‘Played Twice’ is an event thought up by owner of Dalston venue Brilliant Corners , Amit Patel. Initially, it was about getting people together in a room and listening to jazz records. Musicians became interested and the idea to play the album live after listening was born.
This is how I got to be sitting in St Georges Church in Brighton doing something normally intimate and personal with around 400 other people. As part of the Brighton Fringe Festival, we were invited to listen to Miles Davis’s ‘A Kind of Blue’ and appreciate the nuances of the music, on vinyl, through a great sound system. Some people looked uncomfortable to start with but the tension was eased when Amit had to turn the record over and the music stopped abruptly with the zip of the needle and the sound of fluff being blown off.
After a brief interval, the band came on consisting of two members of the London based psychedelia, dub and jazz band The Invisible, Dave Okumu, guitar and Leo Taylor, drums. Also in the band were Nick Ramm, keys, Robert Stillman, tenor sax, Steve Aguelles, drums and Byron Wallen, trumpet. Byron had only joined the band that morning and when asked how long they had been practicing for this he replied ‘all our lives’.
The playing of the record was said to prepare people or ground them for the live act. It was brave to follow Miles Davis and John Coltrane and to start with I wondered whether the recorded album distracted from what the live band were doing. After the first track, I realised that, not only were they not trying to replicate, they had their own take on the album and their instruments had other things to say.
Byron’s solos were more urgent and vigorous and took the melancholy edge off ‘Blue in Green’. ‘Freddie the Freeloader’ was stretched and elongated in accordance with a person’s perception of time when listening to live music. An electric guitar gave a surprising addition to ‘All Blues’ making it more psychedelic with its spacey meanderings and echo effects.
As two separate halves, I thought the listening of the recording and live music worked well. I wasn’t sure whether the recording grounded me for the performance or highlighted too many contrasts. The question that came up was: what seminal album would you like to listen to and then have a live band play? Hmmmm…..