Abel Selaocoe, Manchester Collective and Chesaba in Sirocco at Ryedale Festival 2021


I’m in the zone now. Curated playlist concerts are my new thing. If I was down with the kids, I might even say they’re my ‘new jam’. But I won’t do that. Because that would be a bit corny. And I’ve probably said it wrong. And I’ve probably made myself look like a twat. Regardless.

Perched on the stage in the Milton Rooms, Malton, every available surface painted various shades of blue, members of the Manchester Collective and Chesaba were accompanied by cellist Abel Selacoe who swung from one group to the other with ease.

This was a collaborative creation. From time to time music stands were deliberately set to one side. Musicians leaned in. Smiles got wider and brighter. Heels dug in even more.

“We look for the string that binds us together,” said Selaocoe back-announcing two pieces in the set – the second movement from Haydn’s Op.54 No. 2 followed by an African hymn the name of which escapes me, but the emotional impact absolutely didn’t. Touching, lump in the throat stuff.

Four Dramatic Miniatures from Danish composer Hans Abrahamsen brought enthralling edge-of-the-cliff drama, minimalism, and a plaintive statement, concluding with a frenetic pizzicato frenzy with a clever echo effect created across four string players.

Later in a traditional South African song ‘Shaka’ Chesaba percussionist gave us a heartfelt melismatic plea, after which soft strings and a plucked electric bass gave things an altogether festival vibe. When voices joined in, it was all a bit too much to contemplate. Yet another example of how just a handful of musicians can create something so very uplifting.

Selaocoe tried his best to get us singing along and – ‘COVID permitting’ – to dance along as well, but it wasn’t going to happen really. This was mid-afternoon on a weekday. And we’re all achingly middle class. And British (majority Yorkshire).

But this was as expected, incredible musicianship. Keep an eye out for Sidiki on drums in particular. Quite how he doesn’t finish a gig with bleeding hands I’m not entirely clear.

Abel Selaocoe and Chesaba join the BBC National Orchestra of Wales at the BBC Proms on 15th August.