The Jazz Mann | Hannah Vivian-Byrne Trio - Hannah Vivian-Byrne Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Guildhall, Brecon, 13/08/2017. | Review | The Jazz Mann

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Hannah Vivian-Byrne Trio - Hannah Vivian-Byrne Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Guildhall, Brecon, 13/08/2017. Rating: 3-5 out of 5 A highly gifted jazz singer who was well supported by her sympathetic and similarly accomplished partners.

BRECON JAZZ FESTIVAL 2017

HANNAH VIVIAN-BYRNE TRIO, THE GUILDHALL, BRECON, 13/08/2017.

The final Brecon Jazz Festival event of 2017 to be held at the Guildhall featured a trio fronted by rising star vocalist Hannah Vivian-Byrne.

A Welsh native (she hails from Bridgend) she is a recent graduate (2016) of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) where she gained a First in Jazz Vocals and Performance. Vivian-Byrne names her primary jazz influences as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday – a veritable Holy Trinity of jazz singers.

The young vocalist and pianist also performs under the name Hannah Grace, effectively her pop/soul alter ego, and has already released two albums of original material under this banner. She has also toured extensively in this guise and is currently also working on her début album. A BBC Wales Horizons artist her music has already been played extensively on BBC Wales and she has also been featured by presenter Dermot O’ Leary on BBC Radio 2. As Hannah Grace she performs the version of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” that features in the current Lloyd’s Bank advert.

Today’s performance at a packed out Guildhall featured Vivian-Byrne leading an intimate ‘chamber jazz’ trio featuring two other recent RWCMD graduates, pianist Ayo Vincent and bassist Linus Fenton, the latter a previous visitor to Brecon Jazz Club as part of a quartet led by pianist and composer Philip Clouts.

Mentored by Julian Joseph Vincent leads his own groups and has recently moved to London where he is beginning to establish himself on the jazz scene in the English capital.

Fenton, who also graduated with a first, is quickly establishing himself as in demand bass player and has performed alongside such jazz luminaries as saxophonist Iain Ballamy, vocalist Tina May and pianists Huw Warren and Philip Clouts. He has also toured internationally with the chart topping country/pop act Ward Thomas and performed with the similarly inclined The Shires. He is also a regular member of Vivian-Byrne’s band when the singer is performing in her Hannah Grace incarnation.

Today the focus was very much on Vivian-Byrne the jazz singer in a programme consisting almost entirely of Great American Songbook standards. In this exposed, drummer-less format Vivian-Byrne was able to demonstrate her technical prowess to great effect, she is a highly gifted jazz singer who was well supported by her sympathetic and similarly accomplished partners. Vincent and Fenton also impressed with their instrumental expertise and both were accorded a generous amount of solo space. This was a genuine trio performance and it seems somewhat disingenuous to merely refer to the instrumentalists as mere ‘accompanists’.

Today’s performance began with an innovative arrangement of the song “Blue Skies” with Fenton’s use of the bow on the intro, allied to Vivian-Byrne’s vocal,  initially giving the music a bitter-sweet melancholic edge. It was only when the bassist put down the bow and began to play pizzicato that the music acquired the kind of swing and bounce normally associated with the song and its optimistic lyrics.  As the music accelerated Vivian-Byrne demonstrated her vocal flexibility and the two instrumentalists impressed with their piano and bass dialogue with Fenton featuring further with a pizzicato bass solo.

Vivian-Byrne announced that today’s audience was the biggest one that the trio had yet played to, thus today’s concert represented a very important gig for these young musicians. A passage of solo piano from Vincent then introduced an arrangement of “There Will Be Another You” which featured an adventurous scat vocal episode from Vivian-Byrne plus instrumental solos from both Vincent and Fenton. 

Vivian-Byrne informed us that the she had performed the next song as part of her end of year recital at RWCMD and pronounced it as being an ‘old classic’.  However I have to admit to not recognising it as a jazz standard and suspect that it may have been David Gray’s “This Year’s Love”, a song from the Hannah Grace repertoire. With no instrumental solos the performance was distinguished by Vivian-Byrne’s emotive vocal performance. The singer has a remarkable ability to combine expressiveness with purity of tone and clarity of enunciation.

A passage of unaccompanied bass introduced “It Could Happen To You” with the addition of Vincent’s piano prompting another passage of scat vocalising from Vivian-Byrne plus further solos for piano and bass. Vivian-Byrne impressed as a vocal improviser, there was a discernible chemistry between the singer and her fellow musicians that ensured that her scat vocal episodes were more than just tokens, as is often the case with less technically accomplished vocalists.

Vivian-Byrne devoted a heartfelt performance of “Someone To Watch Over Me” to her parents, both of whom were seated in the audience. The performance was also notable for a delightfully melodic bass solo from Fenton who was well served by Vincent’s sympathetic piano accompaniment.

The trio’s arrangement of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” was inspired by the version by American jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant. Vivian-Byrne’s solo vocal introduction was a technical tour de force and Vincent also impressed with his piano solo on the brand new Kawai upright hired by the organisers specifically for the Festival.

Jobim’s “There’s No Use” was also ushered in by Vivian-Byrne’s voice, this time accompanied by the sounds of Vincent and Fenton utilising the bodies of their respective instruments as auxiliary percussion. Subsequently the piece allowed the instrumentalists to make further use of these techniques as they were given the chance to stretch out on expansive solos, including a passage of unaccompanied bass from Fenton.

An expressive version of “These Foolish Things” showcased Vivian-Byrne’s emotive vocals and Vincent’s empathic piano accompaniment and subsequent solo. In the pared down setting of a drummer-less trio these three young musicians all demonstrated a musical and emotional maturity beyond their years.

These qualities were apparent again on the beautiful version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark”, which closed the concert. The song was delivered as a haunting and affecting ballad with Vivian-Byrne’s pure, well enunciated vocals the fore and with Fenton again making effective use of the bow in the tune’s closing stages.

The young trio were rewarded with a terrific reception from a supportive Guildhall crowd with many of the audience members getting to their feet to applaud. The deserved encore was announced by Vivian-Byrne as a blues and proved to be a piece of vocalese based around the Wardell Gray tune “Twisted”. The lyrics were later added by vocalist Annie Ross and the song was also covered by Joni Mitchell on her “Court and Spark” album. Vivian-Byrne and her colleagues had great fun with this technically demanding piece with the dazzling vocal/bass duet between the singer and Fenton a particular highlight.

 “Be there to say you discovered Hannah Vivian-Byrne at Brecon Jazz this year!”  declared Brecon Jazz Club’s publicity for this event and one could see why. She is a supremely talented and versatile singer and it will be interesting to see which trajectory her subsequent career will take. Vivian-Byrne clearly has the vocal talent to make a successful career as a jazz singer but Youtube footage of the singer in her Hannah Grace persona suggests the possibility of greater mainstream success.  There seems to be no genre of popular music that this vocalist cannot sing.

It will be interesting to see just which direction she chooses to adopt, with parallel careers a realistic possibility in the current musical climate. Whatever path or name she takes it seems certain that we are going to hear a lot more from Hannah Vivian-Byrne – and from Ayo Vincent and Linus Fenton, too.

 

 

 

 

Hannah Vivian-Byrne Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Guildhall, Brecon, 13/08/2017.

Hannah Vivian-Byrne Trio

Monday, August 21, 2017

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

3-5 out of 5

Hannah Vivian-Byrne Trio, Brecon Jazz Festival 2017, The Guildhall, Brecon, 13/08/2017.
Photography: Photograph by Bob Meyrick

A highly gifted jazz singer who was well supported by her sympathetic and similarly accomplished partners.

BRECON JAZZ FESTIVAL 2017

HANNAH VIVIAN-BYRNE TRIO, THE GUILDHALL, BRECON, 13/08/2017.

The final Brecon Jazz Festival event of 2017 to be held at the Guildhall featured a trio fronted by rising star vocalist Hannah Vivian-Byrne.

A Welsh native (she hails from Bridgend) she is a recent graduate (2016) of Royal Welsh College of Music & Drama (RWCMD) where she gained a First in Jazz Vocals and Performance. Vivian-Byrne names her primary jazz influences as Sarah Vaughan, Ella Fitzgerald and Billie Holiday – a veritable Holy Trinity of jazz singers.

The young vocalist and pianist also performs under the name Hannah Grace, effectively her pop/soul alter ego, and has already released two albums of original material under this banner. She has also toured extensively in this guise and is currently also working on her début album. A BBC Wales Horizons artist her music has already been played extensively on BBC Wales and she has also been featured by presenter Dermot O’ Leary on BBC Radio 2. As Hannah Grace she performs the version of Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You” that features in the current Lloyd’s Bank advert.

Today’s performance at a packed out Guildhall featured Vivian-Byrne leading an intimate ‘chamber jazz’ trio featuring two other recent RWCMD graduates, pianist Ayo Vincent and bassist Linus Fenton, the latter a previous visitor to Brecon Jazz Club as part of a quartet led by pianist and composer Philip Clouts.

Mentored by Julian Joseph Vincent leads his own groups and has recently moved to London where he is beginning to establish himself on the jazz scene in the English capital.

Fenton, who also graduated with a first, is quickly establishing himself as in demand bass player and has performed alongside such jazz luminaries as saxophonist Iain Ballamy, vocalist Tina May and pianists Huw Warren and Philip Clouts. He has also toured internationally with the chart topping country/pop act Ward Thomas and performed with the similarly inclined The Shires. He is also a regular member of Vivian-Byrne’s band when the singer is performing in her Hannah Grace incarnation.

Today the focus was very much on Vivian-Byrne the jazz singer in a programme consisting almost entirely of Great American Songbook standards. In this exposed, drummer-less format Vivian-Byrne was able to demonstrate her technical prowess to great effect, she is a highly gifted jazz singer who was well supported by her sympathetic and similarly accomplished partners. Vincent and Fenton also impressed with their instrumental expertise and both were accorded a generous amount of solo space. This was a genuine trio performance and it seems somewhat disingenuous to merely refer to the instrumentalists as mere ‘accompanists’.

Today’s performance began with an innovative arrangement of the song “Blue Skies” with Fenton’s use of the bow on the intro, allied to Vivian-Byrne’s vocal,  initially giving the music a bitter-sweet melancholic edge. It was only when the bassist put down the bow and began to play pizzicato that the music acquired the kind of swing and bounce normally associated with the song and its optimistic lyrics.  As the music accelerated Vivian-Byrne demonstrated her vocal flexibility and the two instrumentalists impressed with their piano and bass dialogue with Fenton featuring further with a pizzicato bass solo.

Vivian-Byrne announced that today’s audience was the biggest one that the trio had yet played to, thus today’s concert represented a very important gig for these young musicians. A passage of solo piano from Vincent then introduced an arrangement of “There Will Be Another You” which featured an adventurous scat vocal episode from Vivian-Byrne plus instrumental solos from both Vincent and Fenton. 

Vivian-Byrne informed us that the she had performed the next song as part of her end of year recital at RWCMD and pronounced it as being an ‘old classic’.  However I have to admit to not recognising it as a jazz standard and suspect that it may have been David Gray’s “This Year’s Love”, a song from the Hannah Grace repertoire. With no instrumental solos the performance was distinguished by Vivian-Byrne’s emotive vocal performance. The singer has a remarkable ability to combine expressiveness with purity of tone and clarity of enunciation.

A passage of unaccompanied bass introduced “It Could Happen To You” with the addition of Vincent’s piano prompting another passage of scat vocalising from Vivian-Byrne plus further solos for piano and bass. Vivian-Byrne impressed as a vocal improviser, there was a discernible chemistry between the singer and her fellow musicians that ensured that her scat vocal episodes were more than just tokens, as is often the case with less technically accomplished vocalists.

Vivian-Byrne devoted a heartfelt performance of “Someone To Watch Over Me” to her parents, both of whom were seated in the audience. The performance was also notable for a delightfully melodic bass solo from Fenton who was well served by Vincent’s sympathetic piano accompaniment.

The trio’s arrangement of “I Didn’t Know What Time It Was” was inspired by the version by American jazz vocalist Cecile McLorin Salvant. Vivian-Byrne’s solo vocal introduction was a technical tour de force and Vincent also impressed with his piano solo on the brand new Kawai upright hired by the organisers specifically for the Festival.

Jobim’s “There’s No Use” was also ushered in by Vivian-Byrne’s voice, this time accompanied by the sounds of Vincent and Fenton utilising the bodies of their respective instruments as auxiliary percussion. Subsequently the piece allowed the instrumentalists to make further use of these techniques as they were given the chance to stretch out on expansive solos, including a passage of unaccompanied bass from Fenton.

An expressive version of “These Foolish Things” showcased Vivian-Byrne’s emotive vocals and Vincent’s empathic piano accompaniment and subsequent solo. In the pared down setting of a drummer-less trio these three young musicians all demonstrated a musical and emotional maturity beyond their years.

These qualities were apparent again on the beautiful version of Hoagy Carmichael’s “Skylark”, which closed the concert. The song was delivered as a haunting and affecting ballad with Vivian-Byrne’s pure, well enunciated vocals the fore and with Fenton again making effective use of the bow in the tune’s closing stages.

The young trio were rewarded with a terrific reception from a supportive Guildhall crowd with many of the audience members getting to their feet to applaud. The deserved encore was announced by Vivian-Byrne as a blues and proved to be a piece of vocalese based around the Wardell Gray tune “Twisted”. The lyrics were later added by vocalist Annie Ross and the song was also covered by Joni Mitchell on her “Court and Spark” album. Vivian-Byrne and her colleagues had great fun with this technically demanding piece with the dazzling vocal/bass duet between the singer and Fenton a particular highlight.

 “Be there to say you discovered Hannah Vivian-Byrne at Brecon Jazz this year!”  declared Brecon Jazz Club’s publicity for this event and one could see why. She is a supremely talented and versatile singer and it will be interesting to see which trajectory her subsequent career will take. Vivian-Byrne clearly has the vocal talent to make a successful career as a jazz singer but Youtube footage of the singer in her Hannah Grace persona suggests the possibility of greater mainstream success.  There seems to be no genre of popular music that this vocalist cannot sing.

It will be interesting to see just which direction she chooses to adopt, with parallel careers a realistic possibility in the current musical climate. Whatever path or name she takes it seems certain that we are going to hear a lot more from Hannah Vivian-Byrne – and from Ayo Vincent and Linus Fenton, too.

 

 

 

 


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