Portico Quartet

Portico Quartet seem to haportico-quartetve suddenly become well-known – they were nominated for the Mercury Prize (some might unkindly say as the token jazz nominees), and their debut album Knee Deep in the North Sea was Time Out’s best jazz album of 2007. I was pleased and slightly surprised, then, to find they were playing at The Hare and Hounds in King’s Heath, but went along not quite sure what to expect.
I’m not a music critic, so forgive my general ignorance, but I was impressed – I really liked it. Jazz is often seen as something a bit stuffy, about which people can be rather pretentious, but this seemed to take any stuffiness out of it – they’re very relaxed and just seem to love their music, which is what matters. Portico Quartet are particularly notable for their use of hangs (see here for more information) – a percussion instrument played with the hands, if you’re wondering. The sound is deliberately slightly unfamiliar, and sounds amazing combined with the soprano sax and the double bass.

With nicely-done changes of tempo, and evocative movements that give way to echoing percussion, as well as the jazz standards of sax and bass solos which were excellent, it was a good performance. Their “chunes”, as they call them, are hook-based but experimental, layering sounds and melody. I’d even dare to suggest you don’t have to like jazz to enjoy their music.

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