Thursday, 21 July 2011

Exeter Chamber Choir performs Andrew Daldorph's 'Mass for Life' with Jazz Quintet, Newton St Cyres Tuesday 19th July

Exeter Chamber Choir with Jazz Quintet
The Parish Church of St Cyr & St Julitta
Newton St Cyres

Norman Waldron and Tina Guthrie
(to his immediate left)
sing 'Go Down Moses'

Anyone listening to the 'Classical Journey' this Tuesday would have heard that the previous Saturday's 'Mass for Life' concert at Beer by the Exeter Chamber Choir would be repeated at Newton St Cyres that evening, but without the Jazz Quintet.

Nevertheless, the Church of St Cyr and
St Julitta in Newton St Cyres was packed on Tuesday night and everyone was surprised - and delighted - to see that the full jazz line-up had returned to give us all a very special evening of entertainment.

Keith Wainwright and Henrietta Vercoe
(to his immediate left)
sing 'Steal Away'
The choir opened with three spirituals from Michael Tippet's 'A child of Our Time'. To the accompaniment of the jazz quintet, and the sensuous harmonies of the choir, a series of soloists stood forward. First Norman Waldron and Tina Guthrie sang 'Go Down Moses'. Then Keith Wainwritht sang that great favourite, 'Nobody Knows the Trouble I see'. Finally Keith was joined by the high clean soprano voice of Henrietta Vercoe for 'Steal Away'.

Mike Thorne
and his soulful double bass
The choir then took a break while the quintet played Miles Davis's 'All Blues'. Three of the players were familiar as members of 'Chris Gradwell and Friends' - or 'Le Jazz' as they have sometimes been known. Front and centre was virtuoso double bassist Mike Thorne, amazing us with his outrageous solos and having the last word as always with his trademark closing notes. Tucked away on the far left was Chris Gradwell himself. His saxophone filled the building with deliciously sweet sound. Leading all, in many different roles - St Cyr and St Julitta Church Organist, Musical Director of the Exeter Chamber Choir, and composer and pianist with 'Le Jazz' - was Andrew Daldorph. Instead of the guitar playing of Andrew Barrett, the three friends were accompanied by the trumpet (and flugel horn!) of Brian Moore and the drums of Toby Perrett.

Toby's brushed snare and Brian's muted trumpet melted into the sustained notes of Chris's sax. Andrew, still standing with his back to us played one of his glorious piano solos, before giving way to Chris, who stood to deliver an amazing solo of his own. Toby's drum solo was accompanied by Mike's steady bass which set the pews reverberating. Mike polished things of on the bass in his inimitable style.

Chris Gradwell
inspired saxophone playing
The remainder of the first half was taken up by seven of Shakespeare's Sonnets, set to music by George Shearing, and sung by the choir with jazz accompaniment. The sound was lighthearted as a Broadway musical but also exhuberant and joyous. In 'Spring', based on 'Love's Labour's Lost', Henrietta Vercoe was joined by Val Howels and Sally Daldorph in a shameless chorus of 'Cuck-oo', backed up by a deep bass ripple from the men. 'Hey Ho, The Wind and Rain' gave way to a brilliant jazz finish by Andrew on the piano.

Finally the choir sang another spiritual, this time arranged by Andrew Daldorph himself. His own personal favourite, 'Deep River', was slow and emotive and filled with real joy. Chris added a really big sax solo and Toby Perrett on drums was really enjoying himself. A brief a cappella section led into the big finish by the full jazz quintet. Perfect.

After the interval we heard a piece of music which topped everything! Andrew Daldorph's own composition 'A Mass for Life'. Many people who had heard this on Saturday were back to hear it again.

Andrew Daldorph - piano
Chris Gradwell - soprano sax
'Soarin' High'
Chris Gradwell opens with an incredible passage for soprano saxophone. The choir then sing Kyrie Eleison in Latin - and English. "Lord Have Mercy" as we've never heard it before!
'Gloria' on trumpet and drums was something new again, and the choir put a really jumping rhythm into the latin text. As the sound reached it peak, soprano Ann Draisey cut in with "O Jesus Christ, you take away the sins of the world" reaching up to the very highest top notes, before repeating the performance - in Latin! All the time the fierce tungsten light behind her limned her blonde hair in a halo of celestial light - a really magical sight and sound. The big 'Amen' that followed was really phenomenal, with Andrew dragging every last ounce of energy out of the choir.
'Sanctus' featured jazz riffs and groovy links on trumpet. Andrew joined in on piano building the power before the sudden, startlingly abrupt, end.
'Benedictus' was a soft night club style jazz instrumental with the piercing sound of Brian's unmuted trumpet. An amazing sound.
'Agnus Dei' was very very light. That unmuted trumpet came again, but again it broke through in just the right way. Mike had another big bass finish accompanied by a beautiful humming chorus from the choir. Just for a change Brian was allowed to have the last word on his trumpet.
Then came a very very special moment in the proceedings. Anyone who stayed tuned to Phonic FM until 12.30 on Tuesday to hear the end of the extended 'Classical Journey' would have heard the show close with the music of 'Le Jazz' playing Andrew Daldorph's own composition, 'Soarin' High'. Following the Agnus Dei at Newton St Cyres that evening, we heard an amazing live performance of 'Soarin' High' by jazz quintet which was quite breath-taking.
The choir made themselves comfortable on chairs and on the floor while the band played on. Chris opened with his amazing soprano sax solo. Gently restarting over and over again, each time with a soft chord added by Andrew on the piano. Following a series of amazing high runs by Chris the two joined forces in a duet that just got better and better. Then Andrew broke into a piano solo - and was suddenly joined by double bass and drums. After more sublime sax from Chris, Mike finished things of perfectly with a couple of soft, soft harmonics on his double bass.

Finally a big, BIG number
Ann Draisey and Sally Daldorph
throw everything into
'Let it Shine!'

(in front, Toby Perrett - drums)
Finally we had something very upbeat. 'Let it Shine' had everyone moving to the beat - especially the members of the choir. Fantastic sax, rocking trumpet and and insistent beat kept the energy going into an incredibly impressive a cappella section with drums back up, and finally an absolutely overwhelming instrumental and vocal finish. So much sound. So much energy! What an incredible finish!

John Walker of the St Cyr &
St Julitta PCC came forward to say what we were all thinking - Thanks and congratulations on an amazing piece of music perfectly performed. We all agreed! And for an encore? 'Let is Shine' all over again! Just as amazing the second time. This choir just goes from strength to strength - and Andrew Daldorph's compositions are truly a revelation!

No comments:

Post a Comment