12 February 2016
Valerie and more
I know Valerie. It's a song from Amy Winehouse and was the last tune of the first set of Movement 9's tribute to Amy. I'd wondered where it would appear. It's a great soft-funky piece with considerable life and deep emotion. I learnt it to play at the Casino and the chords were trivial but the groove was seductive and the response from the audience was surprising and immediate. It's obviously known and loved. So is AW more generally. She had a difficult and short life but her lyrics are her own and the messages are raw and honest.
Movement 9 came to the Street Theatre fronting Elly Poletti in the role of Amy W. This was their second visit. Both visits were full houses, last time in Street 2, this time in the larger Street 1. Larger and more formal, which was good for sound and space if not so much for intimacy. The music was great and the interpretations were also great. This was capable, careful, educated playing all round. Joe is the arranger and he did real justice. His approach was to respect and interpret rather than just mimic, so it's a tribute in the true sense of the word. This is a work of respect and, talking to Joe afterwards, it was clear he knew his subject and granted that respect. So, his arrangements were unintrusive and clear. But then I don't know the originals particularly well. I loved the curt and decisive drumming matched with bass funky syncopations and often choppy keys. Jordan knew well when to elaborate and he could do it at will but remained nicely restrained. Mostly 5-string electric bass, but double on a few tracks. Then the 6 horns (this is a nine-piece ensemble plus vocals): alto (leader Joe), tenor and bari saxes, two trumpets and trombone. They were discreet but I melted over some sounds: a two part trom/trumpet harmony; the three brass another time, in harmony or in hits; a delightful combination of flute with brass; the rhythmic phap of the bari at various times. And more generally, the intonation which I never noticed faltering. Then Elly over the top. I don't envy her this role: it's always hard to play the key central character, singer or otherwise. I heard some of Amy's desperation at times, her good will amongst distance and self-protection. Never easy, but well done. They all took solos, of course, and they were all good. I particularly noticed trumpet and tenor but that's the jazzer's take, not the essence of this show. As a mark of respect and a memory of a brilliant but troubled musician, this was a great work, and I loved every minute.
We may never meet again : the music Of Amy Winehouse was a tribute show by Movement 9 with Elly Poletti (vocals). Movement 9 are Joe McEvilly (alto, arrangements), Tom Sly (trumpet), Niran Dasika (trumpet), Patrick Langdon (trombone), Stephen Byth (tenor), Nick McCusker (baritone sax), Joel Trigg (piano), Jordan Tarento (bass) and James Milic (drums).