The Times & Jazzwise Reviews of Trevor Launch
10 Apr 2012
Jazzwise: Sarah Gillespie sings the Shami Chakrabarti Blues in powerful double bill with Get The Blessing at Ronnie Scott’s
Unveiling her ambitious new extended composition ‘The War on Trevor’, Sarah Gillespie and her band featuring Gilad Atzmon opened the first of two double bills at Ronnie Scott’s last night, sharing the evening’s billing with mighty Bristolians, Get The Blessing.
At times no nonsense (“this song is dedicated to my former husband, it’s called ‘Big Mistake’) or ironic on her “new muse David Cameron” we had to wait until late into the extended set for the 15-minute long ‘The War on Trevor’ based around a partly comic, partly deadly serious take on The War on Terror (geddit) with the hapless Trevor arrested on trumped up terrorist charges in a comedy of errors. Gillespie referred to the case of a British citizen held without trial at Guantánamo as a partial influence for the piece which, in its introductory section, also draws on Brahms’ ‘Variation on a Theme of Haydn’.
The piece knitted together nicely, and sat at the bar watching the performance was Liberty director Shami Chakrabarti who is even name checked in the song with her surname rhyming with “twitterati.” Gilad Atzmon also name checked dug in nicely on sax, and throughout the set was effective at the beginning riffing on ‘Flight of the Bumble Bee’ on clarinet, and then switched to apposite accordion, while Ben Bastin on double bass, an energised Enzo Zirilli on drums, fine backing vocals from the preternaturally-still Emma Divine made this all work. Gillespie at times resembles the much missed Kirsty MacColl in the way she gets her songs across, and occasionally even her enunciation draws MacColl to mind while her guitar playing opened up as the evening went on. Gillespie’s mix of jazz (a fun ‘All of Me’) a Bessie Smith blues “for the credit crunch” at the end and her own fine lyrics was a hard act to follow.
Get The Blessing with Daisy Palmer in on drums, the regular replacement for Clive Deamer these days often gigging with Radiohead, were straight out of the gate into 1970s Brit flick mode circa Get Carter from the off. Soft, beautifully harmonised contrapuntal work from trumpeter Pete Judge and a feverish Jake McMurchie on tenor sax remote on the right hand apron of the Ronnie’s stage circled around the laconic Jim Barr’s wondrous bass parables of sonic darkness. Barr and Palmer worked superbly as independent rhythm entities, Palmer a less snarling drummer than Deamer but equally capable of beating out large scale free form triphoppery where required. We had to wait for the epic ‘OC DC’ but it was worth it, with ‘Einstein Action Figures’ another set highlight. Barr was magnificent throughout, and an initially reserved and very polite audience rattled their tables by their clapping along in delight as the monstrous bass figure of ‘OC DC’ unfolded.
– Stephen Graham
The Times 4th April 2012 Review by David Sinclair
But there was something about Get the Blessing’s brooding, post-jazz presence and droll humour that didn’t quite gel with the upmarket, supper-club setting. Sarah Gillespie, who opened the show, got a much better measure of the place. A brassy Anglo-American babe with an acoustic guitar and a band that featured the saxophonist and accordion player Gilad Atzmon, Gillespie sang about rotten husbands and rotten politicians in a mischievous, beat-poet delivery that swung alarmingly between the Cockney whine of Kate Nash and the deep blues holler of Bessie Smith. She sang an amusingly mangled version of Smith’s Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out, introduced as “the original credit crunch anthem”, before ending her set with The War on Trevor, an ambitious 15- minute, prog-jazz epic, with a Kafka-style narrative.