Blue Flamingo Entertainments

Browsing category: Bass, Down Street, Drummer, Guitar, Musicians, Piano, Saxophone, Testimonial, Vocals
0 comments

Down Street Wedding Photos

Popular Blue Flamingo Band Down Street had the privilege of playing at a beautiful wedding just over a month ago.  The gorgeous venue was the Great Hall at Royal Holloway.
Here are some beautiful photos from Kit Myers Photography.

Reception050  Reception060 Reception049

Reception141 Reception061

0 comments

Review: Riot Ensemble @ MeWe360 30.01.2015

Riot Ensemble, Blue Flamingo, Harry Cameron-Penny MeWe360 Aaron Holloway-Nahum Blue Flamingo Kate Walter Adam Swayne

With an evening out in Soho, you never know what to expect. Sat in MeWe360 it was a surprisingly traditional urban setting.  It is a ‘modern office’, but this space with its sofas, random chairs and a piano made a great setting for chamber music – a genre as old as music itself.  It’s rare to be sitting on the floor listening to great contemporary music in such intimate surroundings and as Riot Ensemble‘s Artistic Director Aaron Holloway-Nahum  introduced the evening we knew we were in for a great night.

The programme started with Felipe Lara‘s, “Livro dos Sonhos” (Book of Dreams) a song for clarinet with piano.  Angular angry unisons began the piece which was full of timbral contrasts. Moments of diatonic melody spattered this sound world of harmonics, accents and frights with masterful clarinet control by clarinettist Harry Cameron-Penny.  Adam Swayne on Piano played with precision and the pair play very well together.

Next up was the UK premiere of Marco Momi‘s ‘Reloading Vanishing’ for solo flute.   Kate Walter played this so very engagingly. The piece calls for vocalisation, gasps, emotive outbursts as well as simultaneous flute playing. Walter’s character brought the piece alive.  A Riot Ensemble trademark is to use other media in their work (see our previous review here). This evening they had a screen with information, most interestingly a preview of the score. Thus in ‘Reloading Vanishing’ it was intriguing to read the instruction ‘confidentially’ at the top of the score, getting a glimpse of the composer’s ‘intention’.*

Amy Beth Kirsten‘s ‘Speak to Me’ for pianist finished the first half, with Holloway-Nahum introducing Kirsten’s composition style as a ‘physical not intellectual’ activity.  Swayne absolutely owned this piece – which is based on the myth of Echo, Narcissus and Juno – and eloquently (and helpfully) reminded the audience of the story.  The music has three parts.  Firstly Echo talking incessantly to distract Juno, her adulterous husband, secondly Juno cursing Echo and finally Echo frustrated that she can no longer speak.  Kirsten is just a great writer.  Her improvisational influences are so evident.  The first section is great stream-of-consciousness for pianist in which Swayne both sings/speaks and plays.  The cursing is dark and repetitive – a migraine of intensity of a curse and Swayne’s quite remarkable skill as an actor emerged as he spoke with harsh intensity.  Finally when Echo is trapped and can no longer speak, the music recalls what was once spoken and Swayne (consciously or not) realised the pain on his face. Someone had taken away his power to speak.  Echo tries to recall the music but can’t assert herself.  This is an epic piece of music by Kirsten.  The end is heartbreaking, a requiem for a voice that has been lost and a soul destroyed.

The second half  opened with Augusta Read Thomas‘ ‘Capricci’ (Hummingbird Romance) a piece inspired by New Orleans jazz improvisation.  It was a great dance for flute and clarinet and showed Thomas’ clear and intimate understanding of these instruments.  This duet was great to observe. Cameron-Penny and Walter moved together as they played demonstrating flawless technique and great virtuosity.  At moments the tonalities echoed Schoenberg just as he was beginning his 12-tone experimentation.

‘Invocation to Ate’ by Arne Gieshoff was next up, a piece focussing on obsession.  Once more the range of the flute’s colours was superbly demonstrated by Walter’s excellent technique and performance.

The night finished with two trios, the first being Jose Manuel Serrano‘s ‘Espantajo de Resca’.  Holloway-Nahum once more told the work’s story: music evoking the ghostly figures left on the sand and bark as the flood recedes from Serrano’s hometown.  This piece is an echo of an image with haunting breezes of melody.  Once again Swayne at the piano uses his voice in the work – but the eery sounds don’t add human reality to the work, rather they take it away, creating an even darker, beautiful sound.  The rich sounds from Walter and Cameron-Penny developed Serrano’s world into a beautiful soundscape.

The evening’s title piece ‘The Riot’ by Jonathan Harvey finished the night, a work designed to show the (as Holloway-Nahum put it) ‘sheer virtuosity’ of the musicians and how it was ‘utterly clear how hard’ it is to play.  This is a mayhem of a piece.  Moments of utter diatonicism (cycle of fifths, major thirds) were interspersed with exclamation and madness.   It’s actually great to hear a composer who’s not afraid to use even pulse and functional harmony every now and again – jazz influences too were clear.

It was a great concert with phenomenal music and well thought out programme. The setting was intimate and this made a big change to how the music was received:  sitting comfortably with a drink in your hand is an inviting setting.  It is a new (and yet so old) way to hear the music.  Holloway-Nahum’s great insight into the composer’s ideas and thoughts (Harvey’s daughter Anna and Gieshoff himself were present too)  made the music much more tangible and thought-provoking.

Check out the Riot Ensemble’s upcoming performances here.  Well worth it for this breath of fresh contemporary musical air.

 

Musicians
Clarinet – Harry Cameron-Penny
Piano –  Adam Swayne
Flute – Kate Walter

Full Programme
1) Felipe Lara ‘Livro dos Sonhos’ (Book of Dreams)
2) Marco Momi ‘Reloading Vanishing’
3) Amy Beth Kirsten ‘Speak to Me’

Interval

4) Augusta Read Thomas – ‘Capricci’ (Hummingbird Romance)
5) Arne Gieshoff  – ‘Invocation to Ate’
6) Jose Manuel Serrano – ‘Espantajo de Resca’
7) Jonathan Harvey – ‘The Riot’

 

*there is no way on earth we are going to get into a discussion on the realisation of the composer’s intention and whether or not it is a valid idea.  This is just a review.  Hence the quotation marks.  The end.  ~BF

0 comments

REVIEW: Narcissus at Pizza Express 04.01.15

 

Narcissus pete lee josh arcoleo ali thynne tom varrall huw foster

We are big Narcissus fans and we were looking forward to hearing them at the Pizza Express Jazz Club on this brisk January afternoon.  Last time we reviewed  them almost exactly a year ago, we described them as: ‘sublime chaos, a great schizophrenic identity crisis of genre which against all odds makes sense.’

Eager to hear their signature pop grooves and melodic lines that weave through the Narcissus sound, we were a little unsettled to hear at the top of the set an aimless sound world.  Whilst pianist and leader Peter Lee still played with heartbreaking beauty we were longing to hear melody with regular time, longing to know where this tune was going.  So unusual was this start, that when the melodic ‘head’ was breathed into life by sax player Josh Arcoleo, it was like the shoulders relaxing down after being taught with tension.  No wonder it had that effect: Lee told us afterwards that the tune is entitled, Bi-Polar.  The ‘aimless’ alongside ‘happiness’ juxtaposition is a new sound to Narcissus.  Highly effective and definitely an unnerving start to the set it was good to hear the group play slightly riskier tunes.

Dependency starts as many Narcissus tunes do, with a piano introduction: hymn-like homophonic sounds.  It has parallels with The Dreamer – a cover played later in the set.  Dependency, with it’s lilting 6/8 rhythms, also welcomed guitarist Tom Varrall to the stage.  In some ways it’s a very ‘classical’ tune – with an exposition of the melody and a haunting piano cadenza leading back to the head.   The tune ended as it started, with the rest of the band adding small sounds, like a memory, lost in the echoes of subtone. Mirror Stage, a tune familiar to regular listeners starts with sparse unison chords, sounding like a syncopated bell chiming on the hour.  The much awaited delicious groove appears, alongside beautiful melodies. This is possibly our favourite tune in the set.  Lee’s Dave Smith synth emerged.  We’ve raved about how much we love it and it’s radiophonic workshop sounds before, so we won’t so do again here.  Narcissus went crazy.  Arcoleo and Lee were epic and Varrall played a great funky guitar riff behind the madness.

The final tune of the first set, Did you have something to say? (Lee added, ‘in this case, no’) included most notably a beautiful bass solo from Foster.  Most distinctively it ended with a frankly funny 80s synth sound wall from Lee.  It appeared to have the rest of the band laughing too.  It acted as a response to the tune’s question:  Did you actually have something to say?  No.  Make of that what you will.

Untitled announced the start of the second set – with an epic solo from Varrall.  It’s perhaps the most ‘pop’ influenced tune of the set, with groove juxtaposed by lyrical balladic melodies.  Criss Cross featured the beautiful lines of Huw Foster on bass – giving space to explore that sound world with no hurry.  Just before they started their only cover of the set, The Dreamer, Lee explained that this tune demonstrated the more electronic route these guys have decided to pursue.  That comes as no surprise – the distinctive sound of Lee’s synth playing have become more and more involved and each time we hear them play – and choosing the electronic vibes of this Mehliana tune fit in perfectly. The Dreamer segued seamlessly into Writer’s Block  a tune where you never know what’s coming next.  Yes, we happen to know this tune fairly well, it’s performed on most their gigs and is strong melodically and harmonically.  Yet still it is filled with surprises and the band work so well as a whole on this tune. Narcissus are an electric ensemble, juxtaposing solid groove with utter chaos.  They sit together so well and love listening to one another play.  There are moments that are just massive – and then a mere breath later, there is a perfect silence.  Maybe that is what they do best.  Cherish the quiet.

Dear Narissus – please please please record an album.

Line up and set list are below.  You can find out more here.

~BF
Pete Lee’s Narcissus at Pizza Express Jazz Club, Dean Street, 13:30, 04.01.2015

Peter Lee – Piano/Synth/Compositions
Ali Thynne – Drums
Josh Arcoleo – Sax
Huw Foster – Bass
Tom Varrall – Guitar

Set 1

1) Bi-Polar
2) Dependency
3) Mirror Stage
4) Did you have something to say?

Set 2

1) Untitled
2) Criss Cross
3) The Dreamer (Mehliana Cover)
4) Writer’s Block

0 comments

Down Street Party Band @ Floripa

down street party wedding band from London play live at floripa london as they're really cool and fun and cheap and value for money!  All at Blue Flamingo!

One of our epic party bands are playing at Floripa London this Wednesday 7th January 2014.  Check out the Facebook event here and check out their website here.  Playing all things pop, soul, motown, rock and all that’s in-between!

0 comments

Review: Stoop Quintet @ QEH Front Room, 19.11.14

IMG_1210

What a delicious treat it was finally to hear Stoop Quintet play at the QEH Front Room. Introduced as the ‘passionate and unpredictable’ group from the University of York, this was actually (unlike much jazz promo) a fabulously accurate description.

Starting with the punchy Stoop Kid, its angular shape unashamedly announced the group’s arrival with a kick.  Next up was Fable where the hypnotic minimalistic melody developed into beautiful guitar (Alex Munk) and sax (Sam Miles) unisons, with dovetailing piano lines. Miles played a beautiful tenor solo on this: he has a rich warm tone. Munk’s soulful solo sat easily alongside Miles’ and the pairs great soloing are a feature of the group.

Their third tune, Ranch, began with a simplistic repeated chordal piano idea – we had no idea where the tune was going to go. Once again it led to a screamer of a solo from Miles, with the tune ending in a way that can only be described as falling apart – leaves beautifully falling from a tree to the ground.

Despite Jonathan Brigg being band leader, the ‘rhythm’ section of Dave Smyth (Kit), Flo Moore (Upright Bass) and Brigg, feature significantly less as soloists within the ensemble. Instead they hold the complex grooves together, support and interplay with Miles and Munk like an experienced family and put the spark into the group. It’s actually rather refreshing that they don’t feel a need to solo to ‘prove’ themselves. The group would be severely lacking if they were not the backbone.

We wonder if the fifth tune Turn was so named due to the pedal-like melody ending with an embellishment, or ‘turn’, or whether it is that the tune reflects the idea of the piece as a whole. Either way – the relentless ostinato group that sat underneath the solos was beautiful.

The penultimate tune Confession was described by leader Brigg as exactly that: you will ‘hear our confessions’. Indeed the 7/4 groove set a tone of unease which led to a dark and rhapsodic piano solo by Brigg, really pushing the tonality of the piece. Munk and Miles soloed in by far the freest tune of the set. That said, the returns to the really rather rocky grooves acted as pillars supporting the work.

Having traversed many of the genres of contemporary music, SQ finished with Soldier On. Moore moved to the bow for this solemn and beautiful work. The simple but effective lyrical melody rhythmically (intentionally or not) fit to the words ‘Sol-dier on’. The melody thus literally telling us what to do.

Stoop Quintet are characterised by ostinato-esque melodies followed by chaos. They’re not afraid to let the music fall apart, disapparate* with timed elegance, then suddenly bring it back together as a coherent whole. It was a well thought out set, with movement of ideas and textures between tunes. Definitely worth seeing live.

Check our their website here. Set details below.

~BF

Stoop Quintet
Part of the Young & Serious arm of the EFG London Jazz Festival.
Foyer at the Queen Elizabeth Hall 19th November 2014, 18:00

Piano/Compositions: Jonathan Brigg
Guitar: Alex Munk
Sax: Sam Miles
Bass: Flo Moore
Drums: Dave Smyth

1) Stoop Kid ‘Inspired the the Hey Arnold character who had a difficult time getting off the front step’
2) Fable
3) Ranch
4) Spring Song
5) Turn
6) Confession
7) Soldier On

*yes, it’s actually a word, even if JK invented it.

0 comments

Review: Alice Zawadzki at Jazz at the Crypt

Alice zawadzki the crypt alex roth tom mccredie blue flamingo wedding band pete le

 

It was so exciting finally to see Alice Zawadzki and her band live and with the packed crowd at The Crypt, Camberwell this Saturday, South London was excited too.

Zawadzki is utterly captivating in every part of her performance.  She can tell a story with her eyes alone, so when you add her voice, violin and the band you are willingly transported to another place.

Much of the music came from her recent album China Lane, starting the evening with its lead song Ring of Fire.  Next up was Indome Para Marsilia, beguiling in its haunting beginnings, juxtaposed with pure groove.  She sung masterfully in Ladino, and throughout the evening managed to sing in English, Swedish and Polish as well.

Zawadzki then moved on to Trochę Mitośći which was our favourite: texturally and harmonically it could be a Lied of the classical world. A song known to Zawadzki from her great aunt in Poland, it tells of a woman wanting the man with beautiful dark eyes.  Zawadzki has a voice with many colours in it, folk, jazz, soul to name but a few, and here she starts with a sound clearly evoking the 1950s.   Trochę Mitośći  then morphs into a beautifully rhapsodic duet for violin and guitar.   Who even knew this sound was possible.

Cellist Shirley Smart guested in a number of tunes, including a new song Superior Virtue.  The song was a duet for Zawadski and Smart, and demonstrated gifted use of narrative and musical story-telling techniques.

In You as Man the strength of each individual band member was evident.  Pete Lee on keys/synth put the Radiophonic Workshop to shame with his epic mastery of the Prophet 12. Alex Roth destroyed it with his solo there too.  As did Tom McCredie.  It’s a frankly ridiculous band.  This is not to omit drummer Jon Scott. He was on it all night, and owned Cat, a song about ‘the soul of a cat getting into the body of a woman’.

She’s just totally on it all. At ease. It is a band that works well together, they know where to leave space for each other, where to sit.  It’s a band that’s just right.

There are many more words we could write. But if words were adequate we wouldn’t have the music.  You have to go and hear her. There is no genre that isn’t covered. In fact. Forget genre. She is her own new genre.

We’ve now downloaded the album, which you can do here. Naughty us. We really should have done it much earlier.

Her next live dates can be seen here. Please go check her and her band out.

-BF

Vocals, violin & compositions: Alice Zawadzki

Bass: Tom McCredie

Guitar: Alex Roth

Kit: Jon Scott

Cello: Shirley Smart

Piano & Synth: Pete Lee

Set 1

1. Ring of Fire (Zawadzki) ‘The magic and wonder of being being a teenager drunk on cider’

2. Indome Para Marsilia (trad. Sephardic arr Alex Roth, sung in Ladino) ‘A song about a girl flung far away from her homeland, wondering what the world will bring’

3. Trochę Mitośći ‘A Little Love’ (trad. Polish) ‘A lady who falls in love with a man with deep dark eyes. Sung by my great aunt Anna Borey Protassewicz during the fifties in Poland. She recorded loads of songs with the Radio Orchestra in Bydgoszcz and I transcribed with one off an old vinyl of hers and rearranged it.’

4. Dicho Me Habian Dicho (trad. Sephardic, sung in Ladino)  ‘From the fifteenth centure, a time when Jews were expelled from Spain, a song of a girl worried nobody will marry her because of her skin colour’

5. Low Sun; Lovely Pink Light (Zawadzki) ‘A song of sunrise in Denmark’

Set 2

1. Cat (Zawadzki) ‘the soul of a cat getting into the body of a woman and influencing her affections’

2. Uti Mitt Hjärta ‘In my Heart’ (Kraya, arr Zawadzki, Swedish) ‘inside your heart I see your happiness. Within my body I feel your love’

3. Superior Virtue (Zawadzki) ‘How an unfulfilled love is ever the more romantic because it was never acted upon’

4. You as a man and I as a women (Zawadzki)  ‘When you think it’s over and you’re not quite sure if you can keep going’

5. You Can Leave Your Hat On (Etta James)

6. I’m Gonna Leave You Where I Met You (Rudy Stephenson/Nina Simon).

0 comments

Narcissus @ The Pheasantry, Pizza Express Jazz Club, London: 12/09/14

 

narcissus pizza express peasantry band london wedding

This Friday sees Pete Lee’s Narcissus return to the live stage in London, at The Pheasantry (PizzaExpress, Chelsea).  As one of our favourite live bands, we can’t recommend them highly enough.  Why not read our Review of their Vortex gig, or the interview we did with Pete.

As well as their regular line up (see below) sax supremo George Crowley and singing sensation Alice Zawadzki will be joining them on stage.

Narcissus in Chelsea on a Friday night in September.  What more could London Town want?

***

Tickets can be bought here and check out the Facebook event.
The Pheasantry, PizzaExpress Live, 152 Kings Road, Chelsea, London, SW3 4UT
£15.00 | doors 18:30 | set 20:30

Line Up Pete Lee: Piano, Tom Varrall: Guitar, Huw Foster: Bass Guitar, Ali Thynne: Drums

 

0 comments

Musicalife: Recording

One of our groups (Jasper & Ruby) recently recorded at Resident Studios (Willesden Green, North London).

Resident Studios were great – booking a Studio via online chat at 10pm has to be the most musician-friendly thing ever – and studio day was easy.  We bought cheap parking permits for the whole day, unloaded easily and they had no qualms with us eating the pizza we called out for in the studio.

Resident have a number of options available – either hiring rehearsal spaces or recording studios.   We decided to bring in our own engineer/gear with the fabulous Ali Thynne.  We used Studio 1 (pictured), recorded the rhythm section live with ghost vocals and then added horns, synth layers and vocals later in the day.

What do you prefer?  To get your own engineers and gear in, or to use what’s available at Recording Studios?  Do you prefer recording live, or just multi-tracking completely separately?   How many ears do you get to listen to a track before you’re happy, or is it just you?

We’re listening to and mastering the mixes – and we’ll let you have them soon.  We’re hoping that another one of our groups, Down Street will be visiting Resident to do some recording in late August/early September.

Let us know if you’d like to contribute to our #musicalife blog, or if you have preferred ways of recording.

Jasper And Ruby Recording at Resident Studios, Quirky Eccentric Wedding Band, Book, Enquire, Listen

~BF