(St Martin the Fields. 3 February 2021. Live review by Sebastian Scotney)
7pm Concert in the church: Adorna album launch/ London premiere with Opus Anglicanum
9.15pm: Trio in the crypt with Orlando Le Fleming and Troy Miller
This very well-attended two-concert evening at St Martin in the Fields showed very contrasting aspects of Jason Rebello’s superb craft. The church, probably the closest venue to the geographical centre of London (discuss… as they say in exams), has a new management and programming team in place, who are clearly working on building its profile as a musical ‘destination’. Unusual events like this, performed to unsurpassable standards, can only help to achieve that aim.
The most striking thing about this concert was how plainchant develops an almost inexorable and ritualistic certainty in its rhythm and pacing. Without the sense of homecoming via harmonic resolution, plainchant carries its strong message through different means, and the self-effacing work of the vocalists’ work serves that purpose. There is also slow movement by the singers, who circle silently round the church, and can be heard from a different place each time. That also enhances the experience.
But now add harmony. There are then several ways in which a musician – but probably only a musician who combines Jason Rebello’s refined level of keyboard craftsmanship with his inner spirituality – can turn that mesmeric sense of forward momentum into a harmonic rhythm. Rebello and the group have worked out a range of ways to combine the single melodic line with the piano, from call and response to much more immediate and ambitious interaction – notably in the title track / centrepiece of the sequence, “Adorna” itself.
The programme ends in a different place, with “Nolite Timere” (be not afraid) by Jason Rebello which starts simply on a monotone, then with the singers in unison, adding vocal harmony which gradually becomes more intricate and carries delightful echoes of Poulenc, and then takes its leave with the two-word title repeated and repeated like a comforting mantra. Glorious.
The astonishing level of concentration and involvement from the audience was palpable, and confirmed by the warmth of the response and rapt comments overheard afterwards…
TRIO IN THE CRYPT
If you want something done REALLY well… ask busy people. Jason Rebello’s core trio with bassist Orlando Le Fleming and drummer Troy Miller is not exactly going to be the easiest group to put together on a regular basis, so they certainly deserve to be heard whenever they can. Whether in ballads, or in Richard Tee-style R&B, or in knottily two-part-invention work, as in the solo feature “Butterfly”, the pianist has such an incredibly well-stocked larder of different vibes and styles and moods. Even with conversation around me and phones going off… even with a seat drum-side of the trio, the detail and life in this trio’s playing is irresistible.
What can possibly be done to make “Summertime” different? In this case, get a bassist with the presence, sound, assertiveness and melodic sense of Orlando Le Fleming to lay down a decisive 3+5 groove and it is as if you’ve never heard it before. And when it comes to finding the textures, the sympathetic response, or the listen-up solo-ing, Troy Miller, who is such a complete and completely remarkable musician in so many other contexts, delivers and it is a joy to hear him going back to drumming.
Categories: Live review