Peter Edwards Trio score highly with live Body and Soul soundtrack

peter-edwards

Black Star, the BFI's high-profile celebration of African-American and Black British cinema that has been running for the past few months, is given a major shot in the arm tonight. The phenomenon of the classic movie plus live score has become increasingly popular over the last decade, but this screening at the National Film Theatre of one of the pivotal statements by the pioneering 'Negro' filmmaker Oscar Micheaux, set to a performance by a contemporary British jazz musician of West Indian heritage, Peter Edwards, is a fine example of the genre.

Sound and image are in symbiosis. Mood on screen and atmosphere in the auditorium are expertly matched. The essence of the story and the content of the characters are relayed by the skill of the composing and improvising. The trio of pianist Edwards, drummer Rod Youngs and double bassist Alex Davis form what is the scaled-down ensemble of the Nu Civilisation Orchestra, and play a set that vividly reinforces and enriches the 1925 silent movie. It has a cast headed by the iconic Paul Robeson, which is all the more interesting for his role against type as the dastardly 'faker' preacher Jenkins, an ex-con who preys on members of a naïve congregation in the Deep South, to the detriment of his virtuous brother. The portrayal of the 'evil twin' is gripping for the immense charisma Robeson exudes by way of an acting style that is mostly naturalistic, and Edwards plays a trump card with pieces that are subtle rather than excessively dramatic. His main vocabulary nestles between Ellingtonian nobility and a hearty New Orleans swing in which the crispness of Youngs' snare and Davis' concise quarter notes skillfully create the momentum to support the flow of the narrative.

The bustle of the church services, where Robeson opts for a more dynamic gestural repertoire, especially when he delivers the 'Dry bones in the valley' sermon, is met with an upbeat gospel groove that has a rousing charm that counterpoints the villainy slickly concealed under the outwardly righteous ways of the reverend. Similarly, a delicious detuned boogie, with piano chords toppling in and out of harmony while drums and bass drag in and out of time is a sharp reinforcement of the moments in which Jenkins succumbs to the perils of 'good liquor', staggering his way home in a line that is anything but straight.

While these parts of the score are notable it is the central theme, which is given a number of astute variations throughout the set, that really marks Edwards' growth as a composer. There is a Porgy and Bess-like resonance to it, a rechanneling of some of Gershwin's gift for deeply solemn minor melodies that feel so inherently vocal regardless of whether or not they are rendered by a group of singers or players.

Filmmaker Micheaux was a visionary in black cinema, the son of former slaves who broke new ground with his debut The Homesteader in 1919 and continued to boldly push the envelope on 'race films' for decades to come. Body and Soul is part of this historic contribution to black art that takes us right back to the pre-talkie era when musicians playing live to a film was commonplace. Edwards, as much as he is a jazz artist of today, proves an able incumbent of a role of this historical weight.

– Kevin Le Gendre

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Shabaka Hutchings, Donny McCaslin and The Rolling Stones among Jazz FM Awards winners

Shabaka Hutchings, Donny McCaslin and Th…

The fourth edition of the Jazz FM Awards, presented by...

Read More.....
Special London Screening Of Ascenseur Pour L'échafaud

Special London Screening Of Ascenseur Po…

As part of the global celebrations for International Jazz Day...

Read More.....
Norma Winstone’s Interplay line-up for Leamington Spa

Norma Winstone’s Interplay line-up for L…

To coincide with International Jazz Day, Leamington Spa-based promoters In...

Read More.....
Alice Zawadzki and Gwyneth Herbert sing with Sam Lee’s Nightingales

Alice Zawadzki and Gwyneth Herbert sing …

Adventurous Mercury Prize-nominated folk singer Sam Lee's nature-bound concert series...

Read More.....
Empirical Pop-Up Jazz Lounge Bops to Birmingham, London and Liverpool

Empirical Pop-Up Jazz Lounge Bops to Bir…

MOBO Award-winning Brit-jazz four-piece Empirical are set to take their...

Read More.....
Freddie Gavita Quartet Make Lasting Statement At Transient Launch

Freddie Gavita Quartet Make Lasting Stat…

Ostensibly a CD launch gig to promote his new album...

Read More.....
Jazz Em Agosto 2017 Line-Up Announced

Jazz Em Agosto 2017 Line-Up Announced

  Lisbon's annual summit of sonic adventure Jazz em Agosto returns...

Read More.....
Sounds of Denmark dances back to Dean Street’s Pizza Express Jazz Club

Sounds of Denmark dances back to Dean St…

Making a splash with its inaugural weeklong run in 2016...

Read More.....
Lakeside Luminaries: Møster!, Ståle Storløkken and Sheila Jordan all shine at Vossa Jazz

Lakeside Luminaries: Møster!, Ståle Stor…

  To begin with, Vossa Jazz has the advantage of its tranquil...

Read More.....
The Necks Head For Brighton

The Necks Head For Brighton

Those fabulous folk at Dictionary Pudding Promotions and Brighton Alternative...

Read More.....
 Auand Label's Bisceglie Breakout Strikes Right Balance Between Freedom And Finesse

Auand Label's Bisceglie Breakout Strike…

  Since its inception in 2001 the Auand imprint has emerged...

Read More.....
Jazz-Rock Guitar Genius Allan Holdsworth Dies Age 70

Jazz-Rock Guitar Genius Allan Holdsworth…

The passing of Allan Holdsworth on Easter day has robbed...

Read More.....
Kamasi Washington Divulges Truth With Young Turks Global Deal

Kamasi Washington Divulges Truth With Yo…

Hot-shot saxophonist and bandleader Kamasi Washington has announced the release...

Read More.....
Freddie Gavita for Ronnie’s album launch – Transient Video Exclusive

Freddie Gavita for Ronnie’s album launch…

Fast rising British trumpeter Freddie Gavita is set to launch...

Read More.....
Ethan Iverson to leave The Bad Plus and Orrin Evans steps in

Ethan Iverson to leave The Bad Plus and …

Minneapolis piano trio pioneers The Bad Plus have announced, after...

Read More.....
Mancio/Broadbent Seduce With Sensuous Songbook At Ronnie's

Mancio/Broadbent Seduce With Sensuous So…

Introduced by the great Ian Shaw, a sold out Ronnie...

Read More.....
Jazz FM Awards to honour Charlie Watts and feature performances from Donny McCaslin, Georgie Fame and Laura Mvula

Jazz FM Awards to honour Charlie Watts a…

This year's Jazz FM Awards are now set to take...

Read More.....
ACT 25 Magic Years Birthday Concert gets Berlin buzzing

ACT 25 Magic Years Birthday Concert gets…

Twenty-five years and still going strong is some achievement, especially...

Read More.....
Sun Ra Arkestra surf the spaceways at Lewes Con Club

Sun Ra Arkestra surf the spaceways at Le…

  It's a long way from Chicago's East Side to the...

Read More.....
Jasper Høiby's Fellow Creatures Unleash Their Inner Beast At The Spin, Oxford

Jasper Høiby's Fellow Creatures Unleash …

  Jasper Høiby's new band announced themselves with a bass riff...

Read More.....
Nitin Sawhney and Rachel Cohen celebrate Abram Wilson Foundation's fifth anniversary with gala gig

Nitin Sawhney and Rachel Cohen celebrate…

The Abram Wilson Foundation, the charity set up by the...

Read More.....
Kamasi Washington and Miles Mosley bring West Coast heat to Love Supreme

Kamasi Washington and Miles Mosley bring…

Los Angeles tenor titan Kamsi Washington, double bass dude Miles...

Read More.....
Brad Mehldau/Chris Thile, Tomasz Stańko and Bill Laurance added to EFG London Jazz Fest line-up

Brad Mehldau/Chris Thile, Tomasz Stańko …

The 25th EFG London Jazz Festival continues its early build...

Read More.....
Charles Hayward, Sven-Åke Johansson and Weasel Walter represent percussive sub-current at Sonic Protest festival in Paris

Charles Hayward, Sven-Åke Johansson and …

  Sonic Protest runs its core festival across various Parisian venues...

Read More.....
Shobaleader One frenzied and fired-up at Village Underground

Shobaleader One frenzied and fired-up at…

You can tell a lot about a man by the...

Read More.....
Morning Ain't Broken: Cline Meets Horn For Small Hours Summit On RSD Day Single

Morning Ain't Broken: Cline Meets Horn F…

Nels Cline contributes the one and only outtake from his Lovers...

Read More.....
Partikel power-up with Counteraction - video exclusive 'Lanterns'

Partikel power-up with Counteraction - v…

Sax-bass-drums trio Partikel return with a new album, Counteraction, set...

Read More.....
Jasper Høiby’s Fellow Creatures, Yazz Ahmed and Dinosaur among the delights at Bristol Jazz Festival

Jasper Høiby’s Fellow Creatures, Yazz Ah…

Now in its fifth year the Bristol International Jazz and...

Read More.....
Lauren Dalrymple celebrates 18 Years of the SoFF Music Jam in Brixton

Lauren Dalrymple celebrates 18 Years of …

Dynamic jazz singer Lauren Dalrymple has hosted her SoFF Music...

Read More.....
Vinyl liaison for lost Thelonious Monk LP for Record Store Day release

Vinyl liaison for lost Thelonious Monk L…

Thelonious Monk's only ever soundtrack recording, for the provocative 1959...

Read More.....
Danilo Pérez, Christian Scott and Gonzalo Rubalcaba majestic and magnetic at Haiti’s Festival International de Jazz de Port-au-Prince

Danilo Pérez, Christian Scott and Gonzal…

Port-au-Prince is one of the most intoxicating places I've ever...

Read More.....
James Brandon Lewis Trio Dazzle On UK Debut At Ronnie Scott's

James Brandon Lewis Trio Dazzle On UK De…

  After a stellar performance for a sold-out audience John McLaughlin...

Read More.....
Soft Machine, Ezra Collective and Ella tribute for Elgar Room jazz nights

Soft Machine, Ezra Collective and Ella t…

The Elgar Room, the Royal Albert Hall's highly accommodating 200-capacity...

Read More.....
John McLaughlin blasts off with the 4th Dimension at Ronnie Scott’s

John McLaughlin blasts off with the 4th …

The weeklong Jazzwise 20th anniversary celebrations kicked off in spectacular...

Read More.....
Awkward: A Short Film About Evan Parker

Awkward: A Short Film About Evan Parker

Evan Parker draws back the veil on the challenges of...

Read More.....
Just The Jazz Ticket: Tomorrow's Warriors Unveil New Music Education Project

Just The Jazz Ticket: Tomorrow's Warrior…

  Award-wining jazz development company Tomorrow's Warrior's launches its new music...

Read More.....


 

Qobuz-ad

 

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

RT @vortexjazz: PARTISANS 1ST NIGHT SAT/13/MAY https://t.co/5Ex1U33D8x PARTISANS 2ND NIGHT SUN/14/MAY https://t.co/SOvUTp8jyl @LondonJazz @…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @KingsPlace: Not to be missed ‘One of the hottest young bands on the UK scene’ @Jazzwise'Counteraction' album launch live 11 May: https:…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @vortexjazz: ROYAL COLLEGE OF MUSIC BIG BAND WITH SPECIAL GUEST GUY BARKER FRI/5/MAY/ https://t.co/8YEWojb4vg @LondonJazz @jazzlondonliv…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @vortexjazz: LUCIAN BAN & MAT MANERI TUE/9/MAY @LondonJazz @jazzlondonlive @Jazzwise @MatManeri https://t.co/V2vwvBRMo0 #RomanianCultu…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
RT @mishkk: Hi @Jazzwise, Binker and Moses playing live @riba next week, this might be of interest to your followers! https://t.co/y71AQES…
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter