Friday, 15 January 2010

Gilad Atzmon & Strings @ The Junction

I don’t like “jazz with strings”. More often than not, it sounds like strings without any jazz. But it is always good to challenge the stereotypes. Gilad Atzmon’s take on Bird with Strings is much more than a tribute to Charlie Parker. As Atzmon put it himself, it could as well be Bird’s take on Gilad with strings. Provided that Parker was born in Kabul. Or Baghdad. Or Damascus.

Tonight’s set started with Everything Happens to Me followed by another ballad that was introduced as Round Midlands; these were good enough but I thought the band was a bit tense. Or maybe the Sigamos String Quartet was superfluous at that stage. Middle-Eastern flavoured The Burning Bush was great. After that, they played a tango (don’t remember if it was introduced at all) where the band and string quartet were mixing seamlessly.

The second half was opened with an achingly beautiful piece (afraid no name again) featuring Atzmon on clarinet, accompanied by strings only. And then there were some more. Gilad’s duo with Frank Harrison was hilarious. They saved Laura (also from Bird with Strings) for an encore, and when the Sigamos ladies left (for London, we were told), the band played another encore, What a Wonderful World.

Gilad Atzmon is one of the greatest sax players alive. Sure, his music is not everybody’s cup of tea, but still, how come that tiny Junction 2 was not even full?

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