Posts Tagged ‘Portico quartet’

Philadelphia Concerts & Win Free Sakamoto Tix

October 8, 2010

Philadelphia’s Concert scene is heating up as the weather cools down.  Here’s some of the concert appearances  in the next 9 days with a lot of Echoes artists coming in.   See Ryuichi Sakamoto listing below to win a free pair of tix and his new double CD Playing the Piano/Out of Noise.

Guitar Masters
Matthew Shipp

Portico Quartet
This was a fine, but poorly attended concert.  Read what you missed here:

*******THIS WEEK*********



Peppino D'Agostino @ Echoes in SF


W/Eric Johnson, Andy McKee and Peppino D’Agostino.
Weds, October 13
Colonial Theater, Phoenixville
A trio of great guitar players in solo sets.  Peppino D’Agostino is an Italian guitarist purveying delicate finger-style compositions.  Andy McKee is from the new generation of tapping guitarists and has made quite a name for himself.  Eric Johnson is better known in metal circles, but I’m assuming he’ll unplug for this.

Friday, October 15, 8pm
Philadelphia Art Alliance, 251 S. 18th Street
$12 General Admission
One of the true giants of contemporary jazz piano, Matthew Shipp brings an enveloping sense of melody, a architect’s sense of space, (if the architect is Gehry) and an explorers sense of adventure.  Not to be missed.


Wollo @ Echoes


Sat. October 16
The Gatherings
St. Mary’s Church, West Philadelphia
Erik Wollo has had more Echoes CD of the Month selections than anybody, including his last album, Gateway.   And Philly has gotten to hear him live more than any city in the country.  He returns, playing new music for space guitar and synthesizers.  This will be the recommended concert next week.


Sakamoto @ Echoes Concert


Sunday, Oct 17 7:00p
Keswick Theatre, Glenside, PA
Ryuichi Sakamoto is a legend of eclectism and an artist who musicians always seem to love.  He’ll play the Keswick performing a solo, acoustic piano set.  You can get a preview of this Monday night on Echoes when he plays live on the show.
***Win tickets to see this concert and Sakamoto’s new album, Playing the Piano/Out of Noise

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Portico Quartet at World Cafe Live!

October 1, 2010

Improvisations Hanging On A Hang Drum

One would be forgiven for thinking that you’d come to a Sun Ra Arkestra concert by mistake at World Café Live last night.  Arrayed at the front of the stage were a trio of flying saucer-shaped objects, sitting on stands, looking ready for takeoff.

Portico Quartet’s “Life Mask”

Nick Muley & Hang Drums @ Abbey Road

Those objects were the Hang Drum, and it’s a central sound of Portico Quartet, an English ensemble who played a concert of unusual introspection and intensity.

The Hang drum, invented in Switzerland around 2000, is a metal instrument that sounds like a cross between a steel drum, gamelan gong and African kalimba.  Nick Mulvey plays his trio of Hangs with mallets, setting up modal cycles that underpinned the band’s improvisations like a shifting, jeweled river of sound.   He mixes exoticism with a minimalist’s sense of austerity, while avoiding smooth jazz steel drum sound hokiness.

Portico Quartet @ Barbican

Portico Quartet goes for a spacious, contemplative sound on their latest album, Isla, but I was surprised to hear them maintain that mood in concert.  Where most bands usually amp up the intensity live, Portico Quartet stayed true to their music from the first composition, “Paper Scissors Stone.”  A drone of bass, shimmering cymbal strokes and  a tinkling shimmer from the Hang Drum that sounded like a distant dawn paved the way for a swirling composition led by Jack Wylie playing a curved soprano saxophone and calling up the spirit of John Coltrane and Terry Riley circa “Poppy Nogood.”  He has a gift for melodic invention, and brings a certain 60’s jazz freedom to the group.

Jack Wiley

This is a band built on collective improvisation and subtle sound sculpting.  Wylie and drummer Duncan Bellamy used electronic effects. Bellamy sometimes put reverb on his drums, looped chimes and bells or used a reverse delay on a xylophone.  Wylie often sent his horns into loops, layering drones that wove into the orchestration.  He opened “Life Mask” playing a melodica, setting up a droning chord that he sent into a loop, creating the meditative floor of this haunting work.

Portico Quartet is deceptive.  They are clothing outside jazz improvisations in a serene sheath.  To a fault, perhaps, each piece usually builds out of silence, reaches a furious peak of wailing sax and tumbling rhythm and then returns to a contemplative state, leaving you somewhat breathless and with a lingering feeling of  “What happened there?”

The band is never airy or facile, and the muscular double-bass work of Milo Fitzpatrick assured that they always had a forward drive.   They didn’t really cut loose until the last song, “Dawn Patrol.”  It’s an explosive piece that starts with Pharaoh Sanders-like squall of saxophone before moving into a drum and sax duet that recalled Coltrane and Rashid Ali’s duets from Interstellar Space.  At that point the Hang Drums levitated and in formation, flew out of the room.

Except for the two women at the bar who wouldn’t STFU, they held the audience in rapt attention, following every nuance of this meticulous music.   Sadly, monsoon rains held down the size to only about 25 fortunate but soggy souls.

Next Wednesday on Echoes, I’ll have a host of Hang Drums as we feature new music played on this instrument, including Portico Quartet.

Hear an Echoes Interview with Portico Quartet. 

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))

Hanging with Portico Quartet

August 6, 2010

I just finished an interview with Portico Quartet, the London band that’s part of a new generation of jazz ensembles that includes  Nik Bartsch’s Ronin, Tord Gustavsen, Brad Mehldau, The Bad Plus and the late E.S.T.   Portico is a fully collective trio, but the instrument getting a lot of attention is the Hang drum,  made in Switzerland.  Echoes listeners have been hearing this for years from Will Clipman, Jeff Ball’s group and many others.  With the Hang drum creating a modal center, Portico Quartet are slipping some very outside and edgy free jazz improvisation into a very seductive package.  Their second album, Isla, gets released here the end of the month on Realworld Records. Here’s a clip of Portico Quartet live in the studio.  The Hang is seen right at the start.

The Portico Quartet interview will run on Echoes in  early September, right before their first US tour.

John Diliberto ((( echoes )))
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