Concert Review: E17 Large Ensemble at Kings Place

E17 Large Ensemble (Kings Place, Hall Two-The Base. 31 May 2014, Review by Filiz Taylan Yuzak)


Photo credit: Özgür Yüzak

E17 Large Ensemble a jazz quartet plus eight wind instruments. The band is based in Walthamstow, giving rise to the name of the band. The ensemble was formed in 2009 by saxophonist Carlos Lopez-Real and pianist John Turville for a performance to open the Walthamstow Jazz Festival, and the band has been continuing its experimental jazz odyssey since then.

My favourite song was Oak Hill, with a laid-back feel, and leading towards a peaceful, heart-warming piano solo. Posy for Rosie was another great piece, written by Josh Kemp for his daughter. Flutes created a joyful and playful atmosphere.

The second set brought on vocalist Brigitte Beraha,  always such a happy performer. Sketches of Anatolia included just one song inspired by Turkey / Turkish, Neden?, meaning ‘why?’ a setting of a poem by Ercan Akcay, a poet from Istanbul. This was a new commission especially written for Saturday’s performance. It was “the highlight of the concert” and “exotic”, we were told. This composition by pianist Hans Koller was premiered in this concert with enthusiasm, but with an English accent. Here is a little sample of the English translation:

“Why are the stars in the sky far away and alien?
The glint in eyes appears friendly
Why does the furious sea hurt my bones?
My red shroud melts in the waves
Southwest steps in then and ruins my flesh
Then maybe you’ll understand.. why?”

*** E17 Large Ensemble:

John Turville piano, director
Brigitte Beraha voice
Jez Franks guitar
Dave Manington bass
Nick Smalley drums
Robbie Robson, Hugh Pascall, Tom Allan trumpets
Tori Freestone tenor sax, flute
Carlos Lopez-Real alto sax, flute, clarinet
Josh Kemp tenor sax, soprano sax
Alex Merritt tenor sax
Mick Foster baritone sax, bass clarinet

*** Filiz Taylan Yuzak is  a London-based Turkish writer who has a blog in Turkish

My review in London Jazz News is up here.

Bonga Makes You Feel Like Dancing!

Being one of the most important vocalists of Angola’s post-colonial period, Kuenda Bonga is a pioneer of Africanity: his music takes roots from Latin, African, Brazilian music traditions. Singer and songwriter Bonga’s story is as interesting as his music: he began his career as a professional football player in 1970s. Then during his trips abroad, he developed a resistance against Portuguese tyranny, both in his political behaviour and his musicianship, protesting Africa’s humiliation and misery in his songs of independence. This activism resulted in his exile in Europe. Since then he released more than 30 albums and has been travelling around the world to bring his message against violence.



The inspiring concert was Bonga’s first performance in Turkey: while he sings, he plays both congas and dikanza. The latter is an Angolan percussion instrument made out of grooved bamboo. Bonga’s warm but expressive voice is combined with his endless energy. His band accompanies him with drums, guitar, accordion and bass, with every band member singing back vocals.

Bonga gig (Photo: Filiz Taylan Yuzak)

Bonga gig (Photo: Filiz Taylan Yuzak)

What made the concert exciting was both the lively music and Bonga’s warm contact with the audience that he established right after the first song. He knows how to entertain and involve the audience while performing and enjoying his rhythmic music. Except one, the band only played up tempo songs. The audience which crowded the venue; answered it by smiling, clapping hands, accompanying the band and dancing all the time! Bonga, in exchange, has been very satisfied with the audience: he stated that he liked to play in Istanbul. In conclusion, it is possible to say that this infectious enthusiasm of the band led to an endorphin rush in the body of all the audience!