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BENAUD TRIO

Mixtape

ABC Classics 481 4784

 

 

  1. Video Killed The Radio Star

  2. Scandinavian Invasion (An ABBA Tribute)

  3. Lullabye (Goodnight, My Angel)

  4. 80s Mixtape

  5. Bridge Over Troubled Water

  6. Shaken Not Stirred

  7. Crowded House

  8. Stairway To Heaven

  9. Jacksomania!

  10. The Luckiest

    Amir Farid - Piano

    Lachlan Bramble - Violin

    Ewen Bramble - Cello

    The Benaud Trio was formed in Melbourne, Australia in early 2005, since when the group members have built a considerable reputation as performers of classical music and of newly-commissioned works by modern Australian composers. In addition, they also feature music with a pop/jazz twist, specially arranged by Nicholas Buc. This album belongs in the latter category and is a romp through pop music's most familiar themes. Over half the tracks are themed compilations, a kind of 'greatest hits' tribute to a particular band, era or genre.

    Video Killed The Radio Star became a huge international hit following its release in 1979. The opening track on the album, it has attack and vigour from all three musicians to commend it but particularly pianist Amir Farid whose solo has an authentic jazz feel about it. Scandinavian Invasion (An ABBA Tribute) touches on four ABBA favourites. There's a pounding version ofMamma Mia, Waterloo, a neo-classical take onMoney, Money, Money and a slow beginning to Dancing Queen before the tune gathers momentum, with violin and cello prominent. Farid runs a rich gamut of styles. Lullabye (Goodnight My Angel) is a Billy Joel composition, given an interpretation marked by tenderness and lyricism. 80s Mixtape has no less than six hit songs from that decade. The most interesting are Eye Of The Tiger (powerful piano here), You Can Call Me Al (complete with township vibe), and Thriller (a thoughtful, ambitious approach).

    Simon and Garfunkel's Bridge Over Troubled Water gets a reverent rendition, played straight. Shaken Not Stirred, as you may guess, is a collection of music from James Bond movies. The pick of the bunch are a bold and inventive version of Goldfinger, a Latin style From Russia With Love and a stirring James Bond Theme. The next track celebrates the songs of Crowded House, a rock group formed in Melbourne in 1985. Although the three tunes here are unfamiliar to me, they are strong melodies, handled impeccably but, once more, without significant embellishment. Led Zeppelin's Stairway to Heaven is an out-and-out treat, as performed by the Benaud Trio. They have some fun with the (Michael) Jackson canon on Jacksomania!, themes interweaving at times and with a lively finale. The concluding track of the album, The Luckiest, comes from the pen of the American singer/songwriter, Ben Folds, and reflects the good taste of the Benaud Trio when it comes to the selection of material.

    If the essence of jazz is improvisation (though who can be definitive about that, these days) then most of this album falls outside that definition. What we do have here is a trio of fine musicians unafraid to launch out across genres, bringing pleasure to the listener as they do so. Their approach puts me in mind of groups such as The Brodsky Quartet who have been similarly adventurous in the past and perhaps even The String Trio Of New York during the time Regina Carter was with them. Maybe they just defy neat categorisation. Their quirky approach, though, lingers in the mind.

    James Poore


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