Monday, October 02, 2006

Soweto Kinch - 30/09/2006@AB, Brussels

Soweto Kinch - as, rap (website | MySpace)
Abram Wilson - tp
Femi Temowo - g
??? - b, el b
Troy Miller - d

Talk about a come-down: after the acoustic bliss of the previous night, the first note of Soweto Kinch's over-amplified concert felt like an aggression. The sound was unnecessarily loud (unless you really believe that a trumpet cannot be heard from 10 metres away) and confrontational rather than enveloping. We quickly moved to the back of the room. Afterwards, I was told that the amplification made the blend of jazz, hip hop and sampled elements easier. It's a real shame that the sound system also muffled the rapping: it's dense, but vivid and often hilarious. I got used to it after a while, anyway.

I won't repeat myself too much: see a July concert review and my review of Conversations With The Unseen.

After a brief rough spot at the beginning, Kinch was spitting *fire* on all his solos - far, far better than the somewhat empty technical display he put on at Klinkende Munt. Abram Wilson had an earthier, soulful vibe that brought a welcome balance. I was worried that they'd play material I was already fairly tired of in July, but luckily they only did the brand-new second album (which I haven't heard yet, but is partly available on MySpace, and, coincidentally, was produced by the guy who produced The Bad Plus's upcoming album). The only songs I already knew were "Adrian's Ballad," a detailled portrait that highlights the quality of Kinch's lyric writing, and "A Friendly Game Of Basketball," an uptempo bop head. The two sum up the poles between which Kinch's music swings.

In fact, 70% of what he does is contemporary straight-ahead, really. Even the way the hip hop grooves are phrased evokes jazz. He also frequently used horn section samples to beef up the group sound, which he hadn't done this summer. That he has the ability and charisma to get people - young people - really enthusiastic about hearing bebop makes me happy.

There was one radical departure from the formula, called "Out There." The bassist picked up an electric bass, Kinch applied a warbling FX pedal to his saxophone and the band veered into rock. They returned to acoustic jazz for the soloing section, and ended with another electric part, but this time funkier. I'm not sure the collage made sense as a whole and it certainly wasn't as out as Kinch seemed to think it was, but at least he's keeping his options open. Overall, though, a very good concert.

Afterwards, on the way back to the car we dropped by the Beursschouwburg's bar for a little while. A band was playing a sort of acoustic downtempo Hooverphonic thing, with a bit of an An Pierlé vibe as well. They looked great on stage: three girls in front (l-r cello, keyboards/vocals, keyboards) and three boys in the back (l-r bass, drums, guitar).