SAA-uk Concert Series – Unfurl Live at Seven Arts
With the busy festive season getting ever closer, those who came to see the latest in the SAA-uk concert series were treated to a relaxed evening away from the hustle and bustle of those trying to beat the Christmas rush. Unfurl presented music that crossed different cultural boundaries, combining Indian ragas, flamenco and Arabic music with improvisation. The use of Western instruments with Indian and Egyptian percussion, especially in the improvisation sections, really gave the music a different flavour and energy.
The interplay between John Ball, on tabla, and Adam Warne, mainly on the cajón, really helped in setting the groove on a number of the pieces they played; helped along with Gavin Barras on bass. This was particularly noticeable in Mystery Dance where the dissonant key and exploration of tabla motifs really helped to convey the title of the piece. The breaks between the percussionists and Olivia Moore on violin, a very emotional figure when she plays, were very tight and the band had a great sense of unity, which was further established in the apt title United.
The ballad Suryakar, meaning ‘she who resembles the sun’ bought a very relaxed meditative state to the concert; with Jim Faulkner on guitar playing a solo, which seemed effortless. The most notable piece during the performance was an arrangement especially for the concert of a composition based on Rag Kirvani which closed the first half. Before this piece Ball paid tribute to the recent passing of Pandit Sharda Sahai Ji, a tabla maestro that will be a great loss to the Indian musical heritage within the UK. His tribute being a short santoor solo (a 100 stringed instrument) at the beginning of the piece before the rest of the ensemble joined in with the arrangement.
The second half of the performance was equally engaging, and included a composition entitled Waterfall, which was a piece commissioned for the band by the Manchester Jazz Festival. With the venue set out in a cabaret style with small tables all around, the performance felt intimate and the general feeling from the audience was that the concert went very well.
The SAA-uk concert series now takes a winter break and continues on Thursday 26th January 2012 with Vanessa Rani & Co. a new, fresh and innovative sound influenced by the likes of Kaushiki Chakrabarty and Ajoy Chakrabarty all wrapped in original musical treatment by young and emerging musicians. Vanessa Rani & Co. will fuse Classical Indian Rag and folk song with western style grooves to create a mood and atmosphere of total relaxation and calm on a mid-winter’s evening.
Artists: Olivia Moore (Violin/Band Leader), Adam Warne (Percussion), Jim Faulkner (Guitar), Gavin Barras (Bass) and John Ball (Tabla and Santoor)
Image: Christopher Powell