Mario Caribe Quintet and Friend, Bruichladdich Hall, Isle of Islay – September 13, 2015

Concert review by F Mactaggart.

A mere thirty feet from the shore of Loch Indaal, so regularly blasted by the slat and peat -tinged westerlies, the hall at Bruichladdich (pronounced Bruuk-la-dee) displays a sad exterior, yet the smiling crowd inside are bright with dram-warmed expectancy. Well used to hosting Scottish ceilidhs, tonight the hall’s party atmosphere ignites the moment stellar bassist Mario Caribe and his band stroll on stage.

Caribe, born in Sao Paolo, Brazil, but based in Scotland since his student days, is nowadays ubiquitous in Scottish jazz, but perhaps best known for his role in exuberant jazz-folk outfits, Salsa Celtica and Moishe’s Bagel. For the last 17 years, Caribe has proven a cheering and intelligent presence at the annual Lagavulin Islay Jazz Festival (LIJF).

Run by Islay Arts Association and Jazz Scotland, the LIJF may be little but succeeds in attracting big names such as this year’s bill toppers, Courtney Pine and Zoe Rahman. The variety of venues around the island adds interest: a Gaelic college, village halls and distilleries, even a RSPB hut.

Tonight the band works their mainly self-penned programme, displaying post-Trane sensibility, whilst interspersing slower lyrical pieces, and consistently evidencing successful integration of Brazilian and Scottish influences. Caribe leads with relaxed authority, generously allowing each musician ample solo opportunity.

Introduced by Caribe as “the most handsome jazz saxophonist in Scotland”, sharp suited Konrad Wiszniewski improvises with smooth dexterity, to vocal approval.

Accomplished guitarist and stalwart of Scottish folk and jazz scenes, Kevin Mackenzie meanwhile offers complex, textural explorations, with gentle aplomb, whilst the  band’s invited friend, Flamboyant trumpeter Colin Steele displays improv pyrotechnics which likewise demand close attention.

An Islay favourite, Brian Kellock gives deep pleasure with his familiar fluid virtuosity, before the gig powers towards a rousing finale fueled by rock-influenced man of the evening, dynamo drummer Alyn Cosker.



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