Soweto Kinch, Bath Festival 2011
Posted on 1st June 2011
Bath International Music Festival
Monday, May 30, 2011
Soweto Kinch stormed into Bath Komedia to a full house of adoring fans and did not disappoint. He had his current quartet, guitarist Femi Temowo, bassist Karl Rasheed-Abel and Graham Godfrey, drums, and was joined by a special guest, trumpeter Byron Wallen in the second half.
The night began with a complex instrumental that showcased Kinch's prodigious skill and his forceful post-bop style. There are big elements of Eric Dolphy in his playing and, to some degree, in his composition. His playing never ceases to be exciting; the notes come out in strong rhythm, the melodic style is full of intervalic leaps, the most direct connection to Dolphy, and his attack is fierce. Though one couldn't call Ornette Coleman an influence, Kinch seems to have taken on something of Ornette's reedy tone.
Guitarist Temowo played with Wes Montgomery tone, chording effectively. His solos were competent, but lacked Kinch's focus, seeming a bit directionless in comparison. The principal force to balance Kinch was drummer Godfrey, who had several duets with Kinch and seemed to maintain the most dialogue throughout.
Byron Wallen, entering in the second set, was a terrific addition. His bright, brash style suits Kinch and his music perfectly, and his chops are certainly up to the considerable challenge. Befittingly, he had lengthy solo time, and made the most of it.
As the concert progressed, it turned more toward rapping, which Soweto Kinch is amazingly good at. There was a rap early in the first set, but it was compromised by blurry sound, a problem that was rectified soon after. The second set contained a long freestyle rap drawn from photos the audience bluetoothed up from their phones. The pictures were random and Kinch's ability to rhyme to them was simply astonishing, so much so that any objection along the lines of this as a diversion from jazz surely evaporated quickly.
The rapping brought the biggest response from the audience, and there is a reason that has nothing to do with the idea of cheap popular entertainment: his raps are direct and human, perceptive, with humour. Soweto Kinch's music is cerebrally constructed, albeit forcefully exciting, but there is greater distance from the audience in it. He is an amazing man with exceptional talents and abilities, but there is room to grow, and it may be in unifying his artistic personality.
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