Glasgow Art Club, 31st March 2010
This might have been billed as a trio plus guest, but throughout Thursday’s concert, NeWt and Silke Eberhard sounded like a single unified entity. Indeed, it was sometimes difficult to tell exactly how many musicians were playing, and what instruments they were using. Largely this was a result of trombonist Chris Greive and guitarist Graeme Stephen frequently treating their sounds with a lot of electronics. Grame Stephen played sitting down in order to have easy access to an assortment of effects boxes and pedals which he used not just to produce a wide range of tones from his guitar, but at times to sample and loop his own playing then solo over the top of this loop. Chris Greive frequently used some sort of pitch shifting pedal to take his lines down into the bass guitar register, so that it was easy at times to forget that the band didn’t have a bass player.
Silke Eberhard was very impressive, whether playing alto or, on a couple of numbers, clarinet. She seemed capable of handling everything from fairly straightahead bebop to avant-garde squawks. One moment she and Greive would be riffing like an r & b horn section, the next one of them would be playing an inventive solo. Drummer Chris Wallace was equally versatile, capable of fiercely driving the music forward, or of adding delicate colours from a range of bells and rattles.
Eberhard’s reputation is partly as a free-improviser, but the music on offer here was definitely jazz, even if not exactly orthodox jazz. Tunes would start off fairly normally but suddenly veer off in an unexpected directions. There were a lot of disparate elements involved: orthodox post-bop, rock riffs, free blowing, and the occasional hint of folk music, but they were all thoroughly integrated into a highly-inventive group sound. At times I thought there was a hint of Captain Beefheart’s later Magic Bands, with trombone blowing over warped electric blues.
The following night’s gig, at Matt and Phred’s in Manchester, was being recorded for BBC Radio Three’s Jazz on Three. Keep an eye out for it: if it’s anything like as good as their Glasgow performance it will be very good indeed. The Glasgow concert was also reviewed in the Herald.
The Herald also has a review of Mira Opalinska’s Edinburgh gig. It sounds as if it was a good show, so it’s a pity her Glasgow performance clashed with the NeWt/Eberhard one.