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...


Steve Harris tribute at the Lighthouse Arts Centre

Barry Witherden By

Sign in to view read count
At one impressive and visceral juncture, sustained booming-notes suggested a helicopter descending into the auditorium.
Zaum, Jan Kopinksi and friends
Lighthouse Arts Centre
Poole, Dorset
September 28, 2018

Steve Harris—educator, facilitator, composer and master drummer—was born on 16 August 1948 and died on 11 January 2008. For some years he lived in Dorset, contributing a great deal to the arts scene, especially in Poole. In his memory, the studio auditorium in the town's Lighthouse Arts Centre hosted a tribute to him, remembering particularly his contribution to Pinski Zoo and his establishment of Zaum.

After a spoken tribute to Harris by Dan Somogyi, the evening's organiser, the concert began with two solo improvisations by saxophonist and Pinski Zoo leader Jan Kopinski, exploring mesmerising patterns and startling textures. Here and there he used looping and delay pedals to augment his tenor, combined with overtones and sub-tones modifying his tenor sound. At one impressive and visceral juncture, sustained booming-notes suggested a helicopter descending into the auditorium.

Next, Aidan Fisher introduced a short but very affecting piece in memory of Harris. He had composed a whole orchestral suite called Harris shortly after Harris died, but as the studio could not have accommodated an orchestra Fisher wrote a new piece, premiered that night by the Harris String and Piano Quintet, specially convened for this tribute concert. Harris' initials provided the piano with a motif of two notes, E flat and B natural—which in German notation are called S and H—that chimed slowly throughout the piece, whilst the strings played sustained chords that interweaved somberly and reverently.

The first half of the evening was completed by Zaum, with its core line-up of Geoff Hearn (soprano sax), Karen Wimhurst (clarinet and bass clarinet), Cathy Stevens (violectra), Adrian Newton (on what Hearn jokingly described as "cosmology," aka laptop), Udo Dzierzanowksi (electric guitar) and, on drums and the daunting task of substituting for Harris, Tony Gill. Kopinski and Harris' partner, Kathy Prince (on clarinet) joined them for some pieces. The set opened with a recording of a Harris solo, which amply demonstrated why he was so highly regarded as a drummer and a leader—though, as Hearn explained, he led from behind by example and inspiration, never telling the other members of Zaum how or what to do. The musicians began to play and, in due course, Gill took his seat and dovetailed with the recording of Harris as it faded away. The essence of truly great collective improvisation is active and responsive listening, and Zaum displayed this skill to a commendable degree, interweaving, reinforcing each other or prompting new directions, always somehow maintaining an entirely cohesive whole.

After the interval Kathy Prince, her and Harris's eldest daughter, May, plus three friends sang a Georgian folk-song a cappella. Though nervous about this public performance they sang beautifully. Stylistically it might have seemed out-of-place compared with the rest of the evening's music but, like Fisher's quintet, it was deeply sincere and moving and thus entirely appropriate.

Zaum returned to close the evening. Again, the degree to which the members of the band operate almost like a hive mind was impressive. Ideas begin with one musician and are then taken up by others, unexpected effects which result from the intersection of independent lines are embraced and developed, or space will be made for an especially engaging contribution from a solo player. Exemplary stuff, never releasing its hold on the attention, and Harris would have been rightly flattered.


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.

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 "Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival 2017" Live Reviews Buenos Aires International Jazz Festival 2017
by Mark Holston
Published: January 31, 2018
Read "Ljubljana International Jazz Festival 2018" Live Reviews Ljubljana International Jazz Festival 2018
by Francesco Martinelli
Published: July 7, 2018
Read "Papanosh in a Finnish Forest" Live Reviews Papanosh in a Finnish Forest
by Anthony Shaw
Published: August 8, 2018
Read "Festival Jazz International Rotterdam 2018" Live Reviews Festival Jazz International Rotterdam 2018
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: November 1, 2018
Read "Gary Peacock Trio at the Regattabar Jazz Club" Live Reviews Gary Peacock Trio at the Regattabar Jazz Club
by Nat Seelen
Published: December 27, 2017