Splinter at the Bridge’s season-ending all day festival enticed a good number of folk, some were in it for the long haul - from noon ‘til late - and one keen jazzer made the journey from the west coast (Cumbria not California). The Lindsay Hannon Plus got things under way with a set of tunes drawn from the standard repertoire and beyond including Anais Mitchell’s Old Fashioned Hat and Billy Joel’s Where’s the Orchestra? Hannon’s sensitive interpretation of a lyric and her self-penned lyrics to Joshua Redman’s Wish held the attention. The band - Alan Law (piano), Andy Champion (bass) and Mark Robertson (drums) - went for a lazy saloon bar take on So long, Big Time as Hannon closed a good opening set.
Jazz North East’s contribution to the Splinter marathon reunited Corey Mwamba (vibes) and Andy Champion (double bass). The percussive pair were joined by alto saxophonist Ntshuks Bonga to play a set of freely improvised pieces. Mwamba immersed himself in the music yet connected with his fellow musicians and audience alike. Champion’s improvising instincts stood him in good stead as his D string broke. The redundant limp thread flapped against the body of the instrument. Undeterred, the bassist made best use of it. He twanged it and scraped it, incorporating the errant string into the performance. Bonga’s alto work commanded the stage. Possessing a big, direct sound the altoist judged the mood of the room and dedicated the performance to the late Lol Coxhill. I look forward to hearing Bonga again in a concert setting free of the inevitable festival distractions.