Monday, 30 May 2016

"Noëlle et les Papillons" Noëlle Rollings Launches "French Exchange" St Lawrence Chapel Ashburton Sunday 28 May 2016

Noëlle Rollings

Noëlle Rollings
Gaëlle Hammond  
"Christmas on Saturn" 2015
On 13 December last year two masked figures were seen singing and dancing at the Seven Stars Hotel in Totnes. On Saturday night this week there was a chance to see behind the masks as Noëlle Rollings & Gaëlle Hammond, plus all the other members of 'Noëlle et les Papillons' launched their new album "French Exchange" at St Lawrence Chapel in Ashburton as part of Andy Williamson's 'Ashburton Live' series.

An intriguing venue
St Lawrence Chapel
St Lawrence Chapel is a fascinating venue. It was originally a gift from the Bishop of Exeter to the town, and later became a private school. The chapel was still being used as a school in the 1980s and the main performance space still bears the graffiti of generations of Ashburton scholars.

Located in the narrow St Lawrence Lane, the chapel is hard to find but well worth the effort with many exciting events taking place there.

Master of Ceremonies
Andy Williamson
On Ashburton Live nights, the organiser, Andy Williamson (who is also a member of 'Noëlle et les Papillons'), is generally in attendance to greet the audience and introduce the bands.

As an honorary 'Papillon', tonight was also the night for Andy to delight us all with his clarinet and saxophone playing. The line-up went far beyond clarinet and saxophone, however.

Alex Worsley
Acoustic & Electric Guitar
with Noëlle Rollings
Backing Vocals:
Gaëlle Hammond
Things started modestly enough though, with Alex Worsley strumming gently on his acoustic guitar to accompany Noëlle's first song "The Secret". Equally gently, Gaëlle Hammond augmented the lyric with her own redoubtable voice.

Les Papillons
Guitar: Alex Worsley - Vocals: Noëlle Rollings
Flugelhorn: Graham Hutton - Clarinet: Andy Williamson
Trombone: Bob Martin

Bob Martin
Without ceremony, the door behind the stage then opened and the remaining 'Papillons' processed calmly onto the stage. The amazing horn section was made up of Graham Hutton (flugelhorn & trumpet), Andy Williamson (clarinet & tenor saxophone) and Bob Martin (trombone). Behind them Gaëlle Hammond continued with backing vocals and occasional percussion, while the rhythm king, Steve Crossen, was in charge of the main drum-kit.

Bass Guitars:
Marcus Vergette
Joining Gaëlle was Marcus Vergette playing alternately acoustic and electric bass guitar - each with equally steadfast and commanding style. Also somewhat out of sight, standing behind his elevated Korg keyboard, was Tom Unwin (whose daughter Lilli played St Lawrence Chapel on Sunday 15 May 2016 with the 'Lilli Unwin Band').

Tom Unwin

Solo performances featured prominently in the ensuing two hours of musical pleasure, with each performer having a chance to demonstrate their prowess on a variety of instruments. Pride of place was, however, always reserved for Noëlle herself whose lyrical excursions were quite outstandingly brilliant.

"French Exchange"
Album now on
general release
The album "French Exchange", featuring all the music performed at Ashburton, is now on general release. The songs follow Noëlle's life from Dartington College of Arts to London, to Normandy and back to Devon.

The styles vary greatly, from explosive ensemble playing, and wild harmonising by Noëlle and Gaëlle, to the minimalist "Snow Came Down" (in London) accompanied with supreme subtlety on keyboard by Tom Unwin.

"French Exchange":
Noëlle Rollings
There is even time for a very thoughtful recital of French poetry during the title track, "French Exchange". The set ends with the extraordinary bonus track, "Rex in the City" following the exploits of Noëlle's pet dog in London, with appropriate sound effects.

All of this work has been painstakingly created and realised over six years by Noëlle Rollings herself, with the invaluable help of her spectacularly talented 'Papillons'.

(Ashburton Live sessions continue at St Lawrence Chapel on Sunday 19 June (8pm) when Lee Gibson, Singer and Teacher at the Guildhall School of Music, will join Saxophonist Martin Dale and his Quartet for another spectacular evening of live music.)

Tremendous Tenor
Saxophone Solo
Andy Williamson

is totally sent

Graham Hutton prepares
for a blistering trumpet solo
Glimpsed briefly
Keyboard: Tom Unwin - Drums: Steve Crossen
Sensational vocals & subtle muted trumpet - magical!
Lyricism squared
Backing Vocals: Gaëlle Hammond

Noëlle also accompanies herself on Spanish Guitar
Alex Worsley is also a mean axe-man
The Boys
Graham Hutton, Andy Williamson, Bob Martin
An unexpected accompaniment
from the back of the hall
Tenor Saxophone: Andy Williamson
enters into an awesome double-act
Time stands still for the mighty trombone
Bob Martin
That horn section!
Ces Papillons!
Papillon Belle Dame!

1 comment:

  1. We agree with this fab review, we were there! Noelle et Les Papillons were a "class act". Nick & Carmel