More views of - or before - Cambridge Film Festival 2016 (20 to 27 October)
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Printmakers, Tim Garland, and Julian Joseph Trio for Herts Jazz Fest https://t.co/Bgl7oB8uSP pic.twitter.com/9C0A1HwA2i— Jazzwise (@Jazzwise) June 21, 2016
From the start, Julian Joseph led with clarity and luminosity, both in directing and drawing in his sidesmen (Mark Hodgson on bass, and drummer Mark Mondesir), and through the style and quality of his playing.
Once master of ceremonies Clark Tracey had introduced the individual players in the trio – and joked how, in an educational encounter, he had taught his fellow practitioner on the drums 'all that he knows' – Joseph tagged onto what Tracey had said, and commented that ‘Julian’ would be joining the two Marks in the rhythm section : for, although there was no shortage to be found of the fluent, or lyrical, in his pianism, he could equally be heard at times to give us patternings of a recurring or repeating kind.
As the set proceeded, Joseph’s need seemingly diminished¹ for an introductory piano solo - with its material and treatment of a highly exploratory or expansive nature - and, by the fourth number (of five), it had wholly gone. This proved to be the last of three of his original compositions², ‘Loyalty and insight’, which took flight straightaway, but later spent time over nursing a dissonance (a semi-tone ?), and then contrasting it with the relative reassurance to be found when the interval changed to a reiterated concord (a third ?).
As the set worked through, so communication and conversation with Mondesir became more focal, and so, at the end of numbers four and five, resulted in highly extended sections : it was as if the world of solo introductory rumination had become translated or transmuted into communion with another in the common measure of rhythm², just as Joseph had suggested at the outset...
Note on the auditorium / sound set-up :
Preferring an aisle-seat, and not knowing The Hawthorne Theatre (at Campus West, Welwyn Garden City), choosing five rows back in the flat stalls, as available, had seemed a good idea. It was not an acoustic set (though it could / should have been ?), and, in this location, that fact proved to make it work less well in the auditorium :
Visually, of course, it was fine, with sight-lines across to Joseph at the keyboard, to Mondesir at the opposite side of the stage (and with a good view of his sticks and kit), and to Hodgson centre stage. However, in terms of sound via the speakers as well as directly from the stage, there was a gap where Hodgson should have been. One could see him playing, but it took one to make a conscious realization that his sound did not come through, within the ensemble, so that one could hear it as part of it without an effort – whereas, once one ‘listened for him’ (partly guided by where his hand was on the finger-board), the double-bass came across.
¹ Or that may just be how he customarily approaches what, on this occasion, had been chosen as the earlier numbers in the set ? In any case, many initial sets start with a tune or song that serves as much as a loosener for the ears of the audience as for an opportunity for the ensemble to ease itself in - working out who and where it is in relation to those listening.
² The first two numbers in the set had also been original compositions, and the others were standards, ‘Just one of those things’, and, to close, George Gershwin :
In the latter, ‘Nice work, if you can get it’, Joseph got right inside Gerswhin’s melody, with Mondesir amidships – undoing all the nuts and bolts, even more than his introductory solos had done, and then slowing things right down to a quiet pulse, before whizzing it dramatically back together again !
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Unless stated otherwise, all films reviewed were screened at Festival Central (Arts Picturehouse, Cambridge)