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Reviews/Music

One guitar expert reviews another

15 December 2021

Guitar geek alert: this review contains some technical language and many superlatives as Garry Lee reviews the Kristian Borring Quartet.

Kristian Borring Quartet ·
Kidogo Arthouse, Monday 13 December 2021 ·

Danish-born guitarist Kristian Borring has made Perth his home for several years now and his concert to a capacity audience at the amazing, live performance gem of a venue, Kidogo Arthouse has this writer struggling for superlatives.

Pianist Harry Mitchell, a recent finalist in the National Jazz Piano Competition and Ben Vanderwal, one of Australia’s preeminent jazz drummers, were joined by South Korean double bassist Soonyong Lee, who anchored the quartet in a way that was reminiscent of the great American bassist, Charlie Haden.

As a surprising coincidence Lee and Borring had both studied together in Amsterdam in the early 2000s and independently decided to move to Perth in late 2017. Here is resounding evidence that Perth is being considered a jazz city internationally.

This concert was to launch Borring’s latest recording Out of Nowhere, available on CD and also on Bandcamp, an online record store providing unlimited streaming of purchases. The CD was recorded in London and consists mainly of Borring’s originals. The guitarist has lived in Holland, Wales and England before moving to Perth and in non-pandemic times frequently performs and records throughout Europe. Compositions such as Three Rivers inspired by a location on the German/Austrian border and Nosda inspired by a location in Cardiff contrasted atmospherically with the sounds of the Indian Ocean, heard between tunes from the nearby Bathers Beach.

A man with blonde hair holds a brown wooden guitar with his eyes closed and a smile on his face
World class jazz guitarist Kristian Borring played with clarity and subtlety. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij

Kristian Borring eschews the jazz rock fusion style so prominent in guitar for several decades and provides a far more contemporary, lyrical approach, inspired by guitarists such as Pat Metheny, Jesse Van Ruller and Kurt Rosenwinkel. This approach in turn owes something to the legacy of earlier jazz guitarists such as Wes Montgomery and Jim Hall.

The quartet performed at an almost acoustic volume and Borring’s dark wood, handmade Victor Baker archtop guitar provided a clarity and subtlety that was most satisfying. Borring’s compositions similarly display a lyricism as well as logic that takes the listener on a journey and inspires further listening. The exquisite ballad What You See Is All There Is underlines Borring’s lyricism as well as the cerebral nature of his approach and was inspired by the book Thinking Fast and Slow by Israeli writer Daniel Kahneman.

An audience’s concentration can be taxed by two sets of original compositions so it was a good ploy to include the famous Charlie Parker blues Bloomdido which is the last track on the CD. A swinging 4/4, it acted as a panacea to the original repertoire in the second set. It may have been advisable to have included another standard in the first set.

Having now listened to the CD, recorded with top UK musicians, there is no doubt our best players are more than up to the task of complex jazz repertoire. A proven world-class jazz guitarist, a newly arrived bassist and two of Perth’s finest jazz musicians demonstrated the quality that now exists in our local jazz scene. From Vanderwal’s drum introduction on the first tune of the evening Five to Six to the brilliant ensemble playing on Hipster that had Mitchell’s piano trading with guitar, this was jazz at the highest level.

The album Out of Nowhere is available from Kristian Borring’s website.

Disclaimer: Kristian Borring is a reviewer for Seesaw magazine.

Pictured top: The Kristian Borring Quartet play Kidogo Arthouse. Photo: Bohdan Warchomij

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Author —
Garry Lee

Garry Lee has played jazz vibraphone and guitar for over 50 years. He was a founding jazz teacher at WAAPA has also been a jazz writer, jazz composer/leader, Churchill Fellow and artistic director. Born in Essex soon after WW2, his favourite playground equipment was dismantled tanks and cannons.

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