London Jazz News

Finding Home, Birmingham Jazz Festival, May 2018

Many promising ambitious musical projects flare all-too-briefly into life, only to be abandoned, either through lack of finance or simply by the artists facing other more pressing obligations. How marvellous, then, that Finding Home, the new collaboration by singer Georgia Mancio and pianist Kate Williams – with a string quartet plus double bass and drums – is very much alive, and will soon be recorded.

Fellow LJN contributor Lauren Bush enthused about the project when it was launched at Pizza Express Jazz Club in Dean Street as part of Georgia’s Hang residency, and I’ve long enthused about performances by Kate with her strings project Four Plus Three.

Thanks to the enterprising organisation Birmingham Jazz, the Finding Home project was given a new airing as part of the Celebrating Women In Jazz Festival, held over the last two weekends at the 1000 Trades venue in the city’s Jewellery Quarter.

And Finding Home really is a wonderful creation. Georgia has one of the most appealing voices on the international scene, in my view. Her delivery is mellow, never over-stated, and yet her vocal expression effortlessly conveys so much emotion. The songs she has written with pianist Alan Broadbent are hugely appealing, and Kate’s arrangements for strings-and-rhythm have such depth and power. It’s a sumptuous sound, rich in texture, and with a strong undercurrent of rhythmic drive.

Much of the repertoire – due to be recorded in September – is extraordinarily moving, including The Last Goodbye, a Mancio-Broadbent composition dedicated to Georgia’s late father, and The Last Boy, another original by the singer and pianist, inspired by an Afghan teenager Georgia met while doing voluntary work at ‘The Jungle’ refugee camp in France, with dark cello tones underpinning the theme.

Other highlights included two Antonio Carlos Jobim works, No More Blues and Someone To Light Up My Life. An instrumental arrangement by Kate of Bill Evans’ B minor Waltz was quite superb, and included an excellent solo by bassist Dave Whitford. The bowed strings – violinists John Garner and Julian Fish, viola player Francis Gallagher and cellist Sergio Serra – produced a compelling sound in the small venue.