Jazz has had a somewhat troublesome relationship with the mainstream music fan over the years but with the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Flying Lotus & Kamasi Washington all bringing jazz to a younger audience, the genre is finding itself in something of a renaissance.
Another act who is opening up the genre to a wider audience are GoGo Penguin, who brought their blend of jazz to the Philharmonie on Thursday night.
Back in 2014 GoGo Penguin received their big break when they were nominated for the Mercury Prize with their second album “v2.0”. Now on the revered French label Blue Note Records they have released their third album “Man Made Object” to yet more critical acclaim.
The trio made up of Chris Illingworth on piano, Rob Turner on drums and Nick Blacka on the double bass opened with “All Res”, the first track from their new album. With its swooping yet interlocking rhythms, it set out the tone for an evening full of exquisite technique and symbiosis between the three musicians.
With “Kamaloka” each instrument danced and weaved together to create joyous yet subtle shifts that allowed each musician to shine equally, whilst the heads around the auditorium all began to nod to one of the many different beats.
The slow and delicate build of “Murmuration” highlighted its beauty as the song built to a frantic crescendo with Blacka’s double bass taking us to a post rock ending before delving straight into “One Percent”.
Their influences from trip hop through to classical and dance music are all there to hear. With each song another influence came to the fore, whilst still retaining their traditional jazz setup as with the likes of “The Letter” starting with the dark brooding piano before ebbing and flowing between piano and double bass as it took on a more sombre tone.
If we thought it was to tail off quietly we were to be quickly shaken out of the slow sombre as the frantic pace of “Smarra” with it’s fluttering bass groove and drum breaks took it all back up a notch.
Finishing on what seemed to be a bit of a fans favourite, “Garden Dog Barbecue” the frantic and powerful blend between the piano melodies and breakbeats were once again seamlessly tied together by Blacka on the double bass as tempo shifted vigorously whilst still retaining rhythm.
With shows as relentless and exciting as last nights, hopefully GoGo Penguin can continue to court the attention of the mainstream music press and open up a whole new audience to the exciting music that is out there for all to consume.
10/3/16 – Philharmonie