Gig Review: Ka Safar at More Coffee Live

Looking forward to escaping the humdrum of Christmas music, Musicvein headed over to More Coffee last Friday to find out what Ka Safar was all about.

A quick Google search yielded a couple of YouTube videos but nothing much, so in terms of expectation I didn’t really know what to expect, except it would be a Jazz gig.

The nine performing musicians, showing their appreciation for the Coltranes, Joe Henderson and Mulatu Astatke began with their interpretation of an Alice Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders piece – ‘Journey in Satchidananda’. During the opening psychedelic movement, Narrator Tony Booth took to the mic making rather odd bird sounds while dressed in a gold bird costume? was he an eagle? I wasn’t sure but the wings flapping across the tiny performance space was a little off putting. If that wasn’t enough, out of nowhere came a crashing of cymbals and thundering of drums as a raucous Allatson rode into the scene, backed by Harp and Bass! The best part of that performance came as the tune melded into ‘Earth’ by Joe Henderson/Alice Coltrane, the crowd being momentarily wowed by the dexterous Hari, drifting you into a false sense of security before the disconcerting drums returned forcing the Sax players to compete to be heard. A glance around the room to scenes of tissue stuffed ears and strategic ear coverings confirmed what I was thinking.

Now, you have to be open with experimental/avant garde jazz as it’s formed largely on improvisation. It’s all about the individual elements dipping in and out of the harmony, having their time to shine and this is the ethos of Ka Safar. Though their roots be set in many forms of Jazz, they like to keep things free. The only problem with this, is that the band have to have a close relationship and respect for each others craft-man ship and at times I really didn’t get this throughout the night – which was a real shame.

Where you’d expect the drummer to set the pace and tone of the set, his going off on a tangent and overshadowing everyone actually left it to Lopes on Double Bass to do the job! A knowing wink and nod to others as he kept the undertone brought Read, Reader and Dady into play.

The only noted times that everyone played nicely was in original compositions ‘Satoru’ and ‘Pyramid’ – though I wasn’t keen on the incoherent narration in ‘Satoru’ – actually getting to hear Dady take lead before Read took over made for a refreshing, more calming change of pace, I even heard the beautiful Harp!

The New Orleans vibe that Ka Safar threw in at the end of ‘The Creator Has a Master Plan’ by Pharoah Sanders – also really got me moving in my seat.

I think it’s fair to point out that perhaps my review of Ka Safar at More Coffee Live will have no bearing on the gig you see them perform in the future, for this form of jazz has no limitations on creativity. Every time you see Ka Safar will be a totally new experience.


‘Pyramid’ by Ka Safar is available to buy now over at Bandcamp.

Ka Safar: band members

  • Lee Boyd Allatson – drums
  • Kulvir Bhambra – percussion
  • Fino Lopes – Double bass
  • Tony Booth – Narrator
  • Miranda Booth – Harp
  • Hari Trivedi – Tabla
  • Jon Read – Flugel Horn/Trumpet
  • Gary Reader – Sax
  • Ben Dady – Sax

SET LIST

  • Journey in SatchidanandaAlice Coltrane ft Pharoah Sanders
  • EarthJoe Henderson & Alice Coltrane
  • TezetaMulatu Astatke
  • SatoruKa Safar
  • A Love SupremeJohn Coltrane
  • The Creator Has a Master PlanPharoah Sanders
  • PyramidKa Safar

One comment

  1. Thank you, Musicvein, for your kind review! I cannot stress how important this kind of grass roots, regional music coverage is – for venues, audiences and artists. It takes a lot of time, effort and dedication to research, attend and write up any performance effectively. And you turned this one round pretty quickly! I hope Melton fully appreciates the value of your work.

    I wanted to respond to your review – as a member of the band and consequently, from ‘the other side of the room’, so to speak.

    Your review neglected to mention the (once again) packed (sold out?) house at More Coffee on this night, nor that it remained so through the duration of the evening – and that the audience responses to the performance were consistently amazing?! This stands as testament to the venue’s booking policy as well as the aesthetic of the band and surely warrants comment? This may have gone some way to balance the (sorry, cheap shot ‘Ha ha ha’ – come on!) photo of the fella with tissue in his ears! Gigs can be loud and in a long thin room with a band at one end, you can only balance to the centre. It will be far louder at the front than at the back. You cannae change the laws of physics, Jim! …But you can include extended, almost silent passages to provide counterpoint, and most of our set is of moderate to quiet dynamic – which also went unmentioned in your review. Ka Safar is indeed a group of musicians founded and dedicated to the art of improvisation – for better or for worse. Our inspirers created paths and methods of working which challenge the very foundations of what we think music and its performance to be, as well as the historical function of individual instruments. Get a listen to John Coltrane’s ‘Meditations’…

    Your summation paragraph reads right on point, and I really do hope that you come along to another Ka Safar show in the future, and also keep on supporting your local venues and artists.

    Best regards,

    Lee Allatson (disconcerting drums 😉 Ka Safar.

    Like

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