Belinda Moody: Epic Whispers
The wonderfully titled Epic Whispers by Australian bassist Belinda Moody is a delightful collection of jazz-tinged, pastoral compositions which blend strings with an acoustic jazz trio and female vocals. The result is a work of great continuity, charm and sophistication.
The fruit of five months labor, Epic Whispers received its live premier at the Melbourne Women's International Jazz festival in December 2005. This DVD studio recording of these gentle odes to love, these bucolic folk songs of bitter-sweet nostalgia and melancholy, show Moody to be a composer and arranger of considerable talent.
All eight compositions feature the vocal talents of Gian Slater and Alison Wedding. Slater shines on the wonderful opener, "What's Yours, What's Mine, a song which brings together and binds the jazz, folk and classical elements to form a seamless whole; eight musicians, one voice. Pianist Colin Hopkins takes a lovely, singing solo, whilst Moody's earthy bass underpins the ensemble.
It is the turn of Alison Wedding to impress the listener on another strong Moody original, "Falling Down. This haunting lament has all the hallmarks of a classic Celtic folk song, and would grace any June Tabor or Moya Brennan set. The combination of Wedding's soul-searching vocals and the graceful yet mournful strings demands the listener's attention.
The songs (all Moody originals bar one) have a dreamy quality to them, with the rhythm section bubbling away gently, like a stream through a meadow. When Slater and Wedding combine, harmonically or in scatting duets, the pastoral scene is complete, as their voices climb and play with each other, dovetailing like birds in spring.
The quality of the compositions on Epic Whispers is notable, and the only non-original, Willard Robison's jazz standard "Old Folks, nestles perfectly amongst Moody's songs. "Loves Golden Prayer and the gorgeous "Nest build beautifully, with the various sections dropping in and out almost imperceptibly. Both strings and rhythm section serve to buoy and lift the voices of Slater and Wedding throughout the eight pieces. On the set closer, the infectious "Cows Come Home, the two girls again combine beautifully, sounding as comfortable together and as seasoned as Kim Nazarin and Lauren Kinhan of the New York Voices.
For the time being Epic Whispers is available only as a download.
Belinda Moody has plans to release this music on CD later this year, pending the interest and support which this project needs and undoubtedly deserves. Epic Whispers makes the case that Moody is one of the most original and inspired of contemporary Australian musical voices, and a composer of songs which would be the envy of many a more illustrious name.
Track listing: What's Yours, What's Mine; Falling Down; Loves Golden Prayer; Slumber; Nest; Old Folk; Just Another Day; Cows Come Home.
Personnel: Andrea Keeble: violin; Ruby Paskas: violin; Phoebe Green: violin; Caerwen Martin: cello; Colin Hopkins: piano; Belinda Moody: double bass; Phil Collings: drums; Alison Wedding: vocals; Gian Slater: vocals.