Amaranthine (review)

Amaranthine, the debut release from Let The Music Speak, celebrates a delightful meeting point of musical worlds. Led by Adam Woolf (trombone, artistic direction) this brings together Kristen Cornwell (vocals), Frank Vaganée (saxophone), Lambert Colson (cornetto), Jon Birdsong (trumpet, cornetto), Jeff Miller (tuba, didgeridoo, serpent), Anthony Romaniuk (piano, harpsichord), Christophe Devisscher (bass) and Mattijs Vanderleen (drums, vibes, marimba, percussion).

Although this eclectic collection may appear curious on paper, this carefully crafted release shows how well these voices work together, introducing a new sound-world and a refreshing take on these instruments.

Let The Music Speak

700 years of repertoire influence these eight tracks as each arrangement is based on existing melodies. Even in their original form, these works exist to be left to interpretation from performers – here is the response of the musicians of now, who bring their own experience to this material.

This reinvention is a nod to the chosen title of this release, the Amaranth being the flower that never fades. Material that can remain so relevant to our lives shows that music really is a language understood by all. Such a unique collaboration adds another meaningful colour to this idea too.

The album journeys the path of human life, exploring significant milestones in each track – Birth, Youth, Love, Loss and Death – brought together by an instrumental prologue and closed by the title track, Amaranthine.

Each text is brought to life by the voice of Kristen Cornwell, matched by the ensemble and decorated with solos and improvisations throughout – be sure to listen out for the cornetto solo that runs through the sixth track.

The penultimate work, Come Heavy Sleep, is a particular highlight.  While staying true to John Dowland’s Renaissance material of the same name, this warm re-imagination brings a current musical landscape to the work, further brightening the original melancholy material.

This is a powerful project that has been greatly successful in bringing together worlds of genres, sounds and instruments that we may have never heard combined. This sound-world is refreshing and takes an important look at our rich musical material and how it can be combined. There is something here for everyone to enjoy.

Amaranthine is available to listen to and download from Band Camp or to steam from Spotify.   For more options, please visit Adam Woolf’s website.

This review was first featured in the Summer 2018 edition of The Trombonist.