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Had a brilliant couple of gigs with Brazilian maestro Jovino earlier in the month at RWCMD Cardiff and The Vortex London. Here are some photos and a review from Cardiff. As you can see it was a lot of fun!!
Photo by @galeriTonic
Wales Meets Brazil and Joyous ‘Global Music’ is the Result
United Kingdom Huw Warren and Jovino Santos Neto: Huw Warren (piano), Jovino Santos Neto (piano, flute, melodica), Paula Gardiner (bass), Zoot Warren (drums). Dora Stoutzker Hall, Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. Cardiff, 8.6.2019.
I was delighted to spend a Saturday evening listening to this beautiful and joyful performance by two fine musicians, Welshman Huw Warren and Brazilian Jovino Santos Neto. Much the greater part of their concert was given by these two alone, but towards its end drummer Zoot Warren (Huw’s son I believe) and bassist Paula Gardiner (Head of Jazz at the RWCMD) were summoned from the audience to join them on stage. Sadly, from where I was sitting it was difficult to hear Gardiner’s contributions with any degree of clarity, and beyond some additional colours, I am not sure that bass and drums added a great deal (which is no reflection on the two musicians concerned). Certainly, Warren and Santos Neto had no need of additional rhythmic support.
Born in Wales (and now living back in Wales) Huw Warren has worked in many different musical settings, reflecting his appetite for music of many kinds and a willingness to transcend conventional ‘boundaries’. He was co-founder of the adventurous jazz quartet Perfect Houseplants (the other musicians being sax-player Mark Lockheart, bassist Dudley Philips and drummer Martin France); he has worked extensively with the Brazilian singer Maria Pia De Vito; he has for some years been part of the trio Quercus (with the legendary folk-singer June Tabor and saxophonist Iain Ballamy; he has released two CDs of solo piano; he has recorded an album of Welsh Hymn tunes – Duw Â Ŵyr (‘God Only Knows’) with singer Lleuwen Steffan; he has written a suite – Do Not Go Gentle – based on the poetry of Dylan Thomas of which I reviewed a concert performance (review click here). I believe that Do Not Go Gentle has since been recorded, though the recording does not seem to have appeared as yet. Though, in his own words, a ‘proud Welshman’, Huw Warren is very much a citizen of the world, musically speaking.
At this particular performance Warren was working with the Brazilian multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger Jovino Santos Neto; born in Rio de Janeiro in 1954, but based in the USA since 1993, Santos Neto worked with the great Hermeto Pascoal (one of Warren’s musical heroes – see his album Hermeto+) from 1977 to 1992, touring the world with him and recording many albums as an important member of his band. Paul Rauch has written of Santos Neto that ‘through his own music, he celebrates the marriage between the music of his country and jazz, and expresses a love for his homeland illuminated through his ebullient and captivating creative persona’. This concert provided much evidence to support that statement. Everything Santos Neto plays, whatever its narrower emotional content or style, feels like an affirmation of life, creativity and love.
The day of this concert was apparently the first occasion on which Warren and Santos Neto had worked together. Yet, as they explored a range of Brazilian music, by figures such as Antonio Carlos Jobim, Pixinghuina, Guina, Egberto Gismonti and Santos Neto himself and others (as well as one tune by Warren) and others, in a variety of genres, including samba and maracatu, the togetherness of Warren and Santos Neto was astonishing, characterized not only by superbly reactive ‘listening’ but also by what seemed an almost telepathic ability to anticipate what the other was about to play. Throughout, the performers’ mutual joy in the discovery of new possibilities and in their shared creativity was communicated unostentatiously to their very responsive audience.
The first number (a composition by Warren) began with Warren at a ‘prepared’ Grand, on which some notes produced a woody percussive sound, while others sounded as Herr Steinway would have wished, with Santos Neto playing a small, simple flute, which I assumed to be of Brazilian folk origin. The resulting sound was utterly enchanting, the music fluid and spontaneous, Santos Neto’s flute melody (improvised?) sounding almost Amazonian in resonance. Santos Neto put down his flute and played his Steinway. As Warren and Santos Neto created their two-piano dialogue, the oneness of purpose and sensibility was immediately apparent, the bluesy phrasing of some of Warren’s playing perfectly complemented by Santos Neto’s decidedly Brazilian rhythms. At one point one pianist ‘led’ and the other ‘accompanied’, before these roles were reversed. At other times there was no leader and no accompanist, the two pianists creating a dialogue of absolute ‘equals’. This first number set the pattern for most of what followed, though the flute of Santos Neto (unfortunately) remained unused thereafter, although he did pick up the melodica for one number.
The mutual dialogue of ‘equals’, in which each player was audibly stimulated by what the other did, made for exhilarating listening. Much of what was created before our eyes and ears was very sophisticated, musically speaking, but it wasn’t the sophistication of which one was most conscious. There was a sense of two ‘learned’ musicians abler, in improvisation, to access a kind of inner innocence. I found myself thinking of Picasso saying ‘It took me four years to paint like Raphael, but a lifetime to paint like a child’. In the music created by Warren and Santos Neto we seemed to be hearing music which, like Picasso’s mature masterpieces, possessed the complexity of learning and experience expressed through an innocence which drew on, but transcended, all that had been learned. Both Warren and Santos Neto have, in musical terms, learned to ‘paint’ like Raphael and then gone on to ‘paint’ like a child.
At one point, Santos Neto compared Brazilian music to a huge river (the Amazon, perhaps) fed by innumerable tributaries of diverse origins, mixing their own essences with the waters of the flowing river. His metaphor nicely captures, I think why this music is a matter of synthesis rather than mere eclecticism. We may have heard passages reminiscent of Charles Ives or Thelonious Monk, of a Rio Samba band or a Welsh chapel choir, of nineteenth century Romanticism (amongst much else). But this was not ‘clever’ postmodernism – these musics emerged because they are there in the minds of Warren and Santos Neto and inevitably emerge in their playing.
In an essay ‘Hermeto Pascoal, Universal Musician’ (click here) the ethnomusicologist Andrew Connell quotes Pascoal’s assertion ‘There is no Brazilian music. But I am a Brazilian, and what I produce must be the result of my experiences and my fate’ and goes on to comment ‘Hermeto prefers to call what he does “universal” music’. In a 2018 interview with Jakob Baekgaard, published online as ‘Huw Warren: Global Music from a Local Perspective’ (click here) Warren says ‘I’ve been living in Wales for the last 25 years, and I’m sure that one’s immediate environment must have an impact on one’s work. As a proud Welshman, I’m also aware of the cultural responsibility of not just looking “inward” and am very influenced by Hermeto Pascoal’s idea of “Universal” music.’
Call it ‘Universal music’ or ‘Global Music’, this is quite different from the superficialities of fusion music. This, whether played by Pascoal or by Warren and Santos Neto, is music played by musicians who have absorbed and thoroughly interiorized a number of the musical traditions which we all too readily partition off from one another. In the same interview referred to above, Warren is asked ‘Do you consider yourself a jazz musician? Why or why not? … In general, how do you relate to musical traditions?’. He replies ‘Always a tricky question! The simple answer is that it would be great just to be called a musician, as the J word can have positive and negative connotations. A deeper way of looking at it is maybe the idea that, rather than being a style, jazz is more of an attitude? Improvisation and creating a sense of surprise is definitely part of that attitude, but stylistically I feel this can be very open.’
Apart from the joyful pleasure it created in abundance, this concert was a powerful argument for our learning to think and talk purely in terms of ‘music’ and ‘musicians’ rather than jazz or classical music or, indeed, Brazilian music.
Very pleased to share with you the official release of Everything in Between on CAM Jazz….
“Warren’s mastery has never been more completely and more imaginatively demonstrated. Everything In Between has ‘Gentle Modern Classic’ written all over it”
“Simply put, this is not just another piano trio album. Love has been poured into its exuberance and tenderness… and it shows”
Adrian Pallant London Jazz News
Read the full review here
The new album is now ready for pre order and will be officially released in the UK on March 15 and worldwide March 29th. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for a signed copy at the mailinglist/website promotional price of £10 + £1.50 pp(UK and Europe- other countries POA)
Here are a couple of reviews from our live show last week at the Vortex and also from the trio with Paula Gardiner in Brecon ……
Huw Warren Trio – Everything In Between album launch
(The Vortex, 8 February 2019. Review by Gail Tasker)
Friday night’s gig at The Vortex was a welcome ray of sunshine on a rainy evening. It was the album launch of pianist Huw Warren’s latest album Everything In Between, on Italian label CAM Jazz.
With Huw leading on grand piano, the ensemble was completed by Zoot Warren on drum kit and longtime collaborator Dudley Philips on double and electric bass. Together, the trio performed an array of Brazilian tunes and originals with a compelling combination of tight synchronicity and wry British humour.
Brazilian music has long been an influence on Huw, evident in his collaborations with Iain Ballamy and Maria Pia de Vito. This particular group, announced as ‘Trio Brasil’, is an embodiment of his passion for the music, incorporating tunes from composers such as Hermeto Pascoal, Chico Buarque, and Egberto Gismonti. Yet, true to the nature of interpretation, there was a distinctively innovative edge to the proceedings. This manifested itself through Huw’s seemingly-spontaneous employment of dissonant, Monk-like chordal progressions based on Brazilian rhythm patterns, occasional flamboyant embellishments upon the main melodies, and the constantly shifting and never settling nature of Zoot’s drum grooves.
Fast-paced tunes took up the majority of the set-list. The trio’s performance of Hermeto Pascoal’s Frevo Em Maceio drew shouts and whistles from the crowd. Philips and Huw played the main melody in blindingly-rapid unison, underscored by Zoot’s driving patterns. And when the seemingly final chord of the piece rang out, the audience’s applause turned into laughter as Huw led the band into an almost ludicrously up-tempo, final play through. A similar occurrence took place with Egberto Gismonti’s Loro, which began with Zoot freely improvising on drums before lapsing into a high-paced drum beat. This became a highlight for me; the trio’s capacity to transform atmospheric, out-of-time improvisation into groove-based, danceable patterns, and vice versa.
There were some slow, breathtaking moments to the set-list; the most impressionable was the trio’s deeply heartfelt rendition of Guinga’s Noturna. This Chopin-esque piece also appears on Warren’s solo piano album Nocturnes and Visions (2017), worth checking out. Friday’s interpretation was especially moving, with Philips and Warren doubling the melody, and Zoot only bringing in the drumkit once the music’s tension was at its limit.
Spontaneity, quick wit, steady grooves, and a certain level of telepathy are what embody Huw Warren’s trio – an inimitable force to be reckoned with on the UK jazz scene.
Huw Warren Trio, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 12/02/2019.
Wednesday, February 13, 2019
Reviewed by: Ian Mann
An excellent performance from three highly talented musicians. The release of the forthcoming album “Everything In Between” will be very keenly anticipated.
Huw Warren Trio, Brecon Jazz Club, The Muse Arts Centre, Brecon, 12/02/2019.
Brecon Jazz Club’s February event brought something of a Welsh ‘supergroup’ to The Muse.
North Wales based pianist and composer Huw Warren is a musician with an international reputation who is currently touring in support of his forthcoming trio album “Everything In Between” which is due to be released on the Italian Cam Jazz record label, the imprint that was once the ‘home’ of the late, great pianist and composer John Taylor.
The new album will feature the trio of Huw Warren, bassist Dudley Phillips and drummer Zoot Warren, Huw’s son. However for tonight’s performance Brecon Jazz Club had invited double bassist Paula Gardiner to join Huw and Zoot. Based in Cardiff Gardiner is the Head of Jazz at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama in Cardiff (RWCMD).
Gardiner is an old friend of Brecon Jazz and first performed at the town’s famous jazz festival in 1986. She subsequently led her own groups releasing the albums “Tales of Inclination” (1995), “Six” (1999) and “Hot Lament” (2008). She was also a member of pianist Dave Stapleton’s Quintet (DSQ) and appeared on that group’s first two albums “When Life Was In Black And White” and “The House Always Wins”. In recent years Gardiner has placed a greater emphasis on her role as an educator and tonight was the first time that I had seen her playing live for some considerable time.
I first became aware of Huw Warren’s playing and composing during the 1990s through the collaborative quartet Perfect Houseplants which also featured bassist Dudley Phillips, saxophonist Mark Lockheart and drummer Martin France, my interest in the band first piqued by the inclusion of former Loose Tubes Lockheart and France. I still love the Houseplants’ unique fusion of jazz, folk, classical and various ethnic musics and even now the quartet still play the occasional re-union concert.
I’ve also followed Huw’s solo career which has yielded several pleasingly eclectic albums including “A Barrel Organ Far From Home” (1997) and “Hundreds Of Things A Boy Can Make” (2003), both of which built upon the quirkiness of the Houseplants sound.
Warren, also a skilled accordionist and cellist, is a serial collaborator who has a particular affinity for working with vocalists, among them Maria Pia De Vito, Christine Tobin and the folk diva June Tabor for whom he acted as pianist and musical director on several of the singer’s solo albums. Warren and Tabor plus saxophonist Iain Ballamy now perform under the collective name Quercus and have recorded two acclaimed folk/jazz albums for the prestigious ECM record label.
Like Gardiner Warren is something of a Brecon favourite having played at the Festival on many occasions, the highlights including collaborations with American drummer Jim Black and with Italian clarinettist Gabriele Mirabassi, in addition to numerous sideman appearances. He has also led his own groups including Quercus and in 2014 a quartet paying homage to Dylan Thomas via Warren’s yet to be recorded jazz suite “Do Not Go Gentle”.
In 2009 Warren released “Hermeto +” (Basho Records), an album that paid tribute to the Brazilian composer and multi-instrumentalist Hermeto Pascoal, a musician who has had a particularly strong influence on Warren and other British musicians, including other members of Perfect Houseplants and Loose Tubes. Recorded with France at the drums and the Austrian musician Peter Herbert on double bass “Hermeto +” featured a near 50/50 split between arrangements of Pascoal compositions and Warren originals inspired by the great man. The album attracted considerable acclaim and much of the material formed part of the repertoire of Warren’s Trio Brasil featuring Huw, Dudley Phillips and Zoot, sometimes augmented by guest saxophonist Iain Ballamy, which has gigged widely in the UK ever since, including an excellent performance at the 2016 Wall2Wall Jazz Festival in nearby Abergavenny.
The forthcoming album “Something In Between”, due for release on March 15th 2019, will represent the long awaited follow up to “Hermeto +” and will again feature a mix of Pascoal compositions and Warren originals. The personnel this time round will be the ongoing Trio Brasil of Huw, Phillips and Zoot and the repertoire from the new album formed the basis of tonight’s two sets.
With no grand piano available Huw performed on a Yamaha electric keyboard with the sound set to acoustic piano. With Gardiner on double bass and Zoot behind the kit the trio kicked off with the Warren original “Mouli Baby” which commenced with a freely structured intro featuring Zoot’s use of mallets and bare hands before a folk like melody emerged on a piece that exhibited a distinct influence from West African music. This was music that was simultaneously complex and joyous, characteristics that also distinguish Pascoal’s music, and the piece included impressive opening solos from Huw and Gardiner as Zoot provided astute rhythmic colour and propulsion.
Next we heard a segue of Pascoal tunes. Huw has been influenced by Brazilian music in general, but by Pascoal in particular. But anybody expecting a relaxing evening of gentle Jobim style samba and bossa was in for a shock. Pascoal’s music is more complex, rhythmic and vibrant and his richly colourful compositions bring their own rewards, even if they do make the listener work a little bit harder. Huw describes it as “serous fun”, a quality he tries to bring to all his music making.
“O Farol que nos guia” began with a passage of unaccompanied piano that developed into a sumptuously flowing melody tenderly embellished by Zoot’s exquisite cymbal work as he delicately shadowed his father’s playing. Gardiner flourished her bow as she provided the link into the more vibrant and energetic second half of the segue, “Papo Furado”, meaning “Jive Talking” which was distinguished by a dazzling piano solo from Huw and a neatly constructed solo drum feature from Zoot. Without Ballamy in the band the young drummer was given more room to shine and I was hugely impressed by his contribution throughout the evening as he coaxed a wide range of sounds and colours from his kit and responded instinctively to his colleagues, always seeming to play the right beat or accent.
Huw’s original “First Love, Last Rites” was inspired by an Ian McEwan collection of short stories and was a delightful ballad introduced by a passage of unaccompanied piano. Huw’s lyricism at the keyboard was matched by Gardiner’s melodic double bass solo while Zoot again displayed a deft and subtle cymbal touch.
“Endless Stars”, by the esteemed American pianist and composer Fred Hersch, doubtless another one of Huw’s musical heroes, followed a similar trajectory; another beautiful tune introduced by a passage of solo piano and again finding room for a bass solo from the excellent Gardiner.
The first set concluded with the trio picking up the pace again for a spirited romp through Pascoal’s “Chorino pra Ele”. Huw informed us that a ‘chorino’ was originally a 19th century dance incorporating classical harmonies and Brazilian rhythms. Tonight’s arrangement also threw an allusion to John Coltrane’s classic jazz composition “Giant Steps” into the mix.
Set two began with an unaccompanied passage from Zoot at the drums, subsequently joined by Gardiner’s bass as the rhythm team introduced “Sambari”, written by the Brazilian singer and songwriter Joyce. Their dialogue eventually led to an expansive piano solo from Huw and later a bass solo from Gardiner on a piece that seemed to epitomise the Brazilian spirit.
Next we heard the title track from the new album, the tune name “Everything In Between” chosen as an indicator of Huw’s highly catholic musical tastes – “from opera to death metal and everything in between”. The music itself was appropriately wide ranging, beginning with the delicate intro for piano and brushed cymbals through folk inspired Houseplants like cadences to full on Pascoal inspired passages featuring the ebullient, highly percussive piano soloing of the leader as Gardiner and Zoot responded with an energetic aplomb.
Both band and audience seemed somewhat drained after this so Huw announced the only standard of the evening, a delightful ballad arrangement of the Jerome Kern song “The Folks That Live On The Hill”. Amazingly Huw had only been introduced to the song fairly recently when playing a gig with that doyenne of British jazz vocalists, the great Norma Winstone – “it’s got a middle six instead of a middle eight”, he went on to inform us. With Zoot providing sympathetically brushed accompaniment we were treated to some of Huw’s most lyrical playing, albeit becoming more expansive as the piece progressed. Gardiner’s bass solo combined a rich melodicism with a deep resonance, with the bow again appearing briefly at the close of the song.
As the trio upped the energy levels once more we were introduced to the music of two more Brazilian composers in a closing segue. First we heard Egberto Gismonti’s “Loro” (translation “Parrot”) and then Pixinguinha’s “Un a Zero”, the latter a celebration of a famous Brazilian football victory over neighbours and fierce rivals Uruguay. Zoot introduced the proceedings at the drums before the addition of bass and piano acted as the spark for a playful solo from Huw.
A brief passage of unaccompanied piano formed the link into the Pixinguinha tune, a suitably joyous piece that included a vibrant and totally absorbing dialogue between Huw and Zoot, the pair trading ideas in a thrilling series of exchanges. Gardiner merely sat back cradling her bass, as mesmerised as the rest of us.
After a few words from Brecon Jazz Club’s Lynne Gornall the trio played us out with Pascoal’s “Frevo em Maceo”, effectively an encore which was introduced by Gardiner at the bass, her opening melodic theme statement evolving into a full on solo prior to further features from Huw and Zoot plus a reprise of that earlier drum and piano dialogue. The full trio then came back together again for an astonishingly virtuosic high speed finish.
This was an excellent performance from three highly talented musicians. I was already familiar with the skills of Huw Warren and Paula Gardiner but this was only the second time that I’d seen Zoot Warren perform. A product of National Youth Jazz Wales and the Guildhall School of Music in London I was greatly impressed with his maturity behind the kit, his playing colourful, imaginative and delicately nuanced and never resorting to the obvious rhythms. I’ve heard little of him outside his father’s groups but his appearance on the forthcoming Cam Jazz album is richly deserved and should spread the word of his talent further afield.
My thanks to Huw Warren for speaking with me after the gig and providing me with a set list, otherwise I’d have struggled with all those Portuguese tune titles.
This was a performance that has set the bar high for the rest of the 2019 club programme at Brecon Jazz Club.
Meanwhile the release of “Everything In Between” will be very keenly anticipated.
Very excited to be able to share the title track from the new trio album….
Huw Warren piano
Dudley Phillips bass
Zoot Warren drums
Listen to Everything In Between HERE
Out on CAM jazz in February
“an expansive work combining new music from Warren and Phillips with their shared love of reinterpreting Brazilian classics. With an emphasis on lyrical song forms, this music crackles with interplay, fun grooves, new sound worlds and deep emotion” Vortex
“Gorgeous!” Jovino Santos Neto
Full Track listing:
Mouli Baby (Warren)
Everything In Between (Warren)
First Love, Last Rites (Warren)
Chorinho Pra Ele (Hermeto)
Mente Clara (Hermeto)
Porto Alegre (Phillips)
Choro Bandido (Edu Lobu/Chico Buarque)
Vou Vivendo (Pixinguinha)
Musica das Nuvens e do Chao (Hermeto)
Recorded at Artesouno, Udine by Stefano Amerio
Photographs by Elisa Caldana
Bristol (Fringe Jazz 6/2)
London (Vortex 8/2)
Cardiff (University Concert Hall 9/2)
Brecon Jazz Club (with special guest Paula Gardiner) 12/2
Sharing an exclusive preview track from my new album to my mailing list on Monday Jan 7th!!
Join up here https://bit.ly/2wIX563
Everything in between released by CAM JAZZ in February 2019
Huw Warren piano
Dudley Phillips Electric and Double bass
Zoot Warren Drums
studio photo by Elisa Caldana
Excited to let you know about our new trio record Everything in Between – out on #CAMJazz in February 2019! with Dudley Phillips and Zoot Warren. Recorded at #Artesuono by Stefano Amerio Photos by Elisa Caldana