Corey Mwamba/Dave Kane/Alex Hawkins @ Seven Arts, Chapel Allerton, Leeds

Posted by vibrations on 28-03-12

I know from bitter experience that not having your usual drummer for a gig can be a nightmare. But when the replacement actually plays another instrument altogether, I’d probably just give up and go home.

Fortunately, Corey Mwamba, vibraphone, and Dave Kane, bass, are improvising jazz musicians completely on top of their game, and although not having regular drummer Joshua Blackmore for this gig may have been a disappointment, pianist Alex Hawkins simply provided new possibilities for the trio’s wholly improvised approach. And Kane and Hawkins had never even played together before. But that’s jazz for you.

Pieces start with one of the trio setting up a simple, repeated pattern which the other two pick up on, expanding and elaborating as they go, the lightening quick reactions almost making it seem like the trio are playing compositions. The music crackles with intensity and unpredictability and even though it swerves through a variety of stylistic settings (a deep, resonant drone built around Kane’s bowed bass and wordless, guttural singing; a near ambient piece highlighting the synth like qualities of Mwamba’s surprisingly adaptable vibraphone; Hawkins’ exploration of Abdullah Ibrahim style township jazz) all of it is played with a huge sense of joy and celebration. Although all three display formidable technique (Hawkins in particular is a revelation) it’s all channelled into making an astonishingly intuitive and inclusive music that positively envelopes the audience in its warmth.

Steve Walsh




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