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Tuesday, April 10, 2018

GIJF Day 3: The Interchange Dectet Led By Issie Barratt – Sage Gateshead, April 8

Brigitte Beraha (voice); Yazz Ahmed (trumpet, electronics); Helena Kay (clarinet, alto sax); Tori Freestone (flute, ten, sop sax, violin); Issie Barratt (bari sax, bandleader); Carol Jarvis (trombone); Shirley Smart (electric cello); Karen Street (accordion); Charlie Pyne (double bass); Katie Patterson (drums, percussion)
(Review by Ann Alex/photo courtesy of Ken Drew).
Issie Barratt explained that she usually works as a composer who is given commissions to complete, but she decided that she wished to work with musicians of her own choosing to see what they could all come up with. And this is it. Ten very talented musicians, playing 10 works, which will eventually result in a CD to be called Donna’s Secret, which is also the title of a novel which has influenced one of the pieces. 
All the pieces were composed by band members or other women, and I’d describe the music as world music, influenced by jazz. I use the word pieces, rather than tunes, as each piece is complex, about ten minutes long, programmatic, as each section is descriptive of the title to some extent, and there appears to be much improvisation. Many different influences are present, Arabic and Middle Eastern tunes, folk tunes, poetry and Shakespeare.
And there is the added attraction of the (mostly) wordless vocals from Brigitte Beraha, who sings expressively in rich tones, an integral part of many of the pieces. The electronic effects also add much, such as the voices of women calling the cattle home across the valleys, in the final piece.
The piece entitled Caliban by Cassie Kinoshi, was being played for the first time ever. It began with a bowed bass and low horns in a lumbering rhythm, as you’d imagine Caliban to appear, then multi-tracked vocals and a trombone rhythm accompanying the horns, followed by accordion music.
To try to get the ‘feel’ of the music, I’ll simply list the pieces with the composer’s name.

Still Here by Karen Street, which referred to her mother, who has Alzheimer’s disease.
An Ocean Formed of Stars by Yazz Ahmed, with quotations from the poetry of Rumi, and an ethereal sound.
Spontaneous Symmetry by Tori  Freestone, luscious music.
To The Power of Ten by Nikki Yeoh.
Negomi by Nikki Iles.
Caliban as above.
Donna’s Secret by Brigitte Beraha, with sweet singing from Brigitte and the bass player.
Palmyra by Shirley Smart, my favourite piece, with a very eastern-sounding cello, concerning the recent destruction of ancient monuments.
Samla Korna Med Kulning by Issie Barratt.

There may have been another piece, Hope by Carol Jarvis, which was introduced when I was distracted by my reviewer’s pen running out!  Every reviewer’s nightmare, sorry about that.

I guess that this music would especially please jazz lovers of wide tastes who like something out of the ordinary, and also classical music fans who are familiar with programmatic music. An interesting evening’s music.
Ann Alex

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