Rainforest Reveries: Crawford and Simcock In Arboreal Praise For Powys As Birdsongs Take Flight At Hampstead Arts Fest

Released last month on Basho Records, Birdsong/Cân yr Adar fuses disparate elements – from jazz, folk and contemporary classical music – into something transcendent and utterly singular. Hearing the work at its London album launch, in the beautiful setting of St John's Downshire Hill, from the opening 'Birdsong Chorale' to the climactic closing bars of 'Owl Song/Can y Gwdihw', the joyous, almost ecstatic quality of the music-making was even more pronounced than on the recording. The octet featured co-composers Kizzy Crawford (voice, guitar) and Gwilym Simcock (piano), plus a group of stellar musicians drawn from the Welsh chamber orchestra Sinfonia Cymru – violinists Simmy Singh and Lucy McKay, violist Fran Gilbert, cellist Abel Selaocoe, flautist Helen Wilson, plus horn player Carys Evans. At its heart, the work celebrates a unique rainforest in Powys, Carngafallt, using the seasons to describe the lives of its birds, trees and flowers through a yearly cycle. Central to its soundworld is the bilingual text setting, reflecting Crawford's deep love for, and intimate knowledge of, the Welsh language. 

Kizzy-Gwilym1

Both structurally and harmonically, the individual song structures were anything but typical, each one being packed with ear-catching detail. Highlights included Simcock interrupting his powerful vamp during 'Wildlife/Bywyd Gwyllt' to play the inside of his Fazioli grand piano like a bodhrán, the gorgeous harmonic shifts of 'Rhododendron', the almost Ravelian sensuousness of the opening passage of 'Angelic Soul/Enaid Angylaidd', the stacked up vocal harmonies in 'Back to the Trees/Nôl i'r Coed' and the breathtakingly blissful highpoints of 'Into The Dark Mystical Beauty/Mewn i'r Harddwch Tywyll Cyfriniol'. The performance also included a visual element, with the artist Ruby Fox creating a kaleidoscopic projected backdrop, an interpretation of what she herself saw and experienced when she visited Carngafallt. The pleasingly cyclical nature of the piece was expressed by the musicians processing on one by one at the beginning, improvising sounds from the rainforest, then similarly processing off at the end, returning to the same rainforest soundworld. It's a passionate and, at times, overwhelming work, a stunning achievement that is, without question, one of the albums of the year.

Peter Quinn

Photos by David Forman

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

Jazz FM Awards return for 2019

The Jazz FM Awards return for a sixth time next...

Read More.....

Chick Corea, Madeleine Peyroux and Kamaa…

The organisers of the Love Supreme Jazz Festival, which runs...

Read More.....

Peter Boizot 1929 – 2018

The press obituaries for Peter Boizot, who has died aged...

Read More.....

David Mossman – 17 July 1942 - 8 Decembe…

Ahead of starting the Vortex in 1988, there is nothing...

Read More.....

Greg Fox and Pulverize The Sound punish …

  The second phase of Poland’s Jazz Jantar festival involved five nights...

Read More.....

Astral Progression Ensemble and Irrevers…

  Jazz Jantar has been running in the northern Polish port...

Read More.....

Tippett & Bourne, Liane Carroll and…

The Bristol Jazz & Blues Festival will return for its...

Read More.....

Jessica Radcliffe poised an poetic for R…

In this centenary year of the end of the First...

Read More.....

Iridescent Ibrahim Leads Multi-Horn Boon…

The Barbican's foyer is still resounding to the tumultuous multi-horned...

Read More.....

Maisha raise Afro-futurist spirits at Gh…

Scrolling down the posts on Facebook, from people pleading for...

Read More.....

John McLaughlin and 4th Dimension Back F…

Legendary jazz-rock guitarist John McLaughlin has just announced a return...

Read More.....

Dave Douglas Supergroup Dazzles Among Ho…

  Guimarães is Portugal’s birthplace. Surrounded by verdant hills, this quiet...

Read More.....

Bill Laurance Goes Big At Southbank With…

  At certain moments during this concert, Bill Laurance looks like...

Read More.....

Trans-Atlantic Team-Up: Chicago X London…

Much has been written about the jazz scene that has...

Read More.....

Dalston Devils: Branch and Brandon Lewis…

The Vortex and Cafe OTO are separated by a few...

Read More.....

Mike and Leni Stern light up Ronnie Scot…

What an unexpected pleasure to see Mike Stern exchanging guitar...

Read More.....

22-year-old saxophonist Xhosa Cole wins …

Saxophonist Xhosa Cole has been announced as the winner of...

Read More.....

Braxton and Marclay Broker New Sonic Exp…

  The UK premiere of Anthony Braxton's 'Composition No 103' (1983)...

Read More.....

Delay-gratification – Bill Frisell’s spe…

Bill Frisell isn't much of a talker. The music is...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy, Jamie Cullum and Gladys Kn…

The first artists have been revealed for next year's Love...

Read More.....

Archie Shepp’s Art Songs & Spiritual…

This evening gets off to a flying start with Simon...

Read More.....

Gregory Porter, Joshua Redman, The Bad P…

The first names have been revealed for next year's Cheltenham...

Read More.....

Billy Harper charges up Church Of Sound

A house of praise is the perfect setting for one...

Read More.....

Ezra Collective Get Sweaty And Prophetic…

  "This is about joy and happiness and celebrating everything that's...

Read More.....

GoGo Penguin: Kings Of The Bill Take Fli…

  The Concorde usually hosts mid-ranking rock bands or popular club...

Read More.....

Helena Kay’s KIM Trio launch Moon Palace…

Fast emerging saxophonist Helena Kay is set to release her...

Read More.....

Ben LaMar Gay Breaks Back Of Chicagoan P…

A wet afternoon in the 'Big Smoke' is brightened by...

Read More.....

Shepp Sharp, Fiery and Free at Enjoy Fes…

The Enjoy Jazz festival is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary...

Read More.....

Baker On A Roll As Her Eden Project Pays…

  Lorraine Baker recorded one of the season's freshest sounding releases...

Read More.....

Freestage Stars Ready To Fire Up EFG Lon…

With the full programme confirmed for this year's EFG London...

Read More.....

Sons of Kemet: Kinetic and Chaotic at Ko…

There is already a sense of excitement in the air...

Read More.....

Henri Texier, Denys Baptiste, Ghost Note…

The 37th edition of what is a key date on...

Read More.....

Dave Holland's Aziza Up The Ante At Ronn…

The old joke that the audience will have a chance...

Read More.....

Art Ensemble and Mary Halvorson among th…

The English music critic Richard Williams finished his three-year stint...

Read More.....

A Melting Pot Of Sounds – Pelin Opcin ta…

Alyn Shipton spoke to Pelin Opcin, the EFG London Jazz...

Read More.....

Roy Hargrove – 16/10/69 – 2/11/18

Although several of his legendary predecessors met their maker while...

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

Get yourselves down to this bit of festive South London cheer this weekend – free-jazz blowouts and hop-jacked beer… https://t.co/9IJOFuz4AM
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@AbstractTruth haha, brilliant
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

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