Bath Festival: Portico Quartet and Bojan Z, Komedia, Saturday 23rd May

And so to Komedia for the first gig if the weekend. A great venue, lovely stage and you can have spot of lunch in the River Cafe Canteen if you want to. They had rammed tables and chairs in a bit though. Portico were first up. Embarrassingly, my first taste of them given that they were nominated for the Mercury Prize. The programme describes them as groove based left field jazz which misled me  bit. They certainly structured most of their compositions around very appealing, repetitive sections, and there weren’t any raving be-bop solos. But the delicacy of the playing and the chant like melodies and improvising made this very accessible music. My companion pointed out the similarity with (and influence of?) minimalism as pioneered by the likes of Steve Reich – not a comparison I’d have picked up. Had we been writing the programme notes we might have described it as European minimalist jazz (at the risk of sounding very anoraky).

Bojan Z, the advertised trio augmented by a trombone, followed this set up with a raging, demented funk, occasionally rocky set playing a suite commissioned for the occasion. 20040329_bojan z_06Bojan does a really neat trick of playing furious unison lines with two hands, one on the piano and one on a Fender Rhodes arranged at right angles -crazy. Very high energy, but a bit relentless for me and the unvarying assault tends, bizarrely, to make me nod off a bit. Some great moments though and Seb Roachford on drums is amazing to watch.

We are having the evening off having left it a bit late to buy our tickets, so Maceo Parker at the Pavilion tonight will have to funk out with out us.


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