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The Shakespeare Heptet – the greatest unknown band in the UK

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The Shakespeare Heptet L to R Dipak Chanda, Rebecca Macmillan, Aaron Power,  Sylvana Montoya and Richard Gibson

And great Art beaten down was the phrase suddenly rolling doomily in my head last night. I was drinking a nice pint of bitter in a pub called The World’s End in Brighton while hugely enjoying The Shakespeare Heptet playing in the corner of a pub. As usual, their musicianship was near immaculate. This despite the fact that outside in London Road a shop alarm was wailing peevishly, and that the pub was noisy. Of course people coming in for a drink are perfectly entitled to chat and enjoy themselves. But I can’t help but marvel at how some people can be so willfully oblivious to the miraculous music happening in the same room.

This is just me being an old curmudgeon, of course, the band played with enjoyment and expertise, and those who had ears loved it.

I have written about Richard Gibson’s plan to set every Shakespeare sonnet to music before here before. Although it seems at first a madcap scheme, the results are stunning. While the music is rooted in an absolute immersion in the sonnets, the results are completely contemporary.

In his quest he has been abetted by exquisite guitarist Dipak Chanda and a band featuring Aaron Power on percussion and vocals, Nick Fuller on bass guitar, and Sylvana Montoya and Rebecca Macmillan on vocals. The music is hard to categorise – but the word that always comes to mind for me is timeless. They blend so many influences that they have their own distinct sound. These are fabulous songs and if the Gods were at their desks doing their bloody jobs right, The Shakespeare Heptet should be in the throes of a major tour with a couple of renowned CDs behind them. But instead we’re here. With groundlings like me able to watch them for the price of a pint or two in The World’s End.

I’d love to see them in a setting where those perfect words and the fabulous playing can be heard. More than that I wish I could write something that makes the world wake up to the Shakespeare Heptet. But instead I’m writing this: The Shakespeare Heptet are the greatest unknown band in the UK.

This recording of Sonnet No. 20 below is from the early days of the band, when they were known as the Shakespeare Trio. Their sound is fuller now, positively ballsy when it has to be. But I still love the crystalline clarity of Richard and Dipak’s playing in this track and Richard’s excellent voice.

Pollard & Kenny CD now well and truly launched

The evening at the Unitarian Church was a success. The CD is now well and truly launched, and is also available for download as you can see in the panel alongside. It will also be available on Amazon and iTunes in due course.

At our gig at the Brighton Unitarian Church we were excellently supported by The Shakespeare Trio. I love the intricate interplay between their guitars.

Matt was pleased with Three Portraits for Poet and Piano. In performing them I had to hang onto Glen’s nodded cues for grim death. But I managed to get through these without slipping up, which was something of a triumph.

Clameur was sung really well by the new The Brighton Choral Project. I find it very moving to hear my words about Guernsey being sung this way, especially since my Mother was in the audience who also loves that place.

Finally we went into our This Concert Will Fall In Love With You epic. Matt and I very pleased with how this went. I thought Cem on violin played a blinder. Had the choir flanking me backstage for the last few variations. At one or two points it was aurally like having angels on my shoulders.

Below a shot from the rafters with the whole lineup for This Concert Will Fall In Love With You. Left to right Glen Capra on piano, at the back me in the grey jacket flanked by Matt’s new choir The Brighton Choral Project, in front of us, Adam Bushell on vibraphone, Cem Muhurrem on violin, Tom Norrell on marimba, and Matt Pollard with his back to the camera conducting us all.

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Clameur Matthew Pollard Music

Clameur Launch 11 February 2012

The Clameur album launch will be on 11th February 2012 at the Unitarian Church in New Road Brighton. For those that know Brighton this couldn’t be more central, and is the big church with classical columns a few doors up from Brighton’s Theatre Royal and opposite the Dome Box Office and Mash Tun pub.

The concert will feature all the musicians on the recording, (Glen Capra, Cem Muharrem, Tom Norell and Adam Bushell) and due to the highly emotional and love-lorn nature of “This Concert Will Fall In Love With You” (which dominates the album) we have timed the album launch to be just before Valentine’s day.

We have also asked The Shakespeare Trio who feature Shakespeare’s sonnets and great guitar as our support.

Personally I am excited by the whole thing, and also nerve wracked. Will have my hands on the actual CD within two weeks. We are making personal invitations to the launch, but if you’d like me reserve a seat for you, simply email.

The Shakespeare Trio

Well my pals The Shakespeare Trio have just released their first CD. The band is made up of Dipak Chanda and Richard Gibson, as well as the ghost of Shakespeare of course who provides all their lyrics. Like all brilliant ideas, Richard’s notion of setting all the sonnets of Shakespeare seems to be rather a mad one at first. But with Dipak Chanda lending wonderful guitar work and with Shakespeare as their muse the project has grown from strength to strength.

I have another connection to The Shakespeare Trio, as they are labelmates of mine, or rather the Matthew Pollard & Peter Kenny collaboration of which readers of this blog are familiar on AnotherSun Recordings.

You can buy The Shakespeare Trio’s album on CDBaby. Meanwhile why not have a listen to a couple of their tracks for free here…


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