‘Signals’ – Sue Rynhart

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“STAND UP, MAKE IT HAPPEN, live your precious life, stay on your path and lose your way

It only took a few short excerpts to be drawn into the magic of Dublin-based vocalist and songwriter Sue Rynhart’s twelve-track album Signals. A collection of jazz-inflected folk compositions, it continues the partnership with Dan Bodwell established in 2014’s debut release Crossings. The revelation is that the perceived acoustic simplicity of voice and double bass actually presents such a richness of unpredictable artistry, with Rynhart’s imaginative and individualistic approach perhaps comparable to Björk and Lauren Kinsella, and her synergy with the multi-faceted technique of Bodwell endlessly compelling (so much so that a shiver of emotional pleasure is never far away).

Melding melodic Irish folk tradition and enigmatic poetry with oblique, atmospheric twists, the duo radiates a beautiful, contemporary freedom of spirit. Rynhart’s pure, dextrous voice communicates her original writing in a personal, storytelling way that suggests it simply wells up from inside and demands to be heard, whilst Bodwell’s pizzicato-dancing bass is able to shift into arco lyricism and mystery. Descending-bass jazz number Be Content has a catchy familiarity, whilst smouldering Foxed couples a subtle, thrummed bass groove with Rynhart’s wide, enquiring phrases (“Oh little red fox I know you’ve been there, but today your coat looks brighter than a gemstone rare”). Dramatic whisperings and close-to-the bridge bass creaks in The Tree precede a plaintive annunciation which becomes elaborated with wisps of choral psalmody and the classically-interpreted folk of E J Moeran or Vaughan Williams; Little Sparrow‘s autumnal melancholy is simple and tender; and The Coldest Month‘s openness lilts with harmonic bass colour.

Closely layered vocals in Compassion are extraordinarily intricate, and haunting harmonies in a new interpretation of In Dulci Jubilo (with multi-instrumentalist guest Francesco Turrisi providing drum rhythm) suggest the period work of Trio Mediaeval. A contemporary edge is maintained by the dark, arco bass and fluid vocalisations of In Between, accentuated by Rynhart’s persistent mbira chimes; and Black as the Crow Flies (“Twinkle twinkle are your eyes tonight, black as the crow flies on a new moon and never went home”) stands out with its hushed tones and an especially captivating, pliant bass motif from Bodwell. Sue Rynhart paints so vividly with words and music, the repeated phrases of solo piece Summer Bell offering an impression of distant peals across endless fields; Turrisi’s baroque-ornamented then rock-grooving lute in Silliest Game perfectly complements the elegant, bittersweetness of this new Irish folk song; and Wall, Wall, Another Wall closes with a dreamy overlay of speech and floating, sung phrases.

Signals is different… original… and enchantingly transports us to another place. “Lose your way and I’ll follow you.”

Released on 28 April 2017 and available as CD or vinyl from Sue Rynhart’s website, or as a digital download from Amazon or iTunes.

 

Sue Rynhart voice, mbira, recorders, zither
Dan Bodwell double bass
with
Francesco Turrisi lute, medieval drum

suerynhart.com

mrsuesue Records – MRSUESUE 002 (2017)

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‘Grigio’ – Francesco Turrisi

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GRIGIO by name and understated cover art, but colourfully overflowing in atmosphere, musicality and originality, this eclectic release by Italian-born Dublin-based Francesco Turrisi celebrates and interprets the varied hues of Irish, Italian and Hebrew music.

Pianist and composer/arranger Turrisi assuredly directs this diverse collection, encouraging both close ensemble playing and individuality from his outstanding instrumentalists – Nick Roth (soprano sax), Kate Ellis (cello), Dan Bodwell (bass) and Sean Carpio (drums), plus guest Zohar Fresco (frame drums, percussion and additional vocals). The gleaming, crowning jewels in this project are two contrasting vocalists – Irish traditional singer Róisín Elsafty and multi-genre songstress Clara Sanabras – each bringing their particular warmth and character to the songs contained within the ten-track album.

Advancing straight to Turrisi’s title composition, Grigio, one immediately senses the subtlety and invention to be discovered here. Over a slow, mysterious piano ostinato (vaguely reminiscent of Soft Machine’s ‘The Tale of Taliesin’ from way-back-when), the mesmeric weaving of closely-toned cello and sax combined with expressive drums/percussion creates an arresting, spatial soundscape. John Zorn’s Hadasha employs similar patterns (though with a different, more upbeat hook) to coax the most striking guttural, hard-blown screechings and complex percussive improvisations to Turrisi’s ground bass and bright internal piano-string tracery. Indeed, the instrumental explorations are such that, frequently, it is difficult to discern the origins of the unusual blends of sound, making the experience all the more compelling.

Che si può fare introduces the sumptuously-ornamented voice of Clara Sanabras, bringing a special kind of theatre to the Italianate descending-bass motif of the piano trio (Turrisi, Bodwell, Carpio) – beautifully expressive throughout. The ingeniously long, sustained, overlapping EBow/piano technique demonstrated in traditional Irish tune Eleanór a rún creates an ethereal canvas for the pure, crystal-clear folk singing of Róisín Elsafty, as if ebbing and flowing beneath the calm of early morning mists. Elsafty’s diction and phrasing are magical… time seeming to stand still for these all-too-brief six minutes.

Nick Roth’s reverential arrangement of traditional Hebrew melody Maoz tsur, featuring his lachrymose soprano sax embellishments and Fresco’s synagogue-suggested wordless vocals over piano, cello and frame drums, lead to an ancient Irish lament, Síle Bheag Ní Chonnallainí, Turrisi providing sensitive piano accompaniment to Elsafty’s beguiling lyricism. Clara Sanabras illuminates early baroque composer Tarquinio Merula’s Canzonetta spirituale sopra la nanna, Bodwell’s repeated flexing bass a key element; and Sanabras’ voice also animates a Stefano Landi madrigal, Augellin, the leader offering considerable pianistic impetus as well as considered, deliberate soloing.

The rhythmically gentle motif of Turrisi’s own Tu ridi repeats with finely balanced piano, cello, voice and sax, though also surprises with some satisfyingly unexpected harmonic turns. Concluding, Róisín Elsafty’s reassuring, hushed vocal to Gaelic lullaby Seothin seó is quietly enhanced by Francesco Turrisi’s so-delicate pianistic ‘rocking’… bringing a particularly touching eventide glow to a recording of genuine beauty and refinement.

Launching in the UK at The Vortex, London, on 10 February 2014, followed by UK release on 24 February, ‘Grigio’ is available from Diatribe Records, Ireland’s foremost record label for new music.


Francesco Turrisi
piano, EBows
Nick Roth soprano saxophone
Kate Ellis cello
Dan Bodwell double bass
Sean Carpio drums

Special guests
Clara Sanabras vocals
Róisín Elsafty vocals
Zohar Fresco frame drums, percussion, vocals

Diatribe – DIACD015 (2013)

Diatribe.ie
francescoturrisi.com