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Iain Ballamy & Stian Carstensen, Glasgow Art Club

The encore alone was worth turning out to experience.

Were we sure we wanted to hear it, asked Iain Ballamy. We were indeed, even, nay, especially, when warned it was going to be a Whitney Houston hit. Saving All My Love for You was about to get the makeovers of all makeovers.

Beginning with Ballamy on tenor saxophone, condensing every soul jazz hero you'll ever need into one while still retaining his own personal touch, it moved through myriad accordion variations and wound up with Ballamy's musical partner, Stian Carstensen leading a lusty bierkeller singalong.

The Little Radio, as Ballamy and Carstensen prefer to be known, is a many-sided duo. Their repertoire switches musical style, mood, tempo and intensity with astonishingly fluent ease, and while by turns whimsical, romantic and breathtakingly virtuosic, it's all bound with obvious warmth of personality.

Carstensen's improvisations on button accordion merge jazz phrasing, classical technique and folk dance measures into dizzying spirals, which he somehow manages to scat or even whistle along to, and while Ballamy can match him at high velocity, he often solos in hugely effective, contrasting counterpoint.

Their teamwork and understanding are supernatural, as witness the modulations on the marvel that was Teddy Bears' Picnic, but what marks them out is, while they're performing at world class level, they include the audience every step of the Satie to Whitney way.

Something similar happened in concertinist Simon Thoumire and guitarist Ian Carr's opening set, with big imaginations and major chops romping through tunes that joined previously unimagined dots between the Scottish dance repertoire and the Neil Cowley Trio's vamping, dynamic jazz.


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