Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Stand to Attention Jazz Concert On The South Bank

When I went to see the talented Stefani Crone dance in the Clore Ballroom at the Royal Festival Hall alongside the interesting School of Harmolodics, I hadn't realised that the last ten days had been devoted to Ornette Coleman's Meltdown; produced by the charismatic Glenn Max, the Curator of Popular Music at the Royal Festival Hall. If I'd realised, I would have booked myself in for Moby, and the 'bohemian' likes of Patti Smith (I wonder what her golf handicap is now?), and the Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band etc.

After I marvelled at the School of Harmolodics' avant-garde performance (wow! What a shindig!), I bumped into the ubiquitous Jeff Dexter, who promptly invited me to a show at the Royal Festival Hall later that evening.

The Charlie Haden's Liberation Music Orchestra was performing with guest appearances from the legendary Ornette Coleman and Jeff's old mate, Robert Wyatt. Did I want to go, he asked? (Is the pope Catholic?!).

I dived at the chance and was duly in seventh heaven, seated in the best seats in the house (we were almost on the stage) nodding my head to the free jazz (It was a shame I hadn't donned my matelot striped sweater and beret for the event). Amazingly, five of the sublime musicians had never played with each other before: the composer/musician Carla Bley, who was the MD of the evening was partially responsible for their miraculous gelling. Unfortunately, Ornette Coleman arrived on stage too late to actually perform, but when he did show, the entire audience respectfully stood up as if in church.

After the fantastic show, I followed Jeff to the backstage party, which was bulging with jazz musicians. It was like a zoo! Brilliant stuff.
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