Gig Review:
Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble - The Road To Bop,
The Hideaway, Streatham, London SW16, Saturday, 22nd October 2011
Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble -
The Road To Bop

(Pre-show talk and gig)

The Hideaway
2 Empire Mews, Stanthorpe Road, Streatham, London SW16 2ED
Saturday, 22nd October 2011, 7pm


Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble :

Gilad Atzmon - alto & soprano sax, clarinet
Frank Harrison - piano
Yaron Stavi - bass
Eddie Hick - drums

Date of Review: 2011/10/24

PR Photo of Gilad Atzmon & The OHE
Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble - The Road To Bop,
The Hideaway, Streatham, London SW16, Saturday, 22nd October 2011

The Hideaway in Streatham was a venue entirely new to me. Contrary to expectations, it proved extremely easy to reach from Central London - less than twenty minutes from London Bridge Station, then a two minute walk from Streatham Station. And what a fabulous venue it proved! The staff at the Hideaway couldn't be more welcoming, friendly and helpful. As for the place itself, it is extremely spacious (no tables crammed closely together, you can actually breathe!), attractive, welcoming, has a capacity of some two hundred, and has comfortable and cozy seating areas for non-diners. The view of the stage is good from just about anywhere.

The stage area of the Hideaway is generous by club standards. Sound engineering is excellent, and the acoustics are superb. The baby grand is one of the very best in town.

As for atmosphere, the Hideaway's got plenty, and it's just great. It is not surprising at all that the Hideaway won the Parliamentary Jazz Award for Best Jazz Venue.

But now to last Saturday night's Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble - The Road To Bop itself. Slated as a concert with a pre-show talk by Gilad Atzmon on the topic of how bop changed his life and eventually led to his latest scholarly literary work, The Wandering Who? (reviewed here), this proved an irresistible combination.

With the talk scheduled for 7.30, Atzmon and a small number of early arrivals assembled closely around a few


tables in the Hideaway's smaller back room just after seven. An intimate discussion developed between Atzmon and the small crowd gathered around him on some of the topics covered by The Wandering Who?, while more and more people started arriving.

By 7.30, the small crowd had grown into a much larger one, and Atzmon commenced his talk on the subject of The Road To Bop, with more people still arriving and pretty nearly filling the room. The talk progressed from Atzmon's discovery of Bird (Charlie Parker) and his burgeoning ambitions to play jazz, with the associated dawning that greatness was not an exclusively Jewish attribute as he had been taught, and how jazz began to re-shape his life through the impact it had on his ethical and philosophical thinking, to the influence this ultimately exerted upon his music (with a few practical demonstrations along the way), and on to the latest fruits of Atzmon's ethical development in The Wandering Who?. After covering salient points of his latest book, Atzmon opened up the session to a question and answer discussion.

Throughout, Atzmon was very much at his ease, speaking with great fluency and eloquence. (He seems to cope better and better with his natural shyness these days.) The talk and discussion were an excellent introduction to to Atzmon's political and ethical views and convictions for those not familiar with them at some depth, and still stimulating for those that were. If you haven't caught one of these The Road To Bop gigs yet and want to discover 'what makes Atzmon tick,' you should try and catch one.

The Hideaway's main room was by now filling up rapidly, with only very few seats left vacant by the time the first set got underway.

Already a few bars into the first set, it became evident that this was going to be an outstanding, even exceptional performance. Throughout, Messrs. Atzmon, Harrison, Stavi and Hick had one on the edge of one's seat, with the tension and excitement being built up more and more. Even the ensemble playing - it really does not get any better than this! - was right on the edge, and the soloing all round even more so.

The improvs by Atzmon and Harrison were more fiery, fiercer than ever, constantly pushing the envelope, completely taking one's breath away. Stavi kept pace with some equally stunning bass solos, while drummer Hick has developed into an amazing phenomenon that also simply has one gasping.

The material covered Gilad Atzmon & The OHE's tenth anniversary album from last year, The Tide Has Changed, though mostly in more or less different arrangements, as well as some very interesting new material. Atzmon's scat vocal solo on Salt Peanuts at the end of Re-Arranging The 20th Century gets ever more exciting and breathtaking with each new gig, and it practically brought the house down last Saturday night.

As with any Atzmon & The OHE performance, you never hear exactly the same thing twice. They keep evolving at such  break-neck  speed  that, a  few  short  months,  even


weeks, apart they sound almost completely new. But that is only as it should be with artists of this calibre.

Drummer Eddie Hick's style still keeps evolving at a phenomenal pace and really deserves special mention. What is particularly noticeable is that he increasingly frequently makes his traps sound remarkably tabla-like at times, to spectacular effect. You just have to admire this brilliant young musician, while at the same time wondering what is yet to come from him!

Saturday night's Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble - The Road To Bop was, as perhaps each succeeding gig, their most exciting yet, the tension being palpable and almost unbearable. As indeed was the sheer beauty and brilliance of this exhilarating performance. It is getting harder and harder to describe Atzmon & The OHE with sufficiently superlative attributes, and one might as well not try anymore. One anxiously awaits a slip-up, perhaps, but this also seems in vain.

Suffice to sum up, perhaps, by saying that Gilad Atzmon & The Orient House Ensemble - The Road To Bop at the Hideaway was the mother of the mother of all gigs. Until their next gig!


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