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Sector 7 - The EP Rating: 3-5 out of 5 A very sophisticated and classy piece of work.

Sector 7

“The EP”

(Sayso Records SEHSO02CD)

Sector 7 is a jazz vocal group plus rhythm section who specialise in sophisticated arrangements of songs from right across the jazz spectrum with the emphasis on the vocal harmonies of the four singers. Their début EP appears on Sayso Records, the label of one of the participants, singer Sarah Ellen Hughes.  Hughes is joined by fellow vocalists Emma Smith, Kwabena Adjepong and Shakka Philip to give the vocal part of the group a 50/50 male/female split. The four singers are accompanied by a very classy rhythm section consisting of pianist George Moore, bassist Tim Thornton and drummer Andy Chapman. An intriguing programme includes pieces by George Gershwin, Stevie Wonder, Silje Neergard and Chick Corea.

This five track mini album begins with the song “She’s Like The Swallow”, credited to “Anon” so I presume it’s a traditional folk song of some description- a quick internet search suggests that it originated in Newfoundland. Sector 7’s arrangement is unmistakably jazz with rich layers of jazz harmony vocals and both male and female scatting. There are no instrumental solos but the trio’s sympathetic and responsive accompaniment is right on the money throughout.

Gershwin’s “But Not For Me” opens with a vocal fanfare somewhere between a barber shop quartet and the Andrews Sisters before settling into a more obvious jazz format. There’s a female lead vocal (the packaging carries a minimum amount of information and I’m not going to speculate who sings lead where) and a pithy bass solo from Thornton before the rest of the vocal group come in to provide Sector 7’s trademark harmonies. This is a bright, breezy, appealing and often downright playful take on a much loved and brilliantly written jazz standard.

A take on Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman” explores the group’s soul leanings with the guys in the band taking the lead, their soulful vocals cushioned by gospel style vocal harmonies. Pianist Moore gets the opportunity to stretch out mid tune. 

The Norwegian singer Silje Neergard is a particular favourite of Hughes hence the inclusion of Neergard’s collaboration with Pat Metheny, “Tell Me Where You’re Going”, at her recent live show in Abergavenny (a performance reviewed elsewhere on this site). The Neergard tune here is “Be Still My Heart”, another quality pop song with shared female (presumably Hughes) and male lead vocals and some lush (for me perhaps rather overly so) pop/soul harmonies.

The group’s version of Chick Corea’s enduring “Spain” also appears on Hughes’ most recent solo album “The Story So Far”, suggesting that this is another personal favourite. This vocalese version of the song (Hughes told me that the lyrics are by Al Jarreau) is an impressive piece of work. Corea’s marvellous melodies lend themselves well to the quartet’s wordless vocalising and elsewhere the singers impart appropriate emotion and gravitas to Jarreau’s words. In a piece written by a pianist it’s also appropriate that George Moore gets another chance to shine.

Sector 7’s music is a little outside my usual area but there’s no doubting that this EP is a very sophisticated and classy piece of work and I’d surmise that the group’s live shows are equally impressive. All four singers acquit themselves well and the rhythm section perform immaculately throughout with Lester Salmins’ pinpoint mix serving everybody well. A word for drummer Andy Chapman, a musician who has just come on to my radar and who seems to have a particular affinity for working with singers having recently appeared on “Until Tomorrow”, the début album of Zara McFarlane (see review elsewhere on this site). In a slightly different context he is also a regular member of the trio led by guitarist/singer/songwriter Lisbee Stainton and drums on her latest collection of original songs “Go”.     

The EP

Sector 7

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

EP Review

3-5 out of 5

The EP

A very sophisticated and classy piece of work.

Sector 7

“The EP”

(Sayso Records SEHSO02CD)

Sector 7 is a jazz vocal group plus rhythm section who specialise in sophisticated arrangements of songs from right across the jazz spectrum with the emphasis on the vocal harmonies of the four singers. Their début EP appears on Sayso Records, the label of one of the participants, singer Sarah Ellen Hughes.  Hughes is joined by fellow vocalists Emma Smith, Kwabena Adjepong and Shakka Philip to give the vocal part of the group a 50/50 male/female split. The four singers are accompanied by a very classy rhythm section consisting of pianist George Moore, bassist Tim Thornton and drummer Andy Chapman. An intriguing programme includes pieces by George Gershwin, Stevie Wonder, Silje Neergard and Chick Corea.

This five track mini album begins with the song “She’s Like The Swallow”, credited to “Anon” so I presume it’s a traditional folk song of some description- a quick internet search suggests that it originated in Newfoundland. Sector 7’s arrangement is unmistakably jazz with rich layers of jazz harmony vocals and both male and female scatting. There are no instrumental solos but the trio’s sympathetic and responsive accompaniment is right on the money throughout.

Gershwin’s “But Not For Me” opens with a vocal fanfare somewhere between a barber shop quartet and the Andrews Sisters before settling into a more obvious jazz format. There’s a female lead vocal (the packaging carries a minimum amount of information and I’m not going to speculate who sings lead where) and a pithy bass solo from Thornton before the rest of the vocal group come in to provide Sector 7’s trademark harmonies. This is a bright, breezy, appealing and often downright playful take on a much loved and brilliantly written jazz standard.

A take on Stevie Wonder’s “Superwoman” explores the group’s soul leanings with the guys in the band taking the lead, their soulful vocals cushioned by gospel style vocal harmonies. Pianist Moore gets the opportunity to stretch out mid tune. 

The Norwegian singer Silje Neergard is a particular favourite of Hughes hence the inclusion of Neergard’s collaboration with Pat Metheny, “Tell Me Where You’re Going”, at her recent live show in Abergavenny (a performance reviewed elsewhere on this site). The Neergard tune here is “Be Still My Heart”, another quality pop song with shared female (presumably Hughes) and male lead vocals and some lush (for me perhaps rather overly so) pop/soul harmonies.

The group’s version of Chick Corea’s enduring “Spain” also appears on Hughes’ most recent solo album “The Story So Far”, suggesting that this is another personal favourite. This vocalese version of the song (Hughes told me that the lyrics are by Al Jarreau) is an impressive piece of work. Corea’s marvellous melodies lend themselves well to the quartet’s wordless vocalising and elsewhere the singers impart appropriate emotion and gravitas to Jarreau’s words. In a piece written by a pianist it’s also appropriate that George Moore gets another chance to shine.

Sector 7’s music is a little outside my usual area but there’s no doubting that this EP is a very sophisticated and classy piece of work and I’d surmise that the group’s live shows are equally impressive. All four singers acquit themselves well and the rhythm section perform immaculately throughout with Lester Salmins’ pinpoint mix serving everybody well. A word for drummer Andy Chapman, a musician who has just come on to my radar and who seems to have a particular affinity for working with singers having recently appeared on “Until Tomorrow”, the début album of Zara McFarlane (see review elsewhere on this site). In a slightly different context he is also a regular member of the trio led by guitarist/singer/songwriter Lisbee Stainton and drums on her latest collection of original songs “Go”.     


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