Vula Viel electrify Elgar Room

What do Swaledale in North Yorkshire and Western Ghana have in common? It's not a rejected pub quiz question – both are in fact sources of inspiration and spiritual affirmation for Vula Viel's core songwriter, Bex Burch (above). Admittedly, the sounds that this trio produce are much more Africa than Swaledale, centred as they are on the entrancing tones and rhythms of the Gyil, a Ghanaian variety of xylophone.

Burch, originally from Yorkshire, spent three years living in Ghana – a period from which she emerged as a skilled player of the Gyil, complete with a real enthusiasm for the instrument. We see this in the small bounds she performs while playing, an extra outlet for the vibrant energy that builds up during the set. For this event, in the plush Elgar Room of the Royal Albert Hall, Vula Viel were joined by singer Gwyneth Herbert for a preview of their upcoming album, Do Not Be Afraid.

MSJ 7970

Vula Viel have a masterful grasp of dynamics, easing from the hypnotic, harmonic bass solos of Ruth Goller into the polyrhythmic ordered chaos that defines their sound when they're in full flow. The Gyil occupies that sweet shade between tonal and percussive instrument, allowing maximum scope for kaleidoscopic interaction with both bass and drums. Jim Hart provides a poised and inventive performance on percussion, producing additional African traditional instruments that add yet more texture to these compositions.

Many of their songs are rooted in spiritual sentiment – exhortations to not be afraid of what we believe, hope and love. Elsewhere, they can be heard straying into more jagged, almost punky territory. Other compositions draw from traditional Ghanaian funeral songs and ballads, though this is the most rousing and rhythmic funeral music you're ever likely to hear. As Burch drily notes midway through the second half of the set: "you may want to close your eyes for this one, though it is mainly loud drums."

– James Rybacki - @james_rybacki
– Photos by Monika S. Jakubowska

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website

If you do not change browser settings, you consent to continue. Learn more

I understand

Breaking News

Ribot Leads Revolutionary Call At Jazz E…

Portugal’s premier experimental jazz bash, Jazz em Agosto, adopts a...

Read More.....

Cinematic Orchestra, Friday Arena and Ba…

The organisers of this year’s Love Supreme Jazz Festival, which...

Read More.....

John McLaughlin & The 4th Dimension …

  Kicking off this evening’s set with a high-octane crash through...

Read More.....

Terri Lyne Carrington, Joe Lovano and Lu…

This year’s EFG London Jazz Festival, its 27th edition, runs...

Read More.....

Stanley Clarke Captivates With Crowd-Sur…

As Return to Forever bass legend Stanley Clarke (pictured above) opened...

Read More.....

Bro, Seim and Gustafsson amid the Scandi…

  As a snapshot of the great charm of Vossa Jazz's...

Read More.....

Laura Mvula, Melt Yourself Down and Alin…

  Love Supreme continue to expand the brand by bringing an...

Read More.....

Empirical get set for Distraction Tactic…

Multi-award winning London four-piece Empirical release the second part of...

Read More.....

Thrice is the charm for APA Cole Porter …

Say what you like about America (and I frequently do)...

Read More.....

Blue Note President Don Was To Receive P…

Don Was, the President of the iconic Blue Note Records...

Read More.....

Brad Mehldau finds Gabriel on Biblical n…

Revered US pianist Brad Mehldau is set to release his...

Read More.....

Tommy Smith and the SNJO dazzle with a m…

The world premiere of Norse Myths took place at Aberdeen...

Read More.....

David Sinclair 1935 – 2019

David Sinclair, one of the most insightful and affectionately-regarded photographers...

Read More.....

Kinch and Siegel lead the collective sto…

Ousted from its Colston Hall home by the builders, the...

Read More.....

Mark Nightingale's Big Band Go Large At …

  Trombonist Mark Nightingale is the most accommodating of virtuosi. He’ll...

Read More.....

Open letter leads protest at cuts to Rad…

Over 500 leading musicians from across the jazz, folk and...

Read More.....

Guinness Cork Jazz Festival director’s ‘…

The Irish jazz world has been shaken by the sudden...

Read More.....

George Coleman, Jimmy Owens and Frank Lo…

The Annual SAM Benefit concert will be held on 13 April...

Read More.....

Cécile McLorin Salvant, Makaya McCraven …

The first names have been unveiled for this year’s EFG...

Read More.....

Turville's Quintet Dare To Dream At Brig…

This is the last show in the tour and there’s...

Read More.....

Durrant At The Double With Duo Of Improv…

Phil Durrant and Martin Vishnick (pictured) launch, Rifinitori di Momenti, their forthcoming...

Read More.....

GoGo Penguin, SEED Ensemble and Marquis …

The wider jazz programme for this year’s Love Supreme Jazz...

Read More.....

Branford Marsalis Quartet Muster Technic…

  Bookended by a short opening solo piano set from Nikki...

Read More.....

Snarky Puppy announce Royal Albert Hall …

Grammy-winning powerhouse group Snarky Puppy are gearing up for a...

Read More.....

Waithe On Song At Huntley Conference

  Along with Allison & Busby and New Beacon, Bogle L’Ouverture...

Read More.....

Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Fes…

The inaugural Turquazz: Anatolian Jazz & Roots Festival – a...

Read More.....

Saxophonist Seamus Blake launches new al…

Acclaimed saxophonist Seamus Blake releases his new album, Guardians of...

Read More.....

Taborn's Finessed Tapestry Of Textures F…

  The large number of musicians at this sold-out show says...

Read More.....

Abdullah Ibrahim, Gregory Porter, Yazz A…

The full line-up has been announced for Cheltenham Jazz Festival...

Read More.....

Irreversible Entanglements + Matana Robe…

  Matana Roberts (above) is so relaxed tonight her short opening set...

Read More.....

Jazz FM Awards nominations celebrate gia…

The names for the 2019 Jazz FM Awards were revealed...

Read More.....

Patchwork Jazz Orchestra premiere ‘Badge…

The London-based 17-piece Patchwork Jazz Orchestra are set to release...

Read More.....

NJYO, JCM, friends and family pay tribut…

As Jon Hiseman would say: “If you are going to...

Read More.....

Sons of Kemet, Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia …

The programme has been announced the inaugural We Out Here...

Read More.....

NCO hit bullseye with CTI at Ronnie Scot…

Tomorrow’s Warriors’ role as a springboard for emerging talent in...

Read More.....

Countdown To Ecstasy: Royal Academy Big …

  There are some people, who I've never understood, who smirk...

Read More.....

Making The Cut Mpu 300x500px

Subcribe To Jazzwise

Advertisement

Call 0800 137201 to subscribe or click here to email the subscriptions team

Get in touch

Jazzwise Magazine,
St. Judes Church,
Dulwich Road, 
Herne Hill,
London, SE24 0PD.

0208 677 0012

Latest Tweets

Office vibes: pointillist cassette cultures from Wendra Hill For/John Harries and Grey Sea Over A Cold Sky Ensemble… https://t.co/Jb0bwpdb55
Follow Us - @Jazzwise
@hhhhhennies Think it's a very good excuse. Its when you start saying that you are learning Leo Kottke picking patt… https://t.co/NKCenvIb0A
Follow Us - @Jazzwise

Newsletter

© 2016 MA Business & Leisure Ltd registered in England and Wales number 02923699 Registered office: Jesses Farm, Snow Hill, Dinton, Salisbury, SP3 5HN . Designed By SE24 MEDIA