with a minor key reading of Prince's "Purple Rain."

There was more bouncing, stride-laced Monk, poetry by Eric Fried set to rubato music courtesy of Enrico Pieranunzi, a dramatic interpretation of the theme from Star Wars Episode 1 ( The Death Star exploding, perchance?) and, to conclude, a powerhouse version of Mozart's "Komm, Lieber Mai Und Mache."

Two heads may better than one, according to conventional wisdom, but sometimes, as David Helbock demonstrated in buckets, one is plenty.

Lina Allemano Four

Canadian trumpeter Lina Allemano has long dovetailed between Toronto and Berlin, where she leads, respectively, Lina Allemano Four, and the trio Ohrenscmous. For her first visit to Belfast, Allemano brought her Canadian quartet of nearly twenty-years standing. In one of BC 2023's most adventurous sets, Lina Allemano Four presented music from its forthcoming album, Pipedreams (Lumo Records, 2023).

In Allemano's conceptually fresh sound world, harmony and dissonance are happy bedfellows, with trumpet and Brodie West's alto saxophone toggling between handsome harmonies and angular cut-and-thrust. Double bassist Andrew Downing, who played for the most part with his bow, provided the rhythmic ballast, while drummer Nick Fraser'—a most original stylist—was an often frenetic ball of energy. Even his brush work bristled with an intensity more akin to rock music.

References to "diptychs," regularly turned sheet music and an episodic, thirty-minute suite entitled "Plague Diaries," ablaze with contrapuntal fires, attested to the through-composed, structurally complex frames of the music. Within those frames, free-jazz heads of steam muddied the intellectual waters in visceral fashion—music for head and gut. "Beans," from Vegetables (Lumo Records, 2021), closed the set on a dense, free-wheeling note, with conventional notions of front-line lead and rhythm section support upended in a wonderful show of controlled chaos.

There is method to Allemano's madness, and whilst such adventurous, singular music may not be for everyone, the Belfast audience showed its appreciation.

Fergus McCreadie Trio

Scottish jazz is in rude health and Fergus McCreadie one of its leading lights. His debut album Turas (Self Produced, 2019) already turned a few heads. The pianist was soon snapped up by Edition Records, who released his subsequent albums Cairn (2021) and the Mercury Music Prize-nominated Forest Floor (2022), albums that have only increased the noise around his exciting trio.

McCreadie, double bassist David Bowden and drummer Stephen Henderson held a packed Black Box rapt with their Scottish folk-flavored jazz—chamber-esque at its most introspective, free-flowing and celebratory at the other extreme. In full flight, the trio's passion and fire were infectious. Comparisons with a certain well known Swedish piano trio are not entirely unfounded, but somewhat reductive too, for McCreadie's language—jazzified Scottish jigs and airs—bear his personal stamp.

The trio's dynamic range at the poles was significant, but too often the slow, gently lyrical passages, as well as the extended vamps, saw the music plateau for overly long periods, creating an inertia that took a little of the sting out of the performance. Beginning with "North" and segueing into "The Teacher," "Ardbeg" and then a new, untitled tune, the trio played uninterrupted for a ballsy fifty-five minutes. McCreadie found his sweet spot in the middle of the piano's range, rarely straying into the keyboard's upper registers.

Henderson's lively drum intro on another new composition paved the way for McCreadie's jig-like melody, a springboard to a lengthy improvised passage of lightning-fast pianistic virtuosity and rhythmic heat. Thrilling stuff, it was too. A folksy rhapsody of slow-burning, anthemic quality closed the set. An animated Black Box audience demanded more, and the trio obliged with a rhythmically charged tune, built around a catchy motif that eventually caught fire, propelling the trio into romping terrain.

At its best, the Fergus McCreadie Trio was irrisitible. It is not quite the fully matured article just yet, but its potential appears boundless.

Alexander Hawkins Trio

"Play how you wish the world to be." Wayne Shorter's recorded words opened the Alexander Hawkins Trio's set, a voice, now sadly beyond the grave. Other recorded pearls of wisdom followed from Sun Ra and Louis Moholo-Moholo before Hawkins, bassist Neil Charles and drummer Stephen Davis took over in a tense, broiling opener that built almost surreptitiously towards potent collective release. The whole 90-minute performance, in fact, was characterized by the energy radiating from three-way dialogues of power, precision and virtuosity.

Most of the material presented was a preview of the trio's forthcoming album, Carnival Celestial (Intakt Records, 2023). Hawkins is a deep student of jazz piano history. In his knotty rhythms, splashy percussive accents and tireless motivic flow, strode the spirits of Art Tatum, Sun Ra, Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor and Bud Powell. In the gentler, more lyrical moments Duke Ellington ghosted in and out, while Hawkins also paid overt musical homage to Shorter and Ra.

But Hawkins is above all an original voice and this trio a spectacular vehicle for his untamed imagination. Charles and Davis worked their respective instruments hard in matching Hawkins' fire, the bassist maintaining a taxing melodic and rhythmic narrative, while Davis, in a bravura display, employed hands, brushes, mallets, sticks and kalimba as the folds of the music dictated. Three dynamos, each compelling in his own right, forging adventurous music that was much greater than the sum of its parts.

The Alexander Hawkins Trio is feted throughout Europe, where it plays far, wide and regularly. It was therefore a surprise to hear Hawkins say that Belfast was "one of the few places in the UK where we can play." Is this brilliant trio's music really too 'out' for the average UK jazz punter? Or is it perhaps the venues whose conservatism underestimates and short changes their customers? Their loss. The Alexander Hawkins Trio at BC 2023 was certainly a wild ride, but one that was utterly compelling from first not to last. Is that not what a live music experience should be all about?

Roamer

The Saturday afternoon slot fell to Irish quartet Roamer. With its members based in Dublin, Cologne, London, and at various times, Berlin and New York, Roamer does not get out much. This was the band's first gig in two years. Its one-hour set showcased the music from Lost Bees (Diatribe Records, 2022), a celebration of the poetry of Portstewart poet Cherry Smyth.

Drummer Matthew Jacobson, a regular visitor to Belfast with the likes of SlapBang and Origin Story, electric bassist Simon Jermyn and saxophonist Matthew Halpin served up a groove-based instrumental "Shore" as a trio before singer Lauren Kinsella joined them on stage. The quartet then eased into "Answer," a dreamy meditation. Smyth's finely sculpted, deeply penetrating lyrics and Kinsella's lyrical interpretation made for a seductive combination.

Impressive, Roamer's ability to shape-shift effortlessly from shoe-gazing introspection to coursing uplift, laced with Kinsella's wordless improvisations, Halpin's melodious forays and their arresting harmonic waves—elements heard to great effect on Jermyn's "5th Neck of the Woods" and the driving "Fairy Tale." At every step, Jacobson and Jermyn plied elastic grooves and painterly shading, Jacobson working skin and metal with hands, brushes, sticks and bow. Woozy electronics accentuated the more ethereal reaches of the music.

Smyth was really the fifth member of Roamer, her haunting words inspiring Kinsella, Halpin, Jacobson and Jermyn to flights of equally poetic, one-of-a-kind music.

Binker Golding

Making a return to Belfast following his memorable appearance with Moses Boyd at BC 2022, saxophonist Binker Golding showed another side to his musical personality with a performance of the Americana-influenced Dream Like a Dogwood Wild Boy (Gearbox Records, 2022).

Americana, of course, comes in more flavors than Italian ice-cream, but Golding's principal ingredients were soul-jazz, blues and country. Guitarist Artie Zaitz was the perfect laidback foil to Golding's burrowing tenor solos. Drawing from John Lee Hooker and B.B. King, Zaitz delivered folksy, acoustic blues on the upbeat "(Take Me To) The Wide Open Lows" and the biting electric kind on the slow-burning "Love Me Like a Woman." Bassist Daniel Casimir, drummer Zoe Pascal and pianist Elliot Galvin—subbing for Sarah Tandy—provided a rock-solid rhythmic backbone, the pianist capturing the ear with his harmonic counterpoint as much as with his elegant soloing.

From country-ish canter to jig-like flurry, from New Orleans to bebop by way of Chicago blues, Golding led his band on a mazy journey through America's musical heartland. The saxophonist's burning post-bop solos were central, but there was generous scope for Galvin and Zaitz to stretch out too.

On the slower brushes-driven "'Til my Heart Stops," featuring finely weighted solos from Zaitz, Casimir and the leader, Golding's melodious strengths as a composer shone through. These qualities were also to the fore on set-closer "All Out Of Fairy Tales," an anthemic finale to an uplifting performance and a fittingly positive note on which to end Brilliant Corners for another year.

Wrap Up

What this year's festival underlined, as it habitually does, is that jazz in the 21st Century is a prism through which all kinds of music and influences are refracted. Classical music, musique concrete, blues, country, soul, rock, electronic, film music, cartoon themes, tango, old folk melodies, poetry.... the list goes on and on. But was it not ever thus? Just one of Sonny Rollins's marathon solos could contain the entire history of popular music.

Perhaps for this reason, the audiences at Brilliant Corners have become more diverse, age and gender-wise, as each edition rolls by. Attendees know, or come to know, that jazz is not some staid museum piece, but a vibrant, multi-hued music—an open book with chapters in its story as yet unwritten. But however jazz's story develops and morphs in the coming years, it is a safe bet that Brilliant Corners will continue to champion the various traditions, as well as embrace the bold and the innovative, in its inclusive yet progressive programme.

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