Marcus Wyatt Blue Notes Tribute - Basel, 29 May 2012

Wonderful music, full of life - warm, celebratory, but not denying bitterness, sadness. When I approached Wyatt between sets, he said they were slowly getting there, but were not quite yet as crazy as the Blue Notes were. But it was more of a Blue Notes, Brotherhood of Breath and Dyani thing, really, repertoire- and style-wise.

Great band, a mix of South Africans and Swiss: Marcus Wyatt (t), Siya Makuzeni (tb, voc), Donat Fisch (as), Domenic Landolf (ts), Afrika Mkhize (p, fender rhodes), Fabian Gisler (b), Ayanda Sikade (d).

Drummer Sikade had just flown in from the Cape. He was on fire, and so was Gisler (Dyani lives! Goddam!) and the rhythms really were cooking like mad! Mkhize played a wonderful piano, running the gamut from Dollar Brand to McGregor to what sounded to me like some Don Pullen-like moments. An amazing flow of ideas, a very warm sound, plenty of humor and complete lack of fear as far as being melodic, elegiac even, is concerned. These guys are warriors!

In front, there were Makuzeni on trombone (and a pair of stunning, intense vocals), a small lady with a big sound - her bell was pointed straight at me, sitting front row - wonderful to experience the 'bone sound, it's rare that one gets to hear some good trombone players, really! Then there were Landolf (he had two stellar solos in which he kind of fought against melody, against flow, and created his own microtonal stuff, licks, repetitions, turning into some rather frenzied moments) and Fisch (more melodically flowing with a nice bitter-sweet sound) and on the end of the stage, Marcus Wyatt. For long parts he was more like the guy running the game, but he played some wonderful solos too, full of wit and with great feeling for timbre and melody.

A marvelous night for sure - the spirit of the beloved gone ZA giants really was invoked, yet the resulting music was different and was these guys' (and the gal's) own, which makes it all the more wonderful.

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