London Vocal Project
(Kings Place Hall One, 14th January 2012, part of London A Capella Festival 2012. Review by Frank Griffith)
The London Vocal Project is an eclectic ensemble bridging a multitude of styles including Afrobeat, Gospel, 1970s Soul and post-war swing. The twenty strong choir boasted mostly women along with seven male singers which included their illustrious director, Pete Churchill singing bass.
Talk about a polymath, there is nothing that his guy (Pete Churchill) cannot do. His subtle, yet clear conducting while covering the bass parts were augmented by his frequent and detailed announcements describing the numbers and the choir’s processes learning them. In addition, Pete’s arrangements were widely featured varying from treatments of songs by Neal Hefti, Steve Swallow, Kenny Wheeler and Stevie Wonder. The music of Bobby McFerrin was also included to great effect.
The LVP featured a handful of soloists that brought alot to the party. These included Kwabena Adjepong ‘s passionate reading of Stevie Wonder’s Love’s In Need of Love Today while the choir “cooed and hawed” underneath. Newcomer Emma Smith also shone on Steve Swallow’s folksy yet profound City of Dallas which closed their set with her repeated mantra of “sweet dreams when you sleep”.
Not to shirk away from soloing chores himself, Mr Churchill offered his refreshing take on John Beasley’s Lucky Old Sun (popularised by Ray Charles, apparentlly) that included a more than credible scat chorus or two.
A couple of points also worth noting are that the LVP make a strong visual impression as well. Their well themed oufittery- largely black with the odd addition (“oddition”) of a white or red pastel along with red silk ties on the blokes gives off a distinct glow.
They are clearly engaged with the music and the audience with their subtle moving and grooving to the music without being over the top or distracting with it. Of equal importance of course is the wonderful blend they exact along with the immaculate control of pitch and articulation. This, coupled with thier flawless memorisation of lyrics and parts make the London Vocal Project a truly impressive ensemble. Bravo!