Tag Archives: jazz

Folk/jazz/classical: album review – Seonaid Aitken ‘Chasing Sakura’

Encompassing jazz, classical and folk influences, Chasing Sakura is a crossover album from classically-trained and award-winning jazz musician, Seonaid Aitken, her first album of entirely original material.

There have been no shortage of albums conceived during the recent pandemic that have been released over the last couple of years, across all genres. Aitken’s is a lockdown album with a difference, however, as it came about while she was recovering from a riding accident. Inspired by the cherry blossoms she would see on her daily exercise walks and with a commission to produce new music for the Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival, Aitken was prompted to create Chasing Sakura.

“In the Spring of 2021, I was recovering from a serious horse-riding accident where I broke my pelvis, ankle, small vertebrae and ribs. I would go for walks around Glasgow chasing cherry blossoms and it reminded me of my time in Japan and how I was inspired by the way they celebrate the beauty and symbolism of the Sakura season with Hanami – the traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers. The record draws inspiration from the lifespan of the cherry blossom to symbolise overall themes of hope, optimism and impermanence.”

As a versatile and much in-demand session musician, Aitken’s CV has included work with the likes of Deacon Blue, Carol Kidd, Hamish Stuart (Average White Band), Blue Rose Code, The GRIT Orchestra, James Grant and Eddi Reader. She also played violin and viola in the 2019-2020 touring production of Disney’s ‘The Lion King’. As a jazz musician and singer, she was awarded ‘Best Vocalist’ at the 2017 and 2018 Scottish Jazz Awards and, specialising in Gypsy Jazz, she performs extensively with her Scottish Jazz Award-winning ‘Best Band’ (2018) Rose Room, and as a guest with the Tim Kliphuis Sextet, Tokyo Django Collective, Swing 2020 and top jazz fingerstyle virtuoso, and former guitarist of Stephane Grappelli, Martin Taylor MBE.

On the album, Aitken (Violin and Vocals) is joined by fellow ensemble members: Katrina Lee (Violin), Patsy Reid (Viola), Alice Allen (Cello), Emma Smith (Bass) and Helena Kay (Tenor Sax and Flute).

The result is a richly evocative album from the lush, classically-inspired, jazz-infused track ‘Awakening’, whose delicate, dancing melody does exactly what it says on the tin, to the jaunty and far more folky ‘Hanami’, to the jazzy 1920s-themed ‘The Walk’. ‘Beauty and Wonder’, with its beautiful jazz-waltz theme is a track Aitken wrote specifically for a string quartet.

An album that will have huge appeal for jazz, classical and folk fans, I’ve come to it rather late to it this year but I can’t wait to put it on as the blossoms start appearing on the trees as I look out of my back window next spring.

Released: 29th April 2022

http://seonaidaitken.com/chasing-sakura/

‘Voice on Shellac’ – the stunning new live show from Laughing With The Raindrops – 10th June

Led by songwriter and performer Virginie Lacour-Puiboube , Laughing With The Raindrops bring the highly-acclaimed new album, Voice On Shellac, to a live setting with two dates announced for a stunning multi-media show: Impact Community Arts, Perivale, Ealing – Friday 10th June

“Modern jazz that crackles with the vintage vinyl tones of and vivid vintage imagery summoned in the sepia tones of the soulful story of Virginie Lacour-Puiboube.”Yack Magazine

“Laughing with the Raindrops’ music never ceases to amaze me.  What I noticed about their latest work is that it is very cerebral, yet vulnerable and relatable. If you are in London (UK) area, make sure to catch Laughing with the Raindrops at one, or all, of these upcoming live dates:”- Lakisha Skinner, Klef Notes

“And what a fine storyteller Virginie Lacour-Puiboube is.” – Jane Mann – London Jazz News

The Voice on Shellac show is a live performance of the album’s songs, synchronised to a black and white silent movie: Faded Prints. Inspired by Virginie Lacour-Puiboube’s family photo album, the songs evoke the lives and true stories of those displayed in the album.  With the film’s cast made up entirely of children, the show can be enjoyed by people of all ages and makes for captivating family entertainment.

YouTube trailer:

The silent movie’s narrative develops in tandem with the songs: Two young girls discover memorabilia in their attic. They rummage through suitcases and play games related to their findings. Starting with a “peculiar” camera that “captures memories in colour”, the girls investigate the song characters’ past, through photos, letters and a record collection that contains a recording of Virginie’s grandmother’s voice on a shellac disc.

The girls also ponder about how they will use a large sum of money they have discovered in one of the suitcases. This fortune takes them on a long journey in search of the girl in the black and white dress, from the photo album. The storyline takes the audience back and forth in time, as the girls refer to the time when they first found the memorabilia two years earlier, and to how their new, now more mature understanding sheds light on the song characters’ past through decades of love, betrayal, divorce, war, travel, life…

Live show:

Friday 10th June 2022, 7.15 pm: Impact Community Arts Centre, Perivale UB6 8GP. This show forms part of an evening of eclectic live music performances featuring women songwriter-storytellers. Ticket link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/original-eclectic-an-evening-with-women-songwriter-storytellers-tickets-292480526127

Support:

Support comes from Lutfia, a 21-year-old BIMM student and her all-girl band promoting their recently-released EP, So Much For Summer. The EP which has been described as a ‘sophisticated collection of pop songs’ incorporates a variety of different styles, including alternative pop, pop-rock, funk and dance. Each song is unique and different from the rest but her powerful mezzo-soprano voice and deeply personal lyrics make the project seamlessly cohesive. Lutfia tells stories of teenage love, mental health struggles and nostalgia, each song recounting an impactful emotion, person or place in her life.

The evening also features Little Lore, a London based, Indie-Americana singer-storyteller whose songs are both charmingly accessible and yet beguilingly challenging. In her songs Little Lore brings together an affection for the heart and heritage of Americana music, with an intelligence and maturity of storytelling that can sweep you away into new and unexpected emotional worlds. Following acclaimed work with her previous dup, Little Lore’s debut solo EP was released in 2021 to glowing reviews

About Virginie Lacour-Puiboube:

Virginie founded Laughing with The Raindrops in 2013, and their eponymous debut album was released in 2016. More recently, as she studied for an MMus in Music performance at London College of Music, Virginie focussed on the creation of narratives in song and explored the use of visual art as a combined story-telling device. Voice On Shellac was the resulting album (released on vinyl this year) and live show.

Hailing from Paris, Virginie has contributed to music projects in the UK since the late 1980s, from playing guitar in all-girl Reggae band Just Desserts and a Serge Gainsbourg tribute trio to being active on the London Jazz scene in the 90s, alongside bassist Alexander Keen and pianist Gabriel Keen, co-leading 13-piece experimental Jazz group Piano Di Lavoro, performing in London venues such as the Barbican Foyer, The Bull’s Head (Barnes), former jazz club The Bass Clef. In the mid-90s, Virginie also founded Baton Rouge, a vocal-led septet showcasing her song writing.

Laughing with The Raindrops have played at Toulouse Lautrec Jazz bar (Kennington), Map Cafe (Kentish Town), Kentish Town Arts Club, Babel Art House (Stoke Newington), London festivals, and recently premiered the show at the Etcetera Theatre in Camden.

Laughing With The Raindrops – the musicians:

Drums – David Ingamells

Bass – Alexander Keen

Piano/Keyboards – Gabriel Keen

Trumpet/Flugel – Paul Higgs

Tenor Saxophone – Theo Travis

Lead Vocal – Virginie Lacour-Puiboube

Guitar – Neil McBennett

Website: https://laughingwiththeraindrops.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laughingwiththeraindrops

Twitterhttps://twitter.com/LaughRaindrops

Folk/Jazz: album review – Scott Murray ‘There Was A Love’

Scott Murray has been a notable figure on the Scottish music scene for decades. Initially starting out playing jazz and R&B in the 1960s, he did not turn his attention to folk until the 1980s.

“In the 80s I heard Jim Reid and Rod Paterson on the radio one afternoon and my life changed. ‘Shy Geordie’ sung by Jim Reid, and ‘My Nanie O’ sung by Rod Paterson. I met Anne Combe and Fiona Forbes, and we formed Sangsters. We made a couple of Greentrax CDs, sang all over Scotland at clubs and festivals, got to go to Germany and Canada.”

Murray started tutoring with the Scots Music Group in the late 90s, and in 2010 started working with an Edinburgh-based project called Inspire which was set up to offer people affected by issues such as homelessness, mental health problems, poverty and addiction the chance to participate in music.

It was one of the highlights of my working life,” says Murray, “and led me to make a recording of my own songs, Evenin’s Fa, in 2012.”

Now, almost a decade on Scott has released a follow-up. Recorded a few days after Murray’s 75th birthday, There Was A Love takes a less folky approach than its predecessor and, with its strong jazz leanings, casts a nod back to Scott’s earlier musical life.

“I had a notion to record songs and tunes composed since then, some since lockdown, and decided to acknowledge both the days before I became a folky and our step mother, who was a fine pianist. Someone asked if I’d given up folk for jazz, and I replied that I identify as bi-musical.”

A fine collection of songs, instrumental pieces and poems set to music, eight are newly composed by Murray while the remaining two see him set the work of two of Scotland’s early twentieth century female poets to music: namely Marion Angus and Helen Cruikshank.

While the sensitive and highly evocative piano-playing of Dave Milligan is the dominant instrument throughout and while an instrumental piece (dedicated to Murray’s stepmother) opens the album, there’s also a heavy slice of brass adding texture and a warm jazz groove to several tracks and a mournful, melancholy brass band feel on another: ‘George Sanders & Gypsy Caravans’.

The album features: Scott Murray – voice; Dave Milligan – piano; Corrina Hewat – harp & voice; Tom Lyne – bass; Stuart Brown – drums; Mikey Owers – brass; Phil Bancroft – saxophones; and Martin Green – accordion.

A gentle, contemplative and in many ways, highly introspective album (save for the audaciously irresistible swagger of the New Orleans-style ‘Glenwhappen Rig’) Murray has given us a peek into his inner world that’s proved to be both thought-provoking and musically satisfying.

Released: 13th August 2021

Visit his website here

Americana/folk/jazz: album review – John Hinshelwood ‘Called Back’

John Hinshelwood is a Scottish singer-songwriter from Lanakshire. As a teenager in the 1960s the likes of The Beatles and Bob Dylan made a big impact and he was also profoundly influenced by those US West Coast bands, like The Byrds. Indeed, as well as sharing a stage with Roger McGuinn, Hinshelwood has actually recorded with late-period former Byrd, Gene Parsons, as well as putting together a tribute to ex-Byrd and ex-Burrito, the late Gram Parsons.

That was certainly going to be recommendation enough for me and I was anxious to check out Hinshelwood’s latest album. With a long career he’s got a number of albums to his back catalogue, both individually and as collaborations, mostly in the folk/country/Americana vein where he’s built his reputation.

This latest album Called Back, is something of a departure. Lyrically, the album adapts the writings of nineteenth century American poet, Emily Dickinson and transforms them into fourteen songs.  Poetry adaptations into songs is not particularly unusual in the folk/singer-songwriter genre – and I’ve reviewed plenty such examples here. Where Hinshelwood attempts something really ambitious and fairly unique, however, is in deploying a range of very different musical styles across different genres with the aim of creating music that matches the sentiment of each particular poem. We therefore get a lovely range of styles from bluegrass and Americana through to jazz and traditional folk.

The album definitely benefits from repeated listens as there is always something more that reveals itself to the listeners each time. He’s put together a fantastically diverse bunch of musicians to see him through this project, too, from members of his own regular touring band, to veteran LA session percussionist, Steve Foreman, to BBC Young Musician of The Year, David Bowden, plus many more.

An ambitious project, brilliantly executed and well worth a listen. Fans of country-tinged, folky Americana will love this album but there’s much, much more besides.

Released: 10th May 2021

http://www.johnhinshelwood.com/