Venue: The Jazz Bar, Edinburgh, Scotland
Date: 17 May 2018
This rare concert from curiously monikered electro-acoustic jazz band with a difference, Sugarwork, is to be celebrated. Four illuminati of the Scottish jazz scene, each known for their musical accomplishments and interests stretching deeply into and beyond jazz. Led by pianist, composer and producer, Manchester-born Paul Harrison, who composed most of the tunes aired tonight, the quartet present their eponymous debut album in this popular subterranean Edinburgh jazz venue.
Based in Glasgow where he teaches on the jazz degree course at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, Harrison has also long been active in some of Scotland’s most thought-provoking and diverse music projects: the highly esteemed Scottish National Jazz Orchestra and McFall’s Chamber Orchestra, Simon Thacker’s Ritmata (highly crafted world music), Trio Magico (presenting the life-enhancing music of Brazilian, Egberto Gismonti) and club-friendly electronics – drums duo, Herschel 36.
It is often the case across Scotland’s central belt that musicians collaborate across musical genres, so it is no surprise to learn that Sugarwork’s members have played together in other Scottish bands. Thus drummer, percussionist, composer and producer Stuart Brown plays in the last three of the above listed bands, his knowledge of non-western musical styles, added to dub-wise sensibility and a facility with electronica, having led to work with esteemed names such as David Byrne, Gilad Atzmon and Sun Ra Arkestra’s Dave Gordon.
Date: May 19, 2018
Venue: Schimmel Center (NY)
Review by Piruz Partow
Legendary Iranian kamancheh performer, Kayhan Kalhor, has been one of the top World Music musicians in the world. Not only has he gained much recognition as an Iranian musician, having performed with Hossein Alizahdeh and Mohammad Reza Shajarian, but also being a pioneer in cross platform collaborations with YoYo Ma’s Silk Road Ensemble and also in duet with musicians like Indian Sitarist/Vocalist Shujaat Hussain Khan. Tonight’s duet concert with long-time collaborator Turkish baglama player Erdal Erzican was most enjoyable to any ear.
Date: May 13, 2018
Venue: The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Review by F. Mactaggart
Photo by Adam Bulley
The sense of excitement is palpable as Scottish Trio HLK arrive briskly on stage at 8pm sharp, and persists undimmed until they take their modest final bows to the thrilled home crowd precisely two hours later. Such exactitude regarding time feels in keeping with a band whose music is predicated upon unrelenting changes particularly in time signature and tempo, a stuttering, gleeful symphony of polyrhythms and harmonic complexity.
Photo by Denise Canavan
Date: April 26, 2018
Venue: The Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Scotland
Review by Fiona Mactaggart
Before the Swedish string trio Vasen have even strolled on stage in this their first visit to The Queen’s Hall in 15 years, the band’s name intrigues and perhaps gives advance notice of the complexity of the sound. Swedish word ‘Vasen’ translates as essence, a living or spirit being, or a potentially unpleasant noise. This last definition points to their wry, gently self-deprecating humour, which together with exceptional musicianship, the ancient sound of the nyckelharpa and extensive touring over the last 29 years, has brought the trio a world-wide fan base – they even have a street named after them in Bloomington, Indiana! They are worthy fillers of this prime slot on the first night of the 2018 Edinburgh ‘Tradfest’.
…The blues had a baby and they named it harmolodic.
Review by Joe Yanosik
Photo by Joe Yanosik
the City Winery (NY) / Date:
May 10, 2018
The legendary guitarist James Blood Ulmer performed an amazing solo concert at the City Winery last Thursday night in the West Village. It was a truly intimate show in a brand new cozy upstairs space called the Loft above the Winery. At 78 years old, Ulmer remains an impressively foreboding figure even before he plugs his guitar into his amplifier. Befitting someone of his renown, he’s a big man. Dressed in African garb, and sporting a grey beard, he walked slowly to the stage and immediately began conjuring his signature sounds from his uniquely-tuned Gibson Byrdland. A guitar-playing friend of mine who attended the concert with me noted how difficult it must have been for Ulmer to step on his wah-wah pedal considering the giant boots he was wearing.