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  • irishtimes.com - Posted: February 29, 2012 @ 6:32 pm

    Videos from the 12 Points Jazz Festival, Porto

    Laurence Mackin

    At the recent 12 Points festival in Porto, while I was sunning myself, sampling the wares of local hostelries, and occasionally listening to some jazz, Cormac Larkin was doing some real work. Larkin writes jazz CD reviews for The Ticket and filmed all the concerts in the festival, which you can see here. Below are a selection of the first six concerts, the first three of which I missed, with excerpts from my reviews where relevant. Check out the blog’s earlier posts for the full reviews. The sound quality on these videos is excellent and much of the music and playing is exceptional.

    Thought Fox
    The Irish contingent this year at 12 Points was Thought-Fox, featuring Lauren Kinsella, Colm O’Hara, Michael Coady, Simon Roth and Tom Gibbs on piano.

    Big Blue
    Big Blue are a Finnish quartet, who stuck around for most of the festival and did a good job of stealing the show at the after-show free jam sessions in Café Labirinto. Kalevi Louhivori on trumpet is definitely a rising star of the jazz scene.

    De Bieren Gieren
    Ghent, Belgium was represented by De Beren Gieren, an old-school piano trio with plenty of groove and heavy on the classical influence. Word on the Porto streets was very positive towards their set.

    Hugo Carvalhais and Nebulosa
    The band are lead by double-bass player Carvalhais, but here he largely dictated the flow from the background allowing the other players to lead the way, from Gabriel Pinto on piano and keys to the intricate rhythms of Mario Costa on drums. It was saxophonist Liudas Mockunas who bossed everything into submission though, with his behemoths of solos.

    Livio Minafra
    One of the absolute standout surprises of the festival, Minafra’s music is thrilling and playful, with bursts of romantic classicism and an attempt to embody grand ideas into the very fabric of the songs. He attacks the piano in every way, from sheets of music with the density of diamonds but a lightness of touch in the writing, to flinging cables, CDs and anything else to hand into the bed of the instrument. His hands rarely slow to a blur, he pounds the keys with his feet and he only pauses to deliver explanations and musical philosophy in-between tracks that are brilliant, gnostic and pretty much impossible to follow. A joy to watch.

    World Service Project
    The closing session of day two saw UK act World Service Project boss the Casa da Musica stage. This was big, swaggery jazz played with passion, aggression, and no little humour. The band don’t take themselves too seriously on stage, but the music is honed and crafted to a fine degree. It was ear-bashingly loud in places; in the opening salvo drummer Neil Blandford sounded like he was channelling Slayer’s Dave Lombardo before settling into some slightly more restrained whipcrack grooves. The sax of Tim Ower and trombone of Ralph Clarkson jousted and feinted centre stage, deploying bursts of colour around each other with the piano lines of Dave Morecroft bringing direction while Conor Chapman solidified the groove and kept the package tight and dynamic.

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