Hull Literature Festival 2001 8th - 18th November
Welcome | Festival Programme | On-Line Critics | Daily Review | Installations & Exhibitions
Themes | City Centre Venues | Hull Libraries | Festival Information | Links | E-mail:

{ Daily Review }

Double Vision | Features | Calender of Events | Humber Haddock | Comfort Stop
Hints from the Hacks | Interviews | Photo of the Day | Critical Perspective | Right to Reply

Directed by Lucky Ranku
Hull Truck Theatre
Sunday 11 November 2001

Lucky Ranku (guitar), Mervyn Africa (piano), Claude Deppa (trumpet), Fayaz Virji (trombone), Tony Kofi (baritone sax), Bukky Leo (tenor sax), Ntshuks Bonga (alto sax), Sami el Salahi (bass), Frank Tontoh (drums), Nana Tsiboe (percussion)

Having looked forward to this event for weeks, I arrived late because the start time in the Humber Mouth programme was half an hour later than that on the ticket. Then there was confusion over seats and I ended up sitting next to someone who was expecting to be joined by friends who were even later than I was. My neighbour was clearly not pleased that I had been directed towards these empty seats as my own was already occupied. I mention this only because group dynamics are such a fascinating part of making and listening to live jazz. The informality and cheerfulness of the occasion had reached most, but clearly not all, parts of the audience. Anyway, I noticed that the absent friends had still not arrived after the interval, by which time I had long since moved to a seat next to pianist Mervyn Africa, from where I was able to watch the group dynamics of the band at close quarters and catch the drifts of aromatic oils emanating from the stage.

Hull Truck is a good venue for live jazz, being large enough to hold a decent sized audience but small and informal enough to create something of the feeling of a jazz club.

The stage is adaptable and the atmosphere easily transformed to suit the event. On Sunday night it was vibrant and lively - very different from the formality of the African Visions reading two weeks previously. Jazz musicians from many parts of Africa have been drawn together by guitarist Lucky Ranku to form The African All Stars, a ten-piece band with a strong brass line up, two guitars, drums and percussion.

The evening was a brisk and business-like affair from men on the move (to the Queen Elizabeth Hall to perform as part of London Jazz Week). These musicians don't mince words. Claude Deppa, like a strict schoolmaster, kept the brass in line, but was there just a hint of insurrection in the ranks while Fayaz Virji played a trombone solo and the other brass players muttered to each other in the corner, with an occasional furtive glance over their shoulders towards Deppa? Lucky Ranku, quietly directing affairs, broke into scorching guitar solos now and then, stepping back quickly to take his place as one of the band. Tenor sax player Bukky Leo looked eagerly to Deppa for permission to take the solo spot, while Tony Kofi's flights of invention on the baritone sax were high points in an entertaining and varied evening.

Jazz concerts often begin to take off just when they have to end. A prolonged and exciting conversation between drums and percussion, the first of the evening, heralded the end of the session, the only jazz concert I have been to when there wasn't an encore or two. As with the African Visions readings, a number of pieces had been written in response to political oppression, but these were woven into a programme in which the traditions of African music were fused with the influence of contemporary western jazz. This constant evolution of style and substance is one of the reasons why jazz is the most exciting, creative and responsive of musical forms.

Daily Review Next Page Previous Page Daily Review Next Page Previous Page