November 19, 2020
Streamed live from the Barbican, London A leading light of London’s jazz scene gave an extraordinary demonstration of his clarinet expertise, adding nuance to Copland and Stravinsky
Shabaka Hutchings/Britten Sinfonia/Paterson review - tangible exhilaration
If Aaron Copland enjoyed writing his Clarinet Concerto for Benny Goodman, he would have loved the chance to write for Shabaka Hutchings. Mainly on saxophone, Hutchings has been shaking up UK jazz with bands including Sons of Kemet and Shabaka and the Ancestors, and had been due to curate a weekend at the Barbican earlier this year. But here he was, performing to an empty auditorium as part of the online EFG London jazz festival, in a Britten Sinfonia concert showcasing him on clarinet.
And Hutchings contributed some extraordinary playing, most strikingly in the solo improvisation with which he followed his coiled-spring performance of Stravinsky’s Three Pieces for Solo Clarinet. The music grew spiralling up into a syncopated dance full of little gaps, as if in search of a partner; then, for minutes on end, it was an unbroken stream, whirling around a central pitch, Hutchings’ cheeks puffing in a display of circular-breathing technique that will have had woodwind nerds in ecstasies and everyone else on the edge of their seat.
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