65CD - Metamorphic - The Two Fridas
Metamorphic are an octet of some of the finest improvising musicians in the UK, who play compositions written by pianist and bandleader Laura Cole, based on her emotional journeys and personal experiences. The Two Fridas is their third album; their two previous albums, Coalescence (2013) and The Rock Between (2011) received widespread critical acclaim, with the music described as ‘amazingly original’ (Jez Nelson, Jazz on 3); ‘highly personal and self-revelatory’ (John Fordham, The Guardian); ‘compelling and ear-catching’ (Peter Quinn, Jazzwise); and ‘utterly remarkable’ (Brian Morton, Jazz Journal).
This is a group who really relish playing together, and the sound and intention behind this music is one that has hugely evolved in the ten years the band have been playing together. Metamorphic explore the intensity of collective experience, with Laura Cole’s compositions as a starting point, through spoken word, improvisation and tightly written passages.
Cellular- This piece was originally written for the improvising big band I used to run with double bassist Seth Bennett, The Bennett-Cole Orchestra. There are four simple musical cells to the composition. What interests me is how, as a band, we move between these cells; the relationship and transition between improvisation and written music.
Deer Medicine- The inspiration behind this piece comes from a dream I had a few years ago, where a beautiful deer bounded into my dreamworld, stopped, and looked me straight in the eye. It was very powerful and felt like a message. The friend I was staying with at the time (who this piece is dedicated to) said that a deer in a dream indicated a new spirit of gentleness. She gave me a text about this significance, which forms the basis of Kerry’s improvised vocals on the piece.
Charcole I- I wrote the poem for this piece following seeing a gig in Brussels, a trio of guitar/effects, duduk and mediaeval instruments/ electronics. The music was incredibly sparse but also very rich and sustained. I loved this juxtaposition. This piece is entirely improvised instrumentally; we had never played it before. I loved the freshness this gave the piece when we recorded it.
The mountains, the sea/ the island- because no one is an island.
Dark Thundering Moon- The title of this piece came from a screenplay my daughter Martha, then aged around 8, was writing a few years ago, with the same title. I asked if I could write the music for her film, and she agreed!
Little Woman, Lonely Wing- The original idea behind this piece came from an imagined meeting between Jimi Hendrix and Ornette Coleman. Little Wing and Lonely Woman are two of my favourite pieces of theirs, and I decided to try and thread the two pieces together, with this imaginary meeting in mind. This is a trio arrangement of the original piece involving the whole band, which appeared on our second album, Coalescence.
26,302- This piece is dedicated to the late Bob Hesketh. Bob was an old family friend, and a close childhood friend of my dad’s; he was a Times crossword compiler, and 26,302 was the number assigned to his last crossword published in the Times before he died. The words in the piece are taken from the clues in the crossword.
Senken- This piece is about cuts. Cuts musically, metaphorically and actually, and how we as musicians deal with this. This piece is dedicated to Corey Mwamba, as an acknowledgment of all the support and hard work he puts into putting musicians on in Derby, in the best working environments possible, despite these cuts.
Digging For Memories- This piece, really a short suite, is about visiting Auschwitz a few years ago. In the days, weeks, months following the visit, I struggled to find an appropriate way to respond to this harrowing experience creatively. I was then given a book called Écorces (Scorched) by the philosopher and author Georges Didi-Huberman, detailing his visit to Auschwitz, expressed through words and photographs, and the inherent difficulties he also faced in terms of how to respond artistically to such an overwhelming experience. In his book, Didi-Huberman includes a quote by the German Jewish writer and philosopher Walter Benjamin, who left Occupied France overland in 1940 with plans to escape on a boat to the US, but became trapped at the border in Northern Spain, and subsequently took his own life. Benjamin’s quote was about digging for memories; about the internal architecture of how and why we remember; and the hidden emotional recesses behind what we remember. I based this piece on Benjamin’s quote, in the spirit of remembrance for all the souls who suffered and died at Auschwitz. The spoken word section of the piece is called The Phoenix, and is a poem I wrote about a dream I had of a Phoenix on the eve of my 40th birthday. I felt the idea of a Phoenix rising from the ashes encapsulated the process behind this piece.
Charcole II- This is version 2 of Charcole, which we recorded immediately after version 1. I decided to include it in the album as I felt both versions had their place in the recording.
The Two Fridas- The origins behind the title track of the album began with a postcard of Frida Khalo’s The Two Fridas landing on my doormat a few years ago, from Robert Wyatt. I had sent our second album, Coalescence, to Robert, and he had written some lovely words of support and encouragement on this postcard. It was an incredibly inspiring and defining moment. As a Gemini, the image of The Two Fridas also resonated strongly. I wrote a poem based on this postcard, Sylvia Plath’s poem Paralytic, and the idea that Frida Kahlo painted so many self-portraits as she was the subject she knew best.
Truth- This is only arrangement on the album, written by and dedicated to drummer Pete Fairclough. When I began playing jazz at age 17 at Sheffield Jazz Workshops, Pete would run some of the sessions. His musicianship and advice during those sessions are still very much with me today; and I am proud to say that I have since played professionally with Pete in a number of different line ups.
Kerry Andrew, vocals
Chris Williams, alto sax
John Martin, tenor/ soprano sax
Ollie Dover, bass clarinet
Seth Bennett, double bass
Ruth Goller, double bass/ electric bass
Johnny Hunter, drums
Laura Cole, piano/ Rhodes, composer
This new release awaiting first review