As the Kazimier Funk & Soul Club geared up for another outing, Getintothis’ Paul Riley asked: just how many horns can you squeeze onto that stage?
There are many great double acts in the world: Morcambe & Wise, Jay & Silent Bob, Noel & Mr Blobby, Oxide & Neutrino (okay, maybe not). In the best partnerships, each side brings something to the mix that enhances the other. A wonderful thing happens when you pair turntablism with double bass. Just look at Fingathing, purveyors of instrumental UK Hip-Hop, for a perfect example. Add drums and a naughty horn section and you have The Apples, an 8-piece outfit who blur the lines between composition and improvisation on a whistle-stop musical tour of acid jazz, funk and big band traditions built upon Middle Eastern rhythms.
The Apples hail from Jerusalem’s Rubin Academy of Music and the underground jazz scenes of Tel Aviv and Haifa; this heritage infuses their particular brand of brass with a unique feel. The improvisational aspect of the show is led by drummer Yonadav Halyev, who rushed to the stage at the last minute, barely getting his sticks into his hands before launching into the first tune.
Playing a stripped-down kit to the side of the stage, he gave musical direction throughout, conducting the ebb and flow of the grooves. From the outset, Halyev played like a madman while somehow maintaining communication with the rest of the band – conducting horn parts, cueing the decks and talking to the bass player between sections.
When treated to such a vibrant musical performance, it is a dilemma whether to try and take it all in, or to dance. The majority of the crowd opted for the latter, with a ring around the outside populated by those who spent a fair part of the night staring intently at one or other of the band onstage. This was understandable, as each member of The Apples is very, very good at what they do.
From deep, growling double bass and baritone sax through to flute and trumpet solos, the show is a well-orchestrated and infectious beast. It is a feat of instrumental juggling that all the disparate parts of the band come together so well – there was so much going on that it could have gone wrong very quickly, yet The Apples made it look easy. By the end of closing number Kingdom of Halva, it felt like a farewell party, as this was probably their last time on this particular stage.
Filling the supporting slots for a band of such pedigree was a daunting task, but Liverpool is not lacking in big band talent. 9-piece Rumjig have ample prior experience and delivered an energetic blend of reggae, ska and dub. Likewise, The Soul Rays gave a sparkle to the beginning of the evening, also winning tonight’s medal for Most Members Crammed Onstage with eleven. Chalk up yet another night to remember for the perpetually legendary Kaz.
Photographs by Getintothis’ Tom Adam