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Keith Tippett Presents The Rare Music Club
Cafe Oto, London
BEFORE this gig, listening to You Are Here, I Am There, the powerfully evocative album of Bristolian piano maestro Keith Tippett, now happily reissued, it suddenly struck me that it was released half a century ago.
And he's still at it. At the Cafe Oto he was most certainly here with his long-time vocalist partner Julie Tippett, formerly Julie Driscoll of the Brian Auger Trinity way back in the day, and prodigious young violinist Theo May.
May begins the gig with a group of his sprightly peers from the Royal College of Music on piano, cello, drums, soprano saxophone, violins, bass and flute. What starts as a youthful, stomping barnyard dance is gradually transformed into a piece of frenzied, racing music.
It's so fast, with May's astonishing skill and bowed and plucked velocity of note-making to the fore, it's as if the rural heart of England is on sonic fire in the very urban heart of Hackney.
The next piece is as slow and aching as a plea for love and you wonder how a musician so young has nurtured such a deep and improvising soul.
“What freshness!” exclaims Tippett at the end of their set and when he, his partner and May play together as an improvising trio, there's a wondrous unison of youth and veterans.
As his piano, played with a lifetime's authority, delves below the Cafe Oto's stone floor and her wordless vocals — sometimes almost spectral, at other times very much of the earth — and May's three violins sizzle, howl, saw, rhapsodise and sing, generations fuse in the love of music of sheer discovery.
So much so, that you felt like declaring out loud to such an age-busting trio: “You are still here, with the new world of sound to come.”
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