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Will Bartlett – Piano and compositions, Norma Winstone – Voice

Tony Kofi – Soprano & Alto Sax, Robin Ince – Narration

2022 marks Philip Larkin’s centenary year. The renowned British poet and novelist was an avid jazz enthusiast and served as the jazz critic for The Daily Telegraph from 1961-71. He once said: “You might say I can live a week without poetry but not a day without jazz.”

Inspired by the work of this great British wordsmith, composer and pianist Will Bartlett has written a collection of songs and settings featuring vocalist Norma Winstone and saxophonist Tony Kofi. Three tracks also feature narration by writer, poet and broadcaster Robin Ince.

This is an incredibly intimate recording, impeccably captured by producer/engineer Curtis Schwartz at his studio in Ardingly, West Sussex.

With only the piano for accompaniment, Norma Winstone’s hallmark sensitive delivery is exquisitely featured on eight of the ten compositions – nine of which have been written by Bartlett, the tenth is a setting of Peter Erskine’s tune “Twelve” to Larkin’s words. Erskine has contributed some liner notes to the album.

Norma Winstone needs no introduction. She is one of the finest vocal talents of her generation and this recording captures her voice with a presence and closeness that gives the listener a very real experience of her sensitive and subtle treatment of lyric and melody.

Will Bartlett read music at St. Peter’s college, Oxford, specialising in composition and musical analysis before completing his jazz studies at the Guildhall and Trinity Schools of Music in London. He has since become a regular on the London jazz circuit working with Stan Sulzmann, Claire Martin, Matt Ford, Jim Mullen, the Nelson Riddle Orchestra, Alan Barnes, Anita Wardell and many more.

Award-winning saxophonist Tony Kofi came to prominence in the early 90’s with The Jazz Warriors and has since gone on to work with artists including Abdullah Ibrahim and Ornette Coleman. He is a well-respected educator and composer and leads a variety of his own projects as well as performing and recording with Gary Crosby’s NuTroop and Jazz Jamaica.

Robin Ince is probably best known for his work on Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage with physicist Brian Cox. For The Soundless Dark he reads two poems with improvised music and narrates the introduction to “Deception”.

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