Wed 13 Dec 2006, The Scotsman





OUTSIDE the weather might have been whipping up a storm, but inside Haddington's elegant Georgian Town House a packed audience was basking in sunny, irresistible Brazilian jazz rhythms. Ritmata, led by guitarist Simon Thacker, came together with the main aim of exploring the classical side of jazz, in particular Claude Bolling's Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Piano Trio. Having discovered it languishing in obscurity, Thacker persuaded his friends - pianist Paul Kirby, Brazilian bass player Mario Caribe and percussionist Stuart Brown - to help him revive the 1975 work.

Changing styles sometimes every few bars, Bolling shamelessly plunders the musical canon for whatever takes his fancy - mainly the classical piano repertoire of Bach, Chopin and Rachmaninov - and gives it the soft shoe jazz shuffle. While the overall effect is dazzling, one can't help get the feeling it was written with the Frenchman's tongue firmly in his cheek.

Villa Lobos is another master showman and his Prelude No1, part of a series written for Spanish guitar legend Andres Segovia, sets a technically gruelling benchmark which Thacker more than met in this virtuosic performance.

The jazz piano trio introduced a more laid-back atmosphere with some standards by the Brazilian king of song Antonio Carlos Jobim including Oscar Peterson's arrangement of Wave, the slow samba Modinha, featuring some smouldering bass playing by Caribe, and A Felicidade. All that was missing were a few escapees from Strictly Come Dancing to wriggle their hips across the stage.



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