Edinburgh Festival Fringe music review: Chilly Gonzales & Kaiser Quartet, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock.
“The last time I was here I was at the comedy festival,” smiled multi-faceted Canadian musician Jason Black aka Chilly Gonzales, when he finally chose to let us hear his voice. We think he meant the Fringe, more precisely, but there’s probably a reason he chose to invoke the “c” word. Gonzales isn’t a comedy act, or a spoof, but nor is he entirely serious. Although he sat behind the grandest of glistening Steinways at this first late-night, less formal Hub Sessions event, and played it like a demon, he did happen to be wearing a bathrobe while he did so.
The suspicion is that he wanted the garment to make him look like a smoking-jacketed auteur. Certainly the mask of solemnity which fell upon his face during the first few songs (including the piano motif from his Apple advert-popularised Never Stop) might have wrong-footed EIF regulars who knew little of his work into thinking a straightforward recital was ahead. And then he introduced the Kaiser Quartett, from Gonzales’ new home in Germany, and eventually drummer Joe Flory.
Playing music from his and the Quartett’s new album Chambers and his own diverse career, he won the crowd over in no short order with a glistening display of sometimes frantic virtuosity and smart, jokey vignettes; the difference in mood between a major and a minor key and how the latter made Chariots of Fire sound like “Warsaw 1944… the Germans love that joke”; the snarky suburban raps which accompanied Bongo Monologue and The Grudge; and the impudent description of arpeggios which explained Take Me to Broadway.
Comedy’s loss is, apparently, serious classical performance’s gain.
Published in The Scotsman on 10 August 2015
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