Mostly Jazz Festival - Sunday
Courtney 'circular breathing' Pine giving it some at the Mostly Jazz Festival. Image by Pete Ashton.
Day Two in the Mostly Jazz house(/park). If Day One was all about the jazz-funk and the blistering drummers, Day Two was all about the jazz-jazz and prodigious guitarists.
Starting with Birmingham's own TG Collective Trio: an insanely talented 3-piece who seem to have double the sound than there are members. All the strumming and picking and rhythms of gypsy, contemporary, flamenco jazz with a beautiful Bach arrangement thrown in for good measure.
The Gary Potter Trio continued the Mostly Gypsy Jazz theme with more of the same on the Main Stage. The esteemed Potter also had the ability to sound like 10 men even when left on his own on the stage, still filling the park with a passionate, textured, expert sound.
Ã¢ÂÅ¡Ã¢ÂÅ¡Sunday was also the day of vanishing poets, as I couldn't seem to find any of the scheduled wordsmiths - until I wandered into Luke Kennard at the Swing Meadow tent. He seemed like a young, good-humoured version of Prince Charles initially, all posh and clever and awkward (as indeed poets should be) until I'd been there for a bit and realised he was far more fun than that. Towards the end he read a strange story about being psycho-analysed by a wolf. I'm not sure that I entirely understood what the heck was going on, but I enjoyed it a great deal - until the irresistable sounds of Cymande II dragged me back to the Main Stage.
Ã¢ÂÅ¡Ã¢ÂÅ¡Cymande, I had forgotten, wrote one of my all-time favourite tracks 'Brothers on the Slide' which drew cheers from the crowd, now up on their feet and dancing to their infectious reggae funk with a dash of rock. Tony Qunta continued the day's theme of impressive guitarists and their superb percussionist Jerome Marcus upheld my theory that you can never go wrong with a set of well-played congas.Ã¢ÂÅ¡Ã¢ÂÅ¡
Their brief funk diversion gave way to Moon Unit's proper beard-strokey jazz, which had all the aficionados moving up close to listen and nod to their complex, mature sound until the Portico Quartet took over to hypnotise us all with their acclaimed electronic jazzy spaciness. They filled the park with their shimmering, minimalist soundscapes, moments of heart-breakingly beautiful sax and their signature hang drum.
Ã¢ÂÅ¡Ã¢ÂÅ¡Eventually, however, the night had to come to a close. And who better to top things off at the Mostly Jazz Festival than Courtney Pine? He was, as ever, the ultimate showman - within the first two songs the whole band had had a solo, the circular breathing trick came out of the bag, the huge eyes had rolled back into his head and a bit of a comic (but apt) diversion into Joplin's 'The Entertainer' had taken place. Pine, a mind-bogglingly prodigious talent himself, had clearly just rounded up all the best musicians in the world and brought them on stage with him - most notably the exceptional Zoe Rahman on piano and Omar Puente on violin. I say 'most notably' - the whole band were all so jaw-droppingly good that I was unable to form sentences for a bit afterwards. Pine and his band gave us a hugely entertaining education through all the styles of jazz before topping off the night, and indeed the festival, with an African rhythm-driven conga through Moseley park and an encore with lots of jumping up and down. Only someone as ridiculously talented as Courtney Pine could ever get away with anything so cheesy. A joyous ending to a great weekend. Ã¢ÂÅ¡