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The Steve Reid Innovation Award Showcase

December 1, 2015

Last Thursday I impulse bought a couple of tickets to the Steve Reid Innovation Award Showcase hosted by PRS and the Steve Reid Foundation.

The tickets were £5 each and four bands were on the bill. That’s £1.25 per band I worked out with my exceptional maths skills.

I had no prior knowledge about any of the performers – apart from Moses Boyd who had just won a MOBO with Binker Golding for ‘Binker and Moses’.

The night kicked off with what seemed like a very understated drummer by the name of Sarathy Korwar. I’d never heard of him before, but he started off his performance on his own on the stage and was then joined by the incredible Italian guitarist, Giuliano Modarelli. Giuliano has a gorgeous, delicate but controlled and strong way with his guitar. It’s totally different to a lot of guitar I’ve heard recently and he, Sarathy and their pianist played very well together. Shabaka Hutchings was another addition to the band, and his gorgeous tone really brought another dimension to the band’s sound and vibrations. Their performance was probably my favourite of the night.

Next up was Hector Plimmer. With a much more ambient beginning, I wondered whether I’d actually be that into Hector. He’s a drummer and producer. The lights turned down low and he had circular visuals going on behind him. Well, I was wrong. Hector’s music was great, but his performance was excellent. His tracks were: ‘Moon’, ‘Sun’ and then ‘Earth’. The visuals really gave his music a context that gave it a deep meaning, and each track built on the last so that by the time we got to ‘Earth’, it felt like we really got Hector and what he’s about. He’s certainly really talented musically as he used the mic with heavy reverb to create lower, long sounds beneath his drumming.

Moses Boyd came third. At this point I began to wonder if there was a theme with the drummers. Moses was completely different, though, despite also being a producer and a drummer. His technical ability is striking and he used really soulful sounds ending on a really deep sample, the details of which I’ve sadly forgotten now. With an MPC and a small acoustic and electric drum set he played music that really showed the depth of his jazz roots, knowledge, skill and talent.

Last up was Lady Vendredi and the Vendettas, who was in one word: TERRIFYING. But I think that’s what she meant to be. Her music was the most commercial, but her personality was huge and her confidence abounding. She reminded me instantly of Janelle Monae. Watching her videos afterwards she makes more sense. After watching her videos when I returned home, she reminded me less of Lady Gaga, but in her imagery I couldn’t help thinking of Sun Ra’s 1970 film, Space Is The Place. While her music wasn’t really my cup of tea, I think she’s fantastic and love what she’s doing artistically, pushing boundaries.

So overall, at £1.25 for each band, the whole night was a ridiculous bargain.

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