Cloudrunner in situ, abroad
‘PRIMA VISTA’ with the BERGEN IMPRO-STORBAND 18/12/13 @Landmark, Bergen (Norway)
This Wednesday evening gave Bergen the last concert of the year from its resident Improvisation Big Band – a collective open to all musicians/artists who wish to practice and improve their improv skills as part of a large ensemble. I observed, pen in hand, as the band arrived at the venue – the non-profit Landmark café-bar, at the Bergen Kunsthall.
The band arranges semi-circular seating for themselves; they outnumber the audience 2:1. There is much discussion in Norwegian, with a smattering of English thrown in to the mix. Amps, big, medium, and small, are wheeled and carried out, a violin is produced, a double bass, a microphone’s cable uncoiled, a drum pattern is rehearsed upon an upturned cymbal, a MacBook is opened, a jazz aura pervades the atmosphere, the smell of orangey biscuits from the kitchen meets it before me in a calm front fed by spotlights, a saxophone reed is screwed tight.
Tinkering and murmuring, Christmas lights shine through canteen windows from the trees around the rippling pond’s edge, silent unknown strangers – in my mind.
An electronic pulse wave, a Theremin disguised as a matryoshka doll, an accidental folk tuning, a quiet pleasure in unity with voices turned low.
Bags, belt-buckles, fastenings, a leader pacing to-and-fro, cables from backstage – umbilical feeding wires – a crackle, a faltering playlist leaves a padded and corrugated partially sound-proofed room – a thoroughly modern space, save for ceiling hooks and history.
A bow held upright, an open CD case, laughter, a back-to-front chair as a table, a DIY orchestra, a new town, a mish-mash, a re-arranged space, a digital tone, a guitarists’ corner, the urge to paraphrase, the bubble of language, the dimming of lights, the band’s long-haired leader semi-acoustic sat between flute player and red-hat vocalist.
A mutant renegade thought, an emergence of collaboration, rodeos of emotion within me tamed by haircut helmets.
Quizzical jazz scales, lampe for defeckt . . .
Leafcutter John animated graphic score! Colour block notation, the first of three improvised recitals with projected YouTube graphics – pick a part and play – pick a colour, shape, or whatever, feel the flow, listen.
A telltale rhythm emerges during the last piece, exemplified by simple timely percussive trills and interludes, gifted professionalism from stringed quarters; the flute cuts through, sharp and abrasive, a backdrop of electronica most warming, a shortness and friendly-quiet typical of the city.