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Sarah Bennett

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Jazzwise Review

 

 2007-01-16 23:03:24

JAZZWISE DEC 2006/JAN 2007 ISSUE – reviewed by Peter Quinn
THE ASTRONOMER’S GUEST ***

To say that this is one of the more unusual offerings to come my way this year would be a gross understatement. Comprising eight original pieces by pianist Chris Bennett, The Astronomer’s Guest isn’t so much leftfield as outer-spacious. Drawing from a voluminous stylistic well, with influences ranging from folk, pop and classical music as well as jazz, the music could perhaps best be described as an unlikely mash-up of contemporary British influences; the hallucinatory lyrical content of early Pink Floyd meets the trenchant individuality of Kate Bush, filtered through the musical sensibilities of Norma Winstone. It’s deeply quirky and, at times, wonderful. The album’s astronomical theme is announced at the outset as “The Girl in the Moon” drifts into your consciousness on a static synth bed. “The Celestial Toymaker” mines its very own version of English minimalism, while “Nightscape” features a wordless vocal floating ethereally over a chorale-like backdrop, conveying something of the longing and melancholia of an Ennio Morricone soundtrack. The funky Latin stylings of “Nocturne’s Kite” provide a welcome foil to the otherwise glacial pace. Based on a repeating two-chord motif that rocks back and forth hypnotically, “Comet” provides the suitably other-wordly conclusion and hints at a quite different source of inspiration – classical Indian vocal music. You almost expect singer Shoba Gurtu to pitch in for a verse or two – now that would have been a coup de grace.



Norma Winstone, 19th January 2006

Nice to see you at Dean Clough the other week.

I have at last played your CD "The Astronomer's Guest" and like it very much. The title track sounds quite tricky to sing, but I think you handle it very well Sarah. I think that the one I like most is "Comet". I like the voice in the lower register; have you been working on that?
I have played through "Girl in the Moon", which has a nice atmosphere, but I need to run through it with a real pianist (my efforts don't really do it!)..... so we'll see.
Anyway, thanks for the CD; well done and good luck.
All best wishes.
Norma

 

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