Nightfall

Quercus

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Quercus’s self-titled ECM debut won the album-of-the-year award of the German Record Critics in 2013, was widely praised by the international press, and especially celebrated in Britain where June Tabor has long reigned as “the dark voiced queen of English folk music” (to quote The Times). Folk and jazz and chamber music become one in Quercus’s world, where recontextualizing of material is part of the process, prompting listeners to pay heightened attention even to familiar songs. Nightfall opens with the most famous of farewells in “Auld Lang Syne”, and gently breathes new life into it, leading us into a programme that includes Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”, the jazz standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is” and the West Side Story ballad “Somewhere”, as well as original compositions by Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy and songs from British folk tradition, in stark and moving new arrangements.
Quercus 'selbstbetiteltes ECM-Debüt wurde im Jahr 2013 den Jahrespreis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik ausgezeichnet, von der internationalen Presse hochgelobt und insbesondere in Großbritannien gefeiert, wo June Tabor schon lange als "“the dark voiced queen of English folk music” gilt (um es mit einem Zitat der Londoner Times zu sagen). Englischer Folk, Jazz und Kammermusik verschmelzen in Quercus' Welt, wo die Rekontextualisierung von musikalischem Material Teil des Prozesses ist und den Zuhörer dazu veranlasst, auch vertrauten Stücken erhöhte Aufmerksamkeit zu widmen. Nightfall beginnt mit dem berühmtesten aller Abschiedsstücke "Auld Lang Syne", haucht diesem auf sanfte Art neues Leben ein und führt uns weiter in ein Programm, das Bob Dylans "Do not Think Twice", den Jazz-Standard "You Do not Know What Love Is" und die Ballade "Somewhere" aus der West Side Story einschließt. Ferner enthält das Album Original-Kompositionen von Huw Warren und Iain Ballamy sowie Lieder aus der britischen Folktradition in schlichten und bewegenden neuen Arrangements.
Featured Artists Recorded

December 2015, Cooper Hall, Frome

Original Release Date

28.04.2017

  • 1Auld Lang Syne
    (Robert Burns, Traditional)
    05:46
  • 2Once I Loved You Dear (The Irish Girl)
    (Traditional)
    05:43
  • 3On Berrow Sands
    (Traditional)
    06:32
  • 4Christchurch
    (Huw Warren)
    04:47
  • 5You Don't Know What Love Is
    (Don Raye, Gene De Paul)
    05:03
  • 6The Manchester Angel
    (Traditional)
    06:44
  • 7Don't Think Twice It's Alright
    (Bob Dylan)
    07:22
  • 8Emmeline
    (Iain Ballamy)
    04:00
  • 9The Shepherd And His Dog
    (Traditional)
    07:21
  • 10The Cuckoo
    (Traditional)
    06:38
  • 11Somewhere
    (Stephen Sondheim, Leonard Bernstein)
    05:32
Es ist magisch. Die dunkle Stimme dieser Sängerin hat eine leise Autorität, die sofort fesselt. Und selbst bei sehr bekannten Songs wirkt jede Silbe frisch. Man horcht auf. ‚Auld lang syne‘ ( ‚Nehmt Abschied, Brüder‘): Generationen haben das an Lagerfeuern gesungen – Pfadfinder auf der ganzen Welt zelebrieren es am Ende von Zusammenkünften. Hier interpretiert die englische Folk-Ikone June Tabor das Lied, am Klavier ganz fein begleitet von dem Waliser Huw Warren. Ein wundervolles Gespann, die beiden. Doch dann kommt auch noch das Saxophon des Engländers Iain Ballamy dazu. Einfach traumhaft: diese Ausdruckskraft im Leisen, im Unaufgebrachten. Kein Ton will hier Eindruck schinden mit Leistung oder Originalität. Und doch klingt die Musik bei diesem Trio so, wie sie bei niemand anderem klingen kann. […] Ein Trio, das ganz bei sich bleibt. Und das gerade deshalb so überzeugen und packen kann. Das Ergebnis ist atemberaubend stilvoll. Souveräner – und möglicherweise zeitloser - kann man nicht klingen.
Roland Spiegel BR Klassik
 
Warren and Ballamy are the ideal partners for Tabor's faithful yet distinctive vocal renditions, bringing truth and emotional profundity to whatever material is deemed suitable for Quercus...and with the saxophonist, in particular, coming so closely together with Tabor as to sound nearly, at times, as one. The singer's firm but pliant voice is, in fact, the starting point for one of Ballamy's most impressive solos of the set: a crepuscular reading of ‘You Don't Know What Love Is’ that is suitably husky, deeply rooted in the jazz tradition and built with vivid compositional focus. Elsewhere, despite her allegiance to its familiar melody, Tabor makes a relatively faithful look at ‘Don't Think Twice It's Alright’ her own with the subtlest of gestures, while Warren's harmonic ambiguity and Ballamy's intuitive responses to Tabor's unadorned yet inimitable delivery of ‘On Berrow Sands’—recounting the tale of a ship going down in the treacherous waters of the Bristol Channel, and folklore that suggests the gulls soaring over the channel embody the souls of those who drowned—capture the implication of its stark and minimal prose […] the thoroughly appealing ‘Nightfall’ represents slow but steady growth for this trio of fine British musicians who may have built their individual reputations in other circumstances, but who are perfectly matched in this special place where music from across the centuries, across the ocean and across many cultures meet with an unrelenting combination of honesty, truth...and magic.
John Kelman, All About Jazz
 
There’s a moment, towards the end of this unique trio’s version of ‘Somewhere’ from West Side Story, that captures the essence of their finely crafted, distilled sound. As June Tabor sings a melancholy laden final ‘Somewhere’, its hard to tell when her voice fades into Iain Ballamy’s tenor sound, so exquisitely blended are they. Ballamy’s sculpted lines glance off Huw Warren’s delicately dancing piano accompaniment to complete the final resolution. It’s a spine tingling moment to close a luminous set, the group’s follow up to their 2013 self-titled ECM release. The repertoire is the same distinctive blend of traditional folk and jazz, but it doesn’t seem to matter what the source materials are, these three peerless musicians mould them into an unmistakable sound. The most familiar of songs is like a new thing in their hands. Tabor has an entirely personal way of approaching and falling away from a note. […].  ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ has one of Ballamy’s more expansive moments, the timbre of his instrumental voice and way of twisting through a melody is no less distinctive than Tabor’s. Huw Warren is the third essential element of the musical chemistry. His exquisite touch and judgment imbue every piece with momentum and colour.
Mike Collins, London Jazz News
 
The second album by the unlikely, but oddly compelling amalgamation of three seemingly contrastingly individual performers – Iain Ballamy, Huw Warren and June Tabor – is an involved, yet involving mood piece full of unexpected material. No gimmicks, grandstanding or quick fixes here, the mood is painstakingly constructed as Ballamy’s slow-burn sax and Warren’s deeply atmospheric piano arrangements quietly drift around the distinctive voice of Tabor, as intensely still as ever. It broods, pouts, frowns, glistens, sulks and at different times offers both menace and an inviting hand or reassurance and, at its best – a remarkably powerful tale of woe in ‘Manchester Angel’ – it grips tightly with every dramatic nuance, Ballamy’s roaming sax perfectly complementing one of Tabor’s most affecting vocal deliveries.
Colin Irwin, fRoots
 “An unlikely trio, you might think, but the combination proves quite magical. Together they create a subtle new idiom.”
    • The Observer
 
Quercus, the trio in which pianist Huw Warren and saxophonist Ian Ballamy shape new contexts for the dark and moving voice of June Tabor, made a major impact with its ECM debut album, issued in 2013. The recording won the German Record Critics’ Prize as Album of the Year (Preis der deutschen Schallplattenkritik, Jahrespreis) and the international press recognized what the UK folk world has known for many years: that nobody gets inside the meaning of a song in the way that June Tabor does, illuminating a lyric and exploring a tune’s emotional atmosphere.
 
On Nightfall, recorded in December 2015 at Cooper Hall in the Somerset town of Frome and produced by Warren and Ballamy, Quercus takes its creative process to the next level. There are wonderful songs from folk tradition here, including “The Manchester Angel” and the 19th century broadside “Once I Loved you Dear (The Irish Girl)”, pieces collected by Somerset folklorist Ruth Tongue (“On Berrow Sands” and “The Shepherd and his Dog”), a charming version of “The Cuckoo” inspired by the singing of Dorset gypsy Queen Caroline Hughes, and there are subtly phrased instrumental pieces – Warren’s pastoral “Christchurch”, Ballamy’s ballad “Emmeline”.
 
There are also four songs which almost every listener will know. The album opens with that most famous song of farewell, “Auld Lang Syne”, and right away Tabor, Ballamy and Warren alert us to the notion that even the most familiar songs can yield new meaning if looked at from new perspectives (and there’s a link here, too, to the first album which also began with June Tabor singing words of Robert Burns). Freshly arranged versions of Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice”, the West Side Story Bernstein/Sondheim song of yearning “Somewhere”, and the jazz standard “You Don’t Know What Love Is” similarly prove to be fine vehicles for Tabor’s focused, respectful and austere approach, a matter of honouring the song, even while transforming it. Traditional folk song, contemporary songs, show tunes, jazz – Quercus’s concept can embrace it all.
 
“The folk singer June Tabor has been a marvel of English music since the 1960s, and her long-term pianist Huw Warren and saxophonist Iain Ballamy only enhance her clarity, stillness and deep but fragile sound,” wrote The Guardian’s John Fordham of the trio’s debut album. “Nobody plays a note too many or expresses a false emotion. It’s a unique tribute to the power of song.”
 
As melodic counterpart to Tabor, saxophonist Iain Ballamy is an ideal partner. In a sense, he is a second singer in Quercus. His other primary ECM context, the electro-improv band Food – see the albums Quiet Inlet, Mercurial Balm, This Is Not A Miracle – might seem a long way from Quercus’s pristine sound-world, but there too Ballamy has been refining his sound down to essentials and savouring each tone.
 
Pianist Huw Warren, whose rare combination of originality and understatement has been appreciated by many singers, has been arranger-accompanist for Tabor for nearly three decades. Concurrently, he has been active across a broad span of genres, as composer, jazz improviser and educator, and has worked with musicians from the Scottish Chamber Orchestra to Kenny Wheeler. Huw Warren and Iain Ballamy also play duo concerts.