Tuesday, November 22, 2022

Jan Garbarek Group at the The Royal Festival Hall

South Bank, London. Sunday 13-November-2022.

We had no real plans for the Sunday of our weekend in London when, through the miracle of social media, this picture appeared on Mary's timeline on the Friday instantly recognisable as our favourite jazz saxophonist, Jan Garbarek. He was appearing at the Royal festival Hall as part of the EFG jazz festival. Straightaway Mary booked for the best available seats, back of the stalls by the centre aisle!

This was the sixth time we have seen Jan Garbarek. Four of the previous concerts were also at the Royal festival Hall courtesy of the EFG jazz festival. 

We went for supper beforehand in the OXO tower brasserie. They were doing a special three course meal. Very tasty and good value for money. We allowed a leisurely two hours which we used up and had to walk briskly the short distance to the concert hall.

Listening to Jan play the saxophone was a fascinating contrast to Friday night's sax player. The former was good, but Jan is world-class. His breathy haunting style draws a very different sound out of the instrument, evocative and mesmerising.

Although there were four musicians in the group it was clear to me that Jan Gabarek and Trilok Gurtu have a strong rapport as a number of the songs featured duets between them. Trilok is an endearing combination of world-class percussionist and a three-year-old kid who loves banging things together to hear what sound they make. There were solos for all the individual musicians with the bass guitarist's solo making good use of a loop pedal. 

In contrast to Friday night when the solos were being performed the others did more than just stand and listen reverentially they actually walked round to the back of the set and sat down to give the soloist the stage to themselves and themselves a rest at the same time - important as there was no interval.

Jan does not go in for chat with the audience, not even a “this next song is called x“. They walked on stage at the appointed time, played a track, waited for the applause to die down and launched straight into the next one, rinse and repeat. Even the obligatory encore was equally spare. They walked off, waited 30 seconds, walked back on, played the final track and walked off again. That way we got a full two hours of superb music!

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