Babelfish – 10 January 2020

“Babelfish

Brigitte Beraha is an explorer, an improviser, a singer who thinks deeply about the lyrics. She sang for us on Friday backed by a superb trio.

On stage were Brigitte Beraha on vocals, Barry Green on piano, bassist Chris Laurence and drummer and percussionist Paul Clarvis.

The programme was very well balanced, with songs by Brigitte and Barry, some standards, and a few surprises. Aaron Copland’s composition of Emily Dickenson’s poem “Heart, We Will Forget Him” was turned into a lovely, sad jazz ballad, which somehow segued naturally into “I’m Always Chasing Rainbows” (Harry Carroll composer, Joseph McCarthy lyricist).

But a bigger surprise was a song that Brigitte considers the most beautiful one ever written. It was written in the late 1600s by Henry Purcell. It is “Dido’s Lament” from Purcell’s “Dido and Aeneas”. The band began and ended with a close and beautifully played and sung rendition of the Purcell, but the central part of the song was filled with quite amazing cross improvisations by the whole band.

Brigitte sang the verse as well as the chorises of Victor Schertzinger and Johnny Mercer’s “I Remember You”. I love singers that sing the verse. Brigitte scats a lot, but varies the articulations to suit the songs, as in this one.

I love what they did with Jobim’s “Wave”. Paul plays the most expressive tambourine. Barry had a stunning solo. Paul and Brigitte had a fascinating duet. Chris’ solo was superb.

It was a very good night,

Next week a 12 piece band, “Pavillon”, led by French horn player Jim Rattigan. The band features saxophonists Martin Speake on alto, Andy Panayi on tenor and Mick Foster on baritone, Percy Pursglove, Robbie Robson and Steve Fishwick on trumpet, Mark Nightingale and Sarah Williamson on trombone, pianist Hans Koller, double bassist Dave Whitford and Martin France on drums. It will be a great evening. Don’t miss it.

Take care,

Dave

Ian Shaw with Barry Green – 3 January 2020

“Ian

After Friday’s gig, I was wondering about why I loved the gig so much, just one voice and pianist, But what a voice, what a pianist!

Ian Shaw‘s basic instrument is excellent. It is what he does with it that is so amazing. He has complete control of timbre, intonation, enunciation, dynamics, phrasing, and probably a bunch more components of voice that I don’t know about. More important is how he uses that control. He is an improvising singer, and his flights of improvisation make the words have more meaning.

Barry Green says he is working on “the right number of notes” (as Stan Tracey said), Without a pile of virtuosity, which I know he has, the phrasing and dynamics need to be perfect in the moment as he hears Ian sing, and they are. He gave us many thoughtful solos.

That’s right, Ian, don’t tell the sound guy about a special guest. Hannah Horton played sax on the seventh tune of the first set, and again in the second set, and her tenor sounded just fine unamplified.

Ian had constructed a delightfully varied and meaningful programme, and his presentation of the music was often great fun, and always interesting. I loved it when he sang so beautifully the rarely heard verse of Richard Rogers’ “With a Song in My Heart”. “September in the Rain” (Harry Warren composer, Al Dubin lyricist) gave us a chance to hear some wonderful extended scatting in this up tempo version of the song.

Barry’s accompaniment on Jimmy Webb’s “Wichita Lineman” was sparse, with lovely phrasing, each note placed just right. His solo on Jack Segal’s “I Keep Going Back to Joe’s”, one of my favourite songs, was wonderful.

Leonard Cohen started as a poet, and wrote some novels, so it is not a surprise that he was a consummate lyricist. “Dance Me to the End of Love” was extra special, in a very special evening. Ian gave the words such meaning, through the whole range of his voice. Barry’s accompaniment and solo were sublime.

Next week, 10 January, Babelfish returns, Brigitte Beraha vocals, Barry Green back again on piano, Chris Laurence bass, Paul Clarvis drums/percussion.
Ian Mann says of Brigitte, “One of the most adventurous young vocalists around, a musical explorer..”.

Take care,
Dave