The Portico Quartet are a 4-piece modern jazz group from London. Their sound is made distinctive by the use of the hang, a 21st Century percussion instrument used on all their tracks. They comprise Jack Wyllie (soprano and alto saxophone), Duncan Bellamy (hang and percussion), Milo Fitzpatrick (double bass), and Nick Mulvey (hang and percussion).
After nearly two years of playing mainly small gigs and busking regularly outside the National Theatre in London, they signed to Babel Label in 2007. Their first album, Knee-deep in the North Sea was released on 5th November 2007, coupled with performances at the London Jazz Festival at Purcell Room together with pianist Michiel Borstlap and drummer Bill Bruford.
From Vortex Jazz:
The buzz surrounding the Portico Quartet is somewhat reminiscent of the stir created by Polar Bear on their arrival on the UK scene some years back, and there are some musical similarities between the bands, too: each has a slightly hypnotic, insinuating approach to themes; their varied textures and easy, slow-building insistence are also similarly beguiling.
Portico Quartet's distinctive feature, however, is Nick Mulvey's hang, a sort of steel pan with a plangent but percussive sound, which sometimes makes the entire band resemble a miniature gamelan. Set against the strident skirl of Jack Wylie's soprano (used on most of the tracks) and the steady grounding pulse provided by bassist Milo Fitzpatrick and drummer/hang player Duncan Bellamy, whether the band is operating at relatively gentle, softly scurrying or swiftly pattering tempi, the hang sound is what lingers in the mind, and is undoubtedly one of the main reasons for the band's growing reputation as one of the surest draws on the contemporary jazz-and-related-musics circuit. Recommended.
Seriously, check these guys out. I heard they were playing the Big Chill and checked them out. Great modern jazz with some pretty awesome minimalist influences. They have released their first album, Knee Deep In The North Sea which I'm gonna check out now.