I'm not being an avant garde jazz nerd I promise. And that's kind of the point of this post. I first saw Portico Quartet at last years' big Onetaste festival at the Bedford pub/theatre in Balham...it was an amazing night, I'd never heard of half the artists playing (and now I'm friends with a lot of them, they're the loveliest collective you could ever wish to meet) and the talent bombardment that ensued really blew me away. I'll write more about Onetaste at some point soon in the future.
I'd never seen anything like Portico Quartet before - it was jazz but it didn't make me feel the way jazz usually does (slightly wondering if I'm missing something). Four unassuming guys in their early twenties with a powerful mastery of the soprano sax, double bass, percussion and Hang making some bad ass beautifulshockoutlovesongchilloutgetdeepbump music. I'd never heard of a Hang before either but maybe that's because it was invented in Switzerland in 2000 - you can't just buy them, you have to be invited to apply for one, go to Switzerland to collect it and have an induction. Think steel drum crossed with gamalan but softer and more ethereal. I can't really describe it, here's them performing my favourite Zavodovski Island (I swear this is hip hop, and if you listen really closely at start you can hear a girl whisper 'ah, I love this!') at the Union Chapel back in Feb which sold out and I'm gutted I didn't go:
In case you weren't aware Portico were one of this years nominees for the Mercury Music prize - the only UK music prize anyone really cares about. Portico didn't win, most people thought Burial would but in the end Elbow did. I'm sad they didn't win but many people say that winning the Mercury is the kiss of death and the Gorillaz resigned from their nomination back in 2001, with "basist" Murdoch stating that winning is "like carrying a dead albatross round your neck for eternity". (Needless to say no Damon Albarn project has been nominated since). So maybe it's not such a bad thing they didn't win...
Perhaps the most confident, but to my (uninformed) mind the most obsessed, Nick Mulvey appears to have become a bit of a front man for the group. I actually met Nick at my good friend Tanya from Elova's house party before I saw him perform - he grinned, handed me a drum I had no idea what to do with and got back to conducting the 50 strong jam session. He slips in to this role comfortably for the Onetaste Jazz Cafe sessions (incredible, get to the next one) and it's hard to imagine he's not on the path to greatness...I think he's an amazing songwriter and had to share this with you. Goosebump guitar.