Pharoah Sanders Flips Lids Alongside Vilnius Fest's International Cast (Mama Jazz Report Pt.2)

Pharoah-John-Sharpe

Vilnius Mama Jazz is the younger sibling of the three-decades-old Vilnius Jazz Festival, which has carefully built a reputation for adventurous, improvisationally-based programming. For some inexplicable reason, Mama Jazz takes place only a month after the VJF, but at least this maintains the momentum, as one excellent festival runs on to the next. On the surface, Mama Jazz has a more mainline orientation, but for this 16th edition there was no lack of extremity among its artists.

For the first three days, Mama's scene revolved around the international acts presented at the Tamsta music club, with its semi-circular stage and crow's nest balcony. Three or four bands played each night. Quite Sublime (a risky name) united four players from four European lands in spumy funk, with warm tenor saxophone, following Brecker and then Sanborn, when alto was selected. Jazzybit (Romania) exist on the crowded GoGo Penguin piano trio plain, but displayed a welcome toughness, with Teodor Pop switching between acoustic and Nord, both of these attacked percussively, as he impressively slid between piano and rippling organ sounds. 'Amor Moon' had a plodding boogie basis, but their third tune cut sharply to salsa, Pop flaying his virtual organ with bruiser abandon. The first night closed with Italian pianist Lorenzo De Finti's quartet, presenting 45 minutes of his slightly edited suite, a lyrical excursion, with pointillist keys and peppercorn trumpet, passing through many moods. A powerful combination of piano and bass notes produced deep resonance, and an emphatic chordal pounding climax.

The second evening had Quantum Trio (Poland) again stalking Bad-GoGo-Svensson-Plus territory, but one of their best pieces featured a piano/drums duo with a flamenco lilt, followed by 'Entanglement', which made a harder strut, developing a dub skip. Dogon (Switzerland) followed, improving as they got heavier, their guitar/bass/drums formation facilitating a Wayne Krantz complexity, with a stand-out, mildly distorted, Arabo-Andalusian-styled guitar solo from Eric Hunziker. Amazonas (Sweden) looked like a more experienced crew, creating a frisky bustle, with heavy bassline quake and lively alto/soprano exchanges. When Biggi Vinkeloe swapped saxophone for flute, joining the attractively disembodied bass, they started to sound like classic period Gong. H.Soror (Ukraine) are a tenor, electric bass and drums trio, dedicated to a 1990s-era rock influenced jazz, building a slurred slurry trough of slow groove that eventually graduated to slack dirge, barely destined to crawl out of their sacks in the morning.

On Friday night, the Lithuanian National Drama Theatre began its three days of headliner sets, but there was still one last session booked at Tamsta. Guitar power trios could be quite exhilarating, as an antidote to the continuing plague of piano threesomes! The Bodhisattwa Trio (India) made a rubbery slink with 'Cronos', their native ingredients comparatively subtle, but residing mostly in the sliding string-bends of their leader's guitar solos. A meaty bassline on 'Convergence' led to the introduction of space to increase dynamics, with a sudden heavy dub bridge leading to a crazed drum solo, infested by strafing guitar punctuations. Bringing a welcome climax, the ultra-confident projectile crew of Naked (Serbia) used tenor saxophone, violin, bass and drums at a high-energy setting, riddled with earthy toughness, their rhythm team's rapport elastically supporting a switch to clarinet, with grainy hardass fiddling creating a fresh genre called free gypsy, negotiated at a speeding punk rate. Audience communication reached profound levels, deep into the night.

Get-The-Blessing--John-Sharpe

On the main concert stage, Get the Blessing (Bristol) addressed 'Green Herring', the "least trustworthy of all the fish" (one of bassman Jim Barr's often profound observations). It's a groover, emanating electric extensions, relaxing the crowd for 'OCDC', and its speedy audience clapping-support, always integral to success. This foursome unite filmic roadster themes, effects trims, and strictly edited soloing, regurgitating the perfect combination of foot-and-bonce entwined majesty. Next, Norway's Jaga Jazzist continued to refine their headbanging pomp jazz complexity, nowadays becoming too much of a precision engineered juggernaut, leaving not much to chance, and demanding that someone open the windows. This hyper-evolved state is something that's still capable of giving pleasure, fortunately.

On the last night, the Neil Cowley Trio prepared the way for the Pharoah Sanders Quartet, laying down a complete contrast of mood, dwelling on the hyperactive side of town, and fuelled by their pianist leader's almost manic wit. Sadly, it must be said that Cowley's more recent tunes, deliberately simple and direct (compared to his old songbook), pale beside those original chestnuts. Sometimes the trio sounded a touch rigidly metronomic, but the loosening came via the verbal introductions rather than the music itself. Sanders (Los Angeles) was joined, as ever, by pianist William Henderson, plus the London team of bassist Oli Hayhurst and drummer Gene Calderazzo. At first, the tenorman was spreading out his impressionistic character, with waves of sound and feeling, but steadily, Sanders rose up out of the swirls with some bite, and once he began the heavier blowing, the soloing took on an epic scale, loaded with detailed accents and embellishments. The set eventually tipped over 90 minutes, which was well beyond the saxophonist's accustomed duration. Sanders merely hinted at 'The Creator Has A Master Plan', which was another very unusual move, to forgo playing his signature number in full.

– Martin Longley
– Photos by John Sharpe

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Sons of Kemet, Ashley Henry and Yussef Dayes groove at the Great Escape

Sons of Kemet, Ashley Henry and Yussef D…

Since its beginnings in 2006, Brighton's festival of new music...

Read More.....
Rainforest Reveries: Crawford and Simcock In Arboreal Praise For Powys As Birdsongs Take Flight At Hampstead Arts Fest

Rainforest Reveries: Crawford and Simcoc…

Released last month on Basho Records, Birdsong/Cân yr Adar fuses...

Read More.....
Claire Martin, The Printmakers and Jamie Cullum line-up for 606 Club 30 years at Lots Road Festival

Claire Martin, The Printmakers and Jamie…

Chelsea's salubrious jazz den, the 606 Club, is to mark...

Read More.....
Collective X line-up for Love & Protest at Stratford Circus

Collective X line-up for Love & Prot…

Genre-defying London-based group Collective X, led by singer Alya Al...

Read More.....
Love Supreme summit at London's Roundhouse

Love Supreme summit at London's Roundhou…

A blazing afternoon sun, beer-drinking crowds, and smooth electronic beats...

Read More.....
The Lage Lund Trio, Julia Hülsmann and Christopher Dell inspire at Jazzfest Bonn

The Lage Lund Trio, Julia Hülsmann and C…

During its unlikely spell as the post-war capital of West...

Read More.....
Stanley Clarke, Dave Douglas and Avishai Cohen heat up EFG London Jazz Festival

Stanley Clarke, Dave Douglas and Avishai…

The line-up for this year's EFG London Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Breakin' Convention raise roof with jazz-indebted dance riot at Sadler's Wells

Breakin' Convention raise roof with jazz…

  Founded in 2004 by 'choreopoet' Jonzi D and still curated...

Read More.....
Bärtsch's Mobile Go Minimal Amid Homegrown Diamonds At Estonian Summit

Bärtsch's Mobile Go Minimal Amid Homegro…

  Every music festival has its logistical problems – from gremlins...

Read More.....
Courtney, Kamasi, Frisell and Sheppard thrill the flock as VEIN hits rich seam at Cheltenham

Courtney, Kamasi, Frisell and Sheppard t…

It's a small town, Cheltenham, and the jazz festival is...

Read More.....
WorldService Project's propulsive politics mix punk and Python for satirical japes at Jazz In The Round

WorldService Project's propulsive politi…

"Five disillusioned anti-Brexit punk soldiers...", is how Dave Morecroft, commander-in-chief...

Read More.....
EST Symphony and Akinmusire energise and engage at Espoo's April Jazz

EST Symphony and Akinmusire energise and…

It's 10 years since Esbjörn Svensson's death on 14 June...

Read More.....
Ray Blue Rings True With Pan-Atlantic Quartet At Pizza

Ray Blue Rings True With Pan-Atlantic Qu…

  What better way to celebrate International Jazz Day than with...

Read More.....
Tom Ibarra, Stoney Lane Records store and Family shows complete Cheltenham Jazz Fest line-up

Tom Ibarra, Stoney Lane Records store an…

The doors are almost open for this year's edition of...

Read More.....
Esperanza and Nubya energises while Dame Cleo mesmerises at Jazz FM Awards

Esperanza and Nubya energises while Dame…

  Last year's Jazz FM awards was a memorable occasion, with...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny, Ezra Collective, Esperanza and Nubya Garcia among winners at fifth Jazz FM Awards

Pat Metheny, Ezra Collective, Esperanza …

The winners of this year's Jazz FM Awards were announced...

Read More.....
OFFBEAT Jazz and Cinema Fest goes French

OFFBEAT Jazz and Cinema Fest goes French

A new weekend-long jazz on film event, the OFFBEAT Jazz...

Read More.....
Avishai Cohen Quartet deliver testaments to truth and beauty at Ronnie's

Avishai Cohen Quartet deliver testaments…

The first of two sold-out gigs by the Avishai Cohen...

Read More.....
Black Spirituals Let Axe Fall For Swansong

Black Spirituals Let Axe Fall For Swanso…

Admirers of the scorched earth strategies of Last Exit, Fushitsusha...

Read More.....
WorldService Project power-up with album and tour dates

WorldService Project power-up with album…

Thespian punk-jazz troupe WorldService Project once more don the guise...

Read More.....
Brit-jazz stars, Metropole Orkest, Puppy, Porter, Metheny and more for North Sea Jazz Fest

Brit-jazz stars, Metropole Orkest, Puppy…

This year's North Sea Jazz Festival, the world's largest indoor...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny to be honoured with PRS for Music Gold Award and Esperanza Spalding to appear at Jazz FM Awards

Pat Metheny to be honoured with PRS for …

Revered US guitarist Pat Metheny (pictured) has been confirmed as...

Read More.....
Schneider Supreme Among Savannah Fest's Legacy-Leaning Showcases

Schneider Supreme Among Savannah Fest's …

The middle period of the Savannah Music Festival featured most of...

Read More.....
Dr Lonnie Remedies Ronnie's With Waves Of His Magic Wand

Dr Lonnie Remedies Ronnie's With Waves O…

Improvising musicians have been at the forefront of technology for...

Read More.....
Lucia Cadotsch and Kyle Eastwood among the corking capers at Cully Jazz

Lucia Cadotsch and Kyle Eastwood among t…

  "There will never be peace until God is seated at...

Read More.....
Shake Stew release video ahead of new album Rise And Rise Again featuring Shabaka Hutchings

Shake Stew release video ahead of new al…

Seven-piece Austrian newcomers Shake Stew are set to release their...

Read More.....
Rising star trumpeter Keyon Harrold powerful and political at The Jazz Café

Rising star trumpeter Keyon Harrold powe…

It seems like every time I pick up a great...

Read More.....
Jean Toussaint gets arty with Blakey

Jean Toussaint gets arty with Blakey

Renowned expat US saxophonist Jean Toussaint makes an emphatic return...

Read More.....
Beast Is Back: Return Of The Sloth Racket

Beast Is Back: Return Of The Sloth Racke…

  UK improvising quintet Sloth Racket – led by baritone saxophonist...

Read More.....
Dame Cleo Laine and George Benson to receive special honours at Jazz FM Awards

Dame Cleo Laine and George Benson to rec…

With this year's edition of the Jazz FM Awards set...

Read More.....
Kamasi Washington gets epic again with Heaven & Earth double album and world tour

Kamasi Washington gets epic again with H…

Los Angeles sax star Kamasi Washington is set to return...

Read More.....
Nubya Garcia, Ivo Neame Quartet and Ariwo head to Jazz Stroud Festival

Nubya Garcia, Ivo Neame Quartet and Ariw…

The third edition of the Jazz Stroud Festival takes place...

Read More.....
Cecil Taylor 1929 - 2018

Cecil Taylor 1929 - 2018

With the passing of Cecil Taylor it could be argued...

Read More.....
Pharoah Sanders, Chris Dave’s Drumhedz and Lalah Hathaway added to Love Supreme

Pharoah Sanders, Chris Dave’s Drumhedz a…

The heavyweight jazz quotient at this year's Love Supreme Jazz...

Read More.....
Drummer Andrew Bain takes Embodied Hope on tour

Drummer Andrew Bain takes Embodied Hope …

Emerging Scottish drum talent Andrew Bain hits the road with...

Read More.....
Timeless New York Tribute As All-Star Line-Up Gathers In Celebration Of John Abercrombie

Timeless New York Tribute As All-Star Li…

  ECM Records chose experimental arts venue Roulette, in Brooklyn, to host...

Read More.....


Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Morning office audio: majestic and inventive trio set ft Ramon Lopez, @percypursglove and Rafal Mazur – straddling… https://t.co/vgvSV4wBlc
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
The June issue of Jazzwise is out now with the mighty @KamasiW on the cover - subscribe now to get your copy… https://t.co/1BZ9o1boIC
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA