Loopfest 2011 - Telegraph review

The Telegraph 17.3.11

Loop Collective Festival, The Forge, Camden, review
A whiff of bewildering but stimulating contemporary jazz. Rating: * * * *

By Ivan Hewett

Anyone wishing to catch a whiff of the bewildering but stimulating variety of contemporary jazz need look no further than the Loop Festival. It’s an annual showcase for the Loop Collective, a bunch of musicians with the likeable trait of sharing ideas and resources. During the Festival’s opening gig at the Forge, a cool, wood-panelled, galleried venue in north London, each band listened in to each other’s sets and between times manned the joint CD stall. The sense of communal endeavour was as cheering as the music itself.
Of the three acts, the first from bass player and composer Mick Coady was the most polished. He led a fine quartet in performances of four of his own compositions, the first two of which had an attractively melancholy tone, their harmonies edging disconsolately downwards and then returning by unexpected routes to their origin. Pianist Ivo Neame probed and weighed each harmony as it passed, but it was tenor sax player Michael Buckley’s feather-light, sinuous melodic commentary that really told. In the following more up-tempo numbers drummer Sean Carpio suddenly shone with a solo full of cleverly placed silences.
This was in familiar jazz territory; the solo set which followed from French singer and bass guitarist Jeanne Added was in no territory that I’m familiar with. She takes lyrics from all kinds of sources — Robert Walser, e.e. cummings, W.B Yeats - and makes from them songs of strange, bare simplicity. Often they consist of no more than a pulsing deep guitar note with a guileless melody above, but she fills the melody with such inconsolable anguish that these simple things become exotic. It was uncomfortable, sometimes faintly embarrassing, and yet totally riveting.
No jazz festival these days is complete without a group featuring a laptop player, and the last set gave us one, in the shape of the quartet MA Special. The clicks and whirrs of the laptop joined with the organ and percussion tumult in ever-increasing waves of noise, to the point where it looked as if chaos might overwhelm everything; but then a sturdy repeating melody in the saxophone came riding to the rescue like the Fifth Cavalry. Hoarse cheers broke out all round from the young audience, which was clearly ready for more; but I wanted to keep the sharper and more subtle flavour of Jeanne Added fresh in my memory, and slipped away.
Loop Festival until Sat.