FLYING DREAMS ALBUM REVIEWS

 


"As the old saying goes, “never judge a book by its cover.” In this case, the
album cover to Brigitte Beraha’s Flying Dreams is adequately indicative of
what listeners can expect: the lyrical, the seemingly abstract, and the
beautiful. While trading between trio and quintet arrangements, Beraha
presents a collection that is worthy of praising an artist in progress.
Pianist Ivo Neame’s syncopated rhythm figure marks the album’s opening
and sets the foundation for a track that is anything but “So Simple.” Using
the voice as an instrument more so than as a lyrically narrative medium, (a
common trend among jazz vocalists as of recently), Beraha possesses a
vocal timbre that successfully communicates; despite minor intonation
obstruction, her long phrases and floating syllables are poignant and
effortlessly delivered.
“Déjà Vu, In A Dream” follows as an introduction to Beraha’s lyrical dancing;
rather than closely adhering to a tightly-woven form or remaining within the
confines of a melodic box, she narrates a dream in which she experienced
the sensation of flying – the weightlessness experienced by listeners is an
accurate match for Beraha’s depiction. “Moving On” showcases Beraha’s
ability to sonically mix with the mellow trumpet tone of Joe Auckland – they
sound as one; a drum solo over top the final vamp proves for a smooth
transition back into the melody.
“Sunlight On Your Face” commences with a gentle vocal melody backed by
thick piano voicings. As the track progresses into Auckland’s trumpet solo
(again, with slight but noticeable intonation discrepancies), listeners are
treated to a taste of Neame’s Kenny Barron-esque and masterful rhythmic
comping and sense of timing – check out Kenny Barron’s accompaniment of
“Night and Day” on Stan Getz’s People Time. Beraha’s open invitation for
listeners to “Danse Avec Moi” features a playful and bawdy French-style intro
that unravels into controlled chaos as the track draws to a close.
Is it apparent that while Beraha’s evolution as a vocalist is in the middle
stages of development, her creative inspiration and surrounding musical
chemistry are assets to her future development. For listeners who seek more
than classic jazz standard forms, bebop phrasing, and predictable twists,
Brigitte Beraha will likely be on the forefront of the international jazz scene
in years to come – think lyrical dance in musical form or better yet, don’t
think – let the music escort you to the friendly height of weightlessness and
the abstract.

 

 

fLYIND dREAMS gUARDIAN review



"Talented young vocalist with an album of quietly lyrical but subtly
adventurous original material"
“Flying Dreams” is the new album from the outstanding young vocalist
Brigitte Beraha.
The album appears on the new “F-ire Presents” imprint which promotes the
work of friends of the Collective whilst allowing the individual artists to retain
control of their rights. It is Beraha’s second album, her début “Prelude To A
Kiss” having been released in 2005 on the FMR label.
“Prelude” was more or less an album of standards interspersed with the
occasional original. However “Flying Dreams” sees Beraha honing her
songwriting skills in a programme comprised of wholly original material from
Beraha and the members of her group. All the lyrics and the majority of the
music are by the singer herself with pianist Ivo Neame and drummer George
Hart also making musical contributions.
Born in Milan to British/Turkish parents Beraha was subsequently brought up
in Monaco. She moved to London in 1996 to study music at Goldsmiths
College before moving on to the Guildhall School of Music where she met
Neame, Hart and bassist Phil Donkin. All are involved on “Flying Dreams”with the line up being completed by Joe Auckland on trumpet and flugelhorn.
The instrumentation on “Flying Dreams” alternates between the full quintet
and a pared down trio of Beraha, Auckland and Neame that evokes
memories of the old Azimuth line up with vocalist Norma Winstone,
trumpeter Kenny Wheeler and pianist John Taylor. Delivered with a high
degree of technical accomplishment much of it is chamber jazz in the best
sense of the phrase.
Beraha is blessed with a clear, pure, well enunciated voice that suits her
material well. Her lyrics are positive and life affirming if not particularly
profound and the interplay with her fellow musicians is highly impressive.
Beraha clearly sees her voice as just one component in a democratic
ensemble. The musicians are given room to stretch out with Donkin soloing
on the opening “So Simple”. Auckland and Neame are particularly impressive
throughout the album, indeed this is some of the best sounding piano
Neame has ever recorded. Julian Jackson’s pinpoint mix captures the whole
group brilliantly.
The trio pieces have a high level of interaction between the three
protagonists and a pastoral, but never bland, atmosphere. The quintet items
are inevitably more forceful, propelled by Hart’s crisp, intelligent drumming
but a relaxed, unified mood predominates throughout.
Picking out highlights is difficult in the context of such an homogeneous
album. “May Chill” is achingly lovely with “Camaleon”, co-written with
Neame probably the most adventurous item.
“Sunlight On Your Face” is reprised in trio format from her previous album
and “Danse Avec Moi” reveals her capacity to sing in French. “Feeling High”
features wordless vocals from the Winstone school as Beraha shares the
limelight equally with Auckland and Neame who both solo extensively.
Beraha’s quietly lyrical but subtly adventurous approach makes a pleasant
change from all the identikit standards dominated vocal albums out there.
The Beraha/Auckland/Neame Trio is currently touring to promote the album
with guest artists such as Hart, Paul Clarvis (percussion) and Mick Hutton
(bass) appearing on selected dates. See http://www.brigitteberaha.com and
http://www.myspace.com/brigitteberaha for further details. Reliable sources
inform me that the trio is well worth seeing.

 


Following her standards based debut album Prelude to a Kiss, Brigitte
Beraha returns with an 11-track collection consisting of entirely original
material. The singer's first musical encounter with band mates Neame,
Donkin and Hart dates back to her final recital at the Guildhal School of
music and drama in 2002. Now, six years on and with a year's worth of
concerts behind them, the chemistry between the quintet- she met Auckland
while guesting with the group Oboto- is one of the collection's strongest
points. Rich imagery, harmonic surprises and subtly crafted arrangements
can all be found in Flying Dreams. Within her song structures, Beraha
switches seamlessly between text and wordless vocalisation, effectively
becoming a fifth instrumentalist often acting in unison or counterpoint with
Auckland. Standouts include the floating reveries of 'Deja Vu, In a Dream',
the gorgeous melodic sensibility of 'Sunlight on Your Face' (reprised from the
debut) and the leftfield 'Danse Avec Moi' (growing up in Monaco, the
daughter of Turkish and British parents, the singer's French is impeccable).


Comprised of eleven originals five performed by a trio (Beraha with
trumpeter Joe Auckland and pianist Ivo Neame) and six by a quintet (the
above with bassist Phil Donkin and drummer George Hart) singer/composer
Brigitte Beraha’s second album (her debut, Prelude to a Kiss was on FMR) is
a much more homogeneous, confident recording than her first.
She has found a distinctive sound a pleasantly wafting, slightly dreamy
lyricism well suited to her unpretentiously philosophical, life-affirming lyrics
and the musicians to play it: Auckland in particular interacts extremely
effectively with her throughout, his trumpet/flugelhorn occasionally playing
in unison with her wordless vocal introductions, more often providing striking
obbligati to her swooping, soaring voice as it negotiates the twists and turns
of her adventurous but attractive melodies.
Her pure, agile soprano addresses lyrics and imaginative scatting with equal
aplomb, and both her close rapport with her band which has been
performing regularly together for the past year and her democratic
allocation of soloing time to Auckland et al. mark her out as a jazz musician
whose voice just happens to be her instrument rather than as a singer plus
accompaniment. A wholly enjoyable and original album from a fastimproving talent.