Commissioned by the Ilkley Jazz Festival to celebrate its fifth anniversary in 2018, The Ilkley Suite is composer/pianist Jamil Sheriff's musical interpretation of some of the legends, history and landscapes of Ilkley and its surrounding countryside in the English county of West Yorkshire. It is an ambitious, complex and wide-ranging suite in eight parts, performed by a quartet of instrumentalists joined on occasion by vocalist Beverley Beirne, who brings her skilful and evocative voice to tracks such as "Verbeia" and "The Healer."
The suite takes listeners on a musical journey from river ("The River Where We Live" and "Verbeia") to rocks (the supposedly druidic stones which inspired "Solstice With The 12 Apostles" and the mysterious "Cup And Ring" markings), along the way meeting up with the legendary giant Rombald on the song of the same name, where Beirne sings the giant's tale over a pretty if mournful instrumental.
Ilkley is best-known for a long-established (probably nineteenth-century) song about a young man who goes courting on the local moor but foolishly does so bare-headed"On Ilkla Moor Baht 'At." It's a dangerous move: the cautionary but humorous lyric chides the subject of the song for taking such a risk, which can only result in death from exposure and a fate as food for worms. Sheriff retains the title but reinterprets the song, reworking the jaunty, up-tempo tune with something altogether less catchy and translating the original and much-loved Yorkshire dialect lyrics into standard English, the evocative "baht 'at" becoming the humdrum "without a hat."
The brief and brisk "Cup And Ring" is the album's most intense and energetic tune. Repeated phrases from sax and piano open the number then interact with the drums and bass as all four instruments mingle, compete and weave flurries of sound before a sudden, emphatic, note on tenor brings things to a close.
The River Where I Live; Verbeia; Cup And Ring; The Healer; Solstice With The 12 Apostles; Rombald; Ilkley
Moor Baht At; Cut From Stone.
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