Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Emily Saunders ESB - London Jazz Festival

Emily Saunders - Voice
Steve Pringle - Keys
We got a generous slice of Emily Saunders' imminent album release at the EFG London Jazz Festival this year. Playing before a mixed crowd of jazz lovers and first timers at 229 The Venue (20/11/2014) she had something for everyone from Brazilian dance rhythms to edgy lyrical counterpoints. The album in question, Outsiders Insiders, had just arrived from the printers but the official release date will be in 2015.

A full ten musicians feature on the album itself but here at 229 the numbers were cut in half. Alongside Emily Saunders (voice) were Steve Pringle (keys), Paul Michael (bass), Shanti Jayasinha (trumpet) and George Hart (drums). The album line up boasts a fine array of musicians too including Byron Wallen, Trevor Mires, Bruno Heinen, Dave Whitford, Jon Scott, Fabio de Oliveira and a favourite of Art of Jazz, Asaf Sirkis.

Paul Michael
Bass
A quick stride into the title track of the new album, Outsider Insiders, was the only disappointment of the night. The lyrics are the strength of this tune and like in many live performances it is the words and their meaning which can be lost in the canter of performance. Take this as a compliment to the album's clarity and Saunder's writing rather than anything less savoury.

George Hart
Drums
Drummer George Hart and bassist Paul Michael laid the bait for You caught me which was haunting and tantalisingly strung out. If this was a waiting game then it was Emily Saunders who laid the bait and us who fell into her trap. It was breathy and spoke of hot sands and empty worlds.

Again there was a breathlessness in the sultry Reflections. If I were to get lost in the distant memories that this song evokes then it would be with Steve Pringle. His gentleness and subtlety on keyboard were a pleasure to hear. It is the first time I have seen Pringle step out from behind the camera and it was an enjoyable challenge to contain his bouffant in the sketchbook.

Shanti Jayasinha - Trumpet
Without being too sycophantic, Shanti Jayasinha is a man who lives up to his reputation. Alongside Saunders on Summer Days they gave one of those elevated performances that is reminiscent of a singer like Mark Murphy, where the voice matches the altitude of the imagination. I haven't drawn him since my early days when I sketched him in a Kelvin Christiane quintet at Café Posk. What I didn't realise that night, but now seems irrefutable to me, is that his rhythm is of the infectious kind. It is in the sway of the shoulders and the richness of sound.

'Residing' brought Shanti Jayasinha to his pulsing best, he was forceful in solo and ensemble. It was a groove reinforced by George Hart on drums, his head rolled, a smile crossed the face and sporadically there was a bunny hop that flipped him up off his stool. This stood proud as a live performance, Emily Saunders had a tenacity and a strength of line. This night she captured a tension between the upbeat call of the carnival and thoughtful lyrics that plant a seed in the mind. Sometimes they flowered into romantic ideals and occasionally they grew into thorns of the sinister kind.

AL.

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