Friday, 16 January 2015

The interzonal Alya Marquardt

Alya Marquardt - Alula
The breaking wave of anticipation hit London's shores way before the woman herself stepped out of the water. The influence of Alya Marquardt has already been felt in the capital with the recording of three albums for her new label Two Rivers. Both Calum Gourlay's solo bass album and the Tobias Delius/Olie Brice/Mark Sanders offering are to be released on 4th March 2015 at the Vortex. Her own album and performances are destined to reach further than the boundaries of the London and the UK.

George Crowley - Saxophone
Alya Marquadt is the British-Iraqi singer/song-writer, originally from Basrah in Southern Iraq but now living in London, UK. This night at the Green Note, Camden (11/01/2015) we had a mix of Iraqi folk songs, improv vignettes and original music influenced by Iraqi maqam and contemporary jazz. Her group Alula inhabit the 'cosmopolitan cultural interzone' (as described in The Independent) but this definition won't hold them for long, such is their desire for evolution and expression.

Shirley Smart - Cello
Word had spread and the Green Note was packed out with a who's who of journalists, players and music enthusiasts. I sat next to bassist Marianne Windham and jazz artist Elaine Breinlinger, across the darkened room I glimpsed London Jazz New's Sebastian Scotney beside trumpeter Yazz Ahmed and Shez Raja. The night's opener was just as deep and dark as the venue itself. Amongst the intricate motifs from saxophonist George Crowley were the dreadnoughts of bassist Olie Brice.

Nikos Ziarkis - Oud
The eye was taken by Alya Marquardt, while Nikos Ziarkis (oud), Shirley Smart (cello) and Sam Leak (piano) were hidden behind a BBC camera, such was the interest in this gig. They served up an exotic ploughman's by the fourth tune with an improvised dish. Asaf Sirkis (drums) was very much the crunch, a cracker perhaps. Nikos Ziarkis and Shirley Smart the tangy herbs. This was a flavour to excite, more than a meal in itself.

Asaf Sirkis - drums
Alya Marquardt was captivating throughout. She enchanted us with an unnerving desperation that made the escapist within express itself with desire.

Olie Brice - bass
Khadri El Chai put the smile on collective faces, including that of Asaf Sirkis who was obviously enjoying himself. The tune pulsed with an energy that propelled itself like a spinning top. Olie Brice's sound was the funboy at the party, like the buoyant bon viveur who knows all the best anecdotes. 
It was George Crowley who captured the hearts though. Despite a Gallic demeanour reminiscent of a young Inspector Closseau with a burgeoning moustache there was nothing haphazard or comical about his impact. Crowley was pivotal to the night, the music and pleasure.
Sam Leak - piano
Alya Marquadt is due to release the album Chai Party in early 2015. It will be launched on 6th April at Vortex jazz club in London.

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