The Jazz Mann | Talinka - Talinka, Black Mountain Jazz, The Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 25/02/2018. | Review | The Jazz Mann

Accessibility Menu

REVIEW

Talinka - Talinka, Black Mountain Jazz, The Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 25/02/2018. Rating: 4 out of 5 Tali Atzmon has made a big impression with her début as a leader. The quartet’s combination of instruments must surely be unique and the group utilise their resources colourfully and imaginatively.

alinka, Black Mountain Jazz, The Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 25/02/2018.

This rare afternoon event hosted by Black Mountain Jazz attracted a capacity crowd to the Melville Centre to witness this performance by Talinka, the drummer-less quartet led by vocalist and songwriter Tali Atzmon.

Also an accomplished actress Tali is the wife of the well known multi instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, producer, author and political activist Gilad Atzmon who was also present in the band line up. Gilad has been a regular visitor to BMJ with his long running working quartet the Orient House Ensemble and also with the band of singer, songwriter and guitarist Sarah Gillespie. The 2013 Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, hosted by BMJ, saw him fronting a free-wheeling trio featuring bassist Tim Thornton and drummer Asaf Sirkis as they paid homage to John Coltrane and Charlie Parker.

Prior to this afternoon Gilad’s most recent visit to Abergavenny had been in the company of the OHE at the 2017 Wall2Wall Festival which featured a more formal tribute to Coltrane based around the quartet’s most recent album “Spirit Of Trane”.

Gilad is something of a cult figure who has attracted a considerable following among the BMJ faithful and his presence undoubtedly helped to boost the audience but Talinka is very different from his other projects and is very much Tali’s band. The quartet features an unusual instrumental configuration with Gilad today contributing soprano sax, bass clarinet, accordion and acoustic guitar. On double bass was Yaron Stavi, a long standing member of the OHE and on violin, flute and viola da gamba was Jenny Bliss Bennett, a musician best known for playing baroque and early music but who is an open minded artist readily capable of moving easily between musical genres.

As a band Talinka adopt a similarly broad minded and expansive approach. The group’s eponymous début album was released in June 2017 on Gilad’s Fanfare record label and embraces a variety of musical styles ranging from jazz to folk to cabaret to baroque mixing original songs and tunes by Tali and Gilad with imaginative arrangements of jazz standards. Today’s programme included several items from the début plus a number of pieces scheduled to appear on the quartet’s second album. The material included songs embracing a broad stylistic and geographic range epitomising the group’s mission statement as printed on the cover of their début album;
“Talinka is a music-loving adventure. For us the love of music extends beyond style and genre; we blend folk, early music, jazz, tango and free improvisation. We believe in songs and beauty being vital forces of nature. We adhere to simplicity, harmony and warmth. The outcome is a natural breathing, deep and spacious sonic adventure”.

This afternoon’s performance began with Gilad’s “Four 2 Tango”, a tune from the quartet’s début album. This introduced the distinctive sound of the viola de gamba, a six stringed, fretted instrument, somewhere in size between a regular viola and a cello. It can be either bowed or plucked or strummed like a guitar and Bliss Bennett is able to move freely between the various techniques. Here her strummed arpeggios locked in with Stavi’s bass lines to complement Gilad’s folk like accordion melodies and Tali’s increasingly adventurous wordless vocalising, the singer sometimes deploying extended vocal techniques reminiscent of a Julie Tippetts or Maggie Nicols. As Tali’s singing became more exploratory she was complemented by Bliss Bennett’s switch to the bow to introduce another facet of the supremely versatile viola da gamba. I don’t recall having seen the instrument played live before and on this evidence it’s surprising that such a flexible instrument, with such a wide range of sounds,  isn’t more widely deployed in all areas of music.

Introduced by Stavi’s rich, dark arco bass and featuring the muezzin like wail of Gilad’s soprano sax Bronislau Kaper’s song “Invitation” was the first of the jazz standards to feature in today’s performance. Following the duo introduction Stavi put down the bow and set up a pizzicato bass groove that provided the bedrock for Tali’s delivery of the English lyric and Gilad’s sinuous soprano sax solo. Bliss Bennett featured on violin, sometimes doubling Gilad’s sax melody lines. Some audience members felt that Tali’s voice had been too prominent in the mix on the opener but here the balance had been adjusted to give a more equilateral group sound that worked well for the rest of the afternoon.

Also from the quartet’s début album came Tali’s beautiful and achingly sad interpretation of Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain” . The singer’s blues tinged melancholy was enhanced by an arrangement featuring the grainy, sepia tinged combination of Gilad’s bass clarinet and Bliss Bennett’s bowed viola da gamba plus Stavi’s resonant pizzicato bass lines. Many of today’s performances differed substantially from their recorded counterparts.  For instance the album version of this song features guest Frank Harrison on piano while “Invitation” also features Gilad on bass clarinet.


Gilad first tackled the English folk song “Scarborough Fair” on the OHE’s 2013 album”Songs of the Metropolis”, giving it a Coltrane-esque interpretation on a wholly instrumental arrangement.  The piece was accorded a further lease of life here with an atmospherically droning introduction featuring the sounds of accordion plus bowed double bass and viola de gamba leading into Tali’s singing of the melody and lyrics.  Bliss Bennett sometimes added vocal harmonies and also soloed on viola da gamba as Stavi put down the bow to supply plucked rhythmic momentum, his double bass complemented by Tali’s playing of a frame drum similar to the Irish bodhran.

Moving away from the album repertoire the quartet treated us to a breezy version of “Bebe” written by the great Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal. Introduced by Stavi’s pizzicato bass the arrangement also featured Gilad on acoustic guitar and Tali on wordless Brazilian style vocals. The piece also represented Bliss Bennett’s first outing on flute, her effervescent solo representing the main instrumental feature.

Returning to the record Tali’s moving original “Losing Vision” addressed the plight of Syrian refugees and other displaced people while simultaneously expressing a hope for a better world.  The combination of deep, resinous bass clarinet and the melancholy sound of bowed viola da gamba expressed the ineffable sadness of the situation while Tali’s lyrics, with their allusions to the Barbra Streisand hit “People”, clung to an underlying sense of hope.

The first set ended on a less sombre note with the cabaret stylings of “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” which threw some musical humour into the mix courtesy of Tali’s theatrical vocals and hand clapping plus some dazzling but irreverent instrumental exchanges between Gilad on accordion, Bliss Bennett on violin and Stavi on double bass.

As one would expect from a performance featuring Gilad Atzmon a sense of humour was never far away with the married couple bantering in a stylised way and with Stavi also adding to the mix. Indeed it was the bassist who was to kick off the second half as he and Bliss Bennett duetted on an arrangement of a Sonata by the baroque composer Heinrich Biber (1644 – 1704) – “not Justin” joked Stavi. The piece allowed Bliss Bennett to demonstrate her virtuosity on violin as she soared above Stavi’s deeply resonant arco bass drone. This may have been nominally chamber music but there was still a pleasing element of musical humour about the duo’s exchanges.

The full band returned for “When You’re Gone”, one of Tali’s songs from the début album. Her emotive vocals with their theme of yearning and loss were augmented by the drone of Gilad’s accordion and the melancholy, cello like sound of Bliss Bennett’s bowed viola da gamba, the latter featuring as a solo instrument.

The group broke down into a duo again as Tali and Bliss Bennett joined the audience to watch Gilad and Stavi combine on soprano sax and double bass respectively with, Gilad leading the audience in a bebop inspired call and response session featuring hand-claps and Dizzy Gillespie inspired scat vocalising. It was a bit too early in the day for some audience members but it was still great fun and there was some fiery sax soloing too on a piece that also borrowed from Thelonious Monk.

An as yet unrecorded arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” featured another emotive vocal from Tali and a melodic pizzicato bass solo from Stavi with Bliss Bennett’s violin and Gilad’s acoustic guitar rounding out the sound.

Another unrecorded song, “How Deep Is The Ocean”, was the second in a trilogy of standards.  This time the arrangement included soprano sax and bowed viola da gamba in a spirited arrangement that saw Gilad soloing above a propulsive bass groove as Bliss Bennett supplied counter melodies before entering into a series of playful musical exchanges with the saxophonist.

From the album came a dramatic, slowed down version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” . Another richly emotive vocal performance by Tali was augmented by Gilad’s plaintive soprano sax and Bliss Bennett’s earthy bowing .

The performance ended with Tali’s own “Every Now And Then”, the song that also closes the album. Introduced by the combination of Tali’s voice and Bliss Bennett’s strummed viola da gamba and with Gilad featuring on accordion this was a highly evocative composition that reminded many listeners of a Leonard Cohen song, praise indeed. Also hinting at Tom Waits and the sound of vintage Berlin cabaret this was a terrific way to round off a highly distinctive performance.

Vocalist Debs Hancock, one of several local musicians in an audience that also included violinist Heulwen Thomas and drummer Greg Evans, had little difficulty in persuading the group to return for a well deserved encore. This proved to be an arrangement of the jazz standard “I’ll Be Seeing You” featuring Gilad as the featured instrumental soloist on accordion alongside pizzicato viola da gamba and double bass.

Talinka – one of the proposed group names rejected was the more provocative Taliband – is a fascinating project and Tali Atzmon has made a big impression with her musical début as a leader. The quartet’s combination of instruments must surely be unique and the group utilise their resources colourfully and imaginatively. For what is nominally a ‘chamber jazz’ ensemble the group possesses a considerable amount of energy and their live performances are given an additional frisson by the kind of earthy humour that Gilad has been peddling for years. Tali’s voice is well suited to her own material but her interpretations of standards material are also highly original and draw on many musical sources from around the globe. It will be interesting to see which direction she takes this ensemble in next.

After the show the discussion moved to the timing of today’s event and the respective merits of afternoon and evening performances. Was the full house just due to the reputation of the performers or was the time of the performance also a factor? The early start seemed to suit many people on a cold February day but would they feel the same at the height of summer?

Perhaps BMJ could experiment further with afternoon shows in winter (November, December, January and February and maybe even March) with evening shows coming back in the summer when the clocks go forward. It’s certainly something to think about. In any event Talinka were delighted with the audience turnout and reaction. Abergavenny’s love affair with the Atzmon family seems destined to continue.

Talinka, Black Mountain Jazz, The Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 25/02/2018.

Talinka

Monday, February 26, 2018

Reviewed by: Ian Mann

Live Review

4 out of 5

Talinka, Black Mountain Jazz, The Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 25/02/2018.
Photography: Photograph by Pam Mann.

Tali Atzmon has made a big impression with her début as a leader. The quartet’s combination of instruments must surely be unique and the group utilise their resources colourfully and imaginatively.

alinka, Black Mountain Jazz, The Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 25/02/2018.

This rare afternoon event hosted by Black Mountain Jazz attracted a capacity crowd to the Melville Centre to witness this performance by Talinka, the drummer-less quartet led by vocalist and songwriter Tali Atzmon.

Also an accomplished actress Tali is the wife of the well known multi instrumentalist, composer, bandleader, producer, author and political activist Gilad Atzmon who was also present in the band line up. Gilad has been a regular visitor to BMJ with his long running working quartet the Orient House Ensemble and also with the band of singer, songwriter and guitarist Sarah Gillespie. The 2013 Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, hosted by BMJ, saw him fronting a free-wheeling trio featuring bassist Tim Thornton and drummer Asaf Sirkis as they paid homage to John Coltrane and Charlie Parker.

Prior to this afternoon Gilad’s most recent visit to Abergavenny had been in the company of the OHE at the 2017 Wall2Wall Festival which featured a more formal tribute to Coltrane based around the quartet’s most recent album “Spirit Of Trane”.

Gilad is something of a cult figure who has attracted a considerable following among the BMJ faithful and his presence undoubtedly helped to boost the audience but Talinka is very different from his other projects and is very much Tali’s band. The quartet features an unusual instrumental configuration with Gilad today contributing soprano sax, bass clarinet, accordion and acoustic guitar. On double bass was Yaron Stavi, a long standing member of the OHE and on violin, flute and viola da gamba was Jenny Bliss Bennett, a musician best known for playing baroque and early music but who is an open minded artist readily capable of moving easily between musical genres.

As a band Talinka adopt a similarly broad minded and expansive approach. The group’s eponymous début album was released in June 2017 on Gilad’s Fanfare record label and embraces a variety of musical styles ranging from jazz to folk to cabaret to baroque mixing original songs and tunes by Tali and Gilad with imaginative arrangements of jazz standards. Today’s programme included several items from the début plus a number of pieces scheduled to appear on the quartet’s second album. The material included songs embracing a broad stylistic and geographic range epitomising the group’s mission statement as printed on the cover of their début album;
“Talinka is a music-loving adventure. For us the love of music extends beyond style and genre; we blend folk, early music, jazz, tango and free improvisation. We believe in songs and beauty being vital forces of nature. We adhere to simplicity, harmony and warmth. The outcome is a natural breathing, deep and spacious sonic adventure”.

This afternoon’s performance began with Gilad’s “Four 2 Tango”, a tune from the quartet’s début album. This introduced the distinctive sound of the viola de gamba, a six stringed, fretted instrument, somewhere in size between a regular viola and a cello. It can be either bowed or plucked or strummed like a guitar and Bliss Bennett is able to move freely between the various techniques. Here her strummed arpeggios locked in with Stavi’s bass lines to complement Gilad’s folk like accordion melodies and Tali’s increasingly adventurous wordless vocalising, the singer sometimes deploying extended vocal techniques reminiscent of a Julie Tippetts or Maggie Nicols. As Tali’s singing became more exploratory she was complemented by Bliss Bennett’s switch to the bow to introduce another facet of the supremely versatile viola da gamba. I don’t recall having seen the instrument played live before and on this evidence it’s surprising that such a flexible instrument, with such a wide range of sounds,  isn’t more widely deployed in all areas of music.

Introduced by Stavi’s rich, dark arco bass and featuring the muezzin like wail of Gilad’s soprano sax Bronislau Kaper’s song “Invitation” was the first of the jazz standards to feature in today’s performance. Following the duo introduction Stavi put down the bow and set up a pizzicato bass groove that provided the bedrock for Tali’s delivery of the English lyric and Gilad’s sinuous soprano sax solo. Bliss Bennett featured on violin, sometimes doubling Gilad’s sax melody lines. Some audience members felt that Tali’s voice had been too prominent in the mix on the opener but here the balance had been adjusted to give a more equilateral group sound that worked well for the rest of the afternoon.

Also from the quartet’s début album came Tali’s beautiful and achingly sad interpretation of Billie Holiday’s “Don’t Explain” . The singer’s blues tinged melancholy was enhanced by an arrangement featuring the grainy, sepia tinged combination of Gilad’s bass clarinet and Bliss Bennett’s bowed viola da gamba plus Stavi’s resonant pizzicato bass lines. Many of today’s performances differed substantially from their recorded counterparts.  For instance the album version of this song features guest Frank Harrison on piano while “Invitation” also features Gilad on bass clarinet.


Gilad first tackled the English folk song “Scarborough Fair” on the OHE’s 2013 album”Songs of the Metropolis”, giving it a Coltrane-esque interpretation on a wholly instrumental arrangement.  The piece was accorded a further lease of life here with an atmospherically droning introduction featuring the sounds of accordion plus bowed double bass and viola de gamba leading into Tali’s singing of the melody and lyrics.  Bliss Bennett sometimes added vocal harmonies and also soloed on viola da gamba as Stavi put down the bow to supply plucked rhythmic momentum, his double bass complemented by Tali’s playing of a frame drum similar to the Irish bodhran.

Moving away from the album repertoire the quartet treated us to a breezy version of “Bebe” written by the great Brazilian composer Hermeto Pascoal. Introduced by Stavi’s pizzicato bass the arrangement also featured Gilad on acoustic guitar and Tali on wordless Brazilian style vocals. The piece also represented Bliss Bennett’s first outing on flute, her effervescent solo representing the main instrumental feature.

Returning to the record Tali’s moving original “Losing Vision” addressed the plight of Syrian refugees and other displaced people while simultaneously expressing a hope for a better world.  The combination of deep, resinous bass clarinet and the melancholy sound of bowed viola da gamba expressed the ineffable sadness of the situation while Tali’s lyrics, with their allusions to the Barbra Streisand hit “People”, clung to an underlying sense of hope.

The first set ended on a less sombre note with the cabaret stylings of “Whatever Lola Wants, Lola Gets” which threw some musical humour into the mix courtesy of Tali’s theatrical vocals and hand clapping plus some dazzling but irreverent instrumental exchanges between Gilad on accordion, Bliss Bennett on violin and Stavi on double bass.

As one would expect from a performance featuring Gilad Atzmon a sense of humour was never far away with the married couple bantering in a stylised way and with Stavi also adding to the mix. Indeed it was the bassist who was to kick off the second half as he and Bliss Bennett duetted on an arrangement of a Sonata by the baroque composer Heinrich Biber (1644 – 1704) – “not Justin” joked Stavi. The piece allowed Bliss Bennett to demonstrate her virtuosity on violin as she soared above Stavi’s deeply resonant arco bass drone. This may have been nominally chamber music but there was still a pleasing element of musical humour about the duo’s exchanges.

The full band returned for “When You’re Gone”, one of Tali’s songs from the début album. Her emotive vocals with their theme of yearning and loss were augmented by the drone of Gilad’s accordion and the melancholy, cello like sound of Bliss Bennett’s bowed viola da gamba, the latter featuring as a solo instrument.

The group broke down into a duo again as Tali and Bliss Bennett joined the audience to watch Gilad and Stavi combine on soprano sax and double bass respectively with, Gilad leading the audience in a bebop inspired call and response session featuring hand-claps and Dizzy Gillespie inspired scat vocalising. It was a bit too early in the day for some audience members but it was still great fun and there was some fiery sax soloing too on a piece that also borrowed from Thelonious Monk.

An as yet unrecorded arrangement of Duke Ellington’s “Solitude” featured another emotive vocal from Tali and a melodic pizzicato bass solo from Stavi with Bliss Bennett’s violin and Gilad’s acoustic guitar rounding out the sound.

Another unrecorded song, “How Deep Is The Ocean”, was the second in a trilogy of standards.  This time the arrangement included soprano sax and bowed viola da gamba in a spirited arrangement that saw Gilad soloing above a propulsive bass groove as Bliss Bennett supplied counter melodies before entering into a series of playful musical exchanges with the saxophonist.

From the album came a dramatic, slowed down version of “You Don’t Know What Love Is” . Another richly emotive vocal performance by Tali was augmented by Gilad’s plaintive soprano sax and Bliss Bennett’s earthy bowing .

The performance ended with Tali’s own “Every Now And Then”, the song that also closes the album. Introduced by the combination of Tali’s voice and Bliss Bennett’s strummed viola da gamba and with Gilad featuring on accordion this was a highly evocative composition that reminded many listeners of a Leonard Cohen song, praise indeed. Also hinting at Tom Waits and the sound of vintage Berlin cabaret this was a terrific way to round off a highly distinctive performance.

Vocalist Debs Hancock, one of several local musicians in an audience that also included violinist Heulwen Thomas and drummer Greg Evans, had little difficulty in persuading the group to return for a well deserved encore. This proved to be an arrangement of the jazz standard “I’ll Be Seeing You” featuring Gilad as the featured instrumental soloist on accordion alongside pizzicato viola da gamba and double bass.

Talinka – one of the proposed group names rejected was the more provocative Taliband – is a fascinating project and Tali Atzmon has made a big impression with her musical début as a leader. The quartet’s combination of instruments must surely be unique and the group utilise their resources colourfully and imaginatively. For what is nominally a ‘chamber jazz’ ensemble the group possesses a considerable amount of energy and their live performances are given an additional frisson by the kind of earthy humour that Gilad has been peddling for years. Tali’s voice is well suited to her own material but her interpretations of standards material are also highly original and draw on many musical sources from around the globe. It will be interesting to see which direction she takes this ensemble in next.

After the show the discussion moved to the timing of today’s event and the respective merits of afternoon and evening performances. Was the full house just due to the reputation of the performers or was the time of the performance also a factor? The early start seemed to suit many people on a cold February day but would they feel the same at the height of summer?

Perhaps BMJ could experiment further with afternoon shows in winter (November, December, January and February and maybe even March) with evening shows coming back in the summer when the clocks go forward. It’s certainly something to think about. In any event Talinka were delighted with the audience turnout and reaction. Abergavenny’s love affair with the Atzmon family seems destined to continue.


blog comments powered by Disqus

JAZZ MANN FEATURES

Sunday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Market Hall, Abergavenny, 02/09/2018.

Sunday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Market Hall, Abergavenny, 02/09/2018.

Ian Mann enjoys the Jazz Alley and Charity Swing Party events at the Market Hall with performances by Wonderbrass, Tarion, Rebelinx and The Electric Swing Circus.


Saturday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 01/09/2018.

Saturday at Wall2Wall Jazz Festival, Melville Centre, Abergavenny, 01/09/2018.

Ian Mann on a day of superb jazz with concert performances from bands led by Daniel Newberry, Alison Rayner, Ben Holder, Rachel Sutton and Tony Kofi plus interval music from Dave Jones and friends.


JAZZ MANN RECOMMENDS