The Portico Quartet is a contemporary modern jazz and ethnic fusion ensemble from South London, England. Formed in 2005, the band was initially inspired to play via founding member Duncan Bellamy's purchase of an exotic yet contemporary instrument, the hang, at a music festival. The hang, invented in 2000 in Switzerland, is a metallic lap drum with clamped shells, the melodious sound of which resembles both a steel drum and Balinese metallaphone. Where the quartet's influences clearly reference modern jazz and African music, the trance-like sonics of the hang draw closer comparisons to minimalists Philip Glass and Steve Reich, or gamelan music. A weekly session at the South Bank and residency at the Brixton Ritzy earned them a cult following. It also inspired London's premier jazz club, the Vortex, to start a record label to release their music. Championed by archivist and historian/mixer Gilles Peterson, the Portico Quartet's debut release, Knee Deep in the North Sea, was acclaimed as jazz, folk, and world music Album of the Year for 2007 by Time Out magazine, and was a Mercury Music Prize honoree for 2008. The Portico Quartet are comprised of Jack Wylie on soprano saxophone, Milo Fitzpatrick on acoustic bass, and Nick Mulvey and Duncan Bellamy playing the hang and percussion instruments. Their modern contemporary sound has been favorably compared to the diverse, ethnic-flavored work of Ben Allison, E.S.T., and the Cinematic Orchestra. ~ Michael G. NastosPortions of Content Provided by Rovi Corporation.
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