Home » Jazz Articles » Issie Barratt's Interchange: Donna's Secret


Album Review

Issie Barratt's Interchange: Donna's Secret


Sign in to view read count
Issie Barratt's Interchange: Donna's Secret
Put simply, this is a truly beautiful record. It features eight very different compositions by eight different women composers, including three from outside the band. In other hands, the diversity of styles might have left more an impression of a compilation than of a coherent, integrated programme of music. But that is certainly not the case here. What strikes immediately is the quality of the arrangements and ensembles. The textures are just sumptuous, almost tactile—and you know something's good when the hairs on the back of your neck stand up.

From the opening track, Karen Street's "Still Here," both a fox-trot and a jig with bodhran-like drums from Katie Patterson, to the closing Arvo Part-like "Hope" by Carol Jarvis, these are musical events as much compositions. Each one has its own story behind it and each track unfolds like a narrative. Take the title track by vocalist Brigitte Beraha. She uses wordless vocals here, and elsewhere on the album, deftly in combined in concert with the other instruments. The piece has much to tell, and Alyson Cawley's beautifully gruff tenor solo adds new dimensions to the tale.

Shirley Smart's "Palmyra" draws on ten years spent living in Israel. It expresses something of the region's troubled history but does so with a sense of hope, dancing at times with the rhythms of the middle east in all their complexity. And Nikki Iles tune, "Negomi," dedicated to her daughter and to family friend Kenny Wheeler, offers a very different, more straight-ahead experience with a slightly Spanish/Latin feel. Fine solos too from the composer and bassist Charlie Pyne.

And there are so many nice touches here. The recurring motif on Issie Barratt's "Kulning" is varied, expanded and used to create conversations between different instruments with different timbres. Jessica Radcliffe's voice here and throughout is a delight, as is Rosie Turton's fine trombone solo. Turton's free interplay with trumpeter Laura Jurd and solo on Cassie Kinoshi's "Caliban" also belies her youth. "Caliban" is the funkiest track here with great drumming from Jas Kayser and an acerbic performance from altoist Helena Kay.

Which leaves Tori Freestone's "Spontaneous Symmetry," a Latin ballad featuring, Radcliffe's voice, the exceptionally talented Laura Jurd and a beautiful duet between Cawley on tenor and Street on accordion, with interpolations from Radcliffe. All eight pieces on "Donna's Secret" are truly special and totally individual.

All too often women jazz musicians are told by male jazz fans, "Wow! You play just like a guy!" Well, these musicians don't play like guys. They play like themselves. They play like Interchange.

Track Listing

Still Here; Donna’s Secret; Negomi; Samla Korna Med; Kulning; Palmyra; Spontaneous Symmetry; Caliban; Hope.


Issie Barratt: director, baritone saxophone; Jessica Radcliffe: voice; Brigitte Beraha: lead voice (2); Laura Jurd: trumpet; Helena Kay: alto saxophone, clarinet; Chelsea Carmichael: tenor saxophone (9), flute (3, 5); Alyson Cawley: flute, clarinet, tenor and soprano saxophones; Rosie Turton: trombone; Shirley Smart: cello; Karen Street: accordion; Charlie Pyne: bass; Katie Patterson: drums, percussion (8); Jas Kayser: drums on “Caliban”, percussion (5, 6, 7, 8); Nikki Iles: piano (3); Zoe Rahman: piano (5).

Album information

Title: Donna's Secret | Year Released: 2020 | Record Label: Fuzzy Moon Records

Post a comment about this album

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.



Beyond Orbits
Miho Hazama's M_Unit
Paul Dietrich
Dear Zbigniew
Greg Byers


Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio
Afro Futuristic Dreams
Idris Ackamoor & The Pyramids
Dynamic Maximum Tension
Darcy James Argue's Secret Society

On the record

Vibes on a Breath
Ted Piltzecker
Jonathan Karrant
Brazilian Match
Luiz Millan
Double Portrait
Giuseppe Millaci and the Vogue Trio

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.