The Scotsman, review: Lammermuir Festival, Simon Thacker's Ritmata

By David Kettle
Published on Monday 17 September 2012

****

For a single day, joked artistic co-director Hugh Macdonald in his concert introduction, the Lammermuir Festival had turned little Dunbar into the guitar capital of the world.

The day concluded with an informal evening of guitar jazz and contemporary music in the unlikely setting of Belhaven Fruit Farm.

Stars of the show were East Lothian-born guitarist Simon Thacker with his jazz quartet Ritmata, who brought striking energy and wit to an unusual and eclectic couple of sets. Thacker is clearly a keen musical traveller: his jazz arrangements took in Azerbaijan, Brazil, Thessaloniki and 13th-century Spain. But what unified these contrasting pieces were the group’s tight ensemble and driving rhythmic energy – although the audience had a hard time tapping their feet along to Thacker’s sparky, ever-changing rhythms.

A couple of numbers based on the medieval Cantigas de Santa Maria combined ancient-sounding bare harmonies with beautifully liquid playing from Thacker, and his Alim Qasimov arrangement became a funky, exotic-sounding romp.

The concert was a fitting conclusion to a day of guitar celebration.