Human Contact @ Intercontinental Hotel
Saturday, July 7, 2018
Human Contact is an experimental jazz quartet led by saxophonist Alana MacPherson, alongside Dylan Hooper (saxophone), Zac Grafton (bass and pedals) and John Molaneran (drums). Perfectly melding the improvised and composed, this melodic blend of rhythm and horns provides an element of surprise at every twist and turn.
Pieces such as Atune, inspired by Keith Tippet, provide a multitude of seemingly random yet harmonious noises and bars that convincingly work together. The quartet plays in cooperative synchrony; each individual inherently seems to hold an understanding of their role in creating the emotive experience for the audience and playing their respective part. The chemistry between the two saxophonists creates the illusion that they share a common emotional relationship with the song; however, the bass and drum players seem somewhat distanced from this. This emotive relationship is further emphasised by the unique interlaying of sound; for instance, the interludes of bass in Trump Country evoke an anthemic, almost ironically patriotic reaction.
The sound ranges from perfectly sonorous to almost angular, yet with the right balance. However, at times, I felt as if the quartet played ‘safer’ than what I would expect from a free jazz quartet, relying on secure, low-risk tonalities so as to not offend the ear.
The Intercontinental Hotel provided a casually luxurious atmosphere for the performance, where audience members sipped on red wine and beer bottles tucked under their seats. Audience members were treated to the best of both worlds; the instrumentalists sipped on beers between breaks involving personable conversation between audience and musician, whilst maintaining an aura of luxury.
One additional limitation of this performance was that the passion and vivacity of the male saxophonist, Dylan Hooper, often outshone the lead saxophonist, Alana MacPherson. That being said, each individual provided their own unique contribution to the overall work.