Annie Whitehead




live review


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

any use of the text on this page is subject to permission

If you enjoyed reading this article, or even if you didn't but appreciate the effort that went into making it available for free viewing, please make a donation (via the button below) to help pay for upkeep of this large and unique archive.