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Alexander Hawkins & Elaine Mitchener; Jason Yarde – The Blue Box Diaries

Alexander Hawkins

Pianist Alexander Hawkins and vocalist Elaine Mitchener come together this evening at the Vortex for an unusual and creative encounter with jazz standards.

“……. pianist Alexander Hawkins and vocalist Elaine Mitchener taking on the American songbook. Hawkins is a left-field jazz tyro who rarely works with singers, Mitchener a classically trained genre-crossing virtuoso. Both usually avoid the standard repertoire. They opened with “You Thrill Me”, Mitchener pure-toned over Hawkins’ angular accompaniment and then abstracted “I Fall In Love too Easily” into stretched vowels, scratchy moans and piano thumps. “Lush Life” was superb, delivered straight, “Solitude” ached with loneliness and they ended on a hymn. Their performance was as stunning as it was fresh and further collaborations are, let’s hope, in the pipeline.” Mike Hobart (Financial Times)

Jason Yarde: The Blue Box Diaries

Jason is one of our most versatile musicians, composers and producers. Recognised by receiving the prestigious Paul Hamlyn Fellowship. This project brings all his talents together in one fell swoop. Performed rarely (but including one performance at the Vortex in last year’s London Jazz Festival), it is exciting that he has agreed to make this a not-to-be-missed double bill.

The Blue Box Diaries was largely developed due to the most generous gift of a Civitella Ranieri Fellowship in 2008 although the seeds were sown way back in the early 90’s with Jason’s first pedal purchase. It is a live composition and soundscape project where all sound sources come from Jason through saxophones, voice or occasionally other found sounds. These are then processed through a small arsenal of stage pedals – a number of delays, loopers, harmonizers, tone crunchers etc.

On one hand, the purpose of the project is to make the sound of the saxophone sound like anything but… On the other it is to explore a greatly varied landscape of sound from the deeply, driven and intense to the hushed and eerie all marking points on a journey and beds for multi-layered, lyrical and/or rhythmical expressions. Jason has presented this project in a number of smaller clubs and gallery spaces where the abstract and open elements to the sound can lend a lot to the listeners imagination and the visual element adds a whole other layer of focus.


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