Mario Caribe Quintet. Edinburgh Jazz Festival, July 2008.

My last gig of this years festival, and it was a cracker. After the contemplation of Smith, Andersen and Cosker on Friday, the uplifting downbeat of Scottish folk-jazz fusion from Stramash and the verge-of-experimentation from Phil Bancroft, the last gig for me by a local band – albeit one featuring a Brazilian bass player and a New York-based pianist – was straight down the line exciting jazz.

Mario Caribe has been a mainstay of the Edinburgh jazz scene for years, and he plays bass in many bands; this, his own quintet (well, it was billed as “quartet plus …”, and there were five people on stage – I reckon that makes it a quintet!) is the least world- and latin-influenced.

With Laura MacDonald on tenor, David Berkman on piano (from New York but as the blurb for his own gig said, “such a favourite here, he’s almost Scottish”), Kevin MacKenzie on guitar and Alyn Cosker on drums, Caribe’s band played excellent modern jazz. Using MacDonald’s sax and MacKenzie’s guitar as the two front line instruments, they played a mixture of Caribe’s own tunes, a couple of standards (although as Mario said before one number “this is a standard… in Brazil!”), and a few numbers by other people – including, for me, the best number of the night: “Let’s Say We Did” a lyrical, slow ballad by John Scofield.

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I loved MacDonald’s sax playing (just as well, as I was sitting just a couple of feet away from her), and MacKenzie’s guitar was alternately melodic, jagged and rhythmic. He had to avoid hitting the audience with his guitar, too – the Lot isn’t a large venue!

After his softer playing the night before, Cosker was louder and brasher, pushing the music along with Caribe’s lovely resonant bass keeping things flowing at the back.

This was a great gig, and a memorable one to finish the festival on!

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