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Bebop Spoken There

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As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Ruthie Culver and the Utter Jazz Quartet with readings of the works of W H Auden by Nikolas Grace @ Hexham Abbey. Sept 20.

(Review by Peter Ninnim.)
The theme of the concert was  Benjamin Britten's songs with W H Auden's words re-arranged into a jazz score! I was sceptical at first but within a few minutes it was obvious that this was going to be something special. There were so many good things that it is hard to know where to start. Each piece of music was followed by an extract from a W H Auden poem read with great care and feeling by late stand in Nikolas Grace. The pieces were modern jazz to gentle rock; jazz waltz to samba and swinging like mad in places.
Some of you will be familiar with the poem from 4 weddings and a funeral called Funeral Blues and this was one of the outstanding pieces in the second half with a sensitive vocal performance by Ruthie Culver and moving playing by bassist Jonny Gee. Many of the readings were humorous but most were deep, although quite short, messages of intensely felt emotion. Miss Culvers’ singing was a masterclass in clarity of diction and the vocal gymnastics necessary on some of the songs reminded me throughout of Cleo Laine, every aspiring singer in the region should have been listening. This was particularly evident on Now the leaves are falling fast which was supported throughout by stunning piano accompaniment by Dan Hewson and  by the coolest drumming I have heard in years by Andrea Trillo; (Italian George Clooney look alike I'm told).
The final number, When you're feeling like expressing your affection, had a gentle bluesy funk feel to it and had everyone in the audience of over a hundred people moving in their seats. I haven't mentioned Mick Foster so far but he was ever present playing Bass Clarinet; Flute; Soprano, Baritone and C Melody Sax and very evident on this song. Wow!
I should mention that Dan Hewson played trombone as well as piano; Jonny Gee also produced a trumpet or flugelhorn so there was a proper horn section at times!
Despite tickets being £14.00 I thought 100 people was an amazing audience and talking to everyone afterwards it was apparent that the band had made a huge hit. It was great to see the whole group including Nikolas Grace talking to the audience in the interval and after the show. A lesson to all bands I feel.
One last word. The sound system was balanced beautifully and despite the high ceiling and stone walls we could hear every note.
Great concert, thanks Hexham.
Peter Ninnim.

1 comment :

Lance said...

I'm glad I didn't go - my review couldn't have matched that! Thank you Peter, your BSH badge is in the post.

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