Saturday, December 03, 2016

Barry Guy - The Blue Shroud (Intakt Records, 2016)

British bassist and composer Barry Guy has produced a large, expansive, progressive recording which melds spoken word, vocalization, strings and best of all some torrid sections of large group improvisation. This longform composition by Guy was recorded October 17 and 18, 2015 during the Ad Libitum Festival in Warsaw. Guy has written many compositions for the London Jazz Composers Orchestra and his own New Orchestra, and this is a large scale work designed for a new international ensemble. Guy's work The Blue Shroud was influenced by the paintings of Pablo Picasso. Not only is the music designed to commemorate the people of the Spanish towns who were victims of the Nazi German air force bombardment during the Spanish Civil War but also Guy wants to remind listeners of the sad episode when the Picasso’s work at the United Nations Security Council was covered by a blue drape during the discussions that led to the ill fated war in Iraq. Guy looks to use the healing power of music to take on the sadness of these historical events, making pains to call into account the impact of the military might, governmental folly and the media blindness. Barry Guy uses the techniques of new music and jazz improvisation, as well as fragments of classical music and a section of poetry. It results in a powerful and imposing piece of music. The voice and song of Greek singer Savina Yannatou is at the center of much of the music, providing a deep sense of gravitas, but also rays of hope and the presence of humanity. The band is anchored by the leader’s bass along with four reeds, brass, piano, strings and two drummers. The instrumentalists are able to provide the sombre music necessary to support the vocalizations, but is also able to break out with some fantastic and torrential playing the exemplifies the futility of war, but also provides the catharsis to move beyond it. The Blue Shroud -

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