Wagner tribute streams

Babel have a fascinating new album Dick Wag: a Tribute to Richard Wagner to be released in September the brainchild of composer and multi-instrumentalist Fred Thomas who has arranged Wagner like you've never heard him here playing bass joined by …

Published: 28 Jul 2020. Updated: 6 days.

Babel have a fascinating new album Dick Wag: a Tribute to Richard Wagner to be released in September the brainchild of composer and multi-instrumentalist Fred Thomas who has arranged Wagner like you've never heard him here playing bass joined by Parisien pianist Benoît Delbecq and reedist Ewan Bleach. ''Deadly serious and and deadly silly,'' Babel say. ''’Dick Wag’ serves up chunks hacked off masterpieces such as Tristan and Isolde, transforming them into grotesque parodies of Teutonic pomp, Greek shepherd laments, luscious jazz ballads, jingoistic marches and Ellingtonian jungle grooves. And if you listen closely, just audible between the cracks of these affectionate caricatures, is the unmistakable sound of Richard Wagner turning and squirming in his grave.''

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Ant Law, The Sleeper Wakes, Edition

A jazz album like The Sleeper Wakes could not have been made in the 1960s or 70s because the language and direction of jazz has changed so much since. You don't get that omnipresent sense of swing or in your face jazz-rock. And you don't get the …

Published: 28 Jul 2020. Updated: 6 days.

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A jazz album like The Sleeper Wakes could not have been made in the 1960s or 70s because the language and direction of jazz has changed so much since. You don't get that omnipresent sense of swing or in your face jazz-rock. And you don't get the prevailing hegemony of saxophone. Sax however is a presence here on this the latest from British guitarist Ant Law and that saxist, Michael Chillingworth on alto saxophone and later effectively bass clarinet, adds colour and a certain depth to the sound. Law's writing (all the tunes are his apart from a knotty version of 'My Old Flame') does not reveal itself at once but there is plenty of warmth to it even though it is quite complicated and sometimes oblique. Bassist Tom Farmer is significant in the overall sound as is Ivo Neame on piano, and Farmer gets plenty of space while drummer James Maddren as so often is a bustling vital presence and adds so much life. When Law takes a swinging solo say on the title track you get a sense of how, momentarily, he is dealing with the jazz he grew up with but then when you hear how he and the band tackle 'My Old Flame' you really know that so much has changed and how much Law has stamped his personality on this fine record.