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Review: Edinburgh Jazz Festival

Martynas Levickis & Euan Stevenson

Martynas Levickis & Euan Stevenson

Festival Theatre Studio

Rob Adams

THE festival brochure highlighted Martynas Levickis's status as the first accordionist to reach the top of the classical charts with an album that includes a cover of Lady Gaga.

Who knew that accordionists were involved in such a specific race?

There was little hint of such urgency as the Lithuanian and pianist Euan Stevenson presented a pleasant interlude on a warm evening.

Having met just the previous day, the pair had little time to develop a rapport, so while the promised keyboard fireworks didn't materialise they still presented a programme that seemed to be mutually compatible.

Their brief was Mozart to Miles and they opened each half with a reference to this, firstly in the guise of a lyrical sonata segueing into Rondo a la Turk then with Miles Davis at his most Erik Satie-like.

Stevenson is a technically superb musician and gifted composer. In the right company, such as his New Focus group with saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski or his recent keyboard duos with David Newton, he's an inspired and brilliantly constructive improviser. Levickis did not elicit quite the same fizz here, although the pair's reading of Tom Jobim's How Insensitive, with a helpful demonstration of its origins in Chopin from Levickis, had its blue-noted moments.

Solo pieces found the accordionist creating appropriately siren-like sounds and effective percussive patterns on his Sirens of Vilnius and Stevenson's adventures into a Bartok-jazz hinterland produced some bluesy grit as well as delicate, just-so expression. But the finale of French accordion master Richard Galliano's Tango pour Claude, an undoubtedly promising launching pad, rather summed up the tentative nature of the evening.

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