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Issue 1084

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Review of The Big Chill Festival 2009

Big Chill Sunshine @bluesandsoul.com
Big Chill Sunshine @bluesandsoul.com Big Chill Art @bluesandsoul.com Craig Charles @bluesandsoul.com Mustatke at the Big Chill @bluesandsoul.com One of our Big Chill Neighbours Everybody love good neighbours la-la-la Big Chill 2009 @bluesandsoul.com Hungry? Big Chill 2009 @bluesandsoul.com Oh I do Like Tto be beside the seaside... Big Chill 2009 @bluesandsoul.com Mustatke and the Heliocentrics at the Big Chill @bluesandsoul.com

Now in i't's 15th year the Big Chill has established itself as one of the best there is and this year was no exception. Around 30,000 people were treated to amazing sunshine and a diverse line up.

Opening a day earlier than usual to fit in filming of a zombie flick and a talk by the legendary Michael Lang, co-founder of the mother of all festivals, Woodstock!.

The hills of Herefordshire were also fully emblazoned with the artwork of such luminaries as Rachel Whitehead, Gavin Turk, Vivienne Westwood and many others. The helter skelter lighthouse proved very popular situated by the glistening lake, which looked very inviting art, music and nature merged very
sweetly during this glorious weekend.

This year seemed to mark the return of the DJ and DJ inspired acts. There was nothing big chill about the Big Chill, the beats tended to dominate proceedings and at times overpower the natural equilibrium of the festival. The incessant need to fill every aural space can be hard to escape from, even backstage there were bands and dj's going at it full pelt!

Friday night's headline Basement Jaxx put on an energetic and highly entertaining set but they had to work hard to get the crowd going there new stuff from their 'Scars' cd is markedly different from their old sound but it was great to hear old time classics such as 'Red Alert','Where's Your Head At', 'Just One Kiss' and the crowd pleaser 'Bingo Bango.'

Alice Russell, who made a brief appearance last year with TM Juke really has come into her own and her ballsy, jazzy delivery really cut the mustard. This girl worked the stage like a seasoned pro and produced a scorcher of a set to the delight of the impressed festival goers. I can't wait to hear her new album 'Pot Of Gold' due out on Tru Thoughts in the Autumn.

Dennis Bovell's dub band proved also to be the perfect antidote to a beautiful summer's evening his fluid, tightly honed reggaefied blessedness was to my mind the highlight, I mean reggae in the sunshine is hard to beat! This veteran Matumbi maestro sounded majestic and he rolled out his classic tunes. The special one being 'After Tonight'. His band were definately on it and guitarist John K'Playe shone throughout with his tightly measured solos and rock steady skanking. You can catch Dennis and the band at the Indigo2 on the 19th Sept.

Other highlights, the magnificent Mulatu Astatke and The Heliocentrics took the castle stage at sunset and delivered their Afro Jazz psychedelia with much applomb and exactitude. Their timeless grooves led by groovemeister Malcolm Catto was just the ticket for not only the stoners but the unitiated too. 'Yekermo Sew' never sounded better, so if you're new to this amazing troupe check out their stuff and be prepared for greatness!

Pharoah Sanders was an unexpected pleasure too! You have to remember he made his name with expressionistic, nearly anarchic free jazz in John Coltrane's late ensembles of the mid- '60s and he carries that same spiritual conviction as J.C. did. His set oozed class and his playing is still towering along with his charismatic presence, few musicians can match this guy, his quartet really expressed the essence of jazz, diverse, ballsy and unashamedly unconventional. His music has so much resonance and pure feeling, this guy takes risks the way Miles did and isn't afraid of limits.a true orginator and still having it large!

DJ's wise Norman Jay and Craig Charles floated my boat. Craig giving us some much needed funk, Maceo sounded hot in the sunshine and Charlie boy was clearly enjoying himself away from the "street" His set was quite frankly a welcome relief from the 4 to the floor merchants, you can't beat a bit of soul latin boogaloo, so thanks for that Craig!

Likewise, Norman Jay kept the reggae flag flying all the way upto introducing cult reggae artist "chase the devil" Max Romeo the "Outta Space guy" sampled by the prodigy all those years ago! Max treated us to a mixture of stuff from his past days with the emotions and his solo work of the 70's. Enchanting to say the least.

Quantic and his Combo Bárbaro served up a global treat too. His take on Latin music mixed with organic breakbeat grooves has proved very popular indeed and shot him up to no5 in the world music charts. This heady concoction of flavours featuring top notch guest vocalists such as soul singer "Kabir" (excellent on 'Linda Morena') and Nidia Góngora whoperformed her beautiful song 'Un Canto A Mi Tierra' is his latest project since relocating to Columbia and the warmth and feel good factor of this show abounds throughout. Catch him on tour now!!

There was a lot I missed at The Big Chill but unless you want to run around like a headless chicken, it can't be helped, the magnitude and sheer breadth of the festival is way too myopic to cover in a weekend, more like a lifetime. Save your pennies up for next year and here's a tip it's was bleeding freezing at night so wrap up and take a spare blanket next time Lee!!
Words Emrys Baird

From Jazz Funk & Fusion To Acid Jazz

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