MUSIC UNTIL ETERNITY PASSES AWAY
17th Annual Lanzarote Visual Music Festival
“Electric Amazigh” Javier Infante and The North Sea Quasrtet
Jameos Del Agua – October 20th 2022
a review by Norman Warwick
We have been privileged to attend a dozen or so events at this wonderful conversion, by the late Cesar Manrique, of an underground cave into the circa 1,000 seater arena that it is today. We have seen the cave decorated with rows of National Flags for Canaries Day observations and have heard speeches from Kings and Presidents, and have seen it simply lit for chamber music performances. We have seen it set with a mini dance floor too, and have heard classical, folk-lore, jazz and popular music here. We have even listened to a vocalist as an artist, sat in the wings of the stage, painted an image of the artists on to a massive canvas, visible to all the audience.
The tiny lights hidden in the cracks of the rock faces and the rock ceiling always put me in mind of that Dylan Thomas village in Under Milk Wood.
The paint that highlights those wafer thin fissures reminds us just how fragile we are to the enormity and power of nature gathered here in the raw. And yet there is a safety in this bosom of the earth somehow and perfect peace in the majesty of the music and the sounds of silence.
Some reviewer I am. I don´t know where to begin to describe tonight´s concert other than waffle on, as above, in the hope the words will fall to the floor and rearrange themselves, Countdown fashion, into something that makes a vague sense.
There were five people on the stage (left), with guitarist Javier Infante at the rear centre of an arrowhead formation, as it were. Diagonally, to his right were the two male violin players, and diagonally to his left were their North Sea Quartet colleagues, a male player of the baby cello and a female violinist.
After a polite ripple of welcoming applause they took their seats and began to play music with Infante, often Knofleresque (Local Hero film-score style) on his guitar, beautifully understated and yet the more identifiable for that. The fiddle players, let´s call them, put me in mind, perhaps because of the inclusion of the female member, of The Corrs though if there was any temptation here to cut a rug into a jig it was mercifully resisted. Instead we followed echoes that meandered away along the cracks in the rock, or were bounced back off the rock face that surrounds the stage, and were then bounced back to us by the hard surface, albeit slightly changed by nature.
From the Canadian Cajun scene of the seventies and eighties I heard memories of Beausoliel but when the fiddles really flowed It felt as if I was rocking to Mumford And Son.
My wife Dee, on the other hand, swore she heard the faint rustle of Scarlet Ribbons at one time.
The music was impossible to categorise, and yet it brought to mind scores of reference points. Some of those percussive noises, and the pizzicato on the strings, and even on a couple of occasions on some hand-held percussive instruments, brought to mind the art and geology of Ildefonso Aguiller. Here, in the percussive sounds of the North Sea Quartet, were reminders of the pops and bubbles and squeaks he taped on his field recordings to learn the secrets of the lava fields and landscapes of our island. This lent such a timelessness to what we were hearing.
And all this was complemented by the subdued but dramatic lighting, and by a backdrop that covered the usually open rear entrance of the cave. On to this were thrown cinematic images of the landscape, with its metaphorical danger sign of ¨no soft place to fall´. We saw images of what might have been large fish beneath the surface of water or could have been shadows of huge (almost prehistoric-looking) birds over the sand drafts.
Even this wonderful, melodic, ever-shifting music could not still or tame time but neither could Time capture the music. The players´ instruments shifted and shimmied and sashayed and simply refused to play in any one style for long enough to be pinned down so that we might ´murder to dissect.´. And yet, this helter skelter race, through millions of years from dot one to who knew what destination, did not feel like a flight for freedom. Instead it was it was contemplative at times but was mostly skittish and joyful.
The concluding encore of the most recognisable piece of music of the evening, Guantanemera, saw two of the violinists leaving the stage via the apron and out into the steep staircase that divides the audience. This, indeed, was jig-like, here a bit of Corrs, there a sounds like The Rankins from Nova Scotia.
photo 5 Naturally, we bought the cd on the way out, and I look forward to, as much as I´m sure you do too (!) delivering my review of the album. It might clarify a few things, so watch this space.
Meanwhile, we knew from their newsletter, last summer, that The North Sea Quartet (NSQ) had recorded their first album together with guitarist Javier Infante in the famous Studio 2 of the MCO in Hilversum. It is going to be a beautiful record, they promised us, with pieces written by Infante and the NSQ´s very own Pablo Rodríguez, a musiucian we know well from his previous and occasional partnership as Pablo and Humberto.
The album is inspired by North African, Sephardic and Canarian folk music. As you have read, Sidetracks And Detours now have a copy of that album.
However, Last summer Karin decided to quit as a member of the North Sea String Quartet (right) . The concerts were getting harder to combine with her work in Berlin, which she wanted to keep as her focus. Co-founder, Karin has undeniably left her mark on the development of the quartet. She will be greatly missed, their newsletter told us, for her swinging style and imaginative solos and surely also her sweet personality. NSQ publicly wished her the best of luck in her German career and will of course keep on following her closely!
Although Karin might well take part in some live performances of the album, as she did tonight, NSQ, after a period of searching and trying out, have now found a worthy replacement in the person of George Dumitriu! George is a remarkably versatile musician. He has studied classical violin in Romania and the Netherlands, but also jazz guitar in the Netherlands and the United States. Playing concerts around the globe and appearing as a guest teacher at several conservatories, he has built an impressive resume. On top of that, he is a very gifted composer and arranger. NSQ are therefore very happy to welcome him in the ranks!
Although the album, Electric Amazigh was officially released more than a year ago in August 2021 it remains sounding like a still-new work of the Dutch jazz string North Sea String Quartet and the Canarian guitarist-composer Javier Infante.
This is a vibrant collaboration in which acoustic and electric sounds converge in a timeless look at the traces of the aboriginal past of the Canary archipelago that continue to resonate in the present. “Amazigh”, which translates from Berber as “free man”, also gives its name to the ethnic group that inhabited North Africa and which would later become the pre-Hispanic inhabitants of the Canary Islands.
North Sea String Quartet are four string players from the new generations who combine the assets from all kinds of musical worlds: Hop ! Make sure you get to see them somewhere, urges music afficienado Oene van Geel.
They compose, they groove and they improvise, making them one of the most versatile string quartet in The Netherlands, combining their own compositions with improvisation. Their music could be defined as a mixture of jazz, folklore and world genres.
For Javier Infante, (left) this cultural and emotional imprint is the starting point of a personal exploration to place this period in the context of today. Presented in the form of a suite through nine fascinating pieces, Infante presents the electric guitar as the main narrator of a varied and cinematographic journey in which his guitar finds in the Dutch string quartet an essential travel companion to find the timbre and rhythmic palette required by each piece. Likewise, the vast electric guitar solos walk accompanied by the spontaneity of the quartet giving rise to a strong creative and experimental spirit in which beautiful melodies, improvisations and powerful rhythmic passages are interspersed.
We were promised in that newsletter that these would be strings that would make us move. I did move, both physically into some toe-tapping and hand clapping activities, but far more importantly I was emotionally moved, too.
I now know, having read the album´s sleeve notes by Ton Mass that I am not the only one to find the music emotionally charged.
A number of years ago, as I was watching Tokyo Waltz, a documentary about cellist Yo-Yo Ma, fiddler Mark O´Connor and with bass player Edgar Meyer on tour in Japan, I hear Ma admittted to his colleagues that he would never be able to match their sense of timing and swing. He couldn´t even hear exactly where he was off, although they had pointed this out repeatedly. All to no avail.
The North Sea String Quartet, a group of young players based in the Netherlands, has long crossed that divide. Yes, their line-up is that of a classical string quartet, but unlike most of their colleagues swing and improvisation are second nature to them. Hence their strap-line ´Strings That Make You Move´. For new challenges they look farther afield: in adventurous explorations of unknown sonic realms.
While working with vocalist Lilian Vieira they acquired the breezy elegant characteristic of Brazilian samba, and in collaborating with viola picker and singer Roland Satterwhite they made themselves at home in the raw, bare boned world of Mississippi delta blues. Choosing an instrumentalist for their next project helped them to steer clear of the traditional division between soloist and accompanying ensemble.
It just so happened that the new collaborator was handed to them on a silver platter by the organizers of the Festival Canaries Jazz & Màs. The quartet members had already admired guitar player and composter Javier Infante for quite some time but had never met him. And since Infante and Pablo Rodriquez both hail from the Canary Islands, it felt natural to use that shared background as a source of inspiration for this collaboration.
To most Europeans, the archipelago is first and foremost a popular tourist destination, but instead of being just a bit of Spain close to the African coast, the islands have been a vital hub connecting Europe and the Americas ever since the sixteenth century. For both Javier and Pablo this meant that the musical backdrop of their youth was an incredibly rich tapestry: lots of Cuban and Venezuelan influences, jazz and pop, the local traditions from the various islands, plus North African and Sephardic music. All of these strains ring through in this unique meeting of the musical minds, but only after having been leavened and fermented to become ingredients that blend organically.
The track, Ayres del Hierro, for example, was based on melodies and rhythms from the island of El Hierro, and combined with a rhythmical pattern that Infante created with the help of numerology. Starting point for Queso Majorero was a folk song from the island of Fuerteventura, which was transposed to a sephardic scale with an unusual time signature in five-eight rather than the more common three-four.
Bentayga was written as an ode to a famous archaeological site with remnants of the ancient Guanchen, the original inhabitants of the islands who were probably related to the Berber populations of northern Africa. For this composition, Infante chose an African rhythm in twelve-eight and made it sound like a religious chant.
I was amazed to find out that the album was originally conceived as a completely acoustic affair. After listening to the album, this hardly makes any sense at all as the combination of electric guitar and bowed strings sounds so electrifying, exciting and inevitable, thanks in part to the inventive and sometimes unorthodox orchestrations by Infante and Rodriguez.
New album by Karla Harris
We posted an article on 9th September 2022 under the advisory title of Karla Harris: Mark The Name. It is still available in our easy to navigate archives of more than 750 storie and if you didn´t mark the name then, you should now. We spoke in that piece that her husband John had alerted Sidetracks And Detours to a new album that was almost ready for release.
Available now, Moon To Gold is a fan-requested album featuring a swinging set of standards from the Atlantaa based Karla, singing with the Joe Alterman Trio.. In fact Karla and Joe have jointly produced this album of four studio-recorded tracks and a number of live performance recordings.
The track-listing for Moon To Gold, out now on Gobykar Music, includes The Nearness Of You, Blue Moon (from which the album title is extracted, of course), You Are There, Baltimore Oriole, Nature Boy, Blue Skies, When Sonny Gets Bule, I´d Rather Drink Muddy Water and a powerful and beautiful interpretation of Paul Simon´s Bridge Over Troubled Water. We will bring you a full review of the album on Monday 31st October, when we might also be able to announce an fairly immediate follow up album too.
Moon To Gold by Karla Harris and The Joe Alterman Trio
EVENTS AT THE STIOLLER HALL, MANCHESTER, UK
Meanwhile in the UK, music will be filling the venue, The Stoller Hall, for a number of events on the run up to Christmas. Sidetracks And Detours were only recently introduced to the Stoller Hall in the form of a press release from English Folk Expo. Although we are three thousand miles away we immediately signed up to the venue´s newsletter so that we might be able to inform our UK readers, and readers visiting the UK, of how to follow their art down sidetracks & detours to find some of the fantastic concerts the venue hosts.
Quartetto Noûs have established themselves as one of the most interesting chamber music ensembles of their generation. Their immersive performances are the result of professional training where Italian and European traditions are combined. Their programmes are driven by a desire for originality, experimenting with innovative concert formats like performing by heart in complete darkness. For their Stoller Hall concert they will perform a programme featuring Puccini, Bazzini and Shostakovich.
Stunning’ – The Times on Jess Dandy
Tuesday 25th October 2022 7.30pm
The next performance in The Manchester Chamber Concerts Society series sees the return of their Artistic Director and pianist Martin Roscoe, alongside contralto Jess Dandy. A shared love of nature and walking in the Lake District has strengthened the special partnership Jess has with Martin, who is unarguably one of the UK’s finest and most popular English classical pianists. Their love of the English countryside is reflected in their programme, with music which celebrates the natural world including Vaughan Williams, Beach, Strauss and Ravel
James Willshire has been working on putting together this programme, inspired by our Sounds of Nature season. It includes a huge variety of pieces, from classical to contemporary, many written in the romantic era or earlier. There are works inspired by water, stormy weather, moths, and even goldfish! Central to the recital is the placement of these works against The forest, the strand, the sea…by LeFanu; a work which explores the more gritty realities facing the natural world today. This audible representation of the contrast between idealism and current reality is described as “Delicate perfection” by The Telegraph
The dynamic and charismatic Heath Quartet are one of the most exciting British chamber groups, steadily building a reputation for their upbeat and integrated sound. Champions of contemporary music, their programme includes quartet masterpieces by Purcell, Britten and Schubert.
‘Playing with a spirit so transformational you felt they were actually improving the world’ reported The Strad
In 2022 British string quartet, The Brodsky Quartet are celebrating their 50th anniversary.
Performing a programme which includes Shostakovich’s String Quartet No.11, Elgar and Barber octets and a live performance with Chetham’s School of Music students, the concert will celebrate their extraordinary fifty-year legacy of music-making.
I have very fond memories of seeing not only seeing Ladysmith Black Mamboza touring the UK when I lived there, ( on the back of their success on graceland with Paul Simon) and i was also foirtunate to catch a slightly later gig by The Soweto Gospel Choir, whowere back in the Uk and performing at The Stioller hall just a few days ago.
The Soweto Gospel Choir was formed in Soweto, South Africa, by David Mulovhedzi and Beverly Bryer, and producers Andrew Kay, David Vigo and Cliff Hocking in 2002. The more than 30-member ensemble blends elements of African gospel, Negro spirituals, reggae and American popular music. The group performed at the first of the 46664 concerts for Nelson Mandela and has since toured internationally several times.
Their albums Blessed, African Spirit and Freedom won the Grammy Award for Best Traditional World Music Album in 2006, 2007 and 2018, respectively.
On 7 July 2007 they performed at the South African leg of Live Earth. Also in 2007, they joined Robert Plant in contributing to Goin’ Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino (Vanguard Records), performing their version of Domino’s “Valley of Tears“.
The group was featured on the Peter Gabriel/Thomas Newman song “Down to Earth“, written for Pixar‘s 2008 feature film WALL-E. The song was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song at the 66th Golden Globe Awards and the Academy Award for Best Original Song at the 81st Academy Awards.[The group performed at the 2010 FIFA World Cup final draw on 4 December 2009 in Cape Town, South Africa.
In 2010, composer Christopher Tin‘s song “Baba Yetu“, which featured the group, won the Grammy Award for Best Instrumental Arrangement Accompanying Vocalist(s). The song had originally been produced for Firaxis Games‘s 2005 videogame Civilization IV, but Tin enlisted the Soweto Gospel Choir to re-record the song for inclusion on his debut album, Calling All Dawns, leading to the song’s nomination and award. This marked the first time a video game composition had won or been nominated for the category.
The group collaborates with American publishing company MusicSpoke to publish transcriptions of a number of its pieces, including “Balm of Gilead,” “Hloholonofatsa,” “Ke Na Le Modisa,” “Khumbaya,” “Shosholoza,” “Somlandela,” and “Swing Down Sweet Chariot.
Show of Hands an English acoustic roots/folk duo formed in 1986 by singer-songwriter Steve Knightley (guitars, mandolin, mandocello, cuatro) and composer and multi-instrumentalist Phil Beer (vocals, guitars, violin, viola, mandolin, mandocello). Joined by singer and double-bassist Miranda Sykes for a tour in 2004, Show of Hands continued to regularly perform as a trio with Sykes, as well as in their original format. In 2019 the line-up was further expanded by the addition of Irish percussionist Cormac Byrne.
Known for their songs with rousing choruses that address contemporary social issues, (notably their “singalong attack on the bankers”, Arrogance Ignorance and Greed) these often illustrate current concerns through historical narratives and have earned Knightley the label the ‘Gravel voiced spokesman of the rural poor’. Rooted in English traditional music the songs are shot through with diverse influences from music across the world, including the blues, Americana and Latin rhythms. Nominating Knightley as ‘songwriter of the ’90s’ Tom Robinson of BBC Radio 6 noted that the songs spring from “the soil of the West Country,” where, as Robin Denselow writes in the Guardian, “Beer and Knightley have become folk heroes”.
Widely recognised as pioneers in the folk/roots arena both for their enduring emphasis on stagecraft, and their radical business model, Show of Hands are noted for the high level of professionalism they bring to their performances whether in a small club or the Royal Albert Hall.[heir “much vaunted cottage industry,” set up Show of Hands as an independent concern before the internet made this common practice. Beer and Knightley with their then manager Gerard O’Farrell built on their close relationship with their growing and “devoted” fan-base to create a completely self-contained way of working. This included their record label and production company Hands On Music, that gave them control of their consistently ‘classy’ output. Show of Hands have received widespread critical acclaim over their 30 album (and continuing) career, and in 2006 were voted “Greatest Devonians Ever” in a poll run by Devon Country Council beating Sir Francis Drake, Agatha Christie and Chris Martin amongst others to the title.
Lindisfarne are an English folk rock band from Newcastle upon Tyne established in 1968 (originally called Brethren). The original line-up comprised Alan Hull (vocals, guitar, keyboards), Ray Jackson (vocals, mandolin, harmonica), Simon Cowe (guitar, mandolin, banjo, keyboards), Rod Clements (bass guitar, violin) and Ray Laidlaw (drums).
They are best known for the albums Nicely Out of Tune (1970), Fog on the Tyne (1971) (which became the biggest selling UK album in 1972), Dingly Dell (1972) and Back and Fourth (1978), and for the success of songs such as “Meet Me on the Corner”, “Lady Eleanor“, “Run for Home”, “Fog on the Tyne” and “We Can Swing Together”.
The James Taylor Quartet (or JTQ) are a British four-piece jazz funk band formed in 1985 by Hammond organ player James Taylor following the break-up of his former band The Prisoners, and in the wake of Stiff Records‘ bankruptcy. The band consists of James Taylor (organ), Mark Cox (guitar), Andrew McKinney (bass), and Pat Illingworth (drums). Recordings and live performances often include vocalist Yvonne Yanney.
Pioneering solo percussionist Dame Evelyn Glennie plays with Scottish improvising ensemble Trio HLK. Their music pulls apart jazz standards into fragments that are at times shimmering and cerebral, at others thunderous and visceral. Intricate and harmonious rhythms meet with a veritable battery of percussion instruments played by Glennie to deliver a performance that is an interactive tour de force.
Pioneering ensemble Trio HLK comprises composer/pianist Rich Harrold, Ant Law on 8-string guitar and drummer Richard Kass. HLK began to collaborate with Dame Evelyn Glennie (the world’s premier solo percussionist) in early 2018 with a concert at Bristol International Jazz Festival. Critics praised this significant debut performance which was very warmly received by the audience. Jazzwise magazine cited the concert as “an extraordinary performance in a class all of its own’.
Their debut studio album Standard Time was released shortly after. Featuring HLK, Evelyn and also Guggenheim fellow Steve Lehman (alto saxophone) it went on to be selected as Critics’ Choice in Gramophone Magazine.
Since 2018, HLK & Evelyn have performed together extensively in Europe, developing new music and allowing their unique musical language to evolve. Their meticulous approach heavily deconstructs and recomposes well known pieces from the jazz & classical repertory. From the original musical building blocks they create intricate new pieces with complex frameworks for improvisation. The pieces are strewn with rhythmic and harmonic tricks, and their performances distort the meeting point of the composed and the improvised.
This concert is supported by Arts Council England’s Supporting Grassroots
Founded in 1967 by trumpeter and arranger Syd Lawrence, The fabulous Syd Lawrence Orchestra has been thrilling audiences in Concert Halls, Theatres, TV Shows and Music Festivals all over Great Britain and Continental Europe for over 50 years.
Renowned for it’s exciting blend of high octane Big Band Swing and Classic Dance Music, the Orchestra’s repertoire ranges from the wartime million sellers of the legendary Glenn Miller through the era of the great Count Basie Orchestra to the hit songs of Frank Sinatra and Ella
Count Basie himself described the Syd Lawrence Orchestra as “So good it should be BANNED!”.
Slightly further North, an Ilkley Jazz Festival venue, The Friends Of Ham, (Leeds) asked Ribble Valley Jazz And Blues to create some jazz evenings for them. RVJB have told Sidetracks And Detours that these nights will be instrumental, a format well received at the festival. It’s a small room but it gets really vibey!
Book your seat direct with the venue. Free entry. 01943 604344
Beverley & Mark and the rest of the Riblle valley jazz And Blues crew hope to see you there.
Hot Biscuits Jazz broadcaster and writer, Steve, Bewick, offers a stormy performance, this week, including dynamic arrangements of contemporary pop songs with the Christian Van Fields Trio, a piano led live set with Grant Russell, bass and Luke Flowers, drums. Also included is a blues piece from Mike Lunn, Derek Nash with `You Dig It` and Keith Jarrett, Of course, when you walk through the storm , there´s a golden sky, as you fly Over The Rainbow. The weather calms down with Mark Martin Trio & `cheek to cheek.` Join Hot Biscuits 24/07 at
There is also exciting news of forthcoming events on Lanzarote, too, as yesterday´s post at Sidetracks & Detours about Artists Articulating Art led to a flood of positive mail correspondence from some of the artists and facilitators mentioned in the piece.
We have also have heard from a friend of ours that there might a poetry celebration on the island towards at the end of November. This will involve self-penned poetry and selfie photographs apparently. We don´t know much more yet but watch this space over the next few days, as I have a feeling I might be entering the event..
I have dropped a few hints to Mercedes about how I was part of a published and recorded poetry duo for many years in the UK called Just Poets and also worked as a solo performance poet (right) at places like The Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, Pilkington´s in St. Helens, Bolton Festival, The Grand Theatre in Blackpool, Bury Metro Theatre, and even hosted monthly poetry nights at The Baum in Rochdale and The Ring O Bells in Middleton.
Although I left that behind me when I retired here, an old poet never really retires, he just comes to the end of the line.
Nevertheless, I have written four poems over here.: the newly developed harbour has changed The Playa Blanca Skyline that I wrote about in 2016, and the poem might now becomes a recording of a bygone time, when there were tiny wooden frame fishing boats moored on the shoreline.They had wonderful, evocative names painted on their frames that inspired me to write Sixteen On The Water written in one sitting. from a bench looking down on the harbour, recording names like Lady Katerina´s daughter that were just impossible to resist.
I have also written Para Lara about a friend of mine who has become something of a muse, representing the wonderful spirit of so many young people here: working full time even whilst continuing into adult education, hopeful of the island´s future and proud of its past. Her generation has an elegance and decorum and still retains a wonderful sense of fun. The poem reflected that and has been translated into Spanish and is now being set to music, to be released next year.
The poem i most recently wrote here is called Last Boat Home, and may have echoes of some of my vague fears that the modernisation of the area might affect that bucolic view of the fishing boats, but really it is about the olden days when losses at sea were a common occurrence in the local fishing industry, and the women of the islands would wait, sometimes in vain, for the Last Boat Home to return their loved one to safety.
I look forward now to the forthcoming poetry festival that Mercedes is working on. I might even sharpen my pencil and have another go..