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Saturday, 01 October 2016 01:47

Morten Schantz Godspeed, 16th September, Pizza Express Jazz Club, London

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Vikings in Soho.

Nine o’clock and the lights dimmed over a full house at the Pizza Express Jazz Club.  Many tables were adorned with the Danish flag, evidencing national support for what was to be the first in a series of jazz gigs celebrating “Sounds of Denmark”.  A full spectrum of electronic sound from Morten Schantz, rose out of the dark and slowly built, developing a tension that was climaxed by the introduction of Julian Argüelles on beautiful tenor sax.  Silence in the Tempest was a stately piece, playing on interface between keyboards and sax.

Ceasefire, by contrast was fast paced, with Anton Eger on drums hammering out the rhythm to everyone’s delight. It felt a little reminiscent of 1980’s Weather Report, particularly with Argüelles on soprano this time, vying with Schantz’s grungy bass notes.

Growing Sense (or was it Grow Incense?) was another slow piece. Pastoral piano synchronizing with the sax, leaving huge space within the playing, with the drums silent for significant portions.

The last number for the first set was Escape Velocity.  Played at breakneck pace, we were witness to Eger’s curls thrashing violently in front of him (mimicked by a number in the audience) as he pummeled his kit. Fascinated by the inclusion of seemingly tuned Peroni bottles included in his batterie, especially when they made their own bid for freedom – ah well…they’d done their bit. 

The second set started with an unidentified piece (but recognized as the piece from this link) - it was everybody’s favourite and went down to clamorous applause from the audience. For some reason, the rest of the set went equally anonymously but included extended solos from Eger and Argüelles.  For an encore, they played Dark Matter, another fast-paced hard-hitting number.

An interesting set, with a variety of influences.  At different points I mentally drew similarities with Weather Report, Jan Garbarek and the opening piano of Dark Matter brought the Magnus Öström band to mind. Sometimes soloing, sometimes playing in pairs, but the music was most effective when all were contributing to the fast-paced pieces, which the audience loved.

There was no explanation of why Julian Argüelles was replacing regular player Marius Neset, I’m assuming a temporary role due to the latter’s unavailability rather than a permanent shift in members; either way Argüelles filled the niche with great aplomb.  A very enjoyable evening!


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