Tuesday, November 18, 2008

A Review of the last ever Sunday Supplement at the Millfield Theatre

sunday supplement logo
Although it was a year ago here is a review of the last ever Millfield Theatre Sunday Supplement..
This was a review done by those fantastic people at Jazzrefreshed who continue to do some great work bringing music to the community..Thanks for sending along a reviewer, when we also tried to have some others come along to review the shows, the silence was deafening yet when we played at the South Bank centre a week later quite a few were there in the crowd who had come along to see something else but stood there with there mouths open like they were in shock!with one coming up and he actually said "I didn't realise it was going to be so good,you know covering Slavery and that" Yet we were not able to have another review.
Anyway Before the two commissioned shows at Millfield and at the South Bank there was a launch event held at the Houses of Parliament where I was invited to play solo Marimba I played three segments of the "Routes Through Roots" commission the first Imancipation "Hey man stay patient" the second Caribbean = "Carry we Beyond" the third "Democracy" "They mock us you see".
The ensemble consist of Corey Mwamba,HKB Finn,Pat Thomas,Richard Anthony Davis and myself. Here kindly reprinted with permission from Darren Taylor of Jazz Refreshed below is the review.

Orphy Robinson - 18th November

Wednesday, November 21st, 2007

Gig Review – Orphy Robinson18th November – Millfield Theatre

As I’m sure most of you are aware there have been celebrations to mark this bi-centenary for the abolition of the Slave Trade Act throughout the world; perhaps more so in the jazz world. In celebration for this event Orphy Robinson was asked to bring together some of the great musicians and poets together and produce some new pieces for this event ‘Routes Through Roots’

The stage was set; the lighting dimmed and smoke was just shimmering on the platform. Instruments littered the stage before us and I was expecting Orphy to stride out with a large collection of fellow musicians to speak their words on their feelings and thoughts. What emerged from behind the curtains wasn’t the entourage I expected; rather five musicians came forth and brought their music to the auditorium.

This has to have been one of the best live gigs I have been to in a while. You got a definite impression that besides making music the band actually had something to say, which is so refreshing to hear. It is all too easy to get lost in getting technically brilliant in your improvisations or getting the band really tight together – but what’s really important is the message you want to put across and Orphy and the band couldn’t have put this across any better. From the moment the band started playing until the moment they stopped there was music – no piece ended, no clapping allowed – just the music. It added a sense of story to the pieces – that the story of those forced into slavery didn’t stop and cut and paste into neat little sections – but rather that it was a constant, on-going life.

Despite being only five players the band wasn’t limited on the sounds that they could produce during this non-stop 40-minute set. Robinson and Corey Mwamba constantly shifted instruments – from the more standard drums and bass, to dulcimer’s and ethnic instruments that I’d not come across before. All the time Pat Thomas kept the sounds looping and introduced sounds of his own by replaying out sounds, samples as looping outs sounds that were taken as the musicians played. Even the lighting matched the mood of the pieces they were playing and shifted when the sounds on stage shifted too. The result was outstanding.

The opening number began with Orphy Robinson on trumpet – starting us off with a lilting trumpet solo, which reminded me of the opening riff on Byron Wallen’s latest album. This sound was looped and played back throughout the number so Orphy could move on and layer on further instruments. It also allowed other players to intertwine with his opening statement and develop the idea further with the original material still there. Such a rich complex texture was created out of something so simple that it was mesmerising. Sometimes you had to check to see who was playing what instrument to decipher what was live and what was looped. The rich tapestry was taken further by blending in the vocal talents of HKB Finn and Richard Anthony Davis.

Richard Anthony Davis’s vocals range, and timbre, were impressive and his melody lines shifted and blended around the sounds around him. I think this ability to blend with the fellow musicians, as well as lead, contrasted well with the spoken words taken from HKB Finn. Everything Finn did and said drew you attention to him, even just the way the man sat brought your attention to him and made you think ‘there’s someone who has something to say’. The words he spoke were deep in meaning and beautifully portrayed. Such were the emotions behind the words and such thought gone into each word spoken that the effect was superb.

The impact of the vocals, both sung and spoken, were heightened by the music behind and around them. Each of the players were masters of their instruments. Pat Thomas was great to watch – seeing him play jazz piano as well as improvising using all elements of the piano – this included hitting the strings with a small hammer and making scratching noises along the strings too, to add to the despair and angst of the music. Each used perhaps less standard practises of playing their instruments to add further depth, sound and colour to the performance. As each player added different styles they interacted really well – all interpreting and adding to the sounds around them.

During this 40-minute set we were given a sample of Orphy’s new pieces that it would be fair to class as a single performance than as separate tracks. But within that one performance there is a wide range of styles, colours and textures. The effect is having the chance to listen to great musicians perform some deeply moving pieces of music that allow you to reflect on both life and the past all in one.

For further info go to: www.myspace.com/orphyrobinson or www.orphyrobinson.com

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