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Uppingham tune into Little Radio

Published: 29 Jan 13, 02:43pm  |  Author: David Graham

The Little Radio
This Sunday evening saw the return of two international contemporary jazz masters to the Goldmark Gallery concert series in Uppingham. Director David Graham was there to report back...

A full house was treated to a consummate display of musical craftsmanship and improvisational wizardry from UK tenor saxophonist Iain Ballamy and the Norwegian Stain Carstensen on button accordion. The duo first visited the gallery for a performance in 2006 and since then hasn’t lost any of its musical charm and gentle humour. The instrumental line-up is without doubt an unusual one, but within moments of listening one wonders why this combination is not more commonplace.

The sonorities of the instruments blend so effortlessly; never clashing, and always complementing. The fluidity of the duo lineup also affords the musicians liberty with the tempos and rubato, which in turn gives the ensemble a natural sense of unleashed freedom. The listener is left never really knowing what twist or corner the music will take next on its journey.

To say that the repertoire was eclectic would be a terrific understatement. We were treated to renditions of classical works such as Eric Satie’s ‘Je Te Veux’ and Chopin’s ‘Minute Waltz’, jazz standards, ‘Body & Soul’ and Hoagy Carmichael’s ‘Stardust’ through to Teddy Bear’s Picnic (!), Whitney Houston’s ‘Saving All My Love For You’ and the theme from ‘Tales of the Unexpected’! The duo ended the first set with a German Medley - to which Ballamy wittily announced, ‘Don’t mention the medley…’ – which among other things featured Kurt Weill’s ‘Mack The Knife’ and Hans Eisler's 'An Den Kleinen Radioapparat' after which the duo is named.

The virtuosity of both musicians leaves the audience in awe. The speed and dexterity with which Carstensen is able to improvise and switch between styles is jaw-droppingly brilliant. At one point he began to whistle exactly the same line being improvised by his right hand on the accordion, to only then to start harmonising with it in thirds. Ludicrous!

Ballamy’s tone must be the envy of most saxophonists. It has a warmth and evenness throughout the range, whether he is playing the lowest notes or picking out the highest harmonics. He is a true master of the instrument; his improvising always fluid and beautifully phrased.

The Goldmark Gallery has been putting on concerts now for about 7 years and the performance space is certainly a unique one. It seats a maximum of 60, and creates an intimacy rarely found on the concert platform. Some of the world’s best performers are being drawn to the space with previous performances already from names such as Richard Thompson, Ralph McTell, Martin Simpson, Danny Thompson and John Etheridge. We are told to keep our eye out for more big names in the near future.... and after an evening like Sunday, we certainly cannot wait for the next!

For more details on performances by Iain Ballamy, Stian Carstensen and concerts at the Goldmark Gallery follow the links below.

www.ballamy.com
www.farmers-market.net
www.goldmarkart.com

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About David Graham

David Graham is Director of DG Music and has been performing and teaching music for over 25 years. His main instrument is the saxophone for which he gained diplomas from the Royal Northern College of music. He still has an acting performing career playing reguarly all over the UK and Europe.

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