Review: Phil Meadows’ Engines Orchestra, Ronnie Scott’s

Saxophonist Phil Meadows is nothing if not ambitious. In the 21-piece Engines Orchestra, he’s brought together the improvisers of the Phil Meadows Group with some of the best young musicians from London’s folk and classical music scenes. Earlier this year he led them to a win at the Parliamentary Jazz Awards and they’re now midway through a 10-date tour of the UK. But, with talk of charity status, outreach projects and new collaborations, it sounds like he’s just getting started.

On Thursday night we got a taster of what the future might look like, in the form of an Engines Orchestra variety show, with Meadows playing the role of compère and an army of photographers and managerial types scampering around organising and videoing the lot. A captivating set from vocalist/violinist Alice Zawadzki and pianist Elliot Galvin opened with ‘Low Sun; Lovely Pink Light’, a Zawadzki original with folkloric leanings, wordless lullaby vocals, fluttering violin and piano lines as fine as spider silk. ‘Beautiful Love’ ended with a sublime cadenza, juxtaposing classical poise with gutsy blues as the accompaniment sank into a black depression, and ‘Love For Sale’ was dark and licentious, shining a red light on the lyrics.

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— Thomas Rees

— Photo by Carl Hyde

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