Portico Quartet, Turner Sims Concert Hall, Southampton, 18/3/10

Textural, layered, European, is it jazz? Jan Garbarek perhaps but without the chilly austerity, tenor/soprano lines eschewing the bluesy and bop tonalities of jazz, post-late-Trane, harmonic simplicity (bass ostinato the fundamental component). Rhythmically complex passages interweaving polymetric/polyrhythmic interplay between bass, drums and hang drum. Drifting aerial melodic passages. Drawn in by the pull of intense concentration. They were there to communicate, we were there to listen. Contrasts of tempo and timbre, rhythm and dynamics, the subsuming of the soloing individualist to the collective beauty, the ideal of the gamelan, then moments of self-expression burst out before the return to the contemplative. The surprise comes so often from the hang, a metallurgical triumph of a steel pan/xylophone/flying-saucer mash-up, sounds of bells and chime-bars and Trinidad and Indonesia, the angelus ringing its echoey toll, the gentleness of the marimba and the keening whisper of a glass harmonica. The breadth of throaty tenor sex lays its firmly insistent phrasing against the backdrop of the drums and falls back into the ensemble, briefly muscular and declamatory, then gurgling along with the tick-tock and splash and pummelling of the drums until a sudden silence before a new revelation. Four minds become one, splitting and melding but never battling or dominating, then the sound dies away and unexpected quietness becomes the voice.


About misterdzhimbo

Anarcho-hippy fantasist, poetaster, psych-blues guitar strangler, co-author of Red Phone Box, a beautifully illustrated Urban Fantasy/New Weird story cycle (http://gwdbooks.com/books/red-phone-box-a-darkly-magical-story-cycle). I like tea.
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