The

Mick

Sinclair

Archive

Annie Whitehead

April

1986

NME

live review

 
 
ANNIE WHITEHEAD

London ICA

BEING NEITHER jazz buff nor bluff, and with Annie Whitehead a self-declared "Muso", I anticipated that I would not be thrilled out of my socks, but I was a trifle surprised.

She and her associates came to the stage in a slipshod procession and glided without great ado into the opening number, seeming declaring a sort of anti-Presence. As a gradually ascending rumble of percussion and then a trombone rang confidently through the hall it seemed like a cheeky way of catching my cynicism off guard – something they proceed to do throughout the set.

Essentially their music was warm, delivered affably with a technical precision and at times impressive virtuosity from all in the six piece group and it received much applause from the small (although very tidy in a predominantly social-worker-chic way) crowd.

Whitehead frequently flicks open her spit valves (I believe this is the correct term) to allow about half a pint of fluid to flow out of her trombone. This becomes a form of liquid manifestation of her work rate and determination although she is given to handling the relatively rare vocal duties with the aplomb that one might expect from a trombone player – lips that audibly pine for the security of the mouth piece.

I frequently conjured with the vision of how forceful things might become if a real and genuinely powerful singer were to wail over the top of all this.

Annie Whitehead and her group have abundant heart but tonight at least, lacked soul. They provided a work out rather than a show the grander sense, rarely taking any risks and sticking to a groove that was well short of magical – no haunting passages or really inspired brilliance just a good natured affair which left one with thought that maybe Annie Whitehead doesn't relish a challenge.

 

mick sinclair

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