Karen Street is a musician who always commands the greatest of respect. She is an immensely able and talented accordionist, always tasteful and imaginative and whose music is always relevant to life. She is one of the few accordionists who predominately use free bass in jazz.
Streetworks, her ensemble, have just released their latest album entitled Unfurled. It is a in her own words contemplative album and reflects her time of life. Youth and excitement is far away, there is a sense of loss with children moving away, parents dying or succumbing to dementia, a sadness which is very present at the moment but which will I hope take more of a back seat as time passes, indicated in the more optimistic tracks.
She aims to communicate with an audience on an emotional level rather than achieving any wow factor. She is very comfortable with the people she plays with and performs at her best.
“I think I have found in the players in STREETWORKS a great sound and good level of communication. I think jazz mirrors your personality – I can be very shy but with moments of recklessness, sounds like a title for the next album! I think I also have a lot of anger against the injustices of the world and I would dearly like to find a way of expressing this through my music.” says Karen
She is as ever, absolutely right. Good music is always relevant and reflective of life and the world in which we live in today has plenty to reflect on. So you can take this album as a purely entertainment album but scratch a bit deeper and there is lots of substance and depth to the music that goes beyond its technical or harmonic aspects. The album is receiving rave reviews and deserves to do well. Here are a few to help press “Buy Now”
CD review by Jon Turney – http://www.londonjazznews.com/2015/03/cd-review-streetworks-unfurled.html
A top-class instrumental foursome playing continental jazz with ethnic influences. Accordion player Karen Street’s fluid arrangements create a set full of quirky charm.
The Musician summer 2015
Peter Bacon – thejazzbreakfast.com
Streetworks – Unfurled ATKS1501
Streetworks is a drummer-less quartet from the South-West led by accordionist Karen Street with Andy Tweed on various saxophones, Mike Outram on guitar and Will Harris on bass.
Originally from Burton-on-Trent, Karen was a champion accordionist at an early age and has brought her virtuoso technique on the instrument to high-standard projects from folk to jazz to contemporary classical.
This band plays all original compositions in a lyrical modern jazz style which, inevitably given the connotations the listener brings to the lead instrument, has folk overtones, but also adds some tango spice too.
The title track, which opens the album, is something of a laying out of the stall, a perky piece introduced by solo accordion and featuring solos from Tweed on soprano and Street on accordion which illustrate how they improvise jazz with very few of the cliches normally associated with the genre. Outram and Harris lock in well in strong support.
Dancer has the swirl of the skirt about it and a little tango heat, or rather warmth: these are English players, after all, and so more restrained than their Argentine counterparts. Ode shows the harmonic riches that Street can summon from the keys and air of her instrument, and Tantrum has a folk dance feel which then opens out harmonically with a classy solo from Outram, ending up in the disruptive, discordant behaviour – especially from Tweed – of its title before order is finally restored. No.255 is a gorgeous reworking of a hymn tune.
All four are fine improvisers and have generous solo space, but it is the leader’s writing and arrangements together with the group sound and the highly sensitive interaction between the players that adds a whole bowl of cherries on the top of this already juicy West Country summer pudding in sound.