Marius Neset

The Capstone Theatre
17th April 2015

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

The dapper Norwegian dude was back in town for his second outing at the Capstone in a couple of years, tonight showcasing his new album Pinball. Neset, a virtuoso on the jazz scene all over Europe, fronted with his fabled saxophones a group which comprised Magnus Hjorth (piano), Petter Eldh (bass), Jim Hart (vibes) and Josh Blackmore (drums).

Impeccable in his striking white blazer and blond swept back hair, he started quietly after a vibes intro, his fuggy tenor sax matching the mood. The rest of the band joined in with some generic stuff; huff and puff strumming from the bass beside some mellow drums and symbols from Blackmore, before Marius was let out of his cage.

As the evening's soundscape developed there was little to indicate which track was being played, but that did not detract from the enjoyment factor.

Soon there was a wall of sound, Hart's vibes whirring with Eldh handclapping his bass, before it went into soporific mode, laconic and sultry music, resuscitated by another all in saxophone assault. Not yet thirty-years-old, his prolific output, composed as well as played by Neset, is very grown up, often producing an amorphous mass of edgy sounds, like the blast that took us to the interval.

The second half started with solos from the rest of the band, the subdued stage lighting adding to the colour of the music, with the vibes again cutting it above the rest, before soprano sax took over and went on and on and on; Petter Eldh's bass joined in an exquisite duo of sexy mid-range jazz echoing the artwork on the cover of the new CD, on sale downstairs.

Next, some tinkling piano from Hjorth accompanied a sax intermezzo, before a taut all in web of accomplished playing with staccato blowing and contrived vibes to finish: a bit too soapy perhaps.

This mellifluously Scandinavian take from a band seriously together continued with Neset's virtuoso grasp of instrument and sound in a monstrous solo outpouring.

The gig climaxed with an encore, a riotous wall of noise allowing enough latitude for some histrionic bass. The collective bows were well received by the audience at the end, but there could have been a bigger crowd in to see the 'new' Jan Garbarek, before he is off on his travels again around Europe.

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