Avital Meets Avital, Wigmore Hall Lates, 23 June 2017

Avital Meets Avital

We really like these Wigmore Lates concerts and we really like interesting jazz/fusion music at the Wig.

So when I saw this concert promoted in the Wigmore Hall brochure – click here for all the information retained on the site – I figured that it would almost certainly be right up our street.

…Moroccan and North African sounds, folk and classical traditions, Israeli harmonies and Mediterranean rhythms to create a musical melting pot…

How right I was.

I hadn’t worked out, from that promotional material, that “Avital Meets Avital” is a relatively new combo, nor did it cross my mind that the two Avitals might not be connected to each other by blood. They just happen to be two musical guys who share the same surname who discovered that they make great music together and formed a fine musical friendship and combo.

The tour seems to be a promotional one, in part to promote their album, which was released a couple of weeks ago – click here (or the picture above) for more details on that.

The concert was wonderful.

The hall was pretty crowded, considering that the combo is fairly new and the Friday late slot does not always do well unless the act is well-known/a local favourite.

The group’s love of music and music-making together came across very nicely. In particular, Omer Avital (right of picture) came across as a real fun-loving showman – but in a good way. Janie is often put off by flamboyant musicians, but this was just the right balance of joyous music making, sharing that joy with the audience, yet relentlessly high-quality, professional musicianship.

Indeed all four of them are superb musicians.

Avi Avital must be one of the leading virtuosi of the mandolin – some of the intricate work he was doing, especially on the smaller of the two mandolins he played, was spellbinding.

The pianist, Yonathan Avishai, was mostly playing (in effect) continuo, but when he got the opportunity to extemporise with a solo, his ability as a musician became very clear.

The drummer, Itamar Doari, looked as mad as a box of frogs (or at least on a different cerebral  planet) when he played – it was a wonder he didn’t spontaneously combust Spinal Tap style during his solos. Strangely though, in the bar afterwards, he looked surprisingly sane and normal.

There was a good vibe in the bar after the show, with a jazz pianist playing. It was good to see all four performers (as well as a reasonable chunk of the audience) joining in the post concert fun – that doesn’t always happen after these Wigmore Lates concerts.

I downloaded the Avital Meets Avital album as soon as we got home and we have listened to it several times over the past few days. I would recommend the album highly, but would also suggest that you get to see this combo live if you can – the recordings cannot quite do justice to the uplifting sense you get from seeing this combo perform live.

No Wu Man No Cry, The Journey Of The Chinese Pipa, Wigmore Lates, 6 June 2014

OK, the concert wasn’t really entitled No Wu Man No Cry, perhaps it should have been.

Wu Man is a fine exponent of the pipa…

…aka “that Chinese theorbo thing” to Janie, as she learnt to describe it after accosting a William Carter the theorbist at The Wig a few years earlier:

William Carter, Theorbist Extraordinaire’s Mystery Punter Outed, 24 September 2010

This concert was a fascinating mixture of Chinese early music and modern pieces in a traditional style.

It was one of those Wigmore late jobs, so we struggled to find the energy to go to the hall and then had a terrific time.

Here is a link to the Wigmore Hall resource on that Wu Man concert.

Below is a super vid which shows Wu Man’s virtuosity playing a piece much like some of those we heard that evening:

We retired to the bar afterwards and enjoyed the Tom Green Septet…described here through this link.

Another very pleasurable late evening of music at The Wig.

Goldberg Variations, Joanna MacGregor, Followed By Jazz, Wigmore Lates, 9 May 2014

We rather like these Wigmore Lates concerts, although we do sometimes find it hard to drag ourselves from the comfort of my lovingly prepared dinner at the flat to the concert hall, albeit a mere couple of miles up the road.

We’d been very keen on the idea of this one when we booked it, but I do recall that fatigue factor coming into play as we set off for the Wigmore Hall.

But by gosh this one was worth it.

Here is a link to the Wigmore Hall diary page for this concert.

We’d enjoyed Joanna MacGregor playing interesting fusion music some years earlier, at the Roundhouse – click here or below… 

Joanna MacGregor and Britten Sinfonia, Reverb: Roundhouse, 23 January 2010

…but had never seen her perform solo before.

Her interpretation of the Goldberg Variations was a fine one. Not overly flash or unusual; perhaps the odd flourish that nodded to her breadth of influences. Very relaxing.

Did either Janie or I nod off during the performance, I hear you ask? That is between us and our consciences, but in any case, with the Goldberg, it almost feels compulsory to do so, at least for a short while, in honour of the great composer’s original purpose.

We certainly didn’t nod off in the bar afterwards where we heard the Julian Bliss Quintet play some swinging jazz. We both like that style, as does Joanna MacGregor, it seems, as she joined a fairly sizeable late night swing contingent in the bar for quite a while.

I think Janie and I slipped away just before midnight – we normally do – don’t want anyone to see our carriage turning into a pumpkin or anything like that.

A very enjoyable late evening at the Wig.