Friday 18 October 2013

Alex Garnett & Nick Vayenas - Whirlwind Festival

The two worlds of the Whirlwind record label collided last week (10/10/2013) with a terrific collaboration between
Alex Garnett - saxophone
the UK's very own Alex Garnett and the NYC invader Nick Vayenas. A night of contrasts with Garnett drawing from the well of his debut solo release 'Serpent', which is a Whirlwind 'oldie' and Vayenas launching his album 'Some other time' that is so new that the musical ink is still drying on the page.

Femi Temowo -guitar
After experiencing the previous two concerts of the festival where the nice lads of Partikel and Ollie Howell Quintet conversed in polite tones it was like getting one stuck on your jaw when Alex Garnett came to the stage. Here is a man with charisma of the saloon type. Dapper in attire with a handle of witty banter he reminds one of a handsome Peter Lorre or a chancer, straight from the set of the 1947 film 'Brighton Rock'. You couldn't help but warm to his 'del boy' charm but there was nothing Robin Reliant about his playing and the opener "Serpent" was suitably sleek. Hard blowing and aggressive in his pin striper the only thing I was disappointed in was that he didn't possess a hoard of watches when his jacket swung open.

Nick Vayenas - Trombone
Nick Vayenas smoothed the pace with the full and rich "City of Notions", switching from trombone to trumpet and later casting off all his accoutrements for the only vocals I experienced over the 3 days with a Bakeresque "Blame it on my youth". Unlike Chet, singing the tune with all your own teeth improves diction and sound but maybe doesn't add the backstory of the troubled early years. Although I'm sure Vayenas had time enough to misbehave at the after-show Whirlwind parties. I underestimated his throbbing vocals at the time but in retrospect they do have more than enough pathos to carry his sentiments.

Femi Temowo played second fiddle to the main duo but was radiant in his sheer exuberance and heart, making both his smile and talent sparkle on Garnett's "Three for a Moor". Due to the brief hour slots that each group was assigned I couldn't devote much time to Marc Ayza, just a quick sketch of his coquettish 'Barnet fair'.

Marc Ayza - drums
Let us not forget this was our first glimpse of Michael Janisch, throughout the Festival he stayed in the shadows, deep behind microphones and music stands. Janisch gave us plenty to mull over with bass in hand and was magnificent on the final tune, a latin firebrand called "The Pimp". He brought us three bass lines in one with total commitment to the cause and more than our money's worth.

Michael Janisch - bass
I met plenty of students in the audience who had taken up his generous offers to be there for a minimal outlay. Including young guitarist Giorgos Pafitis who I had drawn just a few weeks earlier with Melissa James. As we congregated in the foyer afterwards his beaming grin said it all.


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