Live Review: Archipélagos. The Jazz Bar, Chambers Street, Edinburgh. Saturday 23 July 2022

Nowadays in Scotland it seems less often that we have the pleasure of hearing live a quality band of jazzers from the European Union, so it was a particular pleasure to hear Brussels-originating, Italian quintet and Maastricht Jazz Award 2020 finalists Archipélagos, invited over as part of this year’s Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival. (Italian jazz was
prominent at this year’s EJBF thanks to support from I-jazz and the Italian Institute.) Led by drummer – composer Francesca Remigi, many of their pieces were “inspired by socio-political injustices” and by the writings of various estimable cultural commentators such as Noam Chomsky, so it was a sometimes disturbing, but always interesting, gig.
Remigi reported that the trip over to Scotland had been somewhat arduous, nevertheless the band delivered an impressive two hours of modern jazz, with clear references to various non-jazz genres, each musician having their chance to offer some accomplished solos to a surprisingly reticent audience.
The melody was generally held by clarinettist Federico Calcagno while vocalist, Luxembourger Claire Marie Parsons, also on electronics, fronted the more atmospheric, other-worldly sections.
Band leader and accomplished kit player Remigi introduced the pieces some of which included recorded media commentary. One such, especially disquieting piece, was inspired by a mass shooting in the US which had taken place while Remigi was based there.
Completing the band were Filippo Rinaldo, impressive on piano, likewise Stefano Zambon on double bass, with their alto saxophonist friend Gianluca Zanello (who appeared elsewhere in the EJBF 2022 in Calcagno’s own band) augmenting the group for the second set.
This is a jazz band for our time, that will likely be a fixture on the European festivals circuit and hopefully will be seen on our island again.

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