Fapy Lafertin Trio, Palazzo Spiegeltent, Edinburgh, Saturday July 20th ****
Even if he wasn’t arguably the best gypsy guitarist in the world, Fapy Lafertin would have enormous appeal since he plays with such a passionate, authentic – and sexy – style. Indeed, it’s little wonder there is always a high quota of ladies of a certain age in the Lafertin audience: not only does his music have sex appeal, but from a distance he has the appearance of a 1920s movie swashbuckler. The fact that he seldom speaks just adds to the mystery.
On Saturday, in one of the long, continuous early evening gigs that the jazz festival is staging in the Spiegeltent, the seductive aspect was very much to the fore on a number of his own compositions (notably on the gypsy waltz Butterfly) and, most strikingly of all, on Astor Piazzolla’s Oblivion, a quiet ballad with the occasional dramatic crescendo and glimpse of fiery passion.
The sublime ballad Time on My Hands, on which Lafertin was at his most romantically persuasive, was one of several stand-out tunes selected from the less well-thumbed pages of the Great American Songbook; another highlight, at the end of the concert, was Two Cigarettes in the Dark which featured the lovely playing of young violinist Hannah Biernert who joined Lafertin, rhythm guitarist Dave Kelbie and swinging bassist Sebastien Girardot.
And the spirit of Django, while not the dominant theme of the evening by any means, was also in evidence; a high speed Django’s Tiger prompted a roar from the audience.
First published in The Scotsman, Monday July 22nd
Tim Kliphuis Tribute to Stephane Grappelli, Palazzo Spiegeltent, Edinburgh, Friday July 19th ****
You had to feel sorry for Dutch jazz violinist Tim Kliphuis’s trio having to work hard and fast on fingerbusting solos in the sweltering heat of yesterday evening at the Spiegeltent. But right from the off, this impressive band was cooking (in more ways than one), lulling the audience into a false sense of laidback, playful security on an opening Honeysuckle Rose then driving the speed up into top gear and performing most of the old Waller warhorse at an exhaustingly fast pace.
What was obvious from the outset was what a tight unit Kliphuis, guitarist Nigel Clark and bassist Roy Percy are. Watching them communicate with eye contact, and – in the case of Kliphuis and Clark – play complicated passages in unison with the breeziest of casual elegance, it was clear that theirs is a relationship where familiarity and spontaneity happily co-exist.
Whereas many Hot Club-style bands may boast one top drawer guitarist or a fantastic instrumentalist out front, Kliphuis’s trio has twin virtuosi in the form of him and Clark, as was most perfectly showcased on the stunning Grappelli ballad Souvenir de Villengen, a musical dialogue between the two.
Other highlights of their one-set gig were a seductive take on The Nearness of You (which highlighted just how lovely the all-strings sound is, particularly on ballads), a lightning fast Shine and the finale, a whistlestop tour of genres of violin music in which Kliphuis (like the late Grappelli) plays – and another demonstration of his loose, lyrical and swinging style.
First published in The Scotsman, Saturday July 20th 2013