Bennie’s band went first. Bennie was involved in some major movements in the late sixties and seventies - Bitches brew, On the corner, Headhunters, Mwandishi – so we could expect a more spacey presentation. We got it. Just to emphasise the approach, the concert started with a string quartet. Then into a concert of heavy grooves, touches of free or at least lengthy cacophony, string quartet intros and washes, plenty of solos including a Ponty-like jazz violin, and an end on a solid funk. The tunes were originals from Bennie’s pen. Jewel of the Lotus and Mapo were spacey ‘70s jazz from early ECM releases. Equal justice was a ballad where Bennie played a slow ostinato of long and somewhat atonal intervals on piano. The final tune was a solid jazz funk that livened up to finish the set. This is probably the era that most influenced me in jazz so I was entranced by the music. The students were playing to their best, aware but smiling, and the music was alluring and physical. I especially took note of the unusual sound of El’s electric violin, which she played with considerable authority and with those characteristic intervals due to the tuning in fifths. Daniel’s guitar solo, especially his overt cutting blues and repeated notes against the funk, was classic Kim: outlandish but convincing. Jordan dropped into slap for the funk and let loose some devastating triplet slaps. I enjoyed watching the string quartet enjoying temporary freedom from dots during several group improv passages. Nice concert and earthy and physical.
Bennie Maupin (soprano sax, piano) led a student band comprising Andy Butler (piano), Matt Handel (alto), Tom Sly (trumpet), Patrick Langdon (trombone), Daniel Kim (guitar), Henry Rasmussen (drums), Llewellyn Osborne (jazz violin) and the Childers String Quartet of Tobias Chisnall (violin), Estelita Rae (violin), Anthony de Battista (viola) and Julia Janiszewski (cello).