Gateshead International Jazz Festival 2010 at Sage Gateshead
Gateshead International Jazz Festival at Sage Gateshead
Chris Minnis, The Journal
THE sixth annual Gateshead International Jazz Festival provided a heady international mix of the unexpected, the fascinating and the outright bizarre.
Good performances from local musicians provided the backbone of an eclectic weekend which embraced jazz forms from swing to sci-fi and all points in between.
It included boundary-blurring performances from Dan Berglund and Arun Ghosh, and real class and beauty in harmony from Abdullah Ibrahim and Ekaya on Saturday night.
A sense of participation ran through the weekend, with animation and singing workshops, and Gwilym Simcock’s Massed Voices (with a 100-strong community choir). Other acts included Gwyneth Herbert, the Stan Tracey Octet and Gerry Richardson.
Kicking off festivities on Friday night in Sage One were Jerry Dammers’ Spatial A.K.A Orchestra who brought post-apocalyptic psychedelia, infused with dub and free jazz.
Material by Sun Ra and Alice Coltrane (and much more) was rendered brilliantly against a backdrop of sci-fi, acid exotica and fluid psychedelic futurism.
As if to ease all present back to earthly gravity, the band filed out onto the concourse and proceeded to go berserk at the conclusion of Sun Ra’s Space is the Place.
Stu Brown Sextet’s The Raymond Scott Experience was an enticing prospect to anyone who grew up with Warner Bros’ Looney Tunes cartoons.
His music featured in more than 100 of them.
Scott was one of music’s true innovators, writing astonishingly visual (and detailed) music and designing unheard-of compositional machines.
This concert was made doubly enjoyable by the clips from Scott’s son Stan Warnow’s documentary.
Also shown were the results of workshops that had taken place at Baltic, where eight to 12-year-olds had made short animated films.
The weekend was crowned by supreme ensemble playing from the Scottish National Jazz Orchestra with spots verging on the unbelievable from drummer Alyn Cosker as they performed leader Tommy Smith’s epic arrangement of Rhapsody in Blue and a tribute to Buddy Rich.
However, Jambone was the real star on Sunday night with a sterling performance on the concourse featuring Paul Towndrow and Ryan Quigley of the SNJO, who have been working with the group as part of Sage Gateshead’s young musicians programme.
All told, it was a great weekend for those willing to take a chance on artists they might not have been familiar with. A spirit of musical adventure underpinned the proceedings which delivered some truly mindbending performances.