Trio HLK and Evelyn Glennie captivate at Kings Place

Pwyll Ap Sion
Monday, June 17, 2024

The progressive jazz-meets-classical three-piece and their esteemed guest percussionist raised the roof with live versions of songs from their acclaimed new album Anthropometricks

Trio HLK and Evelyn Glennie at Kings Place - Photos by Monika S. Jakubowska
Trio HLK and Evelyn Glennie at Kings Place - Photos by Monika S. Jakubowska

Part of its Scotland Unwrapped series, Trio HLK’s performance at Kings Place was packed full of visceral energy, breathtaking ensemble virtuosity, and supreme musicianship. Trio HLK were in town to promote their second album, Anthropometricks, released earlier this year to critical acclaim, appearing alongside ever-present percussionist extraordinaire, Evelyn Glennie – the only musician (other than the trio) to appear on both Trio HLK albums.

Glennie admitted to having grown a few grey hairs from grappling with HLK’s complex and challenging rhythmic and metric manipulations. The only beat that was missed during a scintillating 90-minute performance was when guitarist Ant Law’s in-ear-monitors malfunctioned at the start of the set. Law, alongside pianist Rich Harrold and drummer Rich Kass (hence ‘HLK’), soon settled into their stride, Glennie and Kass negotiating the pinballing shapeshifting melody at the beginning of the Thelonious Monk-inspired ‘Apostrophe (Part II)’, Harrold and Law offsetting the music’s accumulative multitemporal layers with graceful, mellifluous solos on piano and electric guitar respectively.

Jazz standards have formed the cornerstone of the band’s aesthetic since the release of their first album Standard Time in 2018. Harrold’s innovative and invigorating re-compositions rework and reconfigure the originals in such bewildering ways as to leave only a trace remaining. At Kings Place, Miles Davis formed a central thread in this process, a three-note rising line at the beginning of ‘fIVe’ taking its cue from Davis’s ‘Four’, the propulsive ‘Stellar’ taking inspiration from Davis’s arrangement of ‘Stella by Starlight’, and ‘Extra Sensory Perception’ from HLK’s first album referencing the jazz legend’s ‘E.S.P.’. These were interspersed with solo contributions from Glennie and Kass, the percussionist in perpetual motion on funky Handpan drums on ‘Orologeria Aureola’, while the drummer forged a dynamic duet with a recording of a skylark.

Innumerable peaks and troughs shape HLK’s musical topography, its undulating multi-terrain patterns curving and twisting time in truly remarkable ways. Recording such demanding music in the relative comfort of a studio would be daunting enough, let alone in a live context, yet Trio HLK seem unnerved by the prospect: testimony to the band and Glennie’s remarkable ability to engage with music of such colossal complexity.

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