by Ian Mann
July 27, 2017
There is much excellent music to be heard on this fund raising compilation featuring music from groups led by Anton Hunter, Julie Kjaer and Craig Scott.
“Live at LUME Vol. 3
I’ve always been an admirer and supporter of the work of LUME, the London based organisation founded by saxophonists Cath Roberts and Dee Byrne.
Since 2013 LUME has served as a valuable outlet for members of the jazz and improvised music community in London and beyond. Originally conceived to provide a regular live performance outlet for such music LUME began by presenting weekly jazz and improv nights and has enjoyed weekly residencies at various venues in London beginning at the now defunct Hundred Crows Rising in Islington before moving on to the Long White Cloud in Hoxton. In addition to this LUME also presented regular monthly events at the Vortex Jazz Club in Dalston.
Thanks to the unstinting efforts of Roberts and Byrne LUME has continued to flourish. The organisation has now found a permanent home at Iklectik Art Lab in Waterloo, an enterprising venue that plays host to several other music and arts associations.
Since moving to Iklectik LUME has presented two successful all day festivals featuring jazz and improvising musicians from the London, Manchester and Leeds music scenes. LUME does much to foster strong connections with like minded musicians in other parts of the country.
As promoters LUME have presented events as part of the annual EFG London Jazz Festival and in 2015 programmed a whole afternoon of performances featuring artists associated with the organisation at the Barbican Freestage.
Roberts and Byrne have also toured the UK under the LUME banner fronting their own bands, Quadraceratops and Entropi, and both continue to be vital presences on the London music scene.
An offshoot of LUME is the Luminous record label which has served as the outlet for releases by Roberts’ improvising quintet Sloth Racket and Deemer, the electro-improvising duo featuring Byrne and electronic musician Merjin Royaards.
Luminous has also released a series of fund raising live CDs featuring recordings of LUME artists documented at the organisation’s regular events. Following successful releases in 2015 and 2016 this third volume features performances documented at the 2017 ‘LUME Lab’ series of events at Iklectik.
LUME have described these live fund raising albums as “high class bootlegs” and there’s certainly something of a punk/DIY aesthetic about the hand printed cardboard packaging, a trait that also manifests itself via some of LUME’s more ‘official’ releases.
But thanks to the engineering skills of the indefatigable Alex Bonney the Live at LUME releases certainly don’t sound like bootlegs. Bonney, incidentally, is a talented trumpeter and electronic sound artist and also features as a musician on the first two volumes of the series.
“Live at LUME” features six pieces with two tunes each from three separate bands. The first group to be heard is the Labrats, an octet led by Manchester based guitarist and composer Anton Hunter and featuring Kim Macari (trumpet), Dee Byrne (alto sax), Rachel Musson (tenor sax), Cath Roberts (baritone sax), Tullis Rennie (trombone), Tim Fairhall (double bass) and Andrew Lisle (drums).
Hunter’s composition “Colin Webster’s Fractured Finger”, a dedication to the injured saxophonist, was recorded as recently as 24th May 2017. As with the rest of the music on this album the term “composition” is used lightly. This is essentially improvised music loosely structured around a compositional ‘frame’.
The piece commences with a furious salvo from Lisle’s drums before evolving to embrace a spiky, spirited musical dialogue between Hunter and Rennie. This is followed by a garrulous series of exchanges between the reeds, occasionally punctuated by bass and drums. In turn this evolves into an animated collective conversation with each instrument jostling for space. There’s more of a composed element in this final section but the music remains highly charged and highly exciting.
The second piece, recorded on 16th March features a quintet led by multi-reed player Julie Kjaer, here specialising on flute and bass clarinet and joined by a unique line up featuring no fewer than four double bass players! These are Olie Brice, Seth Bennett, Tim Fairhall and Thodoris Ziarkis. Although credited to Kjaer one suspects that “Tree Of Sound” is largely improvised as the leader’s grainy, multiphonic bass clarinet snakes its way through a forest of bass generated sounds encompassing bowing, plucking and striking and various methods of extended technique. Kjaer later switches to gently tentative flute. The overall results are sometimes haunting, consistently absorbing and surprisingly effective.
The centre piece of the album is the near twenty four minute “LUME Lab Exhibit A” performed by the Leeds based Gastric Band, a quintet led by the guitarist and composer Craig Scott and also featuring Oliver Dover (saxes and clarinet), Johnny Richards (keyboards), Michael Bardon (bass guitar) and Joost Henrickx (drums). Recorded on 19th April the piece is credited to Scott but one suspects that improvisation is once again a substantial component.
The piece evolves slowly and organically with saxophone and guitar intertwining, gently at first, above the percolating rhythms generated by keyboards, electric bass and drums. The lazy sax and guitar melody lines gradually become more urgent as the rhythms increase in intensity with Bardon adopting a particularly dirty bass guitar sound. A keyboard solo from Richards steers the music closer to orthodox jazz waters but the music later edges closer to rock with some monstrous sax and guitar riffing aided by some brutal drumming. Dover then stretches out powerfully on sax above the murky grind of Bardon’s bass. The piece then builds up a seemingly unstoppable, almost trance like momentum before mutating into something more impressionistic with the piece seeming to resolve itself when the music is reduced to just the eerie deep space twinkling of Richards’ keyboard. But Scott has a final surprise up his sleeve as the piece finishes with a bout of thunderous Crimson-esque guitar and sax led riffing.
“Winter 16” represents the second offering from Anton Hunter’s group the Labrats. Once more the piece is introduced by a passage of unaccompanied drumming from Lisle who remains a central presence even after the introduction of the horns who squall and bray in vociferous conversation with Roberts’ baritone a key component.
“Passaro”, the second piece from the Julie Kjaer group pushes even further into avant garde territory with its creaks, bangs, scrapes and other, murky double bass generated sounds. Pizzicato, arco, and extended techniques are all evident but the piece takes a surprisingly melodic turn with the introduction of Kjaer’s flute which steers the music in the direction of India with the use of the bass as percussion substituting for tabla. Once again, despite the unorthodox nature of the ensemble, it’s a highly original and effective piece of music that, like the majority of the pieces on this album, successfully combines composed and improvised elements.
The Gastric Band’s final contribution is Scott’s “LUME Lab Exhibit B”, a shorter piece that evolves from a loosely structured intro, initially featuring a dialogue between keyboards and drums but gradually expanding to involve the other group members. A brief pause then ushers in a second, more animated written section with Dover’s sax soaring over Scott’s scratchy guitar as Hendrickx drives the music forward. But, of course, it isn’t quite as straightforward as that. Dover’s flights of fancy are punctuated by moments of near silence with the plunking of Richards’ keyboard briefly the only sound to be heard. It gives the music a fractured, fitful feeling, which, yet again, is very effective.
There is much excellent music to be heard on “Live at LUME Vol. 3”. Like much of the music produced by the musicians associated with the organisation it occupies an area straddling the boundaries of the composed and improvised. It’s a niche that I personally find very appealing although I appreciate that this won’t be music that will reach out to everybody.
Nevertheless I’d encourage all adventurous listeners to take a chance on this recording. At only £5.00 for a CD and £3.00 for a digital download it represents something of a bargain and all monies raised from its sale will be used to finance future LUME activities. Roberts, Byrne and their associates are doing a great job in keeping the flame burning for adventurous and creative music in London and beyond.
“Live at LUME Vol. 3” can be purchased from https://liveatlume.bandcamp.com/music
blog comments powered by Disqus