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David Wright reviews Timezone at Scarborough Jazz Festival

Such is the diversity of acts at this year's jazz festival, the sounds of a steel drummer can be heard from the café beside the grand hall just before this original and interesting six-piece take to the stage.

"I had so many Cuban rhythms in my head, I didn't know what to do with them!" comments trumpet/flugelhorn player Loz Speyer, as the other front line instrumentalist Martin Hathaway plays a rather mischievous melody on bass clarinet during 'Mood Swings'. The melody becomes more graceful as Speyer plays alongside in unison, the latter also doubling up on alto sax for numbers such as 'Lista De Espera', which translates as 'Waiting Line', referring to Cuban people waiting at a bus stop.  It's a bright and blustery melody, conjuring up images of busy street scenes. Timezone have a deep understanding of Cuban rhythms, but their sound is contemporary, with jazz elements, so can't be classified as being traditional Cuban music.

With Andy Ball on drums and the decorative congas of Maurizio Ravalivco, in the blink of an eye compositions switch time meters before you even realise.  'Snake Path' teases with a trumpet intro over percussion and slides back and forth into more traditional jazz swing with ease. Also doubling on violin, guitarist Stuart Hall is a key element to Timezone's compositions, his jagged, almost metallic sound has a rock n' roll twang to it and his solos are inventive and individual.

Combined with the solid upright bass of Dave Manington, their contagious riff during 'Bilingual' has heads nodding and feet tapping from the audience members, but despite Speyer's encouragement - "You can dance to this!" - no one is quite brave enough just yet. Dedicated to his step-daughter who came over from Cuba to study English, the alto and trumpet play a memorable melody over a slower groove and there are some exhilarating percussion interchanges between the drums and congas.  Although not actually appearing on the same self-titled album 'Crossing The Line', the track begins tentatively with alto sax and guitar and is wonderfully atmospheric.  

Although two screens show different pictures of Cuban life throughout their set, Timezone's melodies conjure images enough without looking at the visual aids. Translated as 'Altogether Now', this composition is a prime example as the front line encourage the audience to practise and sing along with them on the repeated lyrics and refrain; "Yes we are travelling and we've been travelling a long time..." My mind conjures up pictures of Cuban dance halls and battered old American cars rumbling down the streets of Havana, persisting a long time after their set is over.

 

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