Performer: Between The Notes, Viktoria Mullova
Composer: Between The Notes, Philip Oakey/Ian Burden, Fraser Trainer
SPARS Code: DDD
Number of Discs: 1
Format: APE (image+cue)
Label: Black Box Classics
Size: 266 MB
Fraser Trainer – KNOTS for solo violin & ensemble (2003)
01. Jack and Jill
02. How do I feel about my Shoes?
03. All in all
04. Between the Notes – Tangerine Dance
Fraser Trainer – ID
08. Between the Notes – Lucky (2001-4)
Philip Oakey/Ian Burden
09. Love Action
Between the Notes:
Matthew Barley – cello, director
Paul Griffiths – guitar
Fraser Trainer – keyboards
Sam Walton – percussion
Peter Whyman – clarinet and saxophone
Viktoria Mullova – violin (1-3, 9)
21st Century Chamber Music
There should be much more music like this on CD. Another example of what’s best in contemporary music without being remotely difficult to listen to. Between the Notes are 5 guys who are formidable ‘classically’ trained instrumentalists, who have made it their business to generate music that is entirely new and fresh. They are directed by the composer/cellist Matthew Barley, who also happens to be the husband of the renowned violinist, Viktoria Mullova, who joins them on several numbers, making ‘in-depth’ contributions as featured soloist. They borrow freely from pop, rock and jazz, but there is no pop, rock and jazz as such. No drum-kit. No ‘Bass’ player. It’s a 21st century chamber ensemble. There is an electric guitar, but its an unpreposessing sound used as a source of intricate melody rather than fearsome timbres. There are ‘keyboards’ but that’s mostly piano, or unobtrusive electric piano sounds. The sound remains primarily acoustic and relies on really high-class and imaginative playing to make a very rich sonic pallette.
The pieces presented here are for the most part really fresh and sophisticated compositions by the keyboard player/composer Fraser Trainer, or pieces worked up by the band. The pieces leave space for some fantastic improvisation which in no way can be pigeon-holed as ‘merely’ jazz. The highlight improvisation for me is that of the sax/clarinet player Peter Whyman for track 8, ‘Lucky’.
The other players are Paul Griffiths on fiendish but restrained electric guitar, and Sam Walton on very imaginative percussion, including marimbas and glocks.
Between the Notes is a very apt title for the ensemble because much of the energy of their music comes from compositions that are driven by intricate, highly syncopated, yet catchy rhythmic motifs. The album is beautifully played and beautifully recorded. All the playing is squeaky clean. One of the reasons Mullova is one of my favourite violinists is her great precision and accuracy, which are never sacrificed to ‘expressiveness’. The other musicians are equally clear and the ensemble playing generally is ‘tight as a drum’.
A visit to the Between the Notes website will give you a clear idea of the scope and scale of their worldwide activities, and includes some download samples to give you an idea of their idiom. I just wish they had released far more on CD as there is room in the world for so much more of this sort of thing.