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
- Journey in Satchidananda – Alice Coltrane ft Pharoah Sanders
- Earth – Joe Henderson & Alice Coltrane
- Tezeta – Mulatu Astatke
- Satoru – Ka Safar
- A Love Supreme – John Coltrane
- The Creator Has a Master Plan – Pharoah Sanders
- Pyramid – Ka Safar