Thursday 12 March 2020, 7.30pm
“Dance to it, make love to it, consume it, listen to it, stare at the clouds to it!” – Iggy Pop
“One of my discoveries for the London Jazz Festival... Good is Good” – Gilles Peterson
“They were the unexpected stars of a glitzy show” – John Fordham, The Guardian (UK)
Following the acclaimed release of ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ and a busy tour that took them from UK to Europe and back, including a stellar performance at Womad captured by BBC Radio 3, Vula Viel return with a new album.
The band continue their sonic explorations around the gyil, the wooden xylophone of the Dagaare from Upper West Ghana, on their brand new set, ‘What’s Not Enough About That’.
Picking up from early 2019’s ‘Do Not Be Afraid’, the new album breaks new ground as Bex Burch (gyil), Ruth Goller (bass) and Jim Hart (drums) continue to forge their own unique fusions. While ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ developed ideas around disciplined ‘rhythm wheels’, rhythm patterns in regular cycles set to the band’s angular instrumentation, the new tracks stretch out the band’s sound, at times delicate and at others moving into raw post punk soundscapes.
Extensive touring brought the band from London’s most revered alternative venues such as Café Oto and Vortex Jazz Club to the stages of Cheltenham Jazz Festival and WOMAD, the British countryside plus our mainland European dates including Moers Festival, Bezau Beatz, Willisau Jazz Festival and Artist in Focus at Music Meeting, to take the Vula Viel sound to Germany, Austria, France, Switzerland and the Netherlands in Europe for a string of packed jazz festivals – a busy year that cemented the unity of the trio and nurtured their artistic growth.
Vula Viel was formed in 2013 by Bex Burch. After studying at Guildhall and training as a classical percussionist, she embarked on a life-changing three-year period living, farming and studying with xylophone master Thomas Segura in Upper West Ghana; the band’s name means ‘Good is Good’ in the Dagaare language. After being mentored in the deep traditions around the Gyil, a large African xylophone made of sacred lliga wood, Burch began the journey to bring the instrument into her own music. The acclaimed debut Vula Viel album in 2015, ‘Good is Good’, was the first realisation of her vision and ‘Do Not Be Afraid’ is the first set of Burch originals,written on traditional Dagaare forms.
Described as “Ghanaian minimalism”, with the unassuming ability to blur the lines between atmospheres – Vula Viel’s sound may nod to Steve Reichian jazz, but influences don’t stop there: one can hear echoes of Bill Laswell and the irresistible energy of Arthur Russell.
PITCHFORK have previously called ZUMMO's trombone work “peerless” and have described his music as “the sound of sublimity…that sends shivers down the nervous system.” In an interview with THE QUIETUS, OPTIMO’s JD TWITCH characterised ZUMMO's playing as “sheer bliss.”
In addition to performing his own compositions and leading his own ensembles, ZUMMO has worked with myriad bands, orchestras, composers and musicians. His celebrated trombone style is recognized as one of the most beloved features of ARTHUR RUSSELL's sound, for whom he played and collaborated with in the recording studio. Among many others are PETER GORDON and his LOVE OF LIFE ORCHESTRA, drummer-producer TOM SKINNER (Hello Skinny), cellist-composer/producer OLIVER COATES, the LOUNGE LIZARDS, including the recording of TEO MACERO’s Fusion, which also featured the London Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Downtown Ensemble. He lives in New York City.