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Re-stringing the Lyre

Poets were singers long before they were writers. Re-stringing the Lyre is a new CD label that aims to renew the ancient partnership between poetry and music. The first recording is In All My Holy Mountain, a major new work scored for the John Williams Octet.

            A flute plays over two bass clarinets and brings in “the luminous shadow of an Atlantic calm…” Trumpet and accordion turn a wedding breakfast into a gentle dance, “such bright music of silver on china they might have been at table in the halls of heaven…” A poet echoes an ancient Welsh lament for men lost in battle and the cries of the hunt rise around him, the drums wild “with the heel-springs of the deer…”

            In All My Holy Mountain tells the story of the novelist Mary Webb and reaches its climax with Gone to Earth, which she wrote during the First World War. Nikki Iles’s atmospheric score is the perfect counterpart to Roger Garfitt’s poems, taking elements from the English folk tradition and giving them a powerful new jazz identity. She continually varies the texture so that sometimes his voice is heard against the rhythm section, sometimes against a solo instrument, and often against the whole band as it rises to the words and takes flight. Nikki Iles has done much more than set the poems: she has created a jazz suite in six movements, a compelling score that clearly fires the band and draws the best from some of our finest soloists:

                        Roger Garfitt               Poet

John Williams              Director, baritone sax, bass clarinet and recorder

Dick Pearce                 trumpet and flugelhorn

Pete Hurt                     alto and soprano sax, bass clarinet

Bob Sydor                    tenor sax (1, 2) and flute

Karen Sharp                 tenor sax (1 solo, 3-6) and clarinet

Nikki Iles                     Composer, piano and accordion

Dave Warren               guitar and violin

Tom Mark                    bass

Trevor Tomkins           drums and percussion

The CD has now been released. Go to the Home Page for details of how to order.


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