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THIS month’s York Mystery Plays has produced an exciting response from J-Night and York Theatre Royal, the York Mystery Soul Festival, six summer nights of hot jazz, gospel and soul music, running August 10-25.
Gospel singer Ruby Turner opens the Festival on Friday. The following night sees The Snake Has 9 Lives, a premiere of nine different sides of supersax man Snake Davis. Beginning as a soloist, the Snakefest moves to duo, trio, quartet and quintet, culminating in the Snake Davis Big Band, playing saxophone versions of the Stax, Motown and Atlantic classics.
Al Morrison brings his 11-piece Blues Experience to the Theatre on August 17, with special guest vocalist Juliet Roberts. The full-blown blues review will feature two lead vocalists, backing singers, brass and a dynamic rhythm section. Saturday, August 18, celebrates 50 years of Jamaican independence with Jazz Jamaica: Tighten Up! and on August 24, the Pee Wee Ellis Funk Assembly takes the stage.
American saxophonist Ellis is the man who refined the sound of the Godfather of Soul, James Brown and has every right to the title The Man Who Invented Funk. In the 1970s he was responsible as arranger and producer for the hits of Esther Philips, George Benson and many others and in 1979 began a long relationship with Van Morrison.
The finale, on Saturday August 25, features the greatest gospel choir of them all, the South African Gospel Singers, directed by Pinise Saul. Formed in 1979 to fight apartheid, the choir embraces township, gospel, jazz and soul to create beautiful and moving music.
J-Night supremo David Porter is aiming for a festival club feeling for the theatre foyer, with local jazz musicians playing between 7pm and midnight and star names may drop in too. For rickets phone 01904 623568 or visit yorktheatreroyal.co.uk
Trumpeter Enrico Tomasso is from the legendary Leeds musical family and is joined by saxophonist Robert Fowler at Jazz in the Spa tomorrow night (01937 842544).
Sunday jazz in York is from the Zezo Olimpio Trio at Kennedy’s Café Bar, Little Stonegate, from 1pm (01904 620222) and Ian Chalk’s Quartet at the Phoenix Inn, George Street, 8.30pm (01904 656401). Monday night at the Phoenix is a big one, with the Kate Peters/John Marley Quartet and the regular Wednesday night jam session at the Phoenix goes from strength to strength.
Trumpeter/vocalist Martin “Mad Dog” Jones will be the guest at Scarborough Jazz on Wednesday (01723 500570). Thursday jazz in York is at the Old White Swan, Goodramgate, with the Mardi Gras Band alternating with Bejazzled and Mike Riley. Next Thursday will be Bejazzled night (01904 540911).
Brigitte Beraha, Babelfish (Moletone Records)
As a prolific teacher of voice, Brigitte Beraha casts a supremely confident wide net in her choice of music. The album is inspired by classical and literary works, including Benjamin Britten’s The Stream In The Valley and Ned Rorem’s Poem For F. Other choices have words by Raymond Carver and ee cummings.
The Britten has a conversational introduction from bass, piano and percussion, developing into a measured anthemic vocal from Beraha. Rorem’s piece is suitably reverential, beautifully played and sung.
Carver’s haunting Popular Mechanics takes a cue from Hermeto Pascoal in having the melody of unison voice and piano echo the metre of the words, before entering into a helter-skelter joint improvisation by voice and trio. An what a Trio – Chris Laurence (bass), Paul Clarvis (percussion) and Barry Green, pianist and joint leader of the Babelfish project.
Brigitte’s own compositions range from the boppy scat of Fatchi-Chuna to the hypnotic wordless voice on Sometime and an enjoyable tension between spacey, out of tempo segments and busy joint improvisation on The Apple Tree. This album will repay repeated hearings to appreciate all the nuances of expression.