– Oriole @ The Purcell Rooms – Aug 2005

Live review from the Rhythm Sticks Festival, Purcell Room, The Royal Festival Hall, London.

In what amounted to a mini-festival within the “Rhythm Sticks” season, the London-based F-IRE Collective presented an evening of wildly contrasting music, emphasising the organisation’s friendly eclecticism. F-IRE was described by the pianist Robert Mitchell as ?an ever-growing party?, and despite an atmosphere muted by the day’s terrorism events, an attractively informal and inclusive spirit prevailed.

After such precisely-formed intensity(Robert Mitchels’ solo Piano concert), the world-jazz of Oriole came as welcome contrast. Jonny Phillips’s band offered a musical utopia planted somewhere between the Americas , West Africa and Europe , whose unorthodox line-up produced a beautiful blended sound-world all its own. The predominant rhythms were Latin, an impression heightened by Adriano Adewale Itauna’s sonorous cahon and frisky triangle, over which Ben Davis’s cello and Ingrid Laubrock’s silvery tenor floated wistful melodies. Nick Ramm was a decisive presence on keyboards, and Seb Rochford’s loose-limbed, sardonic polyrhythms kept things from getting too tasteful. There was a lot of obvious give-and-take between the musicians; even when one took a solo, it was clear that this was just the top-note of a complex, shifting web of sound. Only a mid-tempo number introduced as “a song about a train” never left the station, but guest vocalist Julia Biel’s soulful rendition of “Song for the Sleeping” sent shivers.

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