The Coronet Theatre Jazz Festival 2023: Indigo - Revelations In Small Steps
Pioneering jazz artist Byron Wallen will be joined by his highly acclaimed band to play music from their new album Revelations in Small Steps.
Throughout the festival, there will be screenings of Tom Parsons’ film Revelations In Small Steps. Completed 13 years after the first shoot – a gig Indigo played at The Crypt in Camberwell – the film explores the evolution and blossoming of the quartet. Using interviews, archive video and live clips, the film tells a story of friendship and the search for a new shared language of music inspired by the vision of the band’s founder, Byron Wallen. Find out more here.
Revelations in Small Steps: The Album
Byron Wallen’s quartet, Indigo, is a special group. It’s a jazz band, but the music they make isn’t just jazzy—the players don’t swap solos like they would in a conventional setting – and, though the music sometimes swings hard, they aren’t playing music that follows on from bebop, or fusion, or so-called modern jazz. In the 1980s the band might be put into the world music slot because some of the rhythms come from Morocco, from Ghana, and from South Africa. The four musicians – Tom Skinner, drums; Tony Kofi, sax; Larry Bartley, bass; and Byron on trumpet and shells – improvise constantly but all the music is composed by Byron, the solos are devised in advance, and the structure of the tunes is tight. But beyond these facts the band stretches, pulls, unpicks the stitches of the music in front of you to make a new sound every time they play. The sense of togetherness, the way they do this as one, comes from the fact they are friends – they rehearsed for over a year before they even did a gig – they understand how each other moves.
You could talk about numerology because a lot of the tunes are in odd time signatures, but the rhythms are always danceable. The melodies sing, are memorable, accessible, natural. The harmony is rich and exotic but paints with colours that are meaningful to all of us. The music grabs you at your core because it’s been both thought through and intuited. It connects to traditional music that goes back centuries – music to celebrate the passage of life, ritual music, music that tells us about myths. Music that we as humans just feel.
The album, Revelations in Small Steps, was recorded in 2007 when the band was touring their Meeting Ground album, and it sounds as fresh as it did then because this music doesn’t fall in and out of fashion. Working without piano, without guitar, there’s space in the sound that allows the listener to float between the melodies Byron and Tony weave. And the way Tom and Larry carry the rhythm – earthy, rooted in pre-jazz African traditional music – and playfully tear down and rework it to make a constantly changing dance makes it almost impossible to sit still when you hear it. There’s telepathy at work – you see it when a smile, a look, a raised eyebrow from one to another acknowledges that there’s magic happening. There’s freedom, challenge, surprise – play.
Also on 09 Dec
9:30pm – Jas Kayser & Chums
Each band costs £20. Book two events in the same night and get £10 off and free entry to a screening of the film Revelations in Small Steps.