ZUM
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ZUM

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"ZUM at Salisbury Festival"


As a huge man strode onto the stage and clapped his hands, the violinist jumped up from his seat and the Zum's performance began.

He was the pianist, Dave Gordon, who after studying logic and mathematics at university, is now a composer and performer.

Zum present a musical fusion, taking inspiration from the Eastern European fiddle tradition and the Argentinian tango.

Their music is open to a host of influences such as bebop and bluegrass, and combined with their own work, among others, they play the music of the Argentinian master of modern tango, Astor Piazolla.
The outcome is fiery, passionate and intriguingly beautiful.

The five performers seemed to bring out not only their own personalities, such as Jonny Gee the bassist following an imaginary mosquito around the stage and a jovial commentary from the cellist, but the personalities of their instruments.

As the cellist and violinist played with the wood side of their bow and knocked out rhythms on the sides of their instruments, and Dave Gordon reached inside of the piano to physically pluck the strings, every last drop of melody and rhythm was being squeezed from each instrument on stage.

Zum are deeply talented musicians who tangoed with the imaginations of every person at the Salisbury Playhouse on Thursday night.
A delight to hear and a treat to watch, though next time I'd advise bringing some mosquito repellent.


- BBC


"FUSION COOKS UP A MUSICAL TREAT"

Last Wednesday, fusion cooking came to the Courtyard – not in the kitchens but on stage, where the Hereford Concert Society had something very different on the menu: a band called ZUM.

ZUM have been around for five years and have taken far too long to reach Hereford. Its five chefs include virtuosos on violin, cello, bass, piano and accordion, with two of them composing on the side.

On paper, the recipes look unlikely – gipsy fiddling and Argentinean tango – and not in separate courses, but often served up on the same plate, with spicy dips from all over the world – Irish jigs, kletzmer, minutes, jazz, folk music from Andalusia, Arabia, Russia, Patagonia, and the Jewish diaspora – the roots and the life-blood of our 'classical' tradition. But it worked – a veritable feast for the gods.

These are hugely accomplished musicians, brimming with wit and sophistication, with passion and sheer delight in all they do. In other guises they move from baroque orchestras to Ronnie Scott's and session playing for film shows, with interests as diverse as mountaineering, filming whales, model railways and tea-growing.

Anything done superlatively well is a joy to behold, and many in the audience surely had their palates refreshed and acquired a taste for unlikely blends.

Above all, ZUM's recipes work because their foundation is one essential ingredient that makes music music – rhythm. They stirred in melodies, patterns and a vast range of contrasting moods and colour that sent us home hugely happy. - Hereford Times


"Zum capture the imagination"

When I signed up to review ZUM, I did not know quite what to expect, but I must admit this was one of the finest and funniest concerts I have been to in years. An electric mix of European gypsy music and Argentinean tango, this band proves there really is no barrier to good music when it comes to diverse genres. Completely compelling and always original, Zum produced a performance full of laughter and character, which could not fail to capture the audiences' imagination.

Throw in a host of whitty repertoires between songs and start to realise there is more to this five-piece band than its simple title.

And, proof of their startling ability - if my words were not enough - lay in their three encores after actually playing dead at the end of their last song.

If you get a chance to see this band, forget whatever other plans you have and get yourself out for an evening – I guarantee you will not be disappointed. - Bury Free Press


"Zum with a zing"

This ensemble plays a complex intermix of material, the musical connection between East Europe and Argentina being, of course, the result of emigration to the New World, where the folk music of many European gypsy styles blended to become Argentinian tango.

Actually ZUM's influences are far wider, with stylistic reference to composers such as Debussy and Ravel, but equally visiting jazz tunes by Thelonius Monk and Chick Corea.

The group was led by Adam Summerhayes on violin, the most important instrument for this kind of music, as you just have to be a virtuoso.

He had absorbed the intrinsic fire of gypsy fiddle playing and the restrained passion of the tango, and blended them superbly with trained dexterity.

Eddie Hession on accordion provided the group with the authentic soundscape. Not my favourite instrument, I thought his playing quite captivating.

Cello player, Chris Grist, gave a pivotal centrepoint to the arrangements, linking the rapid chance of mood and tempo so characteristic of the tango, as well as being the spokesperson for the ensemble. He soloed on a challenging version of Round Midnight, which opened up intriguing harmonic ideas.

Dave Gordon on piano is a rare creature indeed, a clasically trained pianist with plenty of jazz up his sleeves, and the ensemble wisely left the bulk of the improvisational work to him. Often I found myself specifically listening to his fluid and articulate playing.

This group did not use the tango style in a purist sense, but as a convenient vehicle on a journey through an interweave of stylistic references, featuring the individual strengths of the five musicians.

You certainly didn't have to be a tango specialist to enjoy this beautifully-crafted, visually well-presented and musically consummate performance. - Newbury Weekly News


"ZUM at Phoenix Arts Centre"

This five-piece band generate a passionate fusion of folk music traditions from around the world, exploring new juxtapositions and old links between Eastern European Romany fiddle-playing and Argentinian tango, with detours through Appalachian bluegrass, Andean pan-pipes, calypso, klezmer and bebop. These excursions calm the otherwise relentlessly hot-blooded mood, but it is the virtuoso solo playing - of composer/violinist Adam Summerhayes particularly in these infernal foot-stompers that impresses most: hairtrigger changes of time signatures, melodic lines that spiral from funereal mournfulness into reeling intoxication. They clearly love playing together, relishing the delight that their virtuosity produced in the audience. Composer/pianist Dave Gordon has a spicy musical wit, and cellist Christ Grist and bassist Jonny Gee spar deftly around the soloists, with Eddie Hession’s multi-talented accordion provided a reliable bedrock. It's immensely reassuring that bands playing music such as this are around and capable of attracting capacity crowds, and it's certain that Zum will be welcome again whenever their caravan tangos into town. - BBC


"ZUM at South Bank, London"

This was a highly individual fusion of gypsy and jazz. Added to a small selection of “straight” Piazzolla and other dances were a number of traditional tunes arranged by Summerhayes and pianist David Gordon. A further level of abstraction brought original, dance-inspired compositions - among them a boldly bitonal arrangement of a Bosnian wedding song, a cheeky little tango by Rosendo Mendizabal and Summerhayes’ comic theatrical Mosquito Splat, in which bassist Jonny Gee is amusingly distracted by a nuisance insect before it meets its death on his instrument....rendered with unbuttoned passion and brilliance, with virtuoso performances especially from Summerhayes, Gordon and accordionist Eddie Hession. - The Strad


"Gypsy tango of wit and wonder"

Zum's fusion of gypsy fiddling and Argentinian tango sweeps you away as you shut your eyes, only to make you jump up and jig along a moment later.
The five-piece band spice up their music with influences ranging from bebop and bluegrass to klezmer and calypso.
The result?
A witty and wonderful show that drew two encores and a standing ovation at the group's performance in the candle lit chapel of St-Martins-in-the-Fields last Friday.
Humour abounded not only in the short introductions by cellist Chris Grist, but also in the music itself. Even sounds such as a fiendish laugh and the pop of bubblegum erupted from their instruments.
Yet the playing was masterful. Violinist Adam Summerhayes and pianist David Gordon dazzled in particular with their virtuoso solos Zum's repertoire includes Nuevo Tango pieces by Astor Piazzola, arranged by Summerhayes and Gordon, and their own compositions.
Although the off-beat arrangements sparkled with creativity, it was the slower pieces that truly touched the audience with their moody magic. - Watford Observer


"ZUM in York"

It was hard to imagine in advance what this band would sound like. The elements that make up Zum’s sound are both familiar and exotic: the sultry, hypnotic pulse of the tango; angular gypsy music from the Balkans; sweetly dissonant klezmer dance tunes; tinkling swathes of jazz piano and subtle hints of bluegrass and Celtic music. A heady combination which could easily nosedive into a quagmire of cross-rhythms in all but the most skilled of hands. Luckily, skilled hands were present in abundance tonight.
The evening began in dramatic style, the house lights dimmed with the stage still empty. In the far corner, behind the audience, a violin began to play a fiery gypsy tune, tumbling welters of notes giving way to keening smooth-bowed blues-wails before lurching once more into feverish motion. Following the violinist’s lead, the other members of the band took the stage one by one: cello, piano, button accordion and double bass. A brief look around and a nod from the pianist and the whole band were in, zipping through “Rumanian Fry-up”, a tune with so many twists and abrupt changes of pace it left me short of breath and grinning like a big fool.

Next followed a classic Astor Piazzolla tango, “Michelangelo 70”, showcasing the wonderful accordion playing of Eddie Hession. How anyone can make head or tail of those rows of uniform white buttons is beyond me. It would seem foolish to even attempt it without the mind of a chess grandmaster and a generous surfeit of digits, but Hession practically makes the thing talk.

An old gypsy tune “Flying Swallows”, re-tooled and tangoed as “Swallowing Flies”, dipped in and out of a dizzying array of musical styles. A 12-bar blues interlude showcased some tasty picked blues licks from Adam Summerhayes on the fiddle, while Chris Grist hoisted his cello onto his knee like a guitar and strummed a chordal accompaniment. The pianist, David Gordon, seemed to spend almost as much time with his hands inside the piano as on the keys, manually damping and picking the baby grand’s strings. To add to the sonic weaponry, Finnish bassist Jani Pensola’s instrument features an extended fingerboard, taking the bottom note down to an elephant-distressingly low C.
This was, in many ways, the ideal band for this venue. Employing no amplification whatsoever, these fine musicians made full use of the former church’s wonderful, hear-a-pin-drop acoustics. Constantly shifting layers of sound washed over the audience not just from the stage, but from the back, sides and corners of the room as well. Not only were all areas of the hall used, but all manner of non-standard melodic, harmonic and percussive sounds were bullied or cajoled from the instruments, forming a buzzing maelstrom of sound from which intricate tunes emerge seemingly at random. At one point, the slides, scrapes, thumps and squeaks combined to create a complex rhythm, before morphing seamlessly into a medley of classic tango tunes. Weaving an intricate web of disparate musical styles with wit, style and jaw-dropping virtuosity, Zum are a wonderful night out. - The Talk Magazine


"ZUM in Stirling"

Zum was described to me as a mix of “Gypsy fiddling and Argentinean tango”. Good grief, what a peculiar combination that sounds! And I was right – a real fusion of traditions that shouldn’t work but did. As well as the fiddle and tango styles, Zum touched on bluegrass, bebop and jazz, with incredible fire and passion.

The band was a violin, a cello, a bass, a piano and an accordion, and the people attached to the instruments are from backgrounds as varied as the music they played. Eddie Hession on accordion list of collaborations reads like a who’s who of music, from the Three Tenors to Bill Wyman, and a long list of film scores, not to mention his small walk-on part in Captain Corelli’s Mandolin.

David Gordon on piano has a jazz background and he regularly tours with his own trio when not working with Zum.

Jonny Gee on bass is also in a jazz band but he doesn’t limit himself. If you can dance to it, he’ll have a bash at playing it, especially if its salsa or tango influenced.

Chris Grist on cello has a more orchestral cv but has such imagination and will have a go at just about anything.

Violinist Adam Summerhayes spent a great deal of time in Eastern Europe, soaking up the gypsy influence that is such an integral part of Zum.

Performing at the MacRobert on Friday 23rd April, Zum took up residence in the foyer area, making the show seem very intimate and casual. The performance itself was anything but casual. The combined red-hot tango and the superheated fiddling was astounding. The band never stopped moving. You’d expect them to be too knackered to engage in banter but the close working relationship between the quintet was evident from the cheeky asides and general humour that passed back and forth.

I think humour is the best word to describe the phenomenon that is Zum. That is certainly not to belittle the band or its work, but there is a degree of light heartedness that you’d struggle to find elsewhere, even when they are playing funereal pieces. Admittedly, Zum may not be to everyone’s tastes; it was perhaps the most unusual live show I have ever seen, but it is the uniqueness of it that draws their regular sellout audiences. Should you ever get the chance to check Zum out, for your own sake, don’t dream of passing it up. - The Brig Magazine


Discography

ZUM - Live at the Royal Festival Hall
ZUM - Gypsy Tango Pasion
ZUM - The Chill Out Album
ZUM - Inferno

Photos

Bio

ZUM – Redefining World Music

From the diasporan melting pot of cosmopolitan London, ZUM's ground-breaking world fusion weaves melodies from around the globe into an exhilarating musical journey. The band takes you from heart-stopping beauty to unbuttoned passion and explosive rhythmic power - sophisticated jazz magically glides in to wild gypsy fiddling; Celtic lament to hot-blooded Arabic melody. Unforgettable.

Delving deep in to their own roots, the masterful musicians of ZUM create an inspirational fusion of folk music traditions from around the world as they continue their mission to redefine world music. Salsa, bluegrass, klezmer, calypso and bebop complement masterpieces by Astor Piazzolla, music from the golden era of tango, addictive traditional gypsy melodies and dazzling virtuoso fiddling.

The band's stunning shows have taken them from Finland to Alaska, Saudi Arabia to Croatia with audiences showing an insatiable appetite for ZUM's toe-tapping virtuosity, intoxicating harmonies and awesome rhythmic power.

ZUM creates an acoustic meltdown - a cultural alchemy, where the world's music collides.