Gig Review:
Nicolas Meier - Album Launch For From Istanbul To Ceuta With A Smile
At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho, London W1, Tuesday 19th March 2013
Nicolas Meier - Album Launch For From Istanbul To Ceuta With A Smile


Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho
10 Dean St., London W1D 3RW
Tuesday 19th March 2013, 8.30pm


Feat.

Nicolas Meier Group :

Nicolas Meier - acoustic guitar, glissentar, baglama
Lizzie Ball - violin
Pat Bettison - bass & harmonica
Asaf Sirkis - drums
James Pearson - piano
Demi Garcia - percussion


Date of Review: 2013/03/20


All illustrations by and © Alban Low


 
Nicolas Meier - Album Launch For From Istanbul To Ceuta With A Smile
At The Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho, London W1, Tuesday 19th March 2013

Nicolas Meier - Album Launch For From Istanbul To Ceuta With A Smile at the Pizza Express Jazz Club Soho had promised to be something special if the album was anything to go by. Even if two of the players on the latter, Gilad Atzmon and Bernard Gregor-Smith, were missing, obviously necessitating changes to the arrangements.

Img. of Nicolas Meier
Nicolas Meier

And true to expectations, the first set got underway in spectacular fashion. The three parts of the album were each played segued, which worked superbly. Meier, throughout both sets, let rip with some spectacular pyrotechnics that at times stopped only just short of an exercise in masturbation, as so often encountered with the solos of some rock guitarists. Unfortunately, the sound on this occasion seemed a little less than perfectly balanced - most unusual for the Pizza - and at times it was difficult to hear Lizzie Ball's superb violin or even James Pearson's outstanding piano above Meier's guitar and Demi Garcia's percussion and Asaf Sirkis' drums. Sitting almost right next to the percussion may not have helped, either.

Throughout both sets, Meier amply demonstrated why he is probably the most outstanding and original jazz guitarist of his generation, and opened the second set with an exquisite piece for solo guitar.

Img. of James Pearson
James Pearson

Pearson, one of our leading pianists, likewise showed his mettle with some brilliant solos, as did Ms. Ball, one of the very finest young violinists on the British scene.

Bass man Pat Bettison delighted particularly also with his haunting, exquisite chromatic harmonica, of which he has to be acknowledged to be the undisputed supremo in this country. He just has to be heard to be believed, such is his excellence on this difficult instrument. Bettison just takes my breath away every time.


Img. of Pat Bettison
Pat Bettison

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Messrs. Sirkis and Garcia were having an absolute ball playing off each other, duetting, and at times virtually duelling. Sirkis, well, he's just Sirkis, the finest drummer/percussionist of our time and he proved why he has earned this status. He visibly enjoyed himself, letting rip with some breath-taking solos that stunned. The enjoyment carried over into the audience. As did that of world-class percussionist Garcia, and his superb solos were a joy, too. His extensive rig included cajon, various hand drums, cymbals, carefully judged, never over-used chimes, and a number of other percussion instruments.

Img. of Lizzie Ball
Lizzie Ball
Img. of Asaf Sirkis
Asaf Sirkis

If the musicians were having fun, so most decidedly were the audience. This was among some of the most enthusiastic and appreciative crowds I have yet experienced at the Pizza, without being too distracting. A very happy crowd, and a wonderful atmosphere. One could not have wished for better.

A great pity were the absence of the cello of Gregor-Smith, and especially the irreplaceable clarinet and sax of Atzmon, but Ms. Ball did an admirable job of trying to fill in for them as it were, with Pearson further supporting most wonderfully.

All in all, Nicolas Meier - Album Launch For From Istanbul To Ceuta With A Smile proved an exciting, high energy and most enjoyable experience. In fact, enough excitement and tension there for two gigs!

The soloing all round was never less than amazing and kept one on the edge of one's seat, while the ensemble playing too was sheer perfection.

Somehow, all the players stole the show in turn.

One could hardly have asked for more. Except perhaps that it should not end.

Img. of Demi Garcia
Demi Garcia

And it would not! Two encores were demanded most vociferously, and given, and even then a third was asked for before Nicolas Meier - Album Launch For From Istanbul To Ceuta With A Smile came to its inevitable end. A performance that will long haunt the memory.

In closing - a big thank you to Rainlore's World's Artist in Residence Alban Low for the use of his brilliant illustrations of the gig and all his hard work in preparing them. His sketching hand was flying over his pad like a demon! To find out more about Alban Low's work and to see more examples of his exquisite art and to get a catalogue of posters and prints, please visit his web site and his blogs, Art Of Jazz and Art Of Folk.


© 2013 Rainlore's World/Rainlore. All rights reserved.

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