All About Jazz

Home » Articles » Live Reviews

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...

2

Scarborough Jazz Festival: Scarborough, UK, September 28-30, 2012

Duncan Heining By

Sign in to view read count
Scarborough Jazz Festival
Scarborough, UK
September, 28-30, 2012
Now in its tenth year, Scarborough Jazz Festival is a fixture in the UK's jazz calendar. Situated on the east coast of North Yorkshire, Scarborough's heyday was in the Victorian era, when coaches would pull up outside hotels like The Royal or The Crown to disgorge wealthy patrons wanting to take the waters in the local spa. Unlike other British spa towns such as Bath, Cheltenham and Leamington, Scarborough has lost the gloss that wealth and affluence brought to the town. Yet it has its own slightly down-at-heel charm and nothing can detract from the beauty of its setting around two bays.
These days the Spa is an entertainment complex, home to the usual eclectic mix of performances from ballet and classical music to tribute bands and standup comedians. At the end of each summer, however, these make way for a three day festival of excellent jazz, all extremely well-organized by the local jazz club and Festival Director, Mike Gordon.

Some regional festivals specialize in styles—big bands, trad or mainstream, for example. Scarborough's a little different. It's generalist in approach and, if it leans towards the modern-mainstream, it still likes to dip a toe or two in more adventurous waters. On this year's final afternoon, two newish bands offered just such a hint of adventure, leading a willing audience into, what was for some, unchartered territory.

Rhythmica owes its origins to bassist Gary Crosby's Tomorrow's Warriors project in South London. Its music occupies that kind of Branford Marsalis/Terence Blanchard space that owes more than a little to mid- to late-sixties Blue Note, yet it also has something of its own. Their usual saxophonist, Zimbabwean Zem Audu, was absent on this occasion, his place taken admirably by Binker Golding. In fact, the intriguing thing was that as well as Golding, the band was using a new bassist in Rob Astley and yet their presence changed Rhythmica's sound not one beat. Of course, in managing change, it helped to have a pianist of the caliber of Peter Edwards, but then he was just the most immediately striking in a quintet of quite outstanding young musicians. In fact, it seemed that, if anything, Rhythmica has developed an even greater sense of identity since its eponymous 2010 release on Dune Records.

In a way, it's hard to say quite what it is that made the group's music seem so fresh and new. After all, no jazz fan reared on hard bop could find this music difficult. It swung. It had drive and confidence and there were little occasional hints towards abstraction. Yet it felt like more than just a case of an older form being revisited. It was partly due to the role played by the rhythm section. Rob Astley's bass sounded quite percussive in the mix—not just an anchor but a definite and defining pulse. And the way he linked with Andy Chapman's bass drum brought a Siamese twin to mind—two hearts but effectively one conjoined body. That hard backbeat within a still flowing and subtle rhythm section provided an enormously strong platform for the soloist and that, in turn, allowed for a powerful sense of drama and dramatic tension in Rythmica's music.

Rhythmica is at its best when eschewing standards or a more easy descent into Marsalis/Young Lions territory, though its take on Herbie Hancock's "The Sorcerer" was strikingly dark in mood. Its "Mr. J.J." was a case in point—beautifully executed but missing its own personal stamp. There is a Rhythmica way of doing things and the group needs to have the confidence to follow its own lead. Peter Edwards' "Solace" and "Triple Threat—The Build" and "Blind Man's Bluff," the latter with its echoes of old and present-day New Orleans, gave a better idea of a personal, expressive style in the process of forming. At its best, it was almost theatrical, and there was a palpable sense of excitement when the group's excellent trumpeter, Mark Crown, or very impressive saxophonist, Goldings, came to the mike.

But it was a style in formation, which indeed it should be at this point. There was, perhaps, too great a reliance on well-trodden paths and in its writing not enough attention to thematic development, but these things will come in their own time. The progress Rhythmica has already made since its debut shows how quickly it's getting there.

Tags

comments powered by Disqus

Related Articles

Read Detroit Jazz Festival 2018 Live Reviews
Detroit Jazz Festival 2018
by C. Andrew Hovan
Published: September 19, 2018
Read Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner Live Reviews
Beethoven, Barber and Vivaldi at The Jazz Corner
by Martin McFie
Published: September 18, 2018
Read Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia 2018 Live Reviews
Bryan Ferry at the Macedonian Philharmonic Hall, Macedonia...
by Nenad Georgievski
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood Vampires, Black Asteroids & Paul Lamb Live Reviews
Live From Birmingham: Dinosaur, Meatraffle, Hollywood...
by Martin Longley
Published: September 16, 2018
Read Binker & Moses At London's Jazz Cafe Live Reviews
Binker & Moses At London's Jazz Cafe
by Chris May
Published: September 15, 2018
Read 12 Points 2018 Live Reviews
12 Points 2018
by Ian Patterson
Published: September 14, 2018
Read "Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 1-2" Live Reviews Sligo Jazz Project 2018: Days 1-2
by James Fleming
Published: August 18, 2018
Read "Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon" Live Reviews Crispell-Fonda-Sorgen Trio Live at The Falcon
by Mike Jurkovic
Published: November 29, 2017
Read "Vorcza at Nectar's" Live Reviews Vorcza at Nectar's
by Doug Collette
Published: January 20, 2018
Read "Vision Festival 2018" Live Reviews Vision Festival 2018
by John Sharpe
Published: June 5, 2018
Read "Jazzdor Berlin" Live Reviews Jazzdor Berlin
by Henning Bolte
Published: June 29, 2018