INTAKT RECORDS – CD-REVIEWS

BARRY GUY
BLUE SHROUD BAND
THE BLUE SHROUD

Intakt CD 266 / 2016

 

 

 

Manfred Papst, NZZ am Sonntag, 15. November 2015

 

 

Die Kraft des menschlichen Geistes: Barrys Guys Komposition "The Blue Shroud" interpretiert Pablo Picassos Guernica

September 2003: Im UN-Sicherheitsrat verkündet der amerikanische Verteidigungsminister Colin Powell die militärische Intervention im Irak. In vollem Bewusstsein dieser Tat im Hinblick auf die Konsequenzen für die Zivilbevölkerung "passte" dazu ein optisches Symbol im UN-Gebäude definitiv nicht: Pablo Picassos Bild "Guernica" markiert einen Aufschrei angesichts des ersten Luftangriffes auf eine Zivilbevölkerung seitens spanischer und deutscher Faschisten im Jahr 1937. In Amerika wurde die riesige Kopie dieses Gemäldes in einem "bilderstürmerischen" Akt kurzerhand zugehängt aus Anlass der Kriegserklärung gegen den Irak.

Letztlich um diese "Beschädigung" eines Kunstwerkes wieder zu heilen, hat der Brite Barry Guy eine neue Musik komponiert. Diese ist aber nicht nur ein wütender, bisweilen düsterer Aufschrei, sondern artikuliert auch eine innige Emotionalität, welche Zuversicht und Kraft spendet. Letztlich konnte im Kloster Falkenhagen auch die sprühende Freude aller Beteiligten beim Spielen dieser erstaunlichen Komposition dem Bösen wieder Paroli bieten. Oder, wie Barry Guy selbst sein Anliegen im Begleittext zur Aufführung formuliert: " ein Musikstück, das die Kraft des menschlichen Geistes zeigt, der Unterdrückung durch Tyrannei zu widerstehen."

All dies bündelte die deutsche Erstaufführung von "The Blue Shroud" in einer Kirche mitten im weiten Land Ostwestfalens, im Kloster Falkenhagen. Dahin führten die "Wege durch das Land". Besagte hoch ambitionierte Festivalreihe beweist, dass man für hochkarätige und auch fordernde Kultur keineswegs immer nur urbane städtische Räume braucht.

Man reist in Ruhe an, streift die Alltagshektik ab, taucht in die Landschaft ein. Um dann gerade durch die etwas abgeschiedene "klösterliche" Atmosphäre umso empfänglicher für die Botschaften von Musik und Literatur zu werden. "Die Zukunft gehört der Güte" ist der aktuelle Leitsatz für diese, nunmehr 16. Festivalausgabe.

Erleben wir also den britischen Kontrabassisten und Komponisten Barry Guy, seine kongeniale Partnerin Maya Homburger auf barocker Violine und viele weitere Protagonisten, die zu einem großen Teil aus der schweizerischen Improvisationsmusik-Szene kommen, welche sich ja ausgesprochen "open minded" gibt! Barry Guy kehrt dem Publikum den Rücken, denn er muss als Leiter und Leader seinen Musikern zugewandt sein. Er soll in den kommenden fast zwei Stunden eine Art Doppelrolle spielen, beackert kraftvoll seinen Tieftöner, zupfend und streichend und immer mit urwüchsiger Kraft und dirigiert zugleich diesen insgesamt 15 köpfigen Klangkörper.

Das Zusammenwirken der "Blue Shroud Band" ist eine extrem dichte, hellwache und ständig unvorhersehbare Interaktion. So viel atemberaubende Bühnenpräsenz hat die alte Klosterkirche wohl selten gesehen. Schlagzeuger Lucas Niggli agiert im Duo mit Ramon Lopez (letzterer ist sonst ein Teil des Joachim Kühn Trios). Niggli waltet immer als Co-Dirigent – denn zu koordinieren, zu vermitteln, zu verschalten gibt es vieles in diesem ohne Pause durchgespielten, rasch geschnittenen "Hör-Film". Ein klagendes Trompetenmotiv folgt den rezitierten Worten von Barry Guy, dann stürzen geräuschafte Kakophonien mit Abwärtsglissandi und harten Dissonanzen aus dem schreienden Himmel herab. "Es rast der Stier, das blutverschmierte Haupt erhoben, durchs düstre Land, das hell und stolz einst war. Die Trümmer liegen nach der Schlacht verstreut. Zur Klinge umgeschmiedet ist des Pfluges Schar" – so beginnt der Text, den die irische Schriftstellerin Kerry Hardy zu diesem Projekt beisteuerte.

Scharf und expressiv, aber auch berührend einfühlsam zeichnet Barry Guy mit dem Blue-Shroud-Ensemble die Konturen und Figuren dieses Textes nach. Immer folgen den aufbrausenden, oft schreienden Eruptionen Momente von tiefer menschlicher Empfindung, ja einer ausgesprochenen Zärtlichkeit gegenüber den Figuren, derer in diesem Panorama gedacht wird. Innige Parts voller Lyrik und Moll-Elegie erwachsen aus Themen, wie sie Barry Guy den Altmeistern Johann Sebastian Bach und Heinrich Ignaz von Biber abgelauscht hat. Solistische Stimmen verschaffen sich in feinnuancierten Bravourparts Gehör. Das erhabene Spiel auf der Barockvioline von Maya Homburger gehört dazu ebenso wie die filigrane Saitenkunst von Ben Dwyer. Es leuchten und klagen die Trompetensoli von Percy Pursglove, der aktuell für Peter Evans eingesprungen ist. Tragendes, oft spirituell aufgeladenes Element ist nicht zuletzt die ausdrucksstarke Altstimme der griechischen Sängerin Savina Yannatou.

Wer das hervorragende Duo-Album "Tales of Enchantment" von Barry Guy und Maya Homburger kennt, der hört einige Themen in neuen Kontexten – was weitere, im innersten ergreifende Momente generiert. Guy und Homburger haben hier jenes Prinzip perfektioniert, alte Musik und neue freie Klanggeste, streng auskomponiertes und assoziativ improvisiertes geschmeidig und gleichsam logisch in einen Fluss zu bringen. Dies ganze nun in eine großformatige Interaktion zu transformieren und damit auch noch eine Aussage zu transportieren.

"Es ist schon ein immenser Aufwand, alle Musiker zu so einem Termin zusammen zu bringen" hatte Lucas Niggli vorm Konzert bekundet. Es sollen jetzt noch weitere Aufführungen folgen – aber dafür muss man bis nach Krakau reisen oder das bemerkenswerte Zürcher Unerhört-Festival besuchen. Dies ist ja sozusagen "Heimspiel" für die meisten der in der "Blue Shroud Band'" versammelten Musiker. Und dann endlich ist das Material so weit gereift, dass auch die CD-Produktion in Angriff genommen werden kann.

So viel atmosphärische Eindringlichkeit fiel in der Klosterkirche Falkenhagen nicht einfach vom Himmel. Zwei völlig andere Programmpunkte hatten auf die Sternstunde mit der "Blue Shroud Band" bestens "hingearbeitet": Burkhard Klaußner lieh seine ausdrucksstarke, so bezwingend in sich ruhende Stimme dem neuen Roman von John Maxwell Coetzee – einer Geschichte von Zuversicht, von Güte und einem sehr menschlichem Zustand von "Angekommen-sein".

Und das Gesangstrio "Tresonanz" vereinte ein facettenreiches Repertoire aus vokalen Kostbarkeiten aus Mittelalter, Renaissance und Gegenwart zum leuchtkräftigen Ganzen. So vieles wurde hier miteinander eins – die beiden Tenorstimmen von Markus Zapp und Manuel Warwitz, die so hoch hinauf können und dabei so strahlend aufleuchten sowie der ebenso sensibel artikulierende Bass von Marcus Schmidl. Strenge Vokalpolyphonie aus alter Zeit mit ihren aufregenden Intervallreibungen, meditative Momente bei Morton Feldman, alte geistliche Lieder – all dies ging mit der Aura des Kirchenraumes eine frappierende Symbiose ein.

Brigitte Labs-Ehlert, die künstlerische Leiterin der Festivalreihe hat auf jeden Fall im Zusammenwirken mit dem Land NRW und vielen Sponsoren verdienstvolle kontinuierliche Entwicklungs- und Vermittlungsarbeit geleistet. Lohn der Mühe: Ein hochkarätiges, ambitioniertes Programm ohne Kompromisse findet ein dankbares und kontinuierliches Publikum. So soll es sein!

Stefan Pieper, Neue Musikzeitung, nmz, 16. 6. 2015

 

 

From the first notes the audience was spell bound. You could hear the proverbial pin drop. Trumpeter Peter Evans circular breathed a barely audible whistle, which he gradually ramped up to siren intensity. But then he went further, his piercing shriek taking on the visceral dimensions of an air raid claxon. A powerful group crescendo, including a machine gun rat-a-tat from the twin trapsets of Ramon Lopez and Lucas Niggli and thunderous slabs of sound from Agusti Fernandez under the bonnet of the piano instantly evoked not only bombings, but also other wars and conflicts around the world.

Such strong feelings were entirely appropriate for "The Blue Shroud," a new piece by English composer and bassist Barry Guy, which received its world premiere at the 9th Krakow Jazz Autumn. Inspired by Picasso's masterpiece Guernica and the events which provoked it, the work just might be the crowning achievement in the Englishman's long and varied career.

At age 67, Guy can look back on an unprecedented body of work, which spans the classical, contemporary, jazz and improv worlds. Renowned as a sensitive interpreter of baroque music (the Englishman appears on over 150 recordings, and has performed with all the specialist early music ensembles), he regularly juxtaposes renditions of the works of the seventeenth century composer H.I.F. Biber alongside his own compositions in concert and on his albums with his partner, violinist Maya Homburger, such as the splendidTales Of Enchantment (Intakt, 2012).

In jazz circles the two strands for which he is best known can be seen as opposite ends of the spectrum. At one extreme lies the high voltage improv, showcased to staggering effect in a long standing trio of compatriots saxophonist Evan Parker and drummer Paul Lytton, while at the other stands the large scale charts of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra, seen in the last incarnation on Harmos Live At Schaffhausen (Intakt, 2012), and his scaled back Barry Guy New Orchestra, evidenced on Amphi + Radio Rondo (Intakt, 2014), their third release.

However Guy's constructs seek to reconcile the two poles by devising settings which stimulate and frame spontaneous colloquy between participants, often spotlighting already extant configurations. "The Blue Shroud" followed that template, but took the interweaving of diverse threads one step further by including fragments of baroque works alongside jazz and improv. In order to realize his singular vision, Guy hand-picked a multinational crew which could meet the technical demands of the baroque, yet wield the unfettered imagination required for the improvisation.

In his program notes, Guy explained that "there were three strands that informed the writing of "The Blue Shroud." The bombing in 1937 of the Basque city of Guernica by German Condor Legion pilots at the invitation of Franco, the painting by Pablo Picasso that arose following the event, and in more recent times (2003) a blue drape that was hung over a tapestry reproduction of the Guernica painting in the United Nations building before US Secretary of State Colin Powell delivered his case for invading Iraq to TV viewers and the world in general. Incontestably, the Guernica image of death, panic and mayhem would have sent a far too literal message about the horrors of war to the receivers of Powell's statement."

If you told most jazz fans that a gig was going to involve a specially convened ensemble playing a composition bringing together baroque music, improvisation and jazz they would likely head for the hills, having endured one too many special festival commissions in the past. In Krakow that would have been a very big mistake, and not just because it's snowy up there.

In its entirety the work dazzled as a 80-minute multifaceted journey through transcendent melodies, whipcrack orchestral interjections, intricate rhythmic figures, solo and small group outbursts, song and recitation. Guy's triumph was that all those disparate elements cohered into a singular experience. After the startling introduction, changes came thick and fast, as first delicate strings then reed shimmies transformed the emotional direction. A lyric Spanish-tinged duet between classical guitarist Ben Dwyer and Guy led into a lush setting for Greek vocalist Savina Yannatou's singing of a specially written text by Irish poet Kerry Hardie (a former neighbour of Guy when he lived in Ireland), entitled "Symbols of Guernica."

Guy revisited a gambit familiar from Theoria (Intakt, 1992), by sequencing concentrated eruptions of small group improvisation, which switched from one to another in swift succession. The disparate flavors and textures served to both keep things fresh and disorientate. Guy cued the transformations while still playing, pointing with his bow in one hand, while tapping the fingerboard with the other. Among the combinations which stood out were Evans' playful duet with Fernandez, the pianist's alliance with German reedman Michael Niesemann's alto saxophone, and young saxophonist Julius Gabriel's snorting baritone pyrotechnics. Later the gambit resurfaced in a series of quick changing twosomes with Lopez' drums the constant ingredient, which in their briskness resembled a session with a particularly picky speed dater.

Thorny rhetoric from the trio of Guy, Dwyer and Yannatou's improvising voice re-emerged several times to form a recurrent motif. Yannatou shifted between anguished reminders of human pain and suffering, and serene and elegant singing of the poem's stark imagery. One interchange with the split tones generated by Torben Snekkestad's reed trumpet was particularly striking. As well has Hardie's words, she also wove in spoken phrases which Hardie expressly selected from Powell's speech, relating to UN Security Council Resolution 1441 and weapons of mass destruction.

Perhaps Niesemann's part best illustrated the dual requirements of the score. A professor at the prestigious Essen Folkwang University, he has recorded together with Guy on recitals of Bach with Sir John Eliot Gardiner's English Baroque Soloists, but is also active in jazz and contemporary realms. At times he took on the role which English reedman Trevor Watts has filled in Guy's work in the past as an impassioned soloist soaring through and above a surging orchestral vamp. Yet subsequently he also played the baroque oboe d'amore in the "Agnus Dei" from Johann Sebastian Bach's Mass in D Minor. And did both superbly.

Guy's co-option of works by Biber and Bach meant that the piece boasted some of the most beautiful tunes ever written, which heightened the poignancy of both the vocal texts and the musical settings from which they issued. Perhaps after all the abrupt cuts, the slow natural transitions took on a seamless aspect, meaning that the baroque sat comfortably amid the modern. The timeless melodies served to convey the resilience of the human spirit as well as the promise of redemption. The overall impact was incredibly moving. After the "Agnus Dei," a freewheeling coda brought proceedings to a close, eliciting a rapturous standing ovation from the enthralled crowd.

Although the concert took place in a studio in Radio Krakow, the performance was not recorded and there are no dates set for the unit to reassemble. "The Blue Shroud" convinced as stunning on first hearing, but would reveal many more facets on repeated listening. One can only hope that funding can be found to permit a studio session.

John Sharpe, The New York City Jazz Record, 2014

 

 

 

Duncan Heining, Barry Guy: Ploughs into Swordshares (Part 1), All About Jazz, February 21, 2016

Duncan Heining, Barry Guy: A Prophet is Not without Honour (Part 2), All About Jazz, February 21, 2016

Duncan Heining, Barry Guy: Back to the Drawing-Board (Part 3), All About Jazz, February 21, 2016

 

 

 

read more

Carlos Pérez Cruz, BARRY GUY descubre el velo azul del Guernica, El Club de Jazz, Spain, 10/04/2016

 

 

 

Carlos Pérez Cruz, El Club de Jazz, 1. 5. 2016
http://www.elclubdejazz.com/discos/barry_guy_blue_shroud.html

 

Den som har fulgt litt med på den europeiske improvisasjonsscenen de siste 20 årene, kan ikke ha unngått å treffe på navnet Barry Guy. Han er britisk, og har vært en frontfigur innenfor den britiske frijazzen i mange år. Han er bassist, og ved siden av å interessere seg for såkalt «tidligmusikk» og kontemporær improvisasjonsmusikk, har han arbeidet med en rekke egne og andres ensembler i Europa over mange år.

Han er født i London, og da han begynte å interessere seg for improvisert musikk, ble han medlem av en trio med pianisten Howard Riley og trommeslageren Tony Oxley. Han var med i John Stevens ensembler på 60- og 70-tallet, inkl. Spontaneous Music Ensemble. Han har spilt med gitaristen Derek Bailey og trombonisten Paul Rutherford, saksofonisten Evan Parker og og trommeslageren Paul Lytton, og han har hatt sitt eget megaensemble gående over flere år. I tillegg har han gjort en rekke fantastiske duokonserter med sin bedre halvdel, fiolinisten Maya Homburger.

På «The Blue Shroud», som er innspilt live under Ad Libitum-festivalen i Warshawa i oktober i 2014, har han igjen et stort ensemble med musikere fra hele Europa.

Musikken denne gangen er en slags kombinasjon av tidligmusikk og frijazz. Vi får lengre partier hvor Maya Homburgers barokkfiolin og Savina Yannatous vokal leder an, sammen med Ben Dwyers gitar, mens de andre musikerne holder seg pent og pyntelig i bakgrunnen.

Hele platen går, mer eller mindre, i ett, som en lang suite, og hele tiden endres temperatur og landskap, så vi nesten føler at vi sitter på et tog på vei gjennom et ukjente landskap.

I det hele er dette blitt et usedvanlig vakkert verk, hvor Guy fletter de enkelte stemningene og musikerne inn i en helhet som nesten ingen andre er i stand til å gjøre.

Vi oppdager hele tiden nye ting på vår togtur. I noen partier strekker landskapet seg ut, og vi ser en vakker innsjø, som i «Song 3», før vi går inn i et heftig fjellandskap i «Bull/Mother And Child/Warrior».

Og slik fortsetter det gjennom de 11 sporene. De gjør H.I.F. Bibers «The carrying of the cross, Mystery Sonata IX», hvor gule kornåkre bølger ved siden av oss, og samme komponists «Aria fra «Crucifixtion, Mystery Sonata X (Song 7)», og alt er så vakkert, så vakkert.

Og når man avslutter med J.S. Bach «Agnus Dei» fra messe i b minor, med Guy og Homburger i hovedrollen sammen med Michael Niesmans altsaksofon før resten av det store ensemblet kommer smygende, så er vi mer enn fornøyd og kan vi takke for en vakker, spennende og utrolig interessant togtur gjennom ukjent landskap.

Dette verket bør en eller annen festival i Norden få på plass – umiddelbart!

Jan Granlie, Salt Peanuts – a pan-Nordic/Baltic website, 28. April 2016

 

 

Peter Füssl, Zeitschrift für Kultur und Gesellschaft, Österreich, Juni 2016

 

 

 



Rigobert Dittmann, Bad Alchemy, BA 90_2016

 

 

 

Christoph Wagner, Neue Zeitschrift für Musik, 3-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cerini, Musica Jazz, Italia, June 2016

 

 

 

Schu, Concerto, Österreich, 2016

 

Spencer Grady, Jazzwise, July 2016, Great Britain

 

A new release from BARRY GUY [b] with a large group is always an occasion for optimism as he writes in a long form with a sweep that is cumulative, ending usually in a moving crescendo. This was particularly true of his work with his London Jazz Composers Orchestra. THE BLUE SHROUD [Intakt cd 266] is with Guy's New Orchestra; a 14-piece group that is heavier in use of and emphasis on strings and voice and with less emphasis on improvising. The best known improviser here is Agustí Fernández [p]. The Blue Shroud refers to the shroud the U.S. State Department used to cover Picasso's Guernica when the Secretary of State spoke to the U.N. Security Council justifying the U.S. plans for an invasion of Iraq. This is a powerful composition of 11 parts [71:27] effectively infusing Baroque compositions, played largo which conveys sorrow perhaps as well as any form. I found that after I put the focus on music rather than expected improvs this work experienced vital growth with each repeated listening. As hoped this is another masterpiece.

Robert D. Rusch, cadencebuilding.com, July 2016

 



Frank von Niederhäusern, kulturtipps 14/16, Schweiz

 

 

 

 

 


Franck Bergerot, Jazzmagazine, Paris, Juillet 2016

 

Hans-Jürgen Linke, Jazzthetik, Juli 2016

 



Marc Chénard, Point of Departure, USA, June 2016

 

Raul da Gama, Jazzdagama, July 3, 2016

 

 


Udo Andris, Jazzpodium, Juli 2016

 

 

 

Christoph Wagner, Jazzpodium, July 2016

 

 

 

Thomas Meier, Jazz'n'More, Juli-August 2016

 

 

 

Barry Guy und Intakt Records, das ist schon eine ziemlich lässige Kombination. Jetzt hat der große britische Bassist, Kompositeur und Bandleader mit The Blue Shroud ein ziemlich geniales Werk veröffentlicht. Eine große Suiten-artige Komposition für 14 MusikerInnen, die einige der besten/gefragtesten der Jazz/Impro/Avantgarde-Szene Europas vereinigen. Mit dabei sind, nur so zum Beispiel, Pianist Agustí Fernández, Geigerin Maya Homburger, die großartige Vokalistin Savina Yannatou, Drummer Lucas Niggli oder Tuba-Virtuose Michel Godard. Das Thema ist Picassos Guernica, aber eben nicht nur. Am Beginn steht ein langer, irgendwie sehnsüchtiger Trompetenton, dann folgt ein kurzes, ein wenig hektisches Tohuwabohu, das aber gleich wieder implodiert, verebbt, um für zwei intensive Songs Platz zu schaffen, Vertonungen Guys der irischen Dichterin Kerrie Hardie, mit fast klassischer Strenge von Yannatou interpretiert. Höchst intensive 71 Minuten sind Barry Guy da gelungen, keine Sekunde zu lang, von ausgereifter Kompositionstechnik ebenso geprägt wie von höchst individuellen Improvisationen. Groß angelegtes Material wechselt mit kleinräumigen, quasi hingepixelten Klangsplittern. Als Beispiel sei Track #4 genannt, die Streicher werfen sich lebendige Gedanken zu, die Bläser übernehmen, und am Ende erklingen Klavier/Stimme/Bass im ausführlichen Trialog. Und dann ein Aspekt, der bei Barry Guy und Maya Homburger immer eine Rolle spielt: die Barockmusik. In diesem Fall Ignaz Franz Piber und Bach, natürlich Johann Sebastian. Ziemlich exakt werden die zwei interpretiert, aber eben nicht ganz. Da gibt es einige Sidesteps, nur zart angedeutet. Ganz am Ende noch das Agnus Dei aus Bachs b-moll-Messe, als wär's der Weisheit letzter Schluss. Ganz sauber und klar intoniert, aber dann doch ein befreites Vogelgezwitscher ganz am Ende … Ein seltenes Meisterwerk.
Christoph Haunschmid, Freistil 67, Österreich, 2016

 

 

 

 

I have seen you play different kinds of music alongside each other for a long time, and finding new ways to combine them, but this is really different and special. And mysteriously right in the way that it unfolds in all its diversity as one single all-gathering experience.
I find myself thinking, for some reason, of slowly, handful by handful, drawing a very  long piece of silk from a pouch of some kind, and both feeling and gazing at the colours as they darken and mix and, drawing again, lighten and purify and then jumble and contest and, drawing again, lighten... 
How the Biber and Bach emerge miraculously and can bring tears to my eyes.  
The exquisite oboe entering...
In fact the choice of musicians makes so much sense and is so much a part of the rightness of it all. With fourteen players you can - it happens at certain points - produce volume and energy like the LJCO or BGNO but there is a concentration here on precise chamber colouring...  (Which reminds me that  I gave repeated time a while back to the Guy/ Snekkestad CD and realised what fascinations it holds - truly one of the finest.)
Ben is asked to be three (?) different guitarists and succeeds...
I'm thinking too of one of the places I travel to in my head - half remembering and half-imagining. I'm on one of the mountains above Dún Chaoin/Dunquin that I've known since I was four or five. I'm watching the weather come in off the Atlantic and seeing shadow come and cover the Blaskets and then the clouds moving on and the greens revealing themselves - with the sea in turn showing blues and deep greens and moving patches of darkness as the weather changes. There is no single moment of change but everything is always changing.

Barra Ó Seaghdha, writer, Ireland

 

 

João Santos, Expresso, Portugal, June 2016

 


Markus Schneider, Rolling Stone, Juli 2016



Georges Tonla Briquet, Jazzmozaiek, Benelux, 2016/2

 

 

 

In some ways, The Blue Shroud might be Barry Guy's signature work. It's the first to unite his varied interests in Baroque music, composition, jazz and improv at an orchestral scale. To do so Guy assembles a 14-strong crack unit capable of interpreting each aspect to the highest level, including several early music specialists who are also able to extemporize.

And Guy's topic is worthy of such endeavor. He takes as his inspiration three interlinked themes, the Spanish Civil War atrocity at Guernica, Picasso's masterpiece of the same name, and the titular blue awning hung over a tapestry of that painting which was the backdrop when US Secretary of State Colin Powell set out the case for the invasion of Iraq at the UN Building in 2003.

Given such weighty subject matter it's tempting to try to view everything through a programmatic lens, but many passages defy simplistic determination. It's just compelling music. As always Guy's charts promote opportunities for individual expression, and the wonder is how well they flourish within the notated framework. But of course that has been Guy's specialty ever since his formation of the London Jazz Composers Orchestra back in the day.

The work's interlocking and overlapping sections have been demarcated into 11 tracks which help the listener navigate the structure. In "Prelude" Guy sets out some of the building blocks which recur throughout the piece. It begins with Percy Pursglove's unaccompanied trumpet reveille, which is joined by a bristling ensemble before an abrupt switch to drifting strings. Thereafter the piece evolves through sudden dizzying shifts and kaleidoscopic textures, in which the diverse styles coexist on their own terms.

Starting with a mercurial exchange between Agusti Fernandez' piano and Pursglove's trumpet, "Bull / Mother and Child / Warrior" comprises a series of improvised duets and trios, mixed with orchestral interjections. Later after an initial martial cadence, "Light Bearer" turns jazzy, with Michael Niesemann's alto saxophone ramping up the intensity in a tour de force for the reedman's thickened vocalized wail, and the orchestra metamorphoses into a surging big band behind him.

The group of Ben Dwyer's Spanish guitar, Savina Yannatou's voice and the leader's bass plays a key role, and appears at the heart of the sections denoted as "Songs." Here Guy creates lyrical backdrops for Irish poet Kerrie Hardie's text, sung/spoken with great emotional weight by Yannatou. Elsewhere she uses her wordless voice to convey confusion, fear, anguish and defiance. At other times she also intones the words "Resolution 1441 and "Weapons of Mass Destruction," as Hardie encourages insertion of excerpts from the UN Resolution into the performance.

To offset the spiky improv and dense ensembles Guy co-opts some of the loveliest melodies ever written, creating settings for extracts from H.I.F. Biber's "Mystery Sonatas" and J.S. Bach's "B minor Mass." In this context, Guy uses these reimaginings to signify humanity, indomitable spirit and ultimately hope. At over 70-minutes, The Blue Shroud constitutes a complex and expansive work. While there is a lot to take in which requires repeated listens to appreciate, the payback is more than worth the effort.

JOHN SHARPE, All About Jazz, September 17, 2016

 

 

 

Wie tönt Weltgeschichte?

Jazz und Barock – Barry Guy lässt Genregrenzen vergessen

Barry Guy ist ein alerter Musiker, ein hellhöriger Routinier, dem man auch grosse Herausforderungen zutraut. Dazu gehören allemal Brückenschläge zwischen Klassik und Jazz sowie Verbindungen von Komposition und Improvisation. Der 69-jährige britische Kontrabassist und Komponist hat sein flexibles Können auch schon in unterschiedlichen Ensembles unter Beweis gestellt – etwa im Duo mit seiner Partnerin, der Geigerin Maya Homburger, aber auch in Grossformationen wie dem London Jazz Composers Orchestra.

Prätentionen
Trotzdem erschrickt man nun fast etwas ob der konzeptionellen Ambitionen, die sein neues Projekt «The Blue Shroud» getragen haben: Die mehrteilige Komposition sollte einerseits eine Hommage an Pablo Picassos Anti-Kriegs-Werk «Guernica» sein – und an die Opfer jenes historischen Bombardements. Andrerseits will Guy daran erinnern, dass ebendieses Gemälde im Uno-Sicherheitsrat mit einem blauen Tuch verschleiert worden war, als US-Aussenminister Colin Powell im September 2003 den Einmarsch der US-Truppen in den Irak verkündete . . . Weltkunst, kombiniert also mit Weltgeschichte: Wie soll das tönen? «The Blue Shroud» jedenfalls klingt eindrücklich – dabei weder monumental noch hymnisch. – Und gleich wollen wir ganz prinzipiell daran erinnern, dass die Qualität von Musik eben nicht an deren Absicht (und mag diese auch edel sein) zu messen ist, sondern an ihrer Wirkung.
Als Rezipienten darf man sich auch die Freiheit nehmen, das Trompetensolo zu Beginn von «The Blue Shroud» nicht gleich als militärisches Signal zu deuten, sondern als komprimiertes Signet und schlanken Einstieg in ein mitunter üppiges, jedenfalls facettenreiches Stück.
Barry Guy hat die Komposition für die Blue Shroud Band geschrieben – ein 14-köpfiges, hochkarätig besetztes Ensemble. Zu drei Saxofonen (Michael Niesemann, Per Texas Johannsson, Julius Gabriel), drei Blechblasinstrumenten (Percy Pursglove, Torben Snekkestad, Michel Godard) und drei Streichern (Maya Homburger, Fanny Paccoud, Barry Guy) kommen hier zwei Schlagzeuger (Lucas Niggli, Ramón López), Piano (Augusti Fernandez), Gitarre (Ben Dwyer) sowie die Stimme von Savina Yannatou dazu.
Wenn Streicher mit Saxofonisten und Perkussionisten in der gleichen Band spielen, mag bald eine Kombination von Jazz und Klassik vermutet werden. Und damit liegt man bei Barry Guy nicht falsch (tatsächlich hat er die eigene Musik überdies mit Stücken von Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber und Johann Sebastian Bach ergänzt).

Stringente Dramatik
Allerdings sind die scheinbar heterogenen Komponenten in «The Blue Shroud» in ein stringentes musikalisches Geschehen eingepasst, bei dem man Genregrenzen ebenso vergisst wie die Übergänge zwischen komponierten Vorgaben und Improvisation. Oft gruppieren sich die Instrumente um Gesang (oder gesprochene Lyrik). Immer wieder aber wird man auch durch schroffe Kontraste und durch die vielfältigen Möglichkeiten des schillernden Klangkörpers überrascht.
So steigert sich das Tutti mitunter in ein Stimmengewirr oder in eine an Coltranes «Ascension» erinnernde Üppigkeit. Dann wiederum verzweigt sich der Gesamtklang in die einzelnen Register. Besonders in Erinnerung bleibt etwa der Dialog des Trompeters Percy Pursglove mit dem Pianisten Augusti Fernandez. Oder das zarte Trio von Savina Yannatous Stimme mit Geige und Kontrabass.
Barry Guy: The Blue Shroud (Intakt Records). CD-Taufe: Zürich, Miller's, 19. September.

Ueli Bernays, Neue Zürcher Zeitung, NZZ, 19. September 2016

 

 

Manfred Papst, NZZam Sonntag, 2. Oktober 2016

 

Un drap bleu posé sur le Guernica de Picasso, Colin Powell put ainsi déclarer officiellement la guerre à l’Irak. C’était en 2003, au siège de l’ONU. Douze ans plus tard, Barry Guy faisait œuvre de mémoire à travers son Blue Shroud. Ici, treize musiciens (noter l’omniprésence d’Agustí Fernández et les piquantes présences de Savina Yannatou, Ben Dwyer, Maya Homburger, Fanny Paccoud, Per Texas Johansson, Ramón López) pour une partition poignante (Bach et Biber cités, suavité au sein des déchaînements, guitare échappée du Liberation Music Orchestra) et souvent impétueuse (enchâssements rugueux, âpres duos, chant impliqué). Reste maintenant à délivrer Guernica (certes, une reproduction) des tristes sires de l’ONU.

Luc Bouquet, Le son du grisli, 21. October 2016, France

 

 

 

Jean Buzelin. Disques, livres & Co » Chroniques 2016. 14 Octobre 2016.

 

 

Chris Searle, Morning Star, November 1, 2016

 

 

Bassist Barry Guy's two new albums for Intakt both take inspiration from works of art. In the case of the first one, it also incorporates the way a work of art can be presented and the resulting way in which the work is interpreted, with possible political motives coming out in the process. Vastly different in structure and instrumentation, both mine the visual medium to create strong, enduring works.
When Colin Powell went on t.v. from the United Nations to present a case for the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003, he stood near a reproduction of Pablo Picasso's Guernica. The painting was inspired by the 1937 bombing of that city, and due to the nature of it, Picasso's work was draped in a blue shroud prior to Powell's talk. Presumably the images of war were too much for the public to see as a declaration of a new war was being made.

When writing The Blue Shroud, a 71-minute piece presented in 11 sections on disc, Guy was inspired by all of the acts - the bombing itself, Guernica and the act of shrouding it before Powell's speech. To bring it to life he assembled a 14-piece band, including a vocalist, strings, reeds, low and high brass and two drummers. Along with his original score, he incorporates pieces by classical composers H.I.F. Biber and J.S. Bach.

The work gets wild and there are moments of full blown chaos, but those are fleeting sections amidst bigger pieces. Ben Dwyer's guitar evokes flamenco as he strums furiously over a droning, bowed bass. Saxophones pop furiously, leading to vocals, quickly followed by piano clatter and low chattering strings. The overall feeling is minor, although hope feels like it could be on the horizon. This is especially true when the ensemble plays the Biber's pieces (which refer to Stations of the Cross) and Bach's "Agnus Dei."

Irish poet Kerry Hardie composed "Symbols of Guernica" which vocalist Savina Yannatou recites in sections throughout the piece. The use of voice and intense imagery never makes the work polemic or bombastic. Rather it elevates the feeling of the work. Since the liner notes, like all Intakt releases, appear in both German and English, it was hard to tell at first if Yannatou's recitation was in English or not, since it, wisely, was not pushed to far forward in the mix. This added to the overall impact of The Blue Shroud, making this element just one piece of a stronger whole.
The seven tracks on Deep Memory all derive titles from works by British painter Hughie O'Donoghue, from a 2007 Berlin exhibition titled Lost Poems. Though Guy didn't attempt to transform each canvas into music there can be parallels drawn between the vast, sometimes dark, swaths of color and Guy's performance with longtime collaborators Marilyn Crispell (piano) and Paul Lytton (percussion).

More than anything else, this collection reveals that wide array of moods this trio can create. After the opening "Spirit" - a tranquil rubato piece that unfolds slowly with gentle piano and a plucked bass solo - the group explodes, quite literally, in the opening seconds of "Fallen Angel," with furious bowing and crashes on the keys. The mood of the track also turns calm, but builds up to a climax a few more times, sustaining energy all along.

"Return of Ulysses" proves why Crispell is so highly regarded as a post-Cecil Taylor proponent of energy and technique. She unleashes blocks of sound over some furious bass scrapes that might have put the future of Guy's bow in jeopardy. "Dark Days" begins with her firing repeatedly on one note before taking off across the whole keyboard.

Yet for all of the wildness, Crispell draws on her deeply meditative side as well, which is felt in "Silenced Music" as well as the aforementioned opening track. Lytton colors the music perfectly, whether he's sitting back or adding some hard rolls to the stop-start theme of "Sleeper." And Guy, who composed everything, sounds great, especially in his "Spirit" solo which made my car's speakers vibrate wonderfully during a recent listen. Which proves that the best way to listen is by sitting right in front of two strong speakers.

shanleyonmusic, USA, Tuesday, November 08, 2016

 

 

Johan Jacobsson, Orkesterjournalen, 2016

 

 

 


Marc Chenard, La Scena Musicale, Canada, December 2916

 

 

z'kay, Klenkes, Deutschland, Januar 2017

 

 

Ken Waxman, New York City Jazz Record, April 2017

 

Organization and innovation are the concepts most closely associated with British bassist Barry Guy. A classically trained musician, he early on established himself as a masterful soloist in groups led by pianist Howard Riley and others. By his mid-twenties however, Guy, who turns 70 this month, had made in music the same sort of transcendental leap Woody Allen effected in film by demonstrating memorable skills as director as well as actor. Guy’s founding of and compositions for the London Jazz Composers’ Orchestra in 1972 demonstrated that precise notation and free-form improvisation could coexist. From then on, like a hyperactive Jekyll and Hyde, the bassist has enthusiastically directed and played with large ensemble while utilizing his string prowess in a dizzying number of smaller bands.

One key to Guy’s temperament is found on Withdrawal, which marked the recording debut of the bassist and incidentally saxophonist Evan Parker. Ironically their contributions couldn’t be more different. Like viewing a hoary commercial where a famous actor says only one word, Parker was so cowed that his major role is playing introductions on glockenspiel [!]. But Guy’s achievement is the equivalent of discovering a lost film by a respected director.

Confined to creating drones underneath the solos on the CD’s 1966 tracks, on the remaining numbers from 1967, Guy asserts himself with sharpened arco thrusts, resonating plucks and even bent note glissandi on piano. Guy was not yet 20, and his associates – trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, trombonist Paul Rutherford, percussionist John Stevens, multi-reedist Trevor Watts and guitarist Derek Bailey – were not only older, but were in the process of inventing British free music. The bassist’s skill was obvious. Think of it as the ingénue in a scene with the likes of Meryl Streep making as much of an impression as the diva. Otherwise this is primary group music, especially when the septet plays a Webern-influenced suite. There are passages when Watts demonstrates virtuosity playing snarling oboe and rhythmic bass flute and faces contrapuntal challenges when his fluid soprano saxophone lines partner Stevens’ intermittent beats and/or Rutherford’s crying gurgles. Bailey’s choked strings and sharpened patterns are already distinctive, but the stand out soloist is Wheeler. Able to wrap tones in glamorous big band sheen, his asides, note squeezes and mouthpiece wiggles define free music, with solos so translucently dappled that they’re the aural equivalent of color striations in a rock.

The color scheme is different on The Blue Shroud. Like trying to compare a black and white classic with a wide-screen color extravaganza, the program and objective is almost antithetical. Relevant as Donald Trump-sanctioned concept of “alternative facts” proliferate, the performance’s libretto by Irish poet Kerry Hardie refers obliquely to the Spanish Civil War bombing that inspired Pablo Picasso’s anti-war painting Guernica and a 2003 incident where a reproduction of the masterpiece at the United Nations was covered by a blue cloth as Americans made the case to invade Iran. Interspaced among her vocals, which ranges from lyric soprano to a fusillade of gurgles, growls and yodels, Savina Yannatou mouths phrases from both wars. Instrumentally the suite confirms Guy’s skill as an orchestrator, contrasting pacific and belligerent sections, with distinctive Spanish motifs played at intervals by guitarist Ben Dwyer. Fragments of H. I. F. Biber and J.S. Bach airs inserted by violinist Maya Homburger and violist Fanny Paccoud not only to underscore post-battle calm but also wars’ history. Additionally the Biber-Bach’s emergence at the suite’s end, underscored by Guy’s brawny bass continuum, serves as a requiem for the carnage suggested by miasmatic orchestral sequences earlier on. Representing 10 different countries the players reach a crescendo of sophisticatedly delineated tones on the suite’s penultimate sequences. Like a free-jazz battlefield soundtrack, the scene darkens via thundering pumps and smacks from percussionist Lucas Niggli and Ramón López, while artillery recoils in the form of Michel Godard’s tuba growls and farts, altissimo screeches from four saxophonists, quivering string spiccato and Yannatou’s harsh scatting reaches a polyphonic climax, then dribbles away like life seeping from a dying combatant. Throughout The Blue Shroud, Agustí Fernández’s keyboard looms like a war hero among the rank-and-file. Capable of classical-style formations alongside the strings, in orchestral battles he peppers the program with dynamic chord progression, kinetic pitch and pressure movements while thrusting the theme forward as with a tank. Besides his virtuosity on his own instrument, Guy’s musical longevity rests on his refined compositions and arrangements skillfully interpreted by the musicians with whom he’s played for 50 years, or a few months.

Ken Waxman, www.jazzword.com, April 6, 2017 (For The New York City Jazz Record April 2017)

 

 

 

 

Enzo Boddi, Musica Jazz, Marzo 2018


 

 

 

to Intakt home