Jazz Views

Finding Home, Bolton Abbey, July 2019

The magnificent setting of Bolton Abbey in Skipton was a perfect location for the final concert in the Finding Home tour. A project that has been more than two years in the making for Kate Williams and Georgia Mancio, and I’m sure for those that were fortunate enough to catch one of the live dates one that will live long in the memory as one of those special performances.

If the album released at the beginning of June wasn’t special enough, the music when heard live was even better. Kate and Georgia present their music with a charming and informative nature, taking it in turns to talk to the audience about the compositions and the inspiration and often inspirational stories behind them. As if the music itself wasn’t powerful enough, when heard in such an awe inspiring location, the emotional impact of the music was magnified, and the audience held in rapt attention.

The music performed was paradoxically diverse yet had a logical and seamless continuity that made the two sets flow in a manner that made the whole complete and satisfying. There was music associated with Kate and Georgia as independent musicians, as well as focusing on what they have achieved together as a superb writing and working partnership. In tribute to João Gilberto, who passed away days before this concert, and in celebration of sixty years of bossa nova, they performed ‘Someone To Light Up My Life’ and ‘No More Blues (Chega de Saudade)’ with lyrics by Jon Hendricks, in which the rhythm section were locked in tight prompting a lyrical and flowing solo from Kate.

Georgia’s other song-writing partnership with Alan Broadbent was featured in three pieces, ‘The Journey Home’from their superb Songbook album, ‘Tell The River’ as a stunning duet between Georgia and Kate, and heartfelt dedication to Georgia’s mother who sadly passed away in February this year just prior to the start of the Finding Home tour, the beautiful ‘Quiet Is The Star’.  Kate Williams reminded us just why is she such a highly regarded pianist with the trio on Kenny Barron’s ‘Voyage’ that also featured fine solos from Flo Moore on double bass and drummer, David Ingamells, and as Four Plus Three on the Bill Evans’ composition ‘Walking Up’.

Of course music from the Finding Home album was extensively featured, the most poignant and touching of this being the trilogy of songs drawn from Georgia’s experiences and stories heard from child refugees living in the notorious camp at in northern France that became known as the Calais Jungle. ‘The Last Boy On Earth’ and We Walk’ tell of harrowing stories of loneliness and hardship, while ‘Halfway’ tells of the strength and resilience of the girls, women, mothers, daughters and sisters, featuring another great sol o from Kate that conveyed the optimism inherent in the lyrics.

What is truly astonishing about this ensemble is the music that is made collectively. This is not jazz or classical music, it is simply music. The pleasure that these remarkable musicians take in performing, and just making music together was clear to see and hear. Musical relationships would appear when the music dictated, for example in the sublime ‘Don’t Go To Strangers’ for voice, viola and cello, Marie Schreer’s exquisite solo violin heard on ‘The Key’, and then ease back into the ensemble working as one. It is also prudent to mention that Flo Moore and cellist, Zosia Jagodzinska were both deputising on this performance. It is therefore testament to their musicianship that having never played this music before, that they both excelled making the roles their own and fitting hand in glove within the ensemble.

This may sadly be the end of this tour for Kate, Georgia and Four Plus Three, but I’m sure that music making of this calibre will continue, and the writing partnership between pianist and vocalist/lyricist will once again rise to the challenge and present us with new delights in the near future.