Elliot Galvin Trio Concert and Workshop Review *Mahrajazz special*
By: Bshara Rezik
The P300 wave is a positive deflection in the human event-related potential. It is most commonly elicited in an “oddball” paradigm when a subject detects an occasional “target” stimulus in a regular train of standard stimuli. -Source
Control P300 and you control the world. Well, maybe not the world, but at least your audience of listeners. This was one of the main themes of both the workshop and the live concert by Elliot Galvin Trio in Mahrajazz festival in Haifa. Well, maybe the term “P300” was never mentioned, but they used a ton of other ways to describe the thing, all leading to the same conclusion: In order for your music to capture the audience, you have got to build expectations, and then break them (See this past review for an opposite example).
The second subject was light an shade – contrasts. It had to do with the former, but it was described a bit differently – build tension, and then release. Tension, and release.
The third subject was abstraction of ideas. They gave the example of the human heart, how it would be disgusting in its realistic form, and unclear in an over-abstracted form (a red blob), but there is this perfect level of abstraction which we understand as a heart. I think this example, brought by the (oh so amazing) drummer Corrie Dick, sounding like he had heard it in a Netflix design show, was not quite precise. It just worked well with his heart T-shirt that he wore that night. The idea, if I may interpret, was that of variations over a musical theme. The levels of abstraction and/or complication of the theme can create a dynamic range of musical harmonies and a wide melodic vocabulary, while keeping the audience in and out of the main musical theme.
The workshop was nice and had a lot of “ah” moments. The musical bits they did were also good, “come to the show” they said after we asked for more.
Night came, Kabareet – here we come. The show started somewhere around 10:00. From that moment on, I had a long, amazing dream, from which I woke up at around 1:00 am. The live show was simply one of the best jazz concerts I had ever seen. Elliot Galvin is a free spirited composer and a piano virtuoso. The band managed to have the audience enchanted and hanging on the edges of their seats throughout the whole concert. My friend was just telling me before the concert “I don’t really know much about jazz, that’s why I don’t listen much to jazz”. I said to him “If the music is good, the last thing you need in order to enjoy it is knowledge”. Well, it wasn’t exactly the philosophical moment I illustrated here – add a couple of alcoholic drinks and the hot humid weather of Haifa and you’ll get the right scene mood. Anyway. Elliot Galvin Trio (EGT) proved that to be right. Some music is very sophisticated and requires your brain to work extra hours. Some music is simple and catchy. Some music, though, just moves you from the inside out, creates a turbulence inside you and bangs you against the room walls. Harmonic oddities, coupled with almost humorous rhythms and catchy motifs create the perfect environment for a sophisticated and liberated musical experience.
The highlight of the show in my opinion were 3 pieces: Tipoo Tiger, which was inspired, as Elliot explained to the audience, by a music box shaped like a tiger eating a british soldier in the then colonized India (the audience of course applauded the tiger). The piece combines a small coconut marimba sounding an off-tune simple pattern to accompany the rest of the band.
Another is Punch and Judy, in which they used a tape recorded as an instrument – playing with the tape itself, rewinding, slowing it, etc. This tune, which was also explained in the workshop, is a playful piece which takes the audience on a jumpy and fun journey.
In another piece, which I couldn’t catch the name of, Elliot puled out a gaffer tape, unrolled it to the beat of the drums and bass, taped the piano strings, and played a somewhat muffled piano. It might have been somewhat “gimmicky” but hey. It worked. It was playful and unorthodox.
To conclude – a small venue like Kabareet, together with the atmosphere of an indie festival arranged by Palestinians, made this small intimate concert a truly historic event.