Fancy a bit of goat’s wool, but without Abbas? How about trying your hand at kotopoulopology? Confused? It’s a glimpse into the weird and wonderful world of Flat Earth Society, our main performers this week.
The Belgian big band have been trading in unusual song titles and no less idiosyncratic music for over a decade, but to my ears they’re sounding as fresh as ever. Wonky marches and ragtime, harpsichord synths and extended horn techniques combine and, just as often, collide in the band’s cinematic world. Bandleader Peter Vermeersch describes the opener of the second set as music for a film that doesn’t yet exist, about experiments on dogs in Russia (stay with me!) – but I find myself imagining visuals and action sequences during a lot of rest of the performance too, as the music frequently cuts from one scene to another. Yet the gig feels like much more than a soundtrack – the catchy hooks and surprising uses of instruments (witness the accordion player’s comb solo in the second set) make the music really strong, and always fun.
In the interval this week, Chicagoan saxophonist Ken Vandermark is in conversation with free-jazz trumpeter Wadada Leo Smith, who, to put it mildly, is going strong at 70 with the release of a 4.5-hour recording inspired by the Civil Rights movement. And I’ll be revealing the four BBC Introducing bands that Gilles Peterson, Kevin Le Gendre and I have selected to play at this summer’s Manchester Jazz Festival – an event Jazz on 3 will be recording.
Join Jez on Monday 18 June from 11pm on Radio 3 to hear all this, or listen online for seven days after broadcast.
The Jazz on 3 team