Concert review: Ogresse, Cécile McLorin Salvant’s collaboration with Darcy James Argue, was flawless

Vancouver-based jazz broadcaster Nou Dadoun was in New York late final month for the newest efficiency of Ogresse, vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant’s bold and spellbinding tune cycle. He passes on this detailed evaluation:

The Rose Hall, Jazz At Lincoln Center
Reviewed Friday, Sept. 28

There’s a girl
Lived within the woods
On the outskirts of city
Her pores and skin was chocolate brown
Upon her head she wore a crown
of bones, human bones
She lived alone
With the birds and the bushes
With her reminiscences

Thus begins Ogresse, a fairy story worthy of the Brothers Grimm that tells the story of a creature whose loneliness makes her ravenous. Her story is a tune cycle crammed with longing, love, betrayal, and drama.

Ogresse is a novel collaboration between its composer and vocalist Cécile McLorin Salvant and bandleader/composer Darcy James Argue, who organized it. In efficiency, Argue carried out the nine-piece L’Orchestre Ogresse together with the Mivos String Quartet, an ensemble that has constructed its personal status for collaborations with artistic artists like experimental vocalist Jen Shyu.

McLorin Salvant and Argue share a stylistic aptitude that leans towards massive statements in vogue, artwork, music and storytelling and Ogresse is operatic in scope.

McLorin Salvant has a voice that comes alongside solely a few times in a technology. It has handed by means of coaching in classical and formal approach but in addition takes on a outstanding expressiveness. A deserved darling of dozens of critics’ and in style polls, she gained the Thelonious Monk International Jazz Vocals Competition in 2010, when she was simply 21. adopted by two vocal jazz Grammy Awards earlier than she turned 30.

Argue’s compositions are expansive and most frequently realized by means of his personal massive ensemble the Secret Society. They are complicated however with robust melodic strains that coalesce across the steampunk imagery of Infernal Machines, the overblown try to construct the world’s largest carousel in Brooklyn Babylon (a multi-media manufacturing in collaboration with visible artist Danijel Zezelj) or the fashionable political paranoia of Real Enemies.

There’s a direct line from Gil Evans by means of Bob Brookmeyer and Maria Schneider in Argue’s preparations. The high quality of his work has additionally been acknowledged in a sequence of Grammy and Juno Award nominations, in appearances of the Secret Society at main festivals just like the Newport Jazz Festival and commissions from different adventurous ensembles just like the Hard Rubber Orchestra.

We attended the Friday efficiency, the primary of two on the final weekend in September at Rose Theater at Jazz at Lincoln Center In New York. The Theater is a stupendous wood-paneled area in an oval form with about 1,200 seats that fan away from the stage in semi-circles and encompass it with balconies. The wooden and closeness of the performers enhanced the intimacy and closeness of the story — like watching a fairy story play out in a subject beneath the celebrities.

L’Orchestre Ogresse was assembled on stage after we entered. McLorin Salvant arrived in a luminous robe and commanded the stage with the ensemble in a semi-circle behind her and the story started. The tune cycle was episodic in kind and lots of the episodes started with a country-twanged claw-hammer banjo taking part in a down-home introduction. Several of the later episodes had that very same theme picked up by completely different components of the Orchestra, right here the string quartet and there the marimba.

The fairy story was instructed by McLorin Salvant in alternating voices — an omniscient narrator, the Ogresse herself, her misleading suitor and the birds who warned all of betrayal and catastrophe.

The Ogresse lives within the woods exterior a city of cautious and suspicious folks who can’t consider how huge she is — her mouth is the dimensions of a planet. And when the townspeople develop into too curious or attempt to catch her, she merely pops them inside that planet-sized mouth. She revels in her enormity however nonetheless she is lonely with solely the bushes and birds to maintain her firm.

One of the townsmen conspires in opposition to her and tries to subdue her with candy phrases and love. She is resistant — “I do not believe you, why should I believe you?” — however he persists and ultimately wears her down by means of her longing and loneliness. She goals of dancing with him, hand in hand beneath clouds of violet, in a graveyard with bones underfoot.

In a heart-stopping second, the birds reveal his treachery with a damning accusation: “The Man is Lying!” In her despair and betrayal, the Ogresse poisons and consumes him – poisoning herself in a rage that consumes them each in an final conflagration.

McLorin Salvant was the one vocalist however her energy and expressiveness didn’t not flag in any respect through the uninterrupted 90-minute efficiency. At the top, her hand holding the microphone steadily dropped to her facet and her clear, un-amplified voice nonetheless crammed the theatre utterly. The good acoustics of Rose Theater supported the best way during which she inhabited and acted out the completely different components.

As a bonus, the libretto was handed out on the finish of the efficiency in a small hand-printed booklet that was illustrated with Salvant’s evocative sketches, revealing ranges of nuance and wordplay that had been simple to overlook within the drama of the efficiency.

The music drew on a number of influences — that recurring country-folk banjo theme, components of Prokofiev and Mancini, and even a baroque interlude. The highly effective dissonance within the scene of the ultimate conflagration was riveting.

There was plenty of solo area for these excellent gamers. Highlights had been Kirk Knuffke’s cornet, Warren Wolf’s vibes and marimba and Aaron Diehl’s piano, chamber organ and melodica. In addition to the recurring themes, Nate Radley took an incredible banjo solo which was paying homage to a koto, including to the kabuki sense of drama.

In as of late the place a lot adventurous massive ensemble music suffers from an absence of rehearsal or unachieved ambition, it was an actual pleasure to listen to this artistic endeavour completely participating on so many ranges in a flawless efficiency.

The subsequent alternative to expertise Ogresse is on Warren Wolf’s house turf of SFJazz in San Francisco in March of 2020. In the interim, Argue brings the Secret Society to New York City’s Jazz Standard on Oct. 24.

McLorin Salvant has a West Coast tour that brings her and the Aaron Diehl trio to North Vancouver’s Blueshore Centre for the Performing Arts on Oct. 16 and 17. Then she spends November in Europe earlier than returning to New York for a recording session and efficiency at Carnegie Hall with the brand new collective Artemis. If both (or each) come anyplace close to you, don’t go up the chance to see them.

Are you listening Mr. Pulitzer?

Cécile McLorin Salvant, vocals, composer
with L’Orchestre Ogresse
Darcy James Argue, bandleader, arranger, conductor
Alexa Tarantino, winds
Tom Christensen, winds
Kirk Knuffke, cornet
Josh Roseman, trombone, tuba
Nate Radley, guitar, banjo
Aaron Diehl, piano, melodica, organ
David Wong, bass
Samuel Torres, percussion
Warren Wolf, vibraphone, marimba
MIVOS String Quartet
Olivia De Prato, Maya Bennardo, violins
Victor Lowrie Tafoya, viola
Tyler J. Borden, cello

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