Review: Get the Blessing/ Beats 'n' Pieces Big Band


Review: Get the Blessing and Beats & Pieces.
(Ronnie Scotts, January 19th 2011, review by Fran Hardcastle)


An double bill of genre-smashing music brought in a young, energetic crowd to Ronnie's on Wednesday night.

The powerful rock-heavy band Get The Blessing got the evening off to a storming start. Former Portishead bass guitarist Jim Barr sets up prog rock bass lines underpinning some hard blowing from Jake McMurchie on saxophone and some sleek trumpet playing from Pete Judge.

The composition style is fresh and very distinctive. Several of the charts seem to fluctuate between aggressive, punky funk and languid St Germain rhythms underpinning seemless lyrical horn lines. A new tune gave us an interesting start from Clive Deamer on drums, swapping sticks for maracas. The two horn players use of the loop pedal to create siren like effects over the top created a wall of electronic sound. This is music for anyone and everyone. Barr, a man with an anti-establishment offbeat charm frequently introduced the music as being for anyone ‘allergic to jazz’. Following on from the Led Bib and Polar Bear school, it’s music that is hard to categorise and all the better for it.

Manchester big band, Beats and Pieces, making their Ronnie Scott's debut, continued an evening of originality with a riotous start, with a eyebrow raisingly good solo from keys player, Patrick Hurley. Ben Cottrell’s arrangements are infused with electronic effects. The sound is edgy and appealing. The inspiration of the Matthew Herbert Big Band and Orchestre National de Jazz was quite clear to see. The original composition from tenor player Ben Watts gave us a glimpse of a talented young sax section. A combative solo in the Trio VD ilk from soprano player Sam Healey was followed by smooth organic ripplings from Watts.

The vocal chart Broken featured the pre-recorded beautiful voice of Esther Swift to an ethereal ballad. The invisible voice added to the atmosphere of the music, but it was a disappointment to hear her disembodied voice rather than singing live. Presumably it was a cost factor, big bands being unfeasibly expensive to tour. Which is a shame, because bands like this deserve to get out there and be heard.

Another vocalist appearing virtually was Thom Yorke of Radiohead, his vocals delivered by laptop in luscious arrangements of that band's songs which used a rich harmonic palette.

‘I keep him in there for special occasions,’ joked Ben Cottrell. Special occasions like this should happen more often.

Get the Blessing are on tour extensively in France in February and in Germany/Austria in March. DETAILS HERE

Beats n Pieces website has Clive Davis' Times review of the gig..

Bests n Pieces are also finalists for the European Jazz Prize Burghausen 2011

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