Run Logan Run, an experimental saxophone and drums duo, are hosting a series of livestream gigs with other northern jazz musicians in the next few months. In the first installment of the Ankh Sanctuary series, Run Logan Run performed alongside pianist Matthew Bourne (Leaf Label) and bassist Riaan Vosloo (Nostalgia 77). Bourne is known for his improvisation and unpredictable experimentalism, whilst Vosloo is known for his eclectic influences; in collaboration with Run Logan Run, the musical ideas being created and invented on Sunday evening were electric.
The livestream featured a short set from Run Logan Run, a completely improvised set from Bourne, some Q&A with the musicians, and finally an improvised collaboration between all four instrumentalists which created a completely new atmosphere. If this livestream sets the mood for the rest of the Ankh Sanctuary series, there’s a lot for listeners to get excited for.
Run Logan Run established a beautifully quiet and expectant atmosphere to open the gig, with Andrew Neil Hayes on saxophone, and Matt Brown on drums. Hayes also introduced the electronic elements to the set, opening with a warm drone which created a foundation upon which to improvise. The subtle, exploratory improvisation from both musicians then suddenly moved into a busy groove, with drum fills and Hayes shredding on saxophone. Run Logan Run performed two tracks which oscillated between these quiet, still moments, and catchy, interesting grooves which caught the audience’s attention. The irregular time signatures gave the tracks and elliptical feel, making them both comforting and yet challenging at the same time. In the Q&A post-performing, the duo talked about the differences between playing together versus in a larger group, and the freedom of expression in both settings. Hayes also explained how he gets his unique and intense saxophone sound - he uses a ‘bitcrusher’ which creates delay and latency, allowing the sax to sound ‘shit in a good way’, as the duo put it. The performance was compelling, and as an audience member, you could feel the spiritual element of their ‘heavy spiritual jazz’ influences.
Matthew Bourne performed next, with a completely improvised piece in which he plucked the piano strings as well as playing the piano itself. As he explained later in the Q&A, he decided to play around with the piano’s resonances by plucking and dampening the strings in order to create a kind of ‘swelling’ sound. The piece felt pensive and thoughtful, as it featured a mixture of consonant, and more dissonant playing. Again there was an elliptical feel to the piece, but in Bourne’s performance it was less to do with rhythm than with the themes of the piece - it felt as though the musical ideas were circling around one another like a spiral, and never quite coming back round. The effect was beautiful, and the tension created from the conflict between the deep bass notes and the higher timbres was intense. Being able to watch this happen in real-time was so refreshing, after months of being unable to watch live gigs or listen to new improvised music.
Finally, all four musicians came together to create another completely improvised piece, opening with a funky, distorted bass groove from Vosloo. This foundational groove was soon layered with growling saxophone, dissonant piano chords, and busy drum fills. During the performance, there were moments in which the piece began to sit into a nice groove, aided by Brown’s percussive accompaniment - yet these moments soon became complicated by new rhythmic or melodic ideas which pushed the piece further. It was exhilarating to watch the musicians bouncing off one another’s ideas, and even repeating or developing each other’s rhythmic phrasing and melodic improvisations. And the electronic elements of the piece also really added to the atmosphere - there were vocal samples being used throughout, as we heard a voice saying ‘I want you to move with the wind’ and ‘I don’t exist’. This added element created a completely new perspective on the piece, and allowed us as an audience to feel the musicians’ intentions as they continued playing. Having featured siren-like sounds, sax harmonies created through delay, electronic white noise, a dissonant piano solo, and trance-like rhythms, the group finally ended the performance, satisfied with its eclecticism and the musical journey.
Run Logan Run, Matthew Bourne and Riaan Vosloo really pushed the boundaries of jazz music on Sunday evening, challenging their listeners and yet also consistently providing a new perspective. The Ankh Sanctuary livestreams are something to watch out for if you’re a lover of experimental music, improvisation, or jazz in general. It was a pleasure to hear such exploratory music and then immediately hear the musician’s own perspective about their creations. The explanation of the music accompanying the performance really allowed the gig to be accessible to all audiences, and the set itself was so engaging that it created great anticipation for the next one.
This performance is still available to watch. We hope you enjoy it!
Review by Evie Hill