Friday, 15 October 2010

Guardian review-Jazza festival (4 Stars)

Friday, October 15, 2010 at 4:21PM Gilad Atzmon

Jazza festival - review
The two-day Jazza festival has at its heart the aim of reminding Londoners about the plight of Palestinians in Gaza, and raising aid money. But political rhetoric was hardly heard in almost four hours of music at the opening show, which featured a score of players drawing on traditions from Palestinian oud music to jazzy country-rock, Geordie folk and American Songbook classics. If this diverse concert had a unifying humanitarian thread, it wasn't delivered in finger-wagging harangues, but in the music's sadness, joy, humour and compassion.
    The show's principal hook was the release of The Ghosts Within, the new album from Robert Wyatt, that downbeat and creatively political genius. The record was showcased in the concert's long finale, with subtle settings of Wyatt originals and classic Broadway love songs from the Sigamos String Quartet's violinist/arranger Ros Stephens. Wyatt himself doesn't play live now, but his chosen representative, Cleveland Watkiss, gave an accomplished and gracefully moving account of the same repertoire, with Gilad Atzmon's quicksilver sax and clarinet improvisations gliding around him.

    Palestinian singer Nizar Al-Issa opened the show with a stirring performance of songs from Ramallah, his voice vibrating and tingling between pitches like the strings of his oud. Vocalist Sarah Gillespie – a UK-residing, US-raised songwriter with a country singer's penetrating yodel, forceful delivery and lyrical wit – performed eloquently with Atzmon, on saxes, clarinet and accordion, though her vocal power could have used a little reining-in at times.

    The Unthank Sisters furnished the evening with whisper-quiet subtleties, at one point performing without mics – and their finale on Wyatt's Sea Song was hypnotic. Watkiss and Atzmon's Orient House Ensemble closed the show with The Ghosts Within. The album's title track, an anthem to the neglected, was delivered with sonorous poise by Atzmon's singer wife, Tali.

    Guardian Review: 5 stars For The Ghost Within

    DateFriday, October 15, 2010 at 4:09PM Gilad Atzmon
    Robert Wyatt/Ros Stephen/Gilad Atzmon: For the Ghosts Within - review

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    Robert Wyatt, that most eloquently lackadaisical of jazz-loving English troubadours, has made some unforgettable albums over his long solo career, but this will rank among the frontrunners. Mingling jazz standards such as Lush Life, In a Sentimental Mood and Round Midnight with a scattering of originals, and imaginatively arranged by violinist Ros Stephen for the poetic Gilad Atzmon's alto sax and clarinet and a string ensemble, it strikes a balance between tradition-observing musicality and Wyatt's knack for getting to the painful or joyous heart of things while sounding as if he has just dropped in off the street. From the moment Atzmon's vibrant alto curls around Wyatt's matter-of-fact delivery of Laura, through the microtonal clarinet intro to a vocal line mixing falsetto sounds with guttural contemplation on Lullaby for Irena, to the Sergeant Pepper-like quirkiness of electronics and vocal whimsy on Maryan, the session barely misses a beat. Wyatt offhandedly whistles his way through Round Midnight, plays movingly muted trumpet on Lush Life, and comes close to Louis Armstrong's Wonderful World for gratefully dazzled simplicity.

    River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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