Cube, Thursday October 27
Match & Fuse is a defiantly European project begun by UK jazz pianist Dave Morecroft. It’s aim is to bring together likeminded leftfield musicians from different European countries to both showcase their work and to spontaneously collaborate on stage. With their annual weekend festival in London on the horizon this triple-headed warm-up gig gave Bristol a chance to catch some of the action thanks to a suitably collaborative initiative between the Colston Hall and The Cube.
First up were local heroes Michelson Morley, Jake McMurchie’s electronic project with guitarist Dan Messore. Their layered sounds were as much about texture as melody or rhythm, though End of Age had a sweetly lyrical raga-style duet between Jake’s tenor sax and Will Harris’ responsive bass. Measure’s contributions were elegantly judged, often laying a bubble;ing harmonic carpet under the overall sound though Rice Rage drew a dirty surf guitar groove from his Telecaster.
After the clean spaciousness of Michelson Morley the pan-Scandinavian Horse Orchestra promised something more chaotic, a septet of young players in ridiculous Afro-festival shirts filling up the stage. They started sweetly enough with the rich brass ensemble sound of sax, trumpet, trombone and tuba swinging into a straight ahead tune but, happily, in due course it all fell apart into free deconstruction before snapping back into shape. This playful formula worked to great effect on A Tun of Tuna, a smash and grab 17-time number that gave them all a chance to show off rather well and established a celebratory liveliness in the room.
Headliners Krokofant were a more serious proposition, however. A bass-less power trio from Norway the band’s sound was led by guitarist Tom Hasslan jousting with Jørgen Mathisen on saxes and synth and driven by Axel Skalstad’s drumming. At heart it’s more than a nod back to a time when rock and jazz were feeding off each other and fusions of rhythm-driven electric music were structured into what would eventually become prog. As much reflecting the famous Norwegian metal scene as the country’s equally famous avant jazz reputation there were echoes of King Crimson, Gong and Captain Beefheart in their high-energy tunes. Above all, though, they proved themselves dazzlingly skilled musicians, with Hasslan’s guitar drawing on what seemed an unending stream of ideas.
Finally there was a stage invasion of sorts as sundry Horse Orchestra personnel returned to join Krokofant’s trio for the final jam session, a good humoured collaboration that inevitably lacked the coherence of what preceded it but remained true to the Match & Fuse philosophy and provided a good start for the bands as they headed back up the M4 for the weekend’s feast.