Robert Castelli Boom Quartet

The Capstone Theatre
3rd October 2013

Reviewed by Joe Coventry

From Cat's Meow to Dog's Bollocks*

He arrived from Grimsby worn out and fed-up with having to drive on the wrong side of the road all day. Having acknowledged the thin crowd by peering, hand over eyes, into the stage lights pouring down on him we welcomed charismatic New Yorker and drummer Robert Castelli on stage. Alongside him were Switzerland's Nick Meier on guitar, from Perth, Australia, Brandon Allen on saxophone and bassist Davide Mantovani, all excellent soloists in their own right.

In diamond formation with the drummer at the rear and flanked by guitar and bass it was Allen's brilliant sax which fronted the band. They went straight into the music of Ornette Coleman to warm up. 'Brazilian flavoured 'Decisions, Decisions' was up next and there was more than a hint of Carlos Santana in the guitar.

The band played on in it's eclectic style of funky jazz that has been spiced with Eastern, Caribbean, Latin or African influences, as in 'Brazibbean Barbeque'.

Next followed The 'Cat's Meow' "this really is the D B"* mused Castelli, in frustration that not more people where here, but those present were not complaining.

The sax of Allen is able to register the totality of expression in spiky spurts of gutteral noise. Understated, but never out of it, Mantovani's bass strummed away and Meier's guitar flourishes increased as the polyrhythmic music expanded its passionate and soulful trajectory; Castelli's exuberant drums doing more than enough to join in.

'Sambawambawamba' allowed everyone to improvise to a complex, full bodied and driving piece which included a long drum solo to finish.

At the start of the second half it looked like there was a technical problem, but no, it was Castelli tuning up a Spanish guitar for a fabulous solo meditation. The evening sped on with more screech owl outpouring from the sax and with the guitar now fully in it's stride, the bass got it's inevitable solo as the leader smiled on, playing hand symbols.

'Destination Ground Zero' was a quieter moment for Allen, refecting on a bad night in Soho. 'African Dance' was redolent of Nelson Mandela's South Africa; egalitarian and heart warming and Montovani even took his coat off for the last number. Trouping off after warm applause, an encore in recognition of Castelli's daughter finally brought the normal house lights up.

It was a great evening; one squandered by those who stayed away. Castelli was though in high enough spirits signing CD's afterwards. The group are still on tour and are well worth catching up with.

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