review by Ian Mann,
photography by Hamish Kirkpatrick
Andrea Vicari (piano/vox) Dorian Lockett (bass) Eric Ford (drums)
featuring special guest star
Yazz Ahmed (trumpet/flugel)
Shrewsbury Jazz Network’s September event saw pianist, composer, educator and bandleader Andrea Vicari bringing an all star line up to The Hive. Her latest quartet featured rising star Yazz Ahmed, a composer and bandleader in her own right, plus long term associate Dorian Lockett on bass and Hive favourite Eric Ford at the drums.
Born in the US but raised in the UK Vicari studied at Cardiff University and at the Guildhall School of Music in London. As a composer and bandleader she first came to prominence in the mid 1990s with her eleven piece ensemble Suburban Gorillas, a group assembled to perform music jointly commissioned by the Arts Council and the Peter Whittingham Trust. The resultant material was later released on CD and the band undertook a UK tour supported by the Jazz Services organisation. I remember seeing Suburban Gorillas at Brecon Jazz Festival, which represented my introduction to Vicari and her music.
Vicari’s subsequent recordings include the quintet set “Lunar Spell” (1995), the trio session “Tryptych” (2004), and further quintet offerings “Mango Tango” (2007) and “The Mirror (2015). All of these releases have appeared on the label 33 Records.
I also recall seeing the “Mango Tango” quintet playing material from the album at Warwick Arts Centre way back in 2007. The line up included Vicari, Lockett, saxophonist Pete Wareham, trumpeter Steve Waterman and drummer James Maddren. This was my first ever sighting of Maddren, who was very young at the time but has since become one of the UK’s most in demand drummers, and one that I have seen many times since in a variety of different line ups.
It’s perhaps down to Vicari’s role as an educator that her bands have frequently featured emerging talents who have gone on to become major figures on the scene, among them guitarist Phil Robson (on “Lunar Spell”) and drummer Sebastian Rochford (“Tryptych”). “I know a good drummer when I hear one” Vicari told me, and who can disagree when her bands have harboured such talents as Maddren, Rochford, Nic France and now Eric Ford, a previous visitor to The Hive with the band Partikel.
In addition to her output as a leader Vicari has also worked with bassist Dill Katz, flautist Philip Bent, trumpeter Claude Deppa, clarinettist David Jean Baptiste, vocalists Trudy Kerr, and Jacqui Dankworth, The Vortex Foundation Big Band and many, many more.
She has also performed with the late American jazz musicians Art Farmer (trumpet, flugel) and Eddie Harris (saxophone).
She has enjoyed regular commissions as a composer and in her role as an educator holds several teaching posts, notably Professor of Jazz Piano at Trinity Laban in London. She is also the founder and musical director of the long running Dordogne Jazz Summer School, an institution that a number of SJN committee members have attended.
For many years Vicari has been involved with Jazz ExTempore, a Croatia based project designed to bring European musicians from different countries together with a common goal of developing jazz and touring the music. This has resulted in a fruitful creative alliance between Vicari and the guitarist, multi-instrumentalist and composer Elvis Stanic. Stanic plays guitar on “The Mirror”, while Vicari appears alongside Stanic on the Jazz ExTempore Orchestra album “East & West” (33 Records, 2013).
It was at Jazz ExTempore that Vicari first worked with Yazz Ahmed as part of the British all female band The Jazz Ambassadors. The pair have continued to collaborate in this exciting new quartet and tonight’s performance included a couple of compositions from Ahmed alongside a selection of Vicari originals and a smattering of standards.
Ahmed has appeared regularly on the Jazzmann web pages and has released three albums to date, “Finding My Way Home” (2011), “La Saboteuse” (2017) and “Polyhymnia” (2019). The two most recent recordings have been widely acclaimed and “Polyhymnia” is reviewed elsewhere on this site, as are a number of Ahmed’s live performances. Ahmed is something of rising star in the jazz firmament and also known more widely for touring and recording with Radiohead.
This evening’s event didn’t get off to the best of starts. This was Vicari’s first UK gig outside London in nearly two years and her car suffered a blow out on the M40 en route. Vicari, Lockett and Ahmed had left the capital at mid-day but following their misadventures didn’t arrive in Shrewsbury until fifteen minutes before the scheduled start time of 8.00 pm. Fortunately Ford had arrived independently and already set up his drum kit, so following a rapid sound check the quartet were ready to go by 8.15, a highly commendable effort given the circumstances.
After everything that had happened it was perhaps not too surprising that they sounded a little tentative on the opening number, an arrangement of the standard “Someday My Prince Will Come”, a piece that appears on the “Tryptych” album. This was introduced by a passage of solo piano from Vicari, with Ahmed subsequently joining on flugel and Ford on brushed drums. Solos came from Vicari at her Nord Electro keyboard, on an acoustic piano setting, and from Lockett on electric bass and Ahmed on flugel. Ford switched to sticks as the music gathered momentum and his drums were featured towards the close.
Vicari is a published author, having written the instructional books “Advanced Jazz Piano” and “A-Rhythm-A-Tik”, both published by Lulu Publishing. The latter is aimed at improvising pianists and features twenty seven original pieces in a variety of styles, levels and keys and with the emphasis, as the title suggests, very much on rhythm. Vicari has since arranged some of these solo piano pieces for performance by the quartet, among them “In Equations”, which represented the next item here. This featured some appropriately complex rhythms, which were confidently negotiated by Ford, a powerful presence at the kit. Solos came from an increasingly confident and fluent Ahmed on flugel and the composer on keyboard, imaginatively deploying a range of electric piano (Rhodes) and synth sounds.
This wasn’t a co-led group as such, but Ahmed took up the compositional reins for the next two pieces, also announcing her own tunes. First we enjoyed the title track from “La Saboteuse”, introduced by the ensemble as a whole, before breaking down into a more loosely structured ‘piano trio’ passage, out of which Lockett’s electric bass eventually emerged. Ahmed’s subsequent flugel solo revealed a strong Middle Eastern influence, while the composition as a whole rivalled Vicari’s previous piece in terms of rhythmic interest.
As Ahmed explained she is of British-Bahraini heritage and her second composition, “The Lost Pearl” was inspired by the now declining pearl fishing industry in Bahrain. Also from the “Saboteuse” album this piece was introduced by Ford at the drums and saw Ahmed taking up the trumpet for the first time. Her solo was performed above a complex backdrop of electric bass grooves and busy drumming, with Lockett also emerging as a soloist, Ford later delivered a powerful drum feature above a recurring keyboard motif featuring Vicari’s synth sounds.
The first set concluded with Vicari’s composition “Borovets”, a composition named for a mountain and ski resort in Bulgaria. “I was attempting to capture something of the beauty and the danger of the mountain” the composer explained, “especially the danger”. Introduced by an unaccompanied passage of ‘acoustic’ piano and with Ahmed remaining on trumpet this piece did just that, exhibiting an appropriately Balkan influence and with Vicari delivering a highly percussive piano solo. On trumpet Ahmed also produced one of her most powerful solos of the set. Lockett’s liquid electric bass solo represented the ‘beauty’ and provided a gentle interlude prior to a high octane closing section that concluded with a final drum flourish from Ford.
Despite a slightly shaky start this had been an excellent first half that had featured some excellent original writing from the two composers in the band, allied to highly accomplished playing from all concerned. Set two promised to be even better.
The second half also commenced with a standard, Vicari’s arrangement of “Softly As In A Morning Sunrise” with solos from the leader on electric piano and Ahmed on trumpet, plus further features for both Lockett and Ford.
The quartet continued with a second standard, a ballad arrangement of “You Don’t Know What Love Is”, introduced by a passage of unaccompanied piano and featuring the velvet melancholy of Ahmed’s flugel on an expansive solo. Vicari and Lockett delivered a similar degree of lyricism in their own solos, with Ford sensitively deploying brushes throughout.
Vicari has enjoyed a close association with the Teignmouth Jazz Festival in Devon. Her composition “Teign Town” paid tribute to the Teignmouth Jazz & Blues organisation, while simultaneously paying homage to Weather Report, and specifically the Jaco Pastorius composition “Teen Town” from the classic 1977 album “Heavy Weather”. It was thus befitting that Lockett’s electric bass was prominent in the arrangement, alongside Vicari’s keyboards as the composer delivered a dazzling solo that was variously reminiscent of both Joe Zawinul and Django Bates. Ahmed was also featured on flugelhorn, with Ford’s dynamic drumming propelling the soloists to fresh heights.
By way of a total contrast Vicari’s “The Bells of Newchurch” evoked a very English pastoral idyll. Named for the place in which Vicari’s brother lives the arrangement combined lyrical ‘acoustic’ piano with string synth textures and the mellow sounds of Ahmed’s flugel, these complemented by liquidly lyrical electric bass and gently brushed drums.
The energy levels were increased for the final number of the evening, the Vicari original “Punching Out”, introduced by Lockett at the bass. Subsequently his stalking bass lines and Ford’s crisp drumming combined to fuel fluent solos from Ahmed on flugel and Vicari on electric piano, prior to a final drum feature from the excellent Ford.
Unfortunately the delayed start meant that a deserved encore was not possible with curfew time at The Hive having already been reached.
Despite the difficult circumstances this had been an excellent evening of music making. Adjustments to the sound had been made ‘on the wing’ as the performance progressed and the band soon settled into their work. The three standards had been included with a provincial jazz audience in mind, but I enjoyed the stimulating original compositions of Vicari and Ahmed far more. SJN audiences have previously proved themselves to be adventurous and more than ready to appreciate new, original music.
believe the majority of the band were staying over in Shrewsbury before making the trip back to London. Let’s hope the return journey was less traumatic for them.
My thanks to Andrea, Yazz and Eric for speaking with me afterwards. All seemed pleased to be playing live music again despite the trials and tribulations.
Vicari remains something of an unsung figure in the world of British jazz. Her skills as a pianist and composer allied to her role as an educator and a nurturer of new talent really deserve greater recognition.
As far as I’m aware none of the Vicari originals that were played tonight have appeared on disc, so let’s hope that she’s able to make a recording with this stellar quartet.
Andrea Vicari (piano/vox) Andy Champion (bass) Russ Morgan (drums)
featuring special guest star
Zoë Gilby (vocals)
(Review by Lance)
Having read Jerry's review of Andrea Vicari's sold out gig at the Lit and Phil on Friday I fully expected the upper room of the Prohibition Bar to be equally well-attended for not only was it the same trio but there was also the added attraction of the much-admired songstress Zoë Gilby. For whatever reason, the hordes failed to turn out which was their loss. If I'd realised it was going to be this good I'd have been at the other 3 gigs in the region (apart from the Lit and Phil the trio were down south in Darlo and across the border in Eyemouth).
My last self-delegated assignment had been to review a CD by the KinoTrio (see previous post) and Vicari and her recently acquired cohorts lost nothing by comparison in fact although the two pianists (Vicari and Bruno Heinen) had certain similarities Vicari swung harder without losing today's presence. It was a sheer delight to witness the co-ordination between the three during the beginnings and endings.
The pianist composed the two openers; Get Busy Living and Jagged Stacks - the latter inspired by a Scottish seascape full of breakers on the shore and waves beating against the rocks - evocative images.
Time for Zoë to join the party with Little Dancer by that well-known songwriting team Harrell & Gilby.Midnight Bell, Zoë's take on a Patrick Hamilton story, followed. Every time she sings it, afterwards, I take the Hamilton trilogy Twenty Thousand Streets Under the Sky down off the shelf and re-read. It's that good a book and Midnight Bell is that good a song and a story.
A blistering Straight No Chaser had Zoë scatting and singing at twice the speed of light, Andrea may not have been playing the Lit & Phil's grand but what she played on the smaller keyboard certainly was grand. Andy and Russ hung on to their shirt tails before stealing the show with a brush v bass interlude of fours. Phew!
The set finished with an original by Andrea called, I think, In Equations taken from a book she created based on rhythm related to scientific formula and which she uses in her role as an educator.
Time to re-charge before we were off again. A wordless vocal from Andrea on Base My Life; Waters of Mars and then more Monk on Well You Needn't that had an amazing couple of stride choruses. My fellow BSH reviewer, Russell, was over in Keswick listening to Keith Nichols so I'll just say that if this had been a Harlem rent party Keith would have known he'd been in a fight had Andrea taken him on stride for stride! Russ also did some ass-kicking on this one.
Zoë returned for Do Nothing Till You Hear From me; Angel Eyes and more Tom Harrell withAngela. Everyone went for it, Zoë managing to substitute Andrea for Angela at one point. It was frenetic, orgasmic, mindblowing stuff and yet, although I was tinged with regret for those that missed it I now feel so superior - Na-Na-Na-Na-Na!
Metered Magic: Andrea Vicari Trio @ The Lit & Phil – May 10, 2019
Andrea Vicari (piano) Andy Champion (bass) Russ Morgan (drums)
Andrea Vicari had worked with Andy Champion and Russ Morgan about 18 months ago on a musical project in the North-East so she sought them out when embarking on a “mini-tour” in the region starting here at that Geordie institution, the Lit & Phil. The reunion was a treat of a mini-gig (the usual one hour format) for the close-to-capacity room which ended with Andrea Vicari struggling to name-check our local heroes above the noise of enthusiastic and sustained applause!
The one-hour format often seems too short and here it necessitated some changes to the set-list: we never got to hear Softly, As in a Morning Sunrise and the last two numbers were “merged” (Vicari’s word) as the clock ticked remorselessly past 1.55. But what a merger it was – Johnny Green’s Body and Soul by way of an extended piano solo and then (my words) “it went all Monk-ish” in the biggest contrast imaginable and we were swinging along to Well, You Needn’t!This seemed to be done even faster than the original with Keystone Cops and a bit of Rhapsody in Blue thrown into the mix: it was immense fun bringing more smiling faces (pretty much everyone in the room!) than can be mustered at the average jazz gig. They don’t do average at the Lit & Phil! Earlier, in between numbers, the pianist had donned her glasses to check the audience reaction: if she remained in any doubt about their approval at the end, well she needn’t!
An original, Get Busy Living, had got the gig off to a driving start with a drummed intro which reminded me a little of the Paul Edis Sextet’s Administrate This. I got a close view of the drumming throughout the gig being able, unusually, to see both feet as well as the drummer’s hands. Someday My Prince Will Come featured a lot of brush-work including a fade to a whisper at the end while Russ Morgan drummed with his hands for much of their rousing version of Caravan. Elsewhere were sticks, mallets and some prestidigitation with a mobile-phone which enabled him to top up his parking seemingly in mid-tune! How’s that for dexterity? Close parking is essential when lugging double-bass or drum-kit to a gig and here it’s strictly one hour a go so musicians need good timing. Andy Champion’s low-tech solution was to leg it back to the car, seconds before kick-off. I hope that worked, too.
Jagged Stacks, another original was an evocative piece (inspired by rock-formations near Wick) with lots of variation of volume and a crashing ending. It put me in mind of the changing moods of the sea swirling around rocks. Don’t know if that was the intention, but my mind has a mind of its own!Punching Out was a world-premiere, apparently, and it, too, featured “big volume in the left hand” (my highly technical scribblings). Other, probably inaccurate, scribblings included “long, symphonic intro” and “big chords” on You Don’t Know What Love Is. Throughout, in a totally untechnical way, I really loved the piano playing. One spectator, on leaving, was heard to observe (he meant this as, and I repeat it as, a compliment): “That was great – she’s not afraid to attack the piano”. I’m sure Monk would have approved!
Sadly there was no time for an encore – more meters to feed! Jerry
Dave Gelly - Review of The Mirror
From the appropriately reflective title piece to the energetically eccentric 'Caliban's Dance', Andrea Vicari's album, The Mirror, is full of melodies. They fill every corner of the music, prominent in the solos or half-hidden in the leader-composer's piano accompaniment. This is a beautifully integrated quintet, with saxophonist Mornington Lockett and guitarist Elvis Staniç outstanding.
Dave Gelly (Jazz critic - The Observer)
Jazz Journal Review of The Mirror February 2017
All of the music here except track nine was commissioned for the Leasowes Bank Festival in Shropshire i 2007 and funded by Art Council West Midlands.
The opening Prosperity sets the scene for these original snappy compositions by Ms Vicari and has some crackling solos by Andrea and Mornington Lockett on tenor.
New Atlantis is a stately theme in which, again, the leader, Lockett and Stanic shine in solo. Croatian guitarist Stanic and Andrea Vicari had just teamed up for a Jazz Extempore UK project that had been very successful and decided to work together again on this recording.
Each track has something to offer and the music represents something more than just a thin theme to blow on. El Penguin has that strong Flamenco sound mixed into Blues that Miles Davis perfected many years ago with Blues For Pablo and Flamenco Sketches.
Andrea’s best solo is on the final Sixes and Sevens, a neat, flowing track. Mornington digs in on hard-edged tenor and brother Dorian keeps the bass line steady. The Leader’s sturdy lines and light, lyrical touch set the standard on this set and the entire quintet keep up the standard throughout.
"Vicari was wedded to the jazz church from an early age. “My father was a jazz pianist who played with the Second City Jazzmen in Birmingham. And my mother is a jazz fan and my brother plays drums. I think I must have been about six or seven when I started playing piano. We had a Kemble ‘Minx’ in the house which my dad played, so it was always around.”
Though Vicari had private and peripatetic lessons at various schools on the piano, she first rehearsed on the clarinet – “that only lasted a year”, and then briefly on the violin... “It was too difficult and not really suited to jazz. My school had what might be called an ‘encouraging’music department, but my real musical training didn’t start until I was in my mid-teens.” She continues. “When I was 15, I joined the Midlands Youth Jazz Orchestra and I stayed with them until I was 19.”
Vicari went on to study music at Cardiff University, focusing on composition. “At the time I went to college there weren’t really any jazz courses and so I opted for an academic degree. However, by the time I finished there was an established post-graduate jazz course at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and so I applied to study there. I was accepted and awarded a scholarship for my fees.......etc
Photo | Melody McLaren
click for a larger version
"more success for the international project JazzExtempore….an important international jazz unit with conspicuous access to the European jazz scene" JazzHr (Croatia)
Jazz ExTemporé "demonstrate their apparently never-ending scope for harmonic creativity and highly-focused improvisation"
The Musician Magazine
Jazz ExTemporé “An important and enjoyable contribution to the new, emergent European jazz - full of confidence and creativity.”
Dave Gelly - Observer Jazz Critic
Jeanie Barton London JazzNews October 2013
Jazz ExTempore Orchestra -
East and West - 33Records 33JAZZ235
An eclectic second CD of mainly instrumental music by The Jazz Extempore Orchestra(initially formed as a cultural exchange between Croatia and other European countries) East & West incorporates lyric-less vocalese by pianist Andrea Vicari (From the UK) as well as a song by guest singer and violinist Medina Mektiva from the UK and Azerbaijan. The superb ensemble of Elvis Staniç on guitars and accordion (from Croatia), Rico de Jeer on bass (from Holland/Indonesia) and Hristo Yotsov on drums (from Bulgaria) all contribute compositions.
Opening with Andrea’s funky, syncopated The Occidental Tourist, which although it is much more harmonically complex, brings to my mind, The All Seeing I’s “The Beat Goes On”, this album goes on to incorporate so many diverse musical and cultural influences, I almost do feel like a tourist! Things quickly develop a rock/swing facet with Elvis’ Breakout, featuring fabulous, fluid playing by all with Andrea’s sweet, choral vocal tone gelling the irregular bar lengths into a melodic melange.
Eastern flavours come to the fore with the Azeri folk song Sari Gelin; although arranged in 4/4 by Andrea this number sways as though in it’s original 6/8 – Medina’s haunting vocals and violin performed in unison add an authenticity that takes this number beyond the jazz sphere and into a class of it’s own. Track 5, Elf by bassist Rico (aptly performed in 5/4) maintains this delicate hue. It is a favourite of mine on this ever evolving album (which no one track is able to define) Elvis’ lap steel gives a country feel to the recording – somehow bringing the outdoors indoors.
The title track by drummer Hristo sets pulses racing while allowing space and swing to establish it’s self in sections of half time and even quarter time feel – Andrea and Elvis are equally matched in their dexterity with a duel-like head to head. There follow more compositions by each of the ensemble including Base My Life, a bubbly African sounding number by Andrea and another nod to traditional folk music, this time from Croatia with Ivan Klakar, about a fictitious character in folklore who survived a terrible storm at sea in a boat. The melody played on Elvis’ accordion lends the feel of a sleepy sea shanty to this track, again arranged in 4/4 as opposed to the original 3/4 making for more a contemporary interpretation.
With so many diverse numbers on one CD, this already acclaimed album seems to be bucking the more recent commercial critical preference for albums containing little or no variety of style. Personally, I like to hear a varied set both in live and recorded performance and immensely enjoyed the journey they took me on.
Robert Shore JazzWise Magazine
Jazz ExTempore Orchestra
Round Trip - Croatia Records CD5861225
The ideal of 'music without frontiers" provides the philosophical
underpinning for this cross-cultural experiment which began
when Elvis Stanic, director of the Liburnia Jazz Festival in
Croatia, invited fellow European jazzers from the UK (Andrea
Vicari), Holland (Rico De Jeer) and Bulgaria (Hristo Yotsov)
to join him in exploring traditional music from his home country,
with each participant being encouraged to bring intuitions and
insights from their own backgrounds to the table. Stanic's mellow
'Silent Voices' gets things underway, demonstrating both the
composer's clear-toned guitar picking and generous accordion
work. It's followed by the whirling gypsy-jazz dance of 'Se
Jest On' and Vicari's pensive, abstracted 'Counting Minutes',
the latter featuring some fine ensemble work and gaining an
extra sonic dimension thanks to the addition of guest player
Primoz Fleischman on sax. Elsewhere the likes of the traditional
Croatian tune 'Ju Te San Se Zajubija' finds itself rubbing shoulders
with geographically and rhythmically diverse jazz inspirations
such as 'yotsov's 'Balkan Afro.'
Jazz UK magazine February/March
A conventional-enough quintet of trumpet, saxophone and rhythm
section, but it would be a great injustice to regard Andrea
Vicari's new CD as a routine jazz exercise. For one thing, there
are ten earcatching original pieces by the leader, ably interpreted
by a fine band. For another, Andrea Vicari's own playing is
a constant delight - intense, probing, and generating a seemingly
endless succession of ideas. The stylistic contrast between
Steve Waterman's trumpet and Pete Wareham's sax playing is also
productive, with the former delivering strong, fluent solos
in a predominantly hard-hop idiom, while the latter (as listeners
to Acoustic Ladyland would expect) tends to explore the harmonic
'outside', as on the lively 'So Bigtime'. Then again, the very
next track, 'Counting Minutes', is a gentle, reflective piece.
This is primarily a vehicle for Andrea Vicari's thoughtful piano
playing, but the track also provides a chance for bassist Dorian
Lockett and drummer James Maddren to display their empathy with
the leader's ideas. An absorbing CD - the sort you'll keep going
back to. PM
Andy Robson JazzWise magazine December
Mango Tango 33 Records 33.JAZZ163
Andrea Vicarl (Pt, Steve Waterman (t), Pete Wareham (sax), Dorian
Lockett (b) James Maddren (d)
Vicari may have prioritised teaching and motherhood over recording
of late, but her absence from the studios hasn't cramped her
writing or jaunty piano style. She remains, at the least, one
of the most optimistic of contemporary pianists, but her writing
is also rich and allusive and pushing into darker areas than
that initial gloss always suggests. And this is also one intriguing
band: although Vicari has worked successfully with larger outfits,
this quintet has the varied voices and built in paradoxes that
also reflect her eclectic writing. So Wareham's neurotic bluster
is understandably well to the fore on the driving 'So Big Time',
but it also has to go into some unexpected ballad territory
('Counting Minutes', 'Bavarde'), and it counterpoises neatly
with Waterman's more boppish, crystal clear attack, which is
prominent on 'Le Flambeur'. The rhythm section too has a tasteful
mix, with young gun Maddren mixing clatter and clash with subtler
splashes of colour, while Vicari's long time bassman Lockett
holds it all down with a confident aplomb. The only quibble
is that with such horn men sparring away, we don't have enough
of Vicari's own soloing, although she stretches out on 'Counting
Minutes' and lays down the catchiest of rhythms to the Latin
feel of 'Café Calypso'. But best of all is the madness
of the title track which threatens to tip into big time rock
but never quite loses its shape.
Chris Parker THE VORTEX October
Live review of CD launch Gig
10 October 2007
Andrea Vicari has probably played more frequently at the Vortex
in recent years as part of the Foundation Big Band than as
a leader, so it was gratifying to hear her (Wednesday, 10)
leading a sparky, responsive band through two sets of the
compositions that make up her new 33 Records album, Mango
She's been providing judiciously chosen aggregations of various
sizes (previous bands have included the likes of Phil Robson,
Mornington Lockett and her ever-present partner, Dorian Lockett)
with cheerfully accessible yet skilfully written material
since the early 1990s, but this set of originals is perhaps
her most accomplished yet; on this occasion, with bassist
Dorian Lockett and drummer James Maddren were a perfectly
balanced and tellingly contrasting front-line pairing: trumpeter
Quentin Collins and tenor player Ingrid Laubrock.
As a quintet, they were pleasingly informal but punchy and
cohesive where required, whether they were playing latin-inflected
pieces or relatively straightahead jazz, but it was the soloing
of Laubrock – characteristically texturally adventurous,
slow-building, imaginative – and Collins – all
fire, pep and sassy confidence – that brought out the
music's vigour. With Vicari's piano holding the whole together
and occasionally decorating her pieces with absorbing solos
full of subtle cross-rhythms and enlivened by the odd sparkling
run, this was a thoroughly enjoyable evening's music from
a considerable compositional and bandleading talent.
Mike Butler METRO May 11
Pianist Andrea Vicari sheds some
light on the surreal inspirations behind her work
Of all contemporary British pianists, Andrea Vicari remains
most committed to the notion that jazz should be fun, even
at the highest level of technical expertise. The result is
an impressive, startling body of work. Time signatures, for
example, go beyond the conventional 4/4 without sounding the
least bit contrived.'It's just that I often hear melodies
in odd, different time signatures,' explains Vicari. 'I don't
do it on purpose. There's one called Gaudi that's in seven
and six and at first it's like:"Oh! What's going on?"
But it's actually quite natural when you get used to it.'
Festival Dance (in the version on the superb Tryptych album)
manages to be delicate and raucous at once, and contains some
of Sebastian Rochford's best work on record. 'The solo sections
are in 4/4, so I do give the soloists a bit of a reprieve.
I don't find it particularly hard to play. It was just as
I heard it.'
Perhaps the delight, the wistfulness and the madcap invention
of Vicari's tunes come from their unlikely sources of inspiration.'
Cafe Calypso was inspired by a very odd service station in
France. It had four white grand pianos and all this rattan
furniture. Very surreal. Very bizarre. The pianos were actually
out of tune, because I tried a couple of them.' Who else in
jazz raises frivolity to this level of the sublime ?
'There's one called Mango Tango, inspired by my daughter who
drew a hotel with beautiful, very sunny colours. It was her
homework at school. In the middle it almost goes into heavy
rock. I love that kind of craziness, but I love the lyrical
as well. It's about creating atmosphere within a piece of
This delight in the surreal clearly extends to putting a band
together. The frontline of the Andrea Vicari Quintet features
Pete Wareham, the manic saxophonist from Acoustic Ladyland,
and Steve Waterman, a warm, melodic trumpeter who excels at
hard-bop.'He's really out there if he has to be,' informs
Vicari. 'I think it will be a nice contrast. And they're very
nice chaps, which is very important.'
The drummer is a second-year student at the Royal Academy
Of Music called James Maddren. Vicari calls him 'absolutely
phenomenal' and says that his name will be well-known shortly.
The faithful Dorian Lockett, who played on Lunar Spell, Suburban
Gorillas and Tryptych (that is, every album under Vicari's
name to date) completes the line-up on double-bass. Mike
Butler METRO 11/05/07
Hot Jazz Warms up Funky Town - IOW
County Press 16/3/07
THE summery sound of saxophone maestro Mornington Lockett blew
away the winter blues as he joined virtuoso jazz pianist Andrea
Vicari for a night of top-flight music at the Ventnor Towers
The weather may have been appalling outside but it did not deter
Island jazz aficionados from enjoying a quartet of top-notch
jazz artists, said organisers.
The unique appearance of the combo had a strong family feel
to it. The band, which also comprised drummer Mike Bradley and
Andrea's partner and Mornington's brother, Dorian Lockett, on
bass, performed some steaming takes on the sometimes challenging
Vicari compositions, mixed with some racy standards.
The Lockett brothers grew up on the Island and began their musical
careers playing locally. Tenor sax legend Mornington, once famously
described by Oasis guitarist Noel Gallagher as "Jimi Hendrix
on sax", will be performing with Bradley in the outfit,
Sax Appeal, at the 1W Jazz Festival.
The Locketts' strong Island ties were enough to bring them back
to Ventnor and is perhaps a reason why fans had travelled from
as far afield as Portsmouth and Port Solent to watch them.
One of the highlights of the band's set was Vicari's humorous
jazz take on Scotsmen in kilts. As her kilt rose, so did the
intensity of the sound, to heavy jazz posthop crescendo.
Geri Ward, of 1W Jazz, said: "It was another in a series
of great gigs in the rather funky little corner of the Island
known as Ventnor.
"The audience was treated to
a terrific encore of Chick Corea, which was delivered with such
energy that Mornington and Andrea both nearly took off from
the stage. "The full force of their international talent
rose from the soul" JON MORENO Isle Of
Wight County Press 16/3/07
ANDREA VICARI Tryptych
Pianist Vicari doesn't make it into Chilton's British Who's-Who
but deserved to on the evidence of this well-crafted and uplifting
Combining with bassist Dorian Lockett and Seb Rochford (drums}
she sets out on a programme of originals and standards, coming
up trumps initially on 'Gaudi', Rochford's splashy shading
adding to the colour of the piece. Vicari gives 'Bewitched'
a fresh lick of paint, the theme harmonised, before she digs
in and then does much the same with Cole Porter's 'l Love
You'. This and her own 'Coming of Age' are highlights, the
latter moving from Evans-like calm into a fevered sequence
whose drive and momentum bring to mind the late Hampton Hawes
at his best. Still, there's little need to overplay such comparisons
since all these tracks offer ample testimony to Vicari's refreshing
fusion of creativity and command. (PV) JAZZ UK
Vicari Tryptych (33 Records 33JAZZ 099)
Once you have heard Andrea Vicari, you could probably pick
her out from a dozen of her contemporary pianists, mainly
by the precision and clarity of her touch. She improvises
such lucid lines and brightly voiced chords that you can't
help following her train of thought. The programme here is
roughly half-and-half standards and originals, and it says
a lot for her composing that both come out sounding equally
melodic. There is one particularly beautiful piece, called
'When Did the World Become Colour?' Some of the rhythm patterns
set up with bassist Dorian Lockett and drummer Sebastian Rochford
are irresistibly catchy, and the interplay among the three
is hugely inventive. Dave Gelly