|BLINQ: L-R: Gwilym Simcock, Natalie Williams, Liane Carroll|
Brendan Reilly, Ian Shaw
Photo credit: Nadja von Massow
(Shoreditch Town Hall. 15th November. EFG London Jazz Festival. Review by Rachel Maby)
BLINQ – which stands for Brendan (Reilly), Liane (Carroll), Ian (Shaw) and Natalie (Williams) quartet – were formed in 2011, and LJN reviewed their debut gig at Ronnie Scott’s HERE, and then their second gig in 2012 in Hampshire (HERE). They last performed a year ago, and have since put together an EP, which they launched at this year’s jazz festival.
The first half got off to a rocky start because of the poor sound quality – it was impossible to hear Ian Shaw and the vocal mix favoured Natalie Williams on soprano way above the other singers, which gave an unbalanced reception to the vocal arrangements presented in the first half. Saying this, the vocal quartet rose above this and performed three jazz standard classics arranged by Gwilym Simcock – Time after Time, Never will I marry and Blue Skies. My favourite piece from the first half was a song written and arranged by Natalie Williams and Tom Cawley, called Olden Days. It beautifully intertwined juicy dissonant jazz harmonies with snappy instrumentally imitative vocal lines, very much inspired by the sound world of Lambert, Hendricks and Ross.
The singers all showcased their unique individual vocal talent, with notable numbers including Brendan Reilly’s vocally dexterous performance on his composition of Little Black Raincloud and the spontaneous performance by Gwilym Simcock and Natalie Williams of Chick Corea’s Spain, as originally performed by Bobbie McFerrin and the composer.
The group have a natural relaxed and friendly onstage presence, which Gwilym Simcock complimented beautifully on piano. There was constant onstage banter between songs, particularly between Carroll and Shaw, which rubbed off on the audience and made us feel at ease. It was clearly evident that the group feel like a musical family and I think it’s noteworthy that the London Jazz Festival continues to showcase and embrace home-grown talent such as BLINQ. It’s what makes it such a unique international jazz festival. .