Voltarol - related music

Thursday, 26 November 2009

As I was going to St Ives…

Pete Oxley (left) and Luis D'Agostino

…I met two men with four guitars. No, I know it doesn’t scan, and if you really want to be pedantic I know that many claim that the original rhyming riddle actually refers to St Ives, Cambridgeshire and not St Ives Cornwall, but sometimes you just get stuck for a title and an opening line…

Anyway, Mrs Voltarol and I made our way down the A30 to the excellent St Ives Jazz Club on Tuesday night, to see one of my favourite guitar duos – Luis D’ Agostino and Pete Oxley. The weather was particularly filthy that evening – the gusting winds were causing our car to skitter somewhat alarmingly and the rain was coming towards us sideways – and as a consequence the club was emptier than I have seen it for a while. When I commented on the weather conditions to Pete he admitted that he had had just about enough of rain for the moment, as he and Luis had started their tour in Cumbria! (For my overseas readers I should point out that Cumbria has just experienced what have been referred to as ‘once in a thousand years’ flooding.)

The pair had teamed up when Luis - who is from Argentina – was living in Oxford for a while. They recorded two CDs together on the 33Jazz Records label: The Play of Light (2003) and Double Singular (2006). I have been a fan of Pete’s playing and compositions for some time and had often seen his band Curious Paradise and its predecessors, but it wasn’t until early in 2008 that I caught up with the duo when they played an excellent set at one of the much-missed Foundry Bar music nights in Hayle. Imagine my dismay when I learned that Luis was returning to Argentina and I had just witnessed one of the duo’s last gigs. Equally, imagine my delight when Pete phoned me recently and told me that Luis was coming back to England for a few weeks and that they would be touring together again.

Those that stayed at home because of the weather last Tuesday deprived themselves of a great treat. The pair were on excellent form and delivered the goods from the off. The eclectic programme included material by such diverse composers as Lee Morgan, Joni Mitchell, Egberto Gismonti, Pat Metheny, Astor Piazzolla, Miles Davis, Luis Borda and Mr Oxley himself.

The arrangements were often as interesting as the tunes themselves, and the pair switched back and forth between nylon string and steel string guitars, insuring that the overall sound of the instruments never palled. They finished the evening to rapturous applause despite the smaller than usual audience, and the number of people that left the gig clutching one or more of their CDs tends to point to a more than satisfied crowd. So – when Luis next returns to England and the duo make another tour don’t miss the chance to see them if they are performing within a hundred miles of you. Believe me, it’ll be well worth the effort. Oh, and I've just heard a rumour that they may be recording another live album whilst Luis is here, so watch this space for a review.