Monday 21 October 2013

Rachael Cohen - Whirlwind Halftime launch

Rachael Cohen - Saxophone
Another day (11/10/2013) and another launch to kick off a Whirlwind Festival day in King's Place's St Pancras Room. This time we had different approach from the label's first female band leader, Rachael Cohen. The 'hair of the dog' after the night before was just the ticket with a rich mellow brew from Cohen's imminent release 'Halftime'.

Mark Lewandowski
The relatively new face of Rachael Cohen was hidden in the St Pancras Room's gloomy lighting but it suited her music, especially crepuscular tunes like her sixth of the set, "Intermission". Cohen has a stillness and calm about her playing, not so much punch and sway. With her slim long legs, teetering on wedged heels she looks like a hunting Crane, elegant and full of latent strength. In fact the sedate and emotive "Ask me later" has a sequence toward the end that suggests circular ripples in a still pool, the casting off of sound into a quiet hall and the powerful moments of silence in between.

Phil Robson - Guitar
After the opening tunes we encountered one of many compositions that highlighted the talents of Phil Robson on guitar. The disparate "Groove Envy" is an ambitious piece that was expertly bound by Robson's playing. Initial impressions predicted a darned repair, but Robson stitches were short and sharp and his darting needle left us richly embroidered. His precarious solo on "Just for you" was a simple delight on the strolling, wistful Ornette Coleman tune.
It brought out the swing of Mark Lewandowski on bass too. His playing wandering over the belt line of the groove, unlike the man himself, who kept his white shirt firmly tucked into his black trousers.

Jim Bashford - drums
The quartet gained more momentum toward the end of their launch. Jim Bashford stretched out a little without ever becoming musically inebriated, although "The Manor" let his bubbles rise to the top like a good champagne, subtly fizzing. The finale of "Riggins Higgins" gave Rachael Cohen the chance to rock off her wedges and onto her toes. She left both the crowd and the band animated for the day ahead. Rumour has it that this musical shot in the arm propelled Cohen well into the wee small hours of the night too, along with the album's photographer Pippa Evans.


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