Monday, 10 June 2013

Partikel - Max Luthert's new hues

Max Luthert - Bass
The ever emerging pimped-up Robin Reliant of Jazz, Partikel, are adding a touch of class to their repertoire this year. The previous six years have seen this trio tighten the nuts on their lean machine, taking no prisoners in what continues to be a vibrant London Jazz scene. At its centre, on the banks of the River Thames last Friday (7/6/2013), we saw Partikel take to the Southbank's Foyer stage with new material and a special guest to boot.

Duncan Eagles -
With a second album 'Cohesion' well under their belts and with a new recording on the horizon, the trio are starting to play around with more ideas, sounds and evocative imagery. Led as always by their charismatic front man Duncan Eagles, this group have always been comfortable with and within each others company. Now it seems they are breaking through this comfort zone and treading on each other's musical toes. Eagles continues to be the driving force though, he is a man that exhibits a steely ambition and bravery in composition and performance.

Eric Ford - Drums
Max Luthert on Bass has arrived at the metaphoric party at last. Although his playing has never hidden in the shadows, you now begin to feel his influence more and more, through his writing (Assam) and his superb playing on tunes like 'Market Place'. It is no surprise that he is back on form since the cast on his left wrist (that plagued him for the past year) has now been jettisoned. The afore mentioned 'Market Place' gives Luthert the space to express himself and he has never sounded better, his satisfying bass lines were deeply rich and true. The last tune of the evening, 'The Optimist' allowed Luthert to take control and the discerning audience were swept up in the summer breeze of this floating composition.

We felt breathless.

New compositions rang true too. 'Midnight Mass' created a hollow yet strangely tangible sense of space. Eagles cast out his melodies against distant shores and they rebounded with eerie sentiment. Here was a dark beauty that was totally at odds with this lazy summer evening.

Shirley Smart - Cello
Eric Ford was unleashed on 'Clash of the Clans', a tune that accelerated, then slammed its foot on the break in quick succession. You felt as though your safety was being challenged by Ford, like you were only a wheel's width from dropping into the precipice on a winding cliff top drive.

The addition of Shirley Smart on cello created a stir amongst Partikel devotees as she took to the stage at the start of the second set. With Smart they performed with a new voice on 'Shimmer', with a lightness, a playfulness that Eagles, Luthert and Ford have never had when playing alone. The cello gives the melodies of Eagles saxophone an ally and together they swell to greater heights. The quartet followed up with a version of 'Body and Soul' that had an almost Parisienne flavour.

Max Luthert by
Peter S Smith
The collaboration with Shirley Smart has made me look at Partikel in a new light and it was only fitting that I was joined by artist Peter S Smith this evening. He had invited me to the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition where he has had two prints accepted (and a healthy number of red dots on his work). It is always fascinating to have another artist draw alongside you, as they see the same scene differently (He has kindly let me reproduce his sketch here).

Where my drawings explore line and movement, Peter's create depth and emotion and we have learnt from one another over years just like the musicians we saw before us, though unlike them we shall never paint on the same canvas. I can foresee that Partikel and Smart have a bright future ahead of them with new hues and broad brushstrokes to add to their already impressive triptych.


See them next at the TW12 Jazz Festival in Hampton Hill on July 21st.
Link here.

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