• CD55 Basquiat Strings - Part Two

    Album Title: Part Two
    Artist: Basquiat Strings
    Catalogue no: F-IRECD55
    Date of Release: 06/05/2013
    Price: 9.99 GBP

    Part Two is a feast of sharp close harmonies, twangy grooves, sonorous wailings, and bold moments of freedom. Essentially an extension and development of the first Basquiat Strings record, it creates an alternative string sound using rhythmic drive and improvisation, while aiming to be as cohesive as the classical string quartet, and as natural as string ensembles prevalent in European and Arabic folk music. The album is a culmination of two years of rehearsing and performing made possible by the 2007 Mercury Awards nomination.

    This new album very much embraces the classical background of these unique players, who have also been deeply informed by the jazz tradition. Other musical experiences of the band’s members include tango, contemporary classical, trad jazz, samba and alternative. This time round, the compositions were created with the collaboration of drums in mind from the start, so they are more integrated into the overall sound.

    Although Part Two is perhaps more mature, it was produced very much in the same spirit as the first album. The material was extensively re-worked and developed throughout the two years, allowing the group to become thoroughly acquainted with its peculiarities. Many tunes fell by the wayside before a core set of tunes materialised strong enough to record. The result is a musical work in which both the individual tracks and the album as a whole stand up well to repeated listening.

    Emma Smith violin (solos on tracks 3, 7 and 9)
    Vicky Fifield violin (solos on tracks 1 and 9)
    Jennymay Logan viola (solo on track 3)
    Ben Davis cello (solo on tracks 3, 5, 6, 9, and 10)
    Richard Pryce double bass (solos on tracks 3, 4, 5 and 6)
    Seb Rochford drums
    Amanda Drummond replaces Vicky Fifield on track 5
    Dave Smith replaces Seb Rochford on tracks 5 and 6


    Calum Campbell 5:49
    The tune is structured on a rhythmic pattern of 5/4/5/3 with several themes reoccurring and developing. The dark coda section is connected.

    Bobette II 2:44
    Is based on the main melody of the next track ‘History of Her’. The violins and viola hold the lose ensemble theme AAB while the cello and bass contribute more freely.

    History of Her 6:31
    Feels quite an epic by the end. Starts with a delicate long rhythmic cycle ending up, via a 5 part contrapuntal arrival of the theme, as a full out war that grows till until the end.

    Slopes 3:19
    Is an arco bass tune with simple thematic cycles. It always creates calm by the end.

    Scam 5:51
    Is probably the track that has been most altered in its history. The recording is the first time the track was played in its final version. A stop/ start opening erupts into a healthy burst of fusion grooving.

    Great Gables 3:43
    Just cello, bass and drums. The bass and cello are through most of the piece in different keys a major 3rd apart and are pulled together through the rhythmic drive. The bass line is reminiscent of the Brazilian berimbau.

    Bebella 5:07
    A lyrical repetitive groove, bass invoking a distant voice, gives way to a bossa nova. Sorry Carlos.

    Jack and Jill 1:14
    A theme consisting of 4 notes runs through this short rubato tune.

    Hop Scotch 7:48
    Based on the tune ‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’, it is an exhausting piece to play. The structure chops and changes and includes perhaps the nearest Basquiat Strings have come to a jazz feel in the triplet driven main theme stated at the start.

    It Ain’t Necessarily So (Gershwin/ Gershwin)
    Is a lose interpretation of the Gershwin tune. A duet for cello and dustbin.


    “Together they make compelling music that distils elements of east European folk music, Bartok’s string quartets and Shostakovich into a richly textured, rhythmically propulsive jazz.” (John Lewis, The Guardian)






    1   Calum Campbell 5.47
    2   Bobett II 2.43
    3   History of Her 6.30
    4   Slopes 3.18
    5   Scam 5.50
    6   Great Gables 3.42
    7   Bebella 5.06
    8   Jack and Jill 1:12
    9   Hop Scotch 7.47
    10   It Ain't Necessarily So 2.39


    All Compositions by Ben Davis.
    C&P Benjamin Davis 2013. All rights reserved.