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Review: Music

Penguin Café

Penguin Café

Queen's Hall, Edinburgh

Rob Adams

There's a touching boyish enthusiasm in the way Arthur Jeffes talks about his late father Simon's compositions. Jeffes Senior died in 1997, aged 48, and his music, although it had its adherents, might have slipped into the realms of TV themes and jingles - the hypnotic Telephone and Rubber Band that the band walk on stage and shuffle into tonight being a good example - had his son not decided to take it out on the road and give it a new lease of life alongside pieces of his own that are very much carrying on the family business.

Jeffes's memories of his dad's work in creation and performance tend to be childhood ones and this adds to the general, fairly ramshackle charm of the band that has replaced the Penguin Café Orchestra in personnel if not in its ability to take a minimalistic idea and invest it with enthusiasm and at times a certain casual gracefulness.

Melodicas, whistles, ukuleles, a glockenspiel, guitars, cuatros and assorted percussion share the stage with a string quartet, double bass and Jeffes on piano as simple motifs blossom into life, sounding like ideas Philip Glass has shared with a chamber group out on the razzle with a folk band of revolving Irish, South American, Eastern European and African origins.

It's great fun and often quite moving, with 1420, a recent collaboration between Jeffes and NASA, no less, making very effective, shimmering use of a four-note pattern, and its companion piece, Aurora, filling the auditorium with a lovely, dreamy aura. Jeffes Senior's classic Music For A Found Harmonium brings the night to a wheezing, capering and endearingly unvarnished conclusion.

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