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Brigitte Beraha

Flying Dreams


by Ian Mann

October 18, 2008


Talented young vocalist with an album of quietly lyrical but subtly adventurous original material

“Flying Dreams” is the new album from the outstanding young vocalist Brigitte Beraha.
The album appears on the new “F-ire Presents” imprint which promotes the work of friends of the Collective whilst allowing the individual artists to retain control of their rights. It is Beraha’s second album, her début “Prelude To A Kiss” having been released in 2005 on the FMR label.

“Prelude” was more or less an album of standards interspersed with the occasional original. However “Flying Dreams” sees Beraha honing her songwriting skills in a programme comprised of wholly original material from Beraha and the members of her group. All the lyrics and the majority of the music are by the singer herself with pianist Ivo Neame and drummer George Hart also making musical contributions.

Born in Milan to British/Turkish parents Beraha was subsequently brought up in Monaco. She moved to London in 1996 to study music at Goldsmiths College before moving on to the Guildhall School of Music where she met Neame, Hart and bassist Phil Donkin. All are involved on “Flying Dreams” with the line up being completed by Joe Auckland on trumpet and flugelhorn.

The instrumentation on “Flying Dreams” alternates between the full quintet and a pared down trio of Beraha, Auckland and Neame that evokes memories of the old Azimuth line up with vocalist Norma Winstone, trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and pianist John Taylor. Delivered with a high degree of technical accomplishment much of it is chamber jazz in the best sense of the phrase.

Beraha is blessed with a clear, pure, well enunciated voice that suits her material well. Her lyrics are positive and life affirming if not particularly profound and the interplay with her fellow musicians is highly impressive.

Beraha clearly sees her voice as just one component in a democratic ensemble. The musicians are given room to stretch out with Donkin soloing on the opening “So Simple”. Auckland and Neame are particularly impressive throughout the album, indeed this is some of the best sounding piano Neame has ever recorded. Julian Jackson’s pinpoint mix captures the whole group brilliantly.

The trio pieces have a high level of interaction between the three protagonists and a pastoral, but never bland, atmosphere. The quintet items are inevitably more forceful, propelled by Hart’s crisp, intelligent drumming but a relaxed, unified mood predominates throughout.

Picking out highlights is difficult in the context of such an homogeneous album. “May Chill” is achingly lovely with “Camaleon”, co-written with Neame probably the most adventurous item.
“Sunlight On Your Face” is reprised in trio format from her previous album and “Danse Avec Moi” reveals her capacity to sing in French. “Feeling High” features wordless vocals from the Winstone school as Beraha shares the limelight equally with Auckland and Neame who both solo extensively.

Beraha’s quietly lyrical but subtly adventurous approach makes a pleasant change from all the identikit standards dominated vocal albums out there.

The Beraha/Auckland/Neame Trio is currently touring to promote the album with guest artists such as Hart, Paul Clarvis (percussion) and Mick Hutton (bass) appearing on selected dates. See and for further details. Reliable sources inform me that the trio is well worth seeing.

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