Review: Blow the Bloody Doors Off at the Barbican



Terry Edwards Ensemble: Blow the Bloody Doors Off
(Barbican, February 6th 2014. Review by Andrew Cartmel)


Following the Barbican's tribute to the film scores of Nino Rota during the London Jazz Festival we now have a celebration of music associated with the films of Michael Caine. Musical director and driving force behind the project is multi instrumentalist Terry Edwards, who has cherry picked some truly great soundtracks for the evening: Alfie by Sonny Rollins, The Italian Job by Quincy Jones, The Ipcress File by John Barry and Get Carter by Roy Budd.

The concert kicked off with a beautiful, fat blast of tenor sax from Finn Peters as the ensemble launched into Alfie. Terry Edwards came in on flugelhorn, harmonising the groove and Jack Pinter, also on sax, took a lovely solo. James Johnston’s romping, plunging guitar added a rock dimension while Seb Rochford on drums and Mark Bedford on upright bass laid the foundations in tight and splendid fashion. Finn Peters led us out to a strutting, assertive conclusion and the concert was off to a flying start.

The Main Title from The Ipcress File was conjured up with gorgeously eerie flute from Peters and Pinter and great, pulsing, feather-touch cymbals from Seb Rochford. Rose Moore’s spectral dulcimer was a wonderfully distinctive, spooky sound. Meanwhile Terry Edwards was providing impressive Miles Davis-style muted trumpet — right down to playing with his back to the audience. The guy sitting next to me murmured, “This is fantastic.” And he was right. Impressionist dapples of sound combined to create a pleasurable rising tension which the listener didn’t want to end.

Meeting With Grantby and Fight (also from Ipcress) saw the tension continue to rise thanks to Mark Bedford’s superlative subterranean chords. His upright bass was answered by a striking, strident figure from Jack Pinter’s sax, while James Johnston supplied sheer menace on the guitar. The flutes were needle sharp, Terry Edward’s trumpet searching and strident and percussionist Steve Gibson worked magic with his rolling vibes.

A Man Alone 2 was distinguished by fine, breezing bongos from Gibson, minimalist guitar, and bold unison sax, before Jack Pinter unfurled an eloquent solo. Seb Rochford reached new heights here, keeping an intoxicating pulse going on cymbals and rims to accompany Gibson’s wicked bongos.

A brassy 007 style intro launched The Death of Carswell, giving way to Johnston’s tense strumming on guitar and Pinter’s weightless, floating flute. Then Seamus Beaghen’s gorgeous Nord electric harpsichord and Terry Edward’s great voodoo trumpet took over.

Delicate, skeletal electric harpsichord from Beaghen was also a feature of A Man Alone 3, as was Finn Peter’s groovy, chirping bossa flute. And Rose Moore came back with her exquisite dulcimer.

The Nord harpsichord also featured strongly in the segment of the concert devoted to The Italian Job. The theme song On Days Like These was sung, very appropriately by Matt Monro Jnr. (his father sang the original) with Maggi Ronson and Tracie Hunter on backing vocals. Jenny Adejayan’s String Quartet now came into play, featuring Howard Gott and Alice Zawadzki on violin and Vince Sipprell on viola. With chunky guitar from James Johnston and sweet stabs of muted trumpet from Terry Edwards, this was a retro 1960s treat.

On Britannia and Mr Bridger the elegant, baroque prettiness evoked by the string section and harpsichord was momentarily dismantled by Mark Bedford’s sweet, thundering bass before coming together again. Bedford’s slinky, strutting tomcat bass then led into a funky Greensleeves and All That Jazz. Seamus Beaghen’s meticulous, dexterous electric harpsichord was astonishingly good, managing to extract a Count Basie feel from this unlikely instrument. It was another standout moment for Seb Rochford with his plump drum fills and adroit brush work. But the real treasure here was Finn Peter’s luscious, liquid flute which fluttered through the piece like a bird in a bush. This jokey, tongue in cheek tune was an unexpected highlight of the evening.

The Main Theme from Get Carter saw Rose Moore’s delirious dulcimer back with a vengeance, tasty ripe bass from Bedford and addictive slapping tablas from Rochford, with Seamus Beaghen’s chiming, grooving Hammond organ riding over it all.

This was a charming, cheering, life-affirming evening of music drawn from unlikely sources and Terry Edwards is to be congratulated for pulling it all together. Despite a city-wide tube strike and grinding transport misery on the night, there was a packed house and a highly enthusiastic audience for this gig.

Read Andrew's preview HERE

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