The Sydney Morning Herald

An intimate glimpse into a fantastical world

Author: Reviewed by John Shand
Date: 10/05/2011
Words: 341
Source: SMH
          Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Section: News and Features
Page: 10
WHY do we make music? To decorate silence or to touch people? The German guitarist Lulo Reinhardt knows that mastering an instrument - itself a task without end - merely allows the alchemical process to begin converting that technical mastery into art.

Many musicians confuse the two, and therefore just impress rather than touch and transport. Reinhardt instinctively plays lines, harmonies and rhythms that draw listeners into a fantastical world where high drama, broad humour, delicate beauty and devastating sadness all reflect the daily grind and exaltation of being alive.

Implicit in the alchemy is an ability to forge an environment in which one's collaborators also produce their best work. Watching Reinhardt - as he blends Latin rhythms with the gypsy swing of his great-uncle Django - is to witness not only an acoustic guitar master to rival any alive, but also one whose energy and warmth permeate the stage, and are enthusiastically reciprocated.

For this tour Daniel Weltlinger (violin), Sean Mackenzie (keyboard) and Harald Becher (bass) were joined by the young Brazilian drummer Fernando Delgado. He imbued the rhythms with extra snap and crackle, while adhering to Becher's rigorous restraint, thereby leaving a more open field on which the guitar, violin and piano could flourish.

Jazz has been described as "the sound of surprise", and every Reinhardt solo was that, but never that alone. His playing was always intensely visceral and earthed, so the thrilling developments never approached grandstanding, and the rampant imagination deployed on Asia became a narrative journey.

Katoomba Birds and Daniel's Balcony contained ravishingly lyrical solos, the former prompting a gorgeous Weltlinger response of bird-like noises formed into a coherent improvisation. The violinist's ability to create transporting lines was matched by Mackenzie's to plait dense rhythmic knots, and then untangle them into melodic denouements.

This magnificent multinational project is worthy of the world's finest concert halls. To hear them in intimate venues is a privilege.

Lulo Reinhardt plays at Lizotte's (Dee Why) tomorrow and the Basement on Thursday.

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