There’s nothing like a bit of audience participation. Dutch trio Nordanians had, at different points during the evening, demonstrated that they’d all mastered the tricky art of verbalising tabla rhythms but Niti Ranjan Biswas , the tabla master himself, wasn’t going to let us of the hook. As the packed room, upstairs at Widcombe Social Club, picked up a simple chant, he let his virtosic side rip with a dizzying stream of verbal dexterity.
The tabla had been a bubbling, surging current all evening as with partners, Oene van Geel on viola and Mark Tuinstra on guitar, the trio had taken us on a world tour of rhythms and styles. North Brown had a stripped back acoustic funk sound (a tribute to James Brown), Zuma a lilting African groove. There were swirling Balkan flavoured pieces, a nod at Indonesian gamelan and a detour through Brazilian frevo. It was melting pot music.
It takes a certain zest, fluency and slightly divergent anarchic spirit to carry this off, and Nordanians have it in spades. There was plenty of interaction and soloing, but what drove many pieces along were snaky melodic lines, delivered at blistering pace, often in lock-step unison between viola and guitar. There was a fair bit of vocalising of improvised lines or rhythmns as well. Occasionally, the pace slowed and the atmosphere swelled, providing some of the most affecting moments, plangent guitar tones catching a riff over the spatter of the tabla, or van Geel singing his own lines as he spooled them out on the viola, with a few very boppish twists to throw a little anchor into the world of jazz. They wrapped up with almost pure country piece Tumbleweed, as pure as country can be whilst being nudged along by Tabla.
Thrills, spills and moments of reflection made for a great evening, and their very presence on this quiet corner in Bath a reminder that the energy of a group of individuals, led by Nod Knowles in Widcombe, and a good network, the Jazz Promoters Network in this case and their imaginative ‘Going Dutch’ package, make this sort of treat possible. ‘Shout outs’ all round.