Wednesday 27 January 2016

Moulettes - Wonder and Possibility

Ruth Skipper
Hannah Miller - Lead vocals, cello, guitar
Oliver Austin – Drums, guitar, percussion, vocals
Ruth Skipper – Co-lead vocals, bassoon, autoharp
Jim Mortimore – Bass, vocals
Raevennan Husbandes - Electric Guitar, co-lead vocals

Jim Mortimore
Date - 27th November 2015
Venue - Union Chapel, London
Current Album - Preternatural (Pre-order from February 2016)

Raevennan Husbandes
Next concert/gig/tour
21/04 Southampton, The Brook
22/04 Oxford, The Cellar
23/04 London, Islington Assembly Hall
24/04 Bristol, Exchange
26/04 Bury St Edmunds, Apex
27/04 Birmingham, The Oobleck
28/04 Leicester, The Musician
29/04 Edinburgh, La Belle Angele
03/05 York, The Duchess
04/05 Sheffield, Greystones
05/05 Manchester, Band on the Wall
06/05 Stroud, The Convent
07/05 Falmouth, Tolmen Centre

As you might know, this is not a blog for end of year lists, not for awarding one, nor two, nor three, nor any stars. It is rare to compare musicians or rate technique, but this concert was one that sticks in the mind and the heart. The Moulettes are worth more attention, digging that bit deeper into their music (and perhaps their ideas and motivations etc too).

Hannah Miller
Normal service resumes....

Dark earth, sickly deep. Power and enchantment but never twee. The throwing of us to the bottom of the well, our dreams on pennies or bodies, we do not know which yet.

The Observatory - Alphabetti curses, so many smears and traces like a multi-layered crime scene investigation. A death of minor kills.

Danger, spider cannibalism. Modern mythological lures, dazzling lights in the songs that pull us further into the dark sky. Modern drug addled hypnotism, the hissing of reptilian eyes.

Skin of an Octopus - Cord and trip, discord and energy, keep catching us with different traps, never with the same bait or snare.

Nematode Worm - Purpose, entwining, wrap around. A Star Trek call, aliens sucked into a vacuum of darkness with an ever decreasing echo.

Songbird - Sails in front of our eyes rather than blowing us into the storm, we are the audience once more, and for one song this is a conventional gig again. Just as we sit comfortably, re-marking the distance between us and the band, we hear the accordion of Anja McCloskey and the mystery of the penny arcade draws us closer. An automaton that deserves more than small change to bring it to life.

Anja McCloskey
Between Two Mirrors - Other worldly, again not sticking, not holding in the mold. The jelly radiates a volcanic pulse, an active ingredient, squeezing the body to make us not altogether human. Ghibli child's play, not as we remember it as safe adults but as we experience it in our youth. We felt it then, with wonder and the heat of possibility. It is the way to feel this music.


Wednesday 20 January 2016

Heg & The Wolf Chorus - White Witch

Heg Brignall
Heg Brignall - Keyboard and vocals
Vince Martin - Violin and vocals
Joseph Kelly - Double Bass and vocals
Harriet Riley - Percussion and vocals
Joseph Kelly
Date - 27th November 2015
Venue - Union Chapel, London
Current Single - The White Witch
Bristolian folk storytellers play their wondrous narratives to a sold out London audience in the Union Chapel, Islington.
Vince Martin
If it was stories that were going to be recounted then we were going to need a fire. Opening song Maiden was that spark, a song full of little snaps and crackles, brittle moments and incendiaries. Three Sailors was a bellow pump, filling lungs full of air and cresting the wave of vocals. It was like a gentle push against a sieve, not catching the pure sift that runs through the small holes but the detritus that is left. The stories of lives mostly forgotten yet still caught in the Heg and The Wolf Chorus net.
The shadow of the White Witch is cast across the fairy tale of We Praise The Storm (?). Sinister lines, wintery surprises, like cloves in your wine or the sixpence that cracks a tooth. There is a hope but it is from the calling of Heg's chant, again it is not all pure, you suspect they are Sirens, luring us to the mountain top to see the view before inviting destruction over the cliffs beyond.
Harriet Riley
When The White Witch makes her appearance it is more delicate than foreboding. Light medicinal flowers are picked with long willowy stems. Amongst the light penmanship of Culpeper's Herbs is a blotting swamping stain, an oil or a seeping poison. Heg Brignall and Vince Martin play the reedy tips of the flowers while Joseph Kelly and Harriet Riley are the cloying roots, sucking us below.



Monday 11 January 2016

New York Standards Quartet - London Jazz Festival

Tim Armacost
New York Standards Quartet
Tim Armacost – saxophones
David Berkman – piano
Michael Janisch – double bass
Gene Jackson – drums

Date - 22nd November 2015
Venue - Pizza Express Soho, London
Current Album - Power of 10 (Whirlwind Recordings)

Michael Janisch
NYSQ's latest recording, Power of 10 is their second release for Whirlwind and a tribute to their ten years of performing together. The band came together when three of New York’s busiest jazz players noticed they had one thing in common: Japan. Tim Armacost is a grammy nominated tenor saxophonist who has performed with Kenny Barron, Bob Hurst and Ray Drummond among many others, and is the group’s founder. He had lived in Tokyo several times and performed there for years. Gene Jackson, a drumming powerhouse well-known from his nine years in the Herbie Hancock trio as well as his performances with Dave Holland, the Mingus Band and Wayne Shorter, had recently married a Japanese woman and was splitting his time between New York and Tokyo. David Berkman, a fiery pianist who is both rooted in the jazz tradition and a harmonically adventurous improviser and composer, is a 30+ year NYC veteran of many bands including Tom Harrell, The Vanguard Orchestra and countless others. Berkman, also married to a Japanese woman, was traveling to Japan with increasing frequency.

Gene Jackson
Of course, it turns out they had a lot more in common than a love of Japanese culture. They had an approach to playing standards honed by their years on the NY Jazz scene, leading their own bands of original music and playing with jazz legends. Berkman, who writes much of the band’s repertoire, has a distinctive flair for re-casting well-known jazz standards in new and unexpected settings. ​On Power of 10, ​ Songs like “Deep High Wide Sky” and “Hidden Fondness” are melodies based on the chord progressions of “How Deep is the Ocean” and a reharmonized, “Secret Love”. In the band’s hands, his arrangement of the well worn standard “All of Me” becomes a daring, harmonically tense vehicle for Armacost’s mighty soprano playing and Jackson’s powerful drumming. Armacost’s arrangement of “Lush Life” brings a new perspective to this classic Strayhorn ballad and his "Green Doll’s Phone” is a playful treatment of “On Green Dolphin Street” written to showcase the brilliant technical prowess of bassist Michael Janisch who joined them for this recording. Gene Jackson, the band’s rhythmic center who drives the music forward with fire and infectious good spirits, is much in evidence throughout the session and contributes his arrangement of Elvin Jones’ “Three Card Molly.”

David Berkman
What began as a happy coincidence of three friends in a foreign land has grown into a mature collective that is more than the sum of its impressive parts. The band has toured extensively in Japan, the U.K., around Europe and the United States for ​t​en​ years. These days, that is an extremely rare accomplishment in the jazz world, where economic pressures work against band longevity. The close connection between the members is evident throughout this recording: an idea starts with one player and is picked up and developed by another​ ​risk taking and improvisation abound, but there’s a sense of warmth, enjoyment and shared purpose that permeates all of these performances.
This has become the hallmark of this group’s playing: an easy rapport with one another developed through ten years of playing together and interpreting jazz classics in a highly engaging and personal way. The audience response has been phenomenal, in part because they give the listener something familiar to grab on to, before throwing in the bends and quirks that NYSQ has become known for, creating modern shapes and visions of these well-known ​songs​. Or to quote John Fordham ​from The Guardian ​in his rave review ​from a recent UK tour:

“Deep High Wide Sky sounds like the Lee Konitz classic Subconscious-Lee, and Doll’s Phone Cause is a similarly byzantine bopper, driven hard by Janisch’s bass-walk. All of Me has an inventively reworked harmony and fresh rhythmic edge, an ominous Lush Life finds Armacost and Berkman reacting smartly to each other, and Hidden Fondness remoulds Secret Love as a vehicle for the gleeful collective energies of all four.”

As a thank you Whirlwind are  offering 30% off everything on their site from today until January 28th 2016.  Simply add the code JANUARY2016 on the Checkout page (there's a space provided that says 'enter coupon code') and your purchase price will be reduced by 30%. This discount applies on all site products: CDs, digital albums and individual tracks.

Friday 8 January 2016

London Piano Trio - Beethoven Cycle

Robert Atchison
London Piano Trio
Robert Atchison - violin
Olga Dudnik - piano
David Jones - cello

Date - 29th November 2015
Venue - St John's Smith Square
Current Album - Oleg Komarnitsky
Olga Dudnik

Next concert - 17th January 2016, St John's Smith Square

The cries of protestors echoed in the Whitehall streets just beyond the shadow cast by St John's Smith Square imposing bulk. There was a decadence, like Rome was burning outside and we sat there gorging ourselves on fine wine and good music.
A storm was being stoked, we could see the dark branches swaying through the leached glass.

Beethoven Piano Trio No.5 in D Op.70 No.1 'Ghost'.
(ii) Largo assai ed espressivo
Jagged spires and jagged light, long thin architectural glass. The piano of Olga Dudnik is the raindrops. It is a changing day, we think beyond the inconsequential passages in light and temperature, we are beyond this. The small cycles of life on earth are seen as though through glass, through the 'wrong' end of a telescope. We are the witnesses, we are the children of a higher being, with our pathetic stumbles and downcast eyes.
Olga Dudnik doesn't play by the same rules as us mortals. Robert Atchison and David Jones have the fineness and lightness of the panes we touch with our hands, we see through their eyes.

Robert Atchison

(iii) Presto
Zipped up and down.
Thousands of shoppers in Oxford Street just a few metres away.
Closing and opening coats and jumpers, joy and folly. Wafts of perfume gush into the air, hanging ready for noses. A ballet of zips and wallets. Arms linked into arms, synchronising their collars up against the wind . Pennies spilling out from pockets.

It is some time since I had seen Mr Rich Rainlore and yet there he was as though nothing had changed. Mr Rainlore had taken me under his wing many years ago, he is still going strong despite there being no new entries to his website Rainlore's World.

David Jones
Beethoven Paino Trio No.2 in G Op.1 No.2
(i) Adagio - Allegro vivace
Layers of pastry, fine filo. Mille feuille.
Indecision, neither one theme nor another. Robert Atchison's music is the beauty that flits through the party, moving from one face to another, never lingering long but always making an impression. Atchison chatters, to left, to the right, bubbling over.