Live reviews

REVIEW/PHOTOS: Brigitte Beraha and Frank Harrison The Way Home album launch at Kings Place

Brigitte Beraha and Frank Harrison
Photo credit and © Monika S. Jakubowska

Brigitte Beraha and Frank Harrison – The Way Home album launch
(Kings Place Hall Two, 23 May 2018. Review by Sebastian Scotney)

There was a substantial and supportive turn-out for this Kings Place album launch by vocalist Brigitte Beraha and pianist Frank Harrison. Beraha is increasingly a pivotal figure on the London scene, in the same way that Sienna Dahlen is in Montreal. As a singer she is first-call for many composers, in the certainty that she will be able to bring sense and sensitivity to more or less any vocal line… at the opposite extreme from last night, I find that a memory of all the anger and angularity in Martin Hathaway’s The Silent Assassins springs to mind. And as a singing teacher for jazz students there may be no more influential figure in London.

Frank Harrison
Photo credit and © Monika S. Jakubowska

Beraha’s highly effective partnership with Frank Harrison is, on balance and in the main, more unashamedly lyrical, than, say her collaborations with Barry Green and John Turville. The duo with Harrison goes back around five years, and is a continuing, living thing. The material on the album The Way Home (Linus Records) was all recorded more than two years ago, and last night’s concert demonstrated that the partnership has evolved and taken on new life since then, in particular with a commission from Oxford Contemporary music to set poems by David Attwell (the OCM website seems to have no information about it). The new songs dealt with a whole range of quirky subjects, such as the emotional hold of email communication and the unpredictability of (electronic) spam, a song which effetively brought to the fore Beraha’s jazz inflections. The most surreal of these was Message for an Agnostic Angel (“We sail upstream / and miles inland.”)

Brigitte Beraha
Photo credit and © Monika S. Jakubowska

One highlight was a setting of a poem in French by Maud Hart, and the poet had made a special trip from the Alsace to witness the performance. There was also a family from Sweden present, whose heart-warming story was chronicled in our preview of the gig. 

Brigitte Beraha and Frank Harrison
Photo credit and © Monika S. Jakubowska

The most abiding memory of the gig was the ease with which Beraha’s voice and Harrison’s right hand at the piano seamlessly kept a melodic line going, and of how naturally Beraha moves from singing words to singing wordlessly, and how both complement each other. Monika Jakubowska’s pictures from the soundcheck have really caught the  the many-splendoured joys of this tender, intimate, warm-hearted and inspiring gig.

The Way Home is available from Frank Harrison’s website

Categories: Live reviews

1 reply »

  1. Both beautiful musicians deserving every success. I’d like to see them recognised in awards as a matter of course so hope 2018 turns out to be a good year..

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