Live review

Chryssie Hynde & Valve Bone Woe Ensemble at Royal Festival Hall (2019 EFG LJF)

Chryssie Hynde & Valve Bone Woe Ensemble
(Royal Festival Hall. EFG London Jazz Festival, Sunday 24 November 2019. Review by Tomasz Furmanek)

This festival concert confirmed what I had heard in June at the Pizza Express in Holborn – Chrissie Hynde and the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble have created together beautiful and fresh sounding versions of some great jazz, pop and rock classics. Their cover versions are not limited by rigid stylistic frames and their excellent selection of songs was just a quality in itself.

It’s a subtle and elegant sound, mixed stylishly, a swinging nostalgia (interspersed with the motifs of warm sounding trumpet and trombone) blending with a large dose of funny, strange and definitely contemporary electronic sounds in the background. The effect is to transport the audience into some warm, luxurious, and sometimes slightly surreal world of sounds that perfectly complements the singer’s expressive yet slightly nonchalant voice…

Chrissie Hynde. Photo © EFG London Jazz Festival/Emile Holba

We find ourselves on a kind of almost fairytale musical journey, during which even an authentic sadness is wrapped (sound-wise) in something warm and pleasantly cosy – and the passionate and convincing vocal interpretations of the songs, yet slightly distanced at the same time, match that sound perfectly. Embellished with stylish solos of the piano, trumpet, trombone and – in one song – double bass, the performed pieces sometimes rub (in terms of arrangements) into poetic musical impressions…

And Hynde herself was in a fantastic form – she presented a great-sounding, strong voice with immediately recognizable timbre, and her singing style proved to be still more than relevant.
I was particularly impressed by Nick Drake’s River Man and Absent Minded Me – originally recorded by Barbra Streisand – an exceptionally sublime arrangement, combined with a pulsating dub.

No Return from The Kinks ended with a crazy, sound carousel. Caroline, No from The Beach Boys’ repertoire had elements of chill-out and acid jazz. In I Get Along Without You Very Well and You Don’t Know What Love Is Hynde sings in an intimate way, with passion and conviction, a real sadness can be felt, regret for something irretrievably lost … A similar truth of interpretation appears in I’m a Fool to Want You. I had a feeling that some sort of a new style of jazz-based music was being created – progressive but accessible.

The audience rewarded Chryssie Hynde and her band with a standing ovation. For an encore, we were given Que reste-t-il de nos amours? and here she showed once again that she is simply a very good singer. It is not surprising that this material convinces more and more listeners – it has a chance to become, if not widely popular, at least attractive to a large group of devoted admirers.

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