When: 12th July 2011
Where: The Print Room, 34 Hereford Road, London W2 5AJ
What is it?
Byron Wallen has been called ‘one of the most innovative, exciting and original trumpet players alive’ by Jazzwise Magazine and he has gained a BBC award for Innovation in Jazz. So big things were expected from his one-off concert at The Print Room.
Upon our arrival drinks were being served in the courtyard, a setting that included a piano covered with grass, this created a summery relaxed atmosphere in which to start the proceedings. Inside, the converted warehouse was littered with tables decked out in hessian sacking, with nibbles such as cheese and biscuits, and wine to keep the audience happy.
Byron Wallen played some interesting pieces inspired by everything from eyes to the Volcano responsible for that famous ash cloud. He played various instruments from the trumpet and piano to a conch shell, which I’ll admit I’ve never seen before!
Although the ensemble were clearly very accomplished musicians I couldn’t help but feel that the Jazz was slightly too contemporary for my tastes. For instance, accompanying some of the pieces was a backing track that added an air of house music, which to me detracted from the Jazz rather than adding to it. Saying that some of the other pieces wouldn’t have been out of place in a big concert hall, but these seemed more inspired by Classical music and less by Jazz.
Highlights included the low pitched, bass rumblings used to simulate the slow erruption of Eyjafjallajökull, the Icelandic volcano that caused so much disruption to European air traffic, in a piece by the same name. This clearly delighted the audience! Towards the end of the evening the ensemble had more of a jamming session which was arguably the best part of the show, not only for the free flowing, more traditionally sounding Jazz, but also because the musicians seemed more relaxed and to be having more fun doing this.
More info: The Print Room