102CD - Keith Tippett - The Monk Watches The Eagle
To hear tracks from this CD/DL please follow THIS LINK to the Bandcamp player.
If you decide to buy PLEASE return to this page to place your order because:
1 - It will cost you less - Bandcamp adds 20% VAT to the basic price you pay if you live outside the UK
2 - Discus pays 15% commission on the basic price to Bandcamp, so we receive less
3 - If you spend more than £25 on this site you get a 30% discount above that limit
We love Bandcamp for its player and download delivery - but we prefer you to buy direct from here!
A BBC recording released under licence by Discus Music.
Keith was commissioned to write this work for the 2004 Norwich and Norfolk Festival, where it received its premier (and to date only) performance, together with a broadcast by BBC Radio 3.
It is a beautiful and stirring work for large choir, saxophone octet and solo improvising voice. Whilst clearly referencing the great polyphonic choral music tradition, Keith's score also enables improvisational elements to be present - in such a skilful way that the listener is left with the impression of a unified piece despite the diversity of approaches which a close listen to the work reveals.
Julie Tippetts says "What a thrill to work alongside the BBC Singers, and be in the midst of such wonderful musicians. What generosity of warmth and spirit was displayed in this spine-tingling performance of Keith’s wonderful composition. I feel honoured to have been a part of it. I shall never forget the magical magnitude of that wonderful event. So atmospheric. Such a beautiful, moving experience."
And the final word has to be Keith's own dedication “A gift to my father, Patrick” – Keith Tippett
Composed and conducted by
Text and solo voice
Saxophone ensemble and improvising soloists
Paul Dunmall - soprano
Kevin Figes - alto
Ben Waghorn - tenor
Chris Biscoe - baritone
The Apollo Saxophone Quartet
Tim Redpath - soprano
Rob Buckland - alto
Andy Scott - tenor
David Roach - baritone
The BBC Singers
This is a sensational archive album by British Jazz pianist / composer Keith Tippett, which presents a live recording of his composition for large choir, solo voice and a two saxophone quartets, with lyrics by Julie Tippetts. The work was commissioned for the 2004 edition of the Norwich and Norfolk Festival and was premiered that year at the Norwich Cathedral where it was also recorded for broadcast by the BBC. Tippett conducted the performance, which included Julie Tippetts on solo vocals, the BBC Singers choir, an improvising saxophone quartet comprising of Paul Dunmall, Kevin Figes, Ben Waghorn and Chris Biscoe, and also the Apollo Saxophone Quartet.
The music is every bit as innovative, far-reaching and groundbreaking as the rest of Tippett's musical legacy and this posthumous release expands even further the scope of his musical vision, which encompassed enormous variety of works between solo piano music to extremely large ensembles like Centipede or smaller ensembles like Ark, and stylistically spanning various Avant-Garde sub-genres between Improvised Music, via Free Jazz to contemporary Classical Music, rubbing shoulders with Progressive Jazz and Art Pop.
Most of the body of this work is performed by the choir, which often sounds like an instrument rather than a choir, resembling choral works of 20th Century Classical composers like Henryk Gorecki, György Ligeti and Krzysztof Penderecki to mention just the most audacious ones. When accompanied by the saxophone quartets, one supporting the music harmoniously and the other spicing the proceeding with intensive improvisations, the music offers several climaxes, which mark the transitions between the consecutive sections of the entire composition.
It is not surprising to see Julie Tippetts taking a major part in this project, like she did in so many of his endeavors over the years. Her vocal performances are the focal point of this music and her improvised soloing should remind everybody of her incredible abilities from the first moment she arrived on the music scene as a Pop star and throughout her transformation as a highly idiosyncratic Avant-Gardist. The presence of Dunmall and Biscoe, two of the British Jazz most significant veteran saxophonists, adds additional quality to the rich tapestry of sounds and aural stimuli.
Overall this album is an absolutely essential piece of the puzzle, which Tippett managed to create during his lifetime, and perhaps even one of the most inspired of his works. As usual Martin Archer and his Discus label manage to bring an essential piece of the British Culture back to life, saving it from the imprisonment in the darkness of the BBC vaults (God bless them for recording the music), with a lot of help from Julie. This album is an absolutely essential piece of music in any serious music collection! - Adam Baruch
Keith Tippett was justifiably proud of The Monk Watches The Eagle and hoped that this recording ….. could eventually be released. When I interviewed him together with Julie Tippetts in 2019 he also said, rather pointedly, that his explorations away from jazz and improvisation and into modern composition had been largely overlooked by the music press.
The piece is a cantata in seven continuous sections ….. It is largely scored, but there are specific passages that are improvised by Tippetts and the designated saxophone soloists. It was recorded in Norwich Cathedral and while the ecclesiastical acoustics might invite comparison with Officium, the 1993 album by saxophonist Jan Garbarek and early music vocal group The Hilliard Ensemble, Tippett’s approach is quite different.
His deployment of the saxes and voices is inspired throughout, in combinations ranging from the tense, slow moving choral blocks of the introduction to an improvised duet with Julie and Ben Waghorn on tenor sax over similarly slow moving brass chords, which deliberately give an organ-like effect, and in another section the singers ascend in unison lines through saxophone chatter. In the lengthy fourth part, the way the textures change creates moments of strange beauty: from single soprano and bass voice to dense dissonant passages that remind - superficially at least – of Ligeti’s Requiem to warm spectral wisps of voices that usher in a soulful improvisation by Julie.
There’s a mixture of exultation and melancholy in the music that is reflected in Julie’s libretto. The piece was always intended to be for Keith’s father Patrick, and her idea was that it should involve a monk in his final hours looking back on his life: “The prayer he has prepared / Has landed on the eagle wings”. Her imagery becomes pared down from massed, trembling “cymbals of leaves” to “one small, solitary leaf caught on the wind”. At the very end, the voices rise and fall and then gently fade away, but without any hint of sentimentality. And the fact that The Monk Watches The Eagle has been released a matter of months after the composer’s death makes it doubly poignant. - Mike Barnes, WIRE
This is a serious work written by the late master-pianist Keith Tippett with words by & featuring the voice of his wife, Julie, one of the greatest of all British singers. This is more of a modern classical work than a jazz work with incredible arrangements for and featuring the BBC Singers. Mr. Tippett, who has long been my favorite pianist, is conducting rather than playing piano. The music, however, is as powerful as any of his other recordings. He uses the voices and eight saxists in an awe-inspiring way, as one wonderful force, all parts perfectly integrated into the whole. The chorus often sounds angelic, with multilayered vocal tapestry. - DOWNTOWN MUSIC GALLERY NYC