23 September 2019


It was a quick transition, but we’ve arrived in Milan and what do you know, another festival. This one is Mito Settembre Musica. We had three choices and one was easy walking distance, so made for us, but our preference anyway. Third Coast Percussion playing minimalism by Philip Glass, Steve Reich, Devonté Hynes, Gavin Bryars and David Skidmore, one member of the band. TCP are an American percussion quartet out of Chicago with a Grammy to their name, so capable and respected. Also entertaining and interactive, in the sense that David, obviously not an Italian speaker, managed to introduce the band and its tunes in Italian, if with very authentic accents on the names in English. Admittedly he was reading from a phone for some extended passages, but he had some knowledge of Italian if a strong accent. They played the mind-boggling complex rhythms and polyrhythms with commitment and attention, of course, but also with clear communication and enjoyment. They moved around and through instruments, played tuned or not, were obviously well choreographed to the extent of turning music for each other in busy passages. And the music was fascinating and complex and deliriously polyrhythmic and I love that. But oddly I felt I knew their characters by the end of the concert, or rather much earlier. Strangely clearly these were four people, not just musicians, with characters and presentations that were clear in a way that I don’t think I’ve ever experienced in concert before. The outgoing ones and the more introverted; the one who virtually stared at a current partner (some jazz players do that, I wish I could); the one who spoke in Italian and composed; the one who was everywhere at all times and seemed to have particular chops. Actually, they all did have great chops. There was humour like the encore that started with them playing large wooden hair combs and continued with a music box fed with its own pianola-like reel. There was drama with one gong and I thought I heard a synth drone at the start but that may have been soft percussion for something later was just that and there movement as players switched instruments across stage and concentrations when they played one marimba (was this all four on one?) from front and back. And there were jagged sequences and unrelenting tensions and also soft settlement and beauteous percussive sounds. And those deliriously deliciously complex polyrhythms throughout. Wow, loved it.

Third Coast Percussion comprised David Skidmore, Robert Dillon, Peter Martin and Sean Connors (percussion). They performed for RAIRadio3 and MITO SettemberMusica in the Shakespeare room at Teatro Elfo Puccini in Milan.

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