The long-awaited first full-length album by Faith Brackenbury and John Neilson brings together nine of their own compositions, plus one short piece by the Swedish fiddler Ellika Frisell. Crossings is the fruit of a collaboration between two musicians with very different backgrounds in jazz, classical and traditional music. It’s an entirely instrumental album: Faith plays violin and viola, and John piano and accordion (and briefly concertina). All but one of the tracks are original compositions.
Travelling across the border of England and Wales to meet up for their first sessions some five years ago, Faith and John quickly established a musical rapport based on improvisation and experiment. The music which emerged is hard to categorise: pieces such as ‘Enlli’ and ‘New Invention’ are named after locations in Wales and the borders, whilst in ‘Wladfa’ and ‘Bonizac’ there are traces of tango and Breton dance music. ‘The Plastic Bridge’, full of Eastern European rhythms, commemorates a new suspension footbridge over the A5…
Faith studied classical music from a young age and diversified into jazz, folk and free improvisation at college. She has collaborated with alto saxophonist Martin Speake, recording the improvised album Zephyr, and plays with neo-classical electronica composer Tiny Leaves. A multi-media collaboration The Four Susans is ongoing in 2018, as is her own The KnifeAngel Project for jazz sextet and quartet.
John is a self-taught musician who has tinkered around on the piano since childhood. In his early twenties he bought a piano accordion and spent several months busking in Spain and France, and picking up tunes from further afield. Since those days he has co-founded various outfits (including Manticore, Francisco The Man, Bosco and most recently Half Six) who have all done their own thing with traditional music.
The album was recorded by the renowned Andy Bell (of Bellowhead fame) at Rhydycroesau Village Hall (the name means ‘ford of the crosses’ or ‘crossings’) and Wern Mill, both near Oswestry. The recording locations played a large part in the overall sound and atmosphere of the album.
…truly wonderful. It’s a masterpiece of musicianship and creativity…the instruments soar and settle in a most balanced and beautifully uplifting way. Eirene Craney (about Crossings)
From the moment that first track captured my ears, I realised that here was the start of something new that I’d been missing in instrumental music for so long… this music leads and enchants you, mesmerises and bewitches you so that you desire to have it near you, constantly. Joyous, enthralling, delicious music delivered in delicately detailed arrangements. I adore it. Karen Tweed (about the demo Faith and John recorded in 2015)
Artists’ website: www.brackenburymusic.uk
‘Number Six’ – live: