REVIEW OF BEJE GIG at Black Mountain Jazz, Abergavenny, 30 April, 2016. was another great evening of jazz put on by Black Mountain Jazz at Abergavenny, this time on a Saturday to coincide with International Jazz Day. Today’s ensemble was very appropriate, given its international roots and the vast range of cultural and geographical sources for the compositions of its leader, the Swiss/English trumpeter/flugelist, David Mowat. The ensemble consisted today of Mowat, the superb Len Aruliah (UK/Canada) on alto and soprano saxes, the excellent guitarist and oud player, Knud Stüwe (Germany), on Strat and effects, an unusual and welcome setup in jazz clubs, and the fantastic duo of Paolo Adamo on percussion and Pasquale Votino (both Italian) on double bass. I had had the pleasure of hearing Adamo and Votino twice already this month – with the Davide Logiri/Ben Thomas UK tour – so I knew that I was in for a treat this evening.
The Bristol based ensemble did not disappoint, providing an exhilarating mix of compositions, including ones based on ragas, oud tunes collected in Somalia, and themes collected on Mowat’s wandering in various countries, including Syria. One composition provided a musical backdrop to Mowat’s recounting of the hospitality and friendship he had been shown on a journey across various countries, including Syria, such warmth having been shown by those of Muslim, Christian and other religions – particularly apt on International Jazz Day, which, as Mowat reminded the audience, was not just about music, but about bridging cultural gaps.
Most striking about the performance was the successful mix of clearly stated, internationally flavoured, themes with quite free form improvisation, conjuring up tastes of the creativity of such predecessors as the Chicago Art Ensemble, Mingus’s ‘Tijuana Moods’, and many others, while retaining its own unique identity.

Unfortunately, I had to leave before the end of the performance, but I left very satisfied and clutching both CDs that were available. If you get the chance to catch this band of fine, musically gifted, creative and technically excellent musicians, grab the chance with both hands! One of the most creative musical evenings that I have experienced recently in a jazz club.

Those attending were also lucky to be entertained by the local singer/songwriter/guitarist Mansel Davies. Davies provided a great contrast to the main act, and produced a very polished performance of his own compositions to a very attentive and appreciative audience. He has a solid guitar style, with a very full sound, and a great voice for his genre.
All in all, a very enjoyable night! David Hobbs, club posted on Black Mountain Jazz FB