Mandela Day Concert
At the end of a week when action was stepped up to try and stop
While there were those in attendance who would prefer the comforts a theatre affords, much of the music on offer would have benefited from the closer musician-audience relationship that came as standard at the Picture House.
Both the Mahotella Queens and their younger colleagues Freshlyground present music that's vibrant and as much about the dance steps it generates as the notes it contains.
Indeed, the former's spokeswoman, at a sprightly 72, is walking, sashaying proof of the youth-preserving properties that 50 years of synchronised booty-shaking brings and while their ululating voices have become a little strident with age (the youngest of the three, a new arrival at 29, is 40 years junior to her nearest-in-age), the vigour of their performance was uplifting.
The evening began sedately, with pianist
Celebrations, as well as pockets of dancing in the auditorium, soon broke out, however, with Freshlyground.
Their relaxed but very together ensemble grooving cut across Afro pop, funky soul and
This year, on a day that celebrated influential pianist and jazz theorist
Compared to the opening Tristano-inspired set by French alto and soprano saxophonist
There was passion, vulnerability and no little humour as pianist
There was a sense of deja vu about the concert given on Friday at the Queen's Hall for the opening night of this year's jazz festival.
And so it was for much of the evening, which seemed to follow the same programme (a mixture of classic
Among the pleasures of hearing this band are the fact that it offers a rare opportunity to hear 1920s Ellington being played so expertly and enthusiastically.
Its slick, exhilarating ensemble playing - especially when trios of clarinets, saxes or trumpets are featured playing in unison (as happens so often, to thrilling effect, on such early Ellington numbers as East St Louis Toodle-Oo and Hot And Bothered) - was a particular delight, and there were some ace solos, not least by star clarinettist
Barber himself, now 84 and in a wheelchair, played some memorable solos when the spotlight (the stylish lighting also added to the concert's classiness) was on him but, unfortunately, the tear-your- hair-out frustration of being an audience member at one of his concerts was still very much present: it's nigh-on impossible to make out 90% of what he says because of his rushed delivery.
And what makes it even more infuriating is that the 10% that was intelligible was funny and/or fascinating.
Well, there's a first time for everything - and it's safe to say that Saturday night's concert by crooner
This, after all, was the Queen's Hall debut of the man known as "the Singing Butcher", and, boy, was he thrilled to be on that stage.
Anyone who attended his concert and had never heard him before, however, might have been forgiven for wondering if they had gatecrashed a mega wedding reception. Why? Not just because women got up and danced in a circle, but because the star seemed to know most of the members of the audience personally.
Likable and self-effacing though he was, Hunter did rather push his luck with the name-checks and dedications - so much so that it was tempting to seek out one of the former church's donations boxes to pass among the pews as a makeshift sick bucket.
So what is it - chummy banter aside - that made the audience go bonkers for the butcher? Well, he has an appealing, commanding voice and swinging style.
He sings the songs of Sinatra,
Singing along is not discouraged; it's de rigueur. It's all very familiar and enjoyable.
And on Saturday, he had the accompaniment of a first-class band - led by
Mandela Day Concert