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Baritone

Issie Barratt and Baritone

 

As well as being known as a composer and conductor of large ensembles, Issie is also an active baritone sax player, performing during her formative years of the 1990’s at most of the UK’s leading concert halls, festivals and jazz clubs, with various bands and ensembles including:

 

  • Royal Academy of Music Big Band (With Graham Collier and various guest artists).
  • National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO)
  • Deptford Dance Orchestra
  • Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra
  • London Jazz Orchestra
  • Theo Gordon’s Funky Big Band
  • Grand Secret
  • Mambo ’til Monday (Own 10 piece latin band)
  • Ingredient F (Own 10 piece funk band… with 4 singers!)
  • Vortex Foundation Big Band  (led by Annie Whitehead).
During the early part of the millennium Issie began playing baritone in a number of her compositional projects, performing with members of the Philharmonia Orchestra and Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment in venues such as Glyndebourne Opera House, London’s Festival Hall and Purcell Room, Basingstoke’s Anvil and Leicester’s De Montfort Hall as well as appearing on a handful of film and TV sound tracks (including sessions at Abbey Road!) and a number of other people’s albums.
More recently, as the logistics of being an internationally touring composer make it impossible for Issie to continue as a regular member of other people’s groups, the baritone has continued to be an extremely integral part of her work, both as featured soloist in her large scale works and through her three small group projects:
  • Skandinavian quintet with Issie Barratt (Baritone Sax), Lisbeth Diers (Percussion), Peter Jensen (Trombone), Maggi Olin (Piano and Rhodes) & Alberto Pinton (Clarinets and saxes)

 “ I love the sound and feel of the baritone. It’s got such a breadth of sound – from the melancholic, to the beautifully lyrical and expressive, to being that ever familiar “strong and beefy funk merchant”- always blending perfectly within the small group line-ups, what ever the mood or context of the music being played”.

Issie Barratt Baritone Promo photo © Gina Badenoch

“One of the great things about the three small group collaborations is that we get to spend a lot of rehearsal time exploring new ideas and trying out various approaches. Ordinarily improvising musicians seem to be denied the same amount of rehearsal and development time that contemporary “through-composed” music is allowed, as promoters and commissioners often presume that improvised music doesn’t need much time to be developed, nurtured or considered and that the creative musician can continue to pluck new ideas out of the air without the need for discussion, reflection, consideration, experimentation or exploration, or the time and space to develop these aspects of ensemble playing without the pressures of real time and a public performance”.

“Over the last 10 years the lack of provisions for this development time in my large ensemble commissions has been even more frustrating and prohibitive, as with the exception of my own big band and the work I’ve done with Voice Of The North and the CUK Big Band, all large ensembles seem keen to keep rehearsal and recording times to a “bare minimum”- rarely allowing us time enough to read down a chart in the sound check or only giving us 40 minutes to rehearsal and recording an entire track for a CD, obsessed by the cost of having brought a large number of people together in one room, and oblivious to the fact that the music is having to stick to the same old formulae time and time again, rather than seeing the money spent on a longer rehearsal as an investment into a new, more heightened and interactive form of large group playing. It goes against the nature of the jazz verb and restricts the music to remaining the jazz adjective. After 10 years it was beginning to feel quite frustrating and hopeless”.

 

Meinrad Iten Quartet recording the Meinrad Iten Suite in Trinity College of Music's studio

“With these small group projects however, comes new hope for the large ensembles. By dedicating a substantial period of time to truly explore and develop new approaches, concepts and ways of working together in small group improvised music, generating new, unique and bespoke collaborative work through the interactive sharing of musical ideas, pushing the musical boundaries and developing the music we jointly discover and create to a world class level of performance, we’ll be developing a level of heightened communication and interactive creativity that can be tapped in to and shared when integrating the small group into a large group commission, allowing the shaping and direction of the music to be co-led, and encouraging the heightened and sophisticated level of communication and interaction of the small group to pervade and cajole  the large ensemble into playing “beyond the page” – embracing a more spontaneous and improvisatory way of performing the music I’ve composed”.