London Jazz News: September 2015
Gilad Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble
(Twickenham Jazz at The Cabbage Patch TW1. Tuesday 8th September 2015. Review by Brian Blain)
Who's still afraid of Gilad Atzmon, the exciting Israeli composer, multi-reeds player and outspoken champion of the Palestinian cause? Not many these days, on the evidence of the packed house last Tuesday at The Cabbage Patch, current venue of Twickenham Jazz Club, now ten years old, and organised by commited saxophonist Kelvin Christiane and singer Lesley, his bubbly welcoming wife, one of the most welcoming and enthusiastic hosts on the London scene.
These days Gilad's natural wit and warm personality seems to have completely taken over to connect with a warm and friendly crowd with allusions still to his beliefs but with humour, such as pointing to his brilliant piano/keyboardist , the totally self-effacing Frank Harrison, as the source of political subversion in the band. Nudge nudge wink stuff maybe, but enough to win the waverers and get on with the music.
And what music...No grandstanding opener to knock 'em dead but a slow haunting original,The Romantic Church, which had the crowd in its grip from the opening bars to its dying fall conclusion - a master stroke. In total contrast, next up was one of those compound time Middle Eastern thrillers that really introduced us to the band's new Turkish drummer Derin Bayhan acomplete master of this complex rhythmic language And the new genial Atzmon even led some hand claps on the easy beats and on a later tune even jollied us into some community whistling based on interjections of that old two note wolf-whistle phrase.
The second set took us more into the heartland of American jazz, when bassist Yaron Stavi with his huge majestic sound was magnificent on Round Midnight, and My Old Flame brought out the best in Gilad, his alto sound the perfect invocation of the master himself on this Charlie Parker classic and a wonderful taster for his two upcoming Parker With Strings shows at Ronnie Scott's.
Mine host Kelvin Christiane, with his great tenor sound ,came up on stage for a two-horn joust on Giant Steps, with the Orient House leader pulling off the two saxohones in the mouth at once trick to provide roaring brass stabs into Kelvin's inspired flights on the tune's final choruses: a memorable finish to a a great show at the Cabbage Patch, now, surely, one of London's most appealing venues.
Yes, for good music and a warm unpretentious atmosphere, Twickenham Jazz is well worth a trip.