Tele-Port and AKU! A live review, yesterday 24th March 2023, at St Bride’s centre, Edinburgh.

Whoever says that diversity doesn’t further creativity, should have attended yesterday’s concert, the opening night of Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival’s mini-fest, SPARK: a celebration of Scottish and Luxembourgish contemporary Jazz. The two bands playing, AKU! and Tele-Port each consisted of artists whose talents seemed to contrast with and complemented the others in their band, producing idiosyncratic sound tapestries that heaved with musical ideas.
First on was Scottish Band AKU! a confident, relatively young band that fuses Jazz, Dance and World rhythms into a darkly theatrical and pugilistic (and heaven knows, there’s a lot to feel exercised about these days) Doom Jazz.
Centre stage was trombonist Liam Shortall who seemed the (relatively) still point between ‘bad boy’ saxophonist Harry Weir and creative drummer Graham Costello. Spectral openings quickly evolved into phat dance beats, high-octane drum sallies when Costello seemed to be, octopus-like, on every part of his kit simultaneously and proving once and for all that a drum kit need not merely be a support for other instruments. And all of this heightened by brief but intense sax improvisations from Weir, these often embellished with electronic effects. Hopefully a second album won’t be too long in the making, in the meantime their debut ‘Blind Fury’, previously reviewed by yours truly, might be enough to keep you going.
But one question: where were all the young people and young adults? AKU!’s sound: brash, grooving intensity leavened by moments of eldritch minimalism seems made for them!
Much the same might be said regarding the second band of the evening, award-winning Tele-Port. Brought from Luxembourg thanks to Kultur lx Arts Council Luxembourg, though elder brothers to the AKU! crew, their music had a similar youthful, not-for-the-faint-hearted energy and insistence on being heard.
In Tele-Port, like AKU!, it seemed possible to hear a number of musical influences, synthesised into a powerful whole. Their new album, one track of which was played tonight, is due out this May and is doubtless eagerly awaited by their growing number of fans.
Also similar to AKU!, Tele-Port band members seemed to beautifully complement each other. Drummer Jeff Herr’s Rock muscle with Pol Belardi’s steady and sensitive bass allowed Jérôme Klein’s keys to shine. Klein presented as almost casual, yet his precision and delicacy, together with highly effective electronic effects were a highlight.
Then, centre-front stage was Zhenya Strigalev, improvising saxophonist-extraordinaire. His often explosive, high velocity sax improvisations over the Herr-Belardi-Klein backdrop was conclusive proof that heterogeneity within Jazz has to be one of its cardinal and hopefully enduring strengths.

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