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

Binker & Moses Captivate With Calypso-Influenced Improv At Helsinki's We Jazz

Binker & Moses Captivate With Calyps…

As Finland celebrates its centenary as an independent state this...

Read More.....
Sunny Murray 1937 – 2017

Sunny Murray 1937 – 2017

  Drummer Sunny Murray, who passed away on 7 December, will...

Read More.....
Fifth edition of Jazz FM Awards to take place on International Jazz Day in 2018

Fifth edition of Jazz FM Awards to take …

The Jazz FM Awards will return in 2018 at Shorditch...

Read More.....
Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar, Gdańsk

Theo Croker Cracks Corker At Jazz Jantar…

Jazz Jantar is one of the less well-known Polish festivals...

Read More.....
Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Borders In St. Petersburg

Diplomatic Don: Kurt Elling Crosses Bord…

Being an American jazz singer in St. Petersburg is a...

Read More.....
Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continues with Vol.6 Miles Davis & John Coltrane - The Final Tour

Columbia/Legacy’s Bootleg Series continu…

The widely acclaimed Miles Davis Bootleg Series issues its sixth...

Read More.....
Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at Pizza Express Jazz Club

Trumpeter Eric Vloeimans Goes Dutch at P…

Award-winning Dutch trumpeter Eric Vloeimans (above) is set to play...

Read More.....
Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Shines At Jazztopad

Headliners Huff-N-Puff As Tomeka Reid Sh…

  This 14th edition of the nine-day Jazztopad festival in Wroclaw...

Read More.....
Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Residency

Braxton Cracks On With Harp-Heavy OTO Re…

Celebrated saxophonist and composer Anthony Braxton brings his semi-scripted gamut...

Read More.....
Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engage at Elgar Room

Vula Viel, Nérija and Sloth Racket engag…

The Royal Albert Hall's highly accommodating venue-within-a-venue the Elgar Room...

Read More.....
Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

Ben Riley 17/07/33 – 18/11/17

This year's Thelonious Monk centenary events have rightly focused on...

Read More.....
George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

George Avakian 15/3/1919 – 22/11/2017

  There never was a jazz record producer more important than...

Read More.....
Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Haino Hands On The Benjamins

Japanese ultra-shaman Keiji Haino has hooked up with US sludge-metal...

Read More.....
Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han Bennink and the Italian new wave signal JAZZMI's ambition

Bill Frisell, Franco D'Andrea feat. Han …

 Milan's new jazz festival is inspired by London and it's...

Read More.....
Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interchange Dectet gather for Gateshead 2018

Sun Ra Arkestra, Maceo Parker and Interc…

The line-up for next year's Gateshead International Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....
Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran added to Cheltenham Jazz Festival 2018 programme

Donny McCaslin, Dinosaur and Jason Moran…

The first names have been announced for the 22nd edition...

Read More.....
Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ronnie Scott’s

Mike Stern trips back to top form at Ron…

"Awesome!'' "That's great!" "Thank you so much". Mike Stern's bonhomie...

Read More.....
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound sinister and sublime at Kings Place

Darcy James Argue's Secret Society sound…

  There are very few composers now writing world class material...

Read More.....
The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

The Thing Ring The Changes At Rich Mix

To prise apart the increasingly converging din of his two...

Read More.....
Dan Cartwright Quartet Captivate At The Verdict

Dan Cartwright Quartet Captivate At The …

  Even comparatively hyped new artists can really struggle to fill...

Read More.....
Pharoah Sanders, Denys Baptiste and Alina Bzhezhinska make for cosmic concert for Alice and John Coltrane

Pharoah Sanders, Denys Baptiste and Alin…

Banks of lights sketch out a looming angel presence on...

Read More.....
Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band Receive Government Export Funding

Matthew Herbert’s Brexit Big Band Receiv…

Jazz-influenced experimental musician, composer, conceptualist and now political protester Matthew...

Read More.....
Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directors series and tour

Courtney Pine announced for Jazz Directo…

Multi-award winning saxophonist and composer Courtney Pine has been announced...

Read More.....
Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoustic alchemy at Ronnie Scott’s

Mark Guiliana Jazz Quartet create acoust…

Mark Guiliana is associated with a certain level of jazz-fusion...

Read More.....
Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

Knower drop the knowledge at Scala

"If you have to ask, you don't know by now...

Read More.....
Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

Two Jazz Photography Exhibitions open up

This month sees two jazz photography exhibitions take place –...

Read More.....
Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Islington Assembly Hall

Miles Mosley Melts Down The Funk At Isli…

Miles Mosley has already started making waves in the UK...

Read More.....
Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth The Fifth Man At Tampere Jazz Happening

Evan Parker And John Russell Usher Forth…

  A curious sight catches the keenest of eyes on the...

Read More.....
Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings Place Retelling Of Their Traveller's Tale

Surman and Warren Bolster Brass On Kings…

It was during the late 1980s that John Surman (above)...

Read More.....
Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at Barbican

Pat Metheny Quartet epic and electric at…

In these turbulent times small things can provide a reassuring...

Read More.....
Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from the EFG London Jazz Festival

Watch a Live Stream of Jazz Voice from t…

This year's 25th anniversary edition of the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....
Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

Muhal Richard Abrams 19/09/30 – 29/10/17

  Though it may have escaped many of the thousands of...

Read More.....
Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfest Berlin

Empirical Among The Imperious At Jazzfes…

  For his third and final edition of Jazzfest Berlin, the...

Read More.....
Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and club programme highlights as 25th EFG London Jazz Festival gears up

Whirlwind triple bill for Rich Mix and c…

This year's EFG London Jazz Festival kicks off its milestone...

Read More.....
Tommy Smith goes it alone and together with Brian Kellock

Tommy Smith goes it alone and together w…

Saxophonist Tommy Smith takes his latest project home this month...

Read More.....
Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok Amor unleash improv anarchy at Enjoy Jazz

Richard Bona brings the boogie and Amok …

Some festivals cram everything into a single weekend, but Enjoy...

Read More.....

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

Binker & Moses Captivate With Calypso-Influenced Improv @wejazzhelsinki @binkerandmoses @ManLikeBinks… https://t.co/iNgpfgzBU1
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
Kevin Le Gendre pays tribute to master-drummer Sunny Murray https://t.co/n9DdZp4NeR … @k_le_gendre https://t.co/TpEXuHjyas
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

Sign up to the Jazzwise monthly E-Newsletter

 

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA