Its icy out, the snow is on the ground but its ok – the annual jazz community concert at Wiltshire Music Centre will keep us warm! For the 11th time, Nick Sorensen (local musician and animateur of happenings) and Mike Daniels cooked up a something in early January at the much loved echoey barn that is the Wiltshire Music Centre. Over the years these concerts have developed a bit pattern: plenty of local talent, some contributions from workshop or youth ensembles and a not very well kept secret of a surprise appearance by a (local) world class musician… or two. This year certainly broke the mould. It was billed as a personal ‘curation’ by (local world class musician) Iain Ballamy and it certainly showcased the breadth of his musical imagination and collaborations, the four windows being different ways into the world of jazz. It chimed with a piece John Fordham wrote about Jazz in the ‘noughties’. He quotes Liam Noble saying that these days an album will contain standards followed by the unexpected… you don’t know what is coming next. This was reflected in the evening’s fare which ranged from Mark Wingfield and Rene von Grunig (guitar, keyboards and loads of loops, effects and elctronic clatter) to the workshop band of enthusiastic amateurs rounding of the evening with a rousing version of Hermeto Pascoal’s Zurich. In between Jason Rebello did a solo slot and then duo with Iain and Huw Warren the same. A high point for me was Jason and Iain playing John Taylor’s Ambleside days, a glorious tune and one I’ve seen JT himself and John Surman play on the same stage. Close second was the opening sections of Huw Warren playing his versions and variations of music by John Dowland (17th century muso in caes you are wondering) – very serious and wove a dark emotional intensity into the evening. Iain Ballamy joined each of the four ‘windows’ so we heard plenty of his playing. We left just wondering if the whole was slightly less than the sum of the parts. Maybe the short sets perhaps didn’t give anyone a chance to really get going.
Four Windows, Wiltshire Music Centre, Saturday 9th January