Genre bending jazz fusion ensemble Corto.alto tour debut album at Hare and Hounds on Wednesday 18 October

Words by Ed King

On Wednesday 18 October, the jazz rooted but genre bending Calto.alto comes to the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath – with support from mezzo-soprano and folk storyteller, Pippa Blundell.

With both acts hailing from Glasgow, they have been playing across the UK promoting new material throughout October, with the Birmingham gig marking a halfway point of their UK tour.

Doors open at 7:30pm, with tickets priced at £15 plus booking fee – as promoted by Leftfoot Events. Minimum age of entry is 14 with anyone aged 16 or under needing adult supervision.

For more direct gig info and links to online tickets sales, click here.

Corto.alto (meaning ‘short, tall’ in Spanish) is the musical moniker for a collective headed by Glaswegian based multi-instrumentalist, composer, and producer, Liam Shortall – who mixes jazz with electronica and a variety of genres, recording and preforming original compositions with some of Scotland’s most exciting young musicians.

Alongside Shortall, the current Calto.alto line up includes pianist Fergus McCreadie, trumpet player James Copus, drummer Graham Costello, and trombonist Anoushka Nanguy.

Their debut album, Bad With Names, was released in early October through New Soil Records and Bridge the Gap – receiving positive reviews from the jazz music punditry.

London Jazz News called it “a fine palette of live sounds and electronic music… with rich harmonies and exciting improvisation”, further celebrating the collective skill sets and ambitions from the “golden generation of Scottish jazz talent” who appear on the LP.

The Skinny goes on to praise the album’s “variety, honesty and personality”, calling it a “hypnotic blend of soulful jazz expressed through outstanding levels of musical ability”.

But Corto.alto is as ‘cross over’ as you can get without getting lost, as Shortall’s background in electronica production takes the album on brave and exciting twists and turns across its 12 instrumental tracks.

There’s jazz, for sure, but also soul, strings, the occasional rock riff, and a sprinkling of psychedelia over breakbeat, making me think of a Stan Getz and Maya Jane Coles lovechild. Not words you often get to write…

(It is also worth mentioning, at this point and in general, that tour support Pippa Blundell released her debut EP Sisters at the beginning of the UK dates with Corto.alto – and will no doubt be showcasing tracks from this, alongside her back catalogue. A phenomenal vocalist and folk artist, having Blundell on the bill alongside Corto.alto is certainly getting your money’s worth and a real gift for any audience.)

And even the most egotistical man of letters wouldn’t try and describe the ineffable – so I’m simply going to leave you with the appropriately named last track on Corto.alto’s debut album, ‘Bye’.

A beautiful example of the vison and delivery from this exciting Scottish ensemble, and a damn fine video too. Enjoy.

‘Bye’ – Corto.alto

Corto.alto plays at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath on Wednesday 18 October, with support from Pippa Blundell. For direct gig info and links to online ticket click here.

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