"The thing is, we just want you to gag on our jazz," offered electric bassist, Colin Sutton as a revealing insight into the irreverent manifesto for this evening’s entertainment. It featured ten members, arranged into three ensembles, of the iconoclastic LIMA (Leeds Improvised Music Association) Collective. This was self-conscious music born from the most rebellious strains of jazz’s D.N.A.
Minghe Morte, a group that systematically deconstructs the tenor saxophone trio, opened proceedings. Their sound fuses jazz, funk, electronica, punk and death metal in a maelstrom of creative activity. It conveyed the impression of an experiment in human-computer interaction that teased the audiences’ sensory perception of the sounds created as phrases were bent, refracted, reverberated, looped and delayed. Dark, prowling, funk bass lines by Sutton intermixed with drummer, Chris Bussey’s hyper-active rock beat. Saxophonist, Christophe de Bezenac intelligently executed succinct funk-tinged Brecker-esque melodies with unambiguous post-Coltrane ‘sheets of sound’ muscularity.
Andrew Plummer’s World Sanguine Report plays English folk music burnished by a simmering resentment and a toxic malaise. Plummer’s sonorous vocals and brooding performance captured all the despondency and antagonism of the most disaffected and alienated elements of Western counter-culture. Matthew Bourne on Fender Rhodes struck a path somewhere between Sun-Ra and Keith Jarrett, while trumpeter, Alex Bonney contributed with regal, engaging melodies that betrayed both Latin and British folk influences.
Slayer and Napalm Death are hardly familiar names to most jazz audiences, but their progenies may well become so. Bilbao Syndrome, ever the entertainers, entered dressed head to toe in florescent white jump suites supplemented by reflector aviators. The electronic effects were heavy and intense. Bussey, Sutton and Bourne powered forth with vigorous bass lines, domineering metal beats and Arkestra inspired expressionism. Electric guitarist, Chris Sharkey built the harmonic tension with devious rock/metal artistry that brought a vociferously supportive section of the audience to their feet. Plummer excelled as death-jazz vocalist extraordinaire, displaying a formidable ferocity to glorious effect, with snarls, growls and guttural shrieks.
‘Bilbao Syndrome’ names an epidemic transmitted by civic enthusiasts who believe that iconic museums are the shortcut to successfully transforming a rust belt city into a Mecca of creativity. Needless to say it has its doubters. However, it cannot be doubted that these bands represent one of Europe’s most vibrant, creative and energetic music scenes.