Grand Union has been recording its work for the last 25 years. This selection of tracks displays the amazing musical range and distinctive sound of the Grand Union Orchestra. Most have been drawn from our published CDs, themselves largely compiled (with permission) from our BBC Radio 3 live broadcasts.
Grand Union Orchestra shows are built around a wonderful range of songs in different languages, and the glorious voices that perform them...
1: Can't Chain Up Me Mind - a defiant anti-slavery song. alternating high energy reggae and samba, sung by Jonathan Andre with Tony Kofi (baritone sax).
2: Meu Amor e Marinheiro - soulful Portuguese love-song reminiscent of fado, sung by Maria Joao Silveira with Mingo Rangel (guitar), from The Rhythm of Tides.
3: By the Waters of Babylon - moving setting of the great Biblical lamentation of exiles, sung by Gail Anne Dorsey with Rick Taylor (trombone) from The Song of Many Tongues.
4: Rimjhimamim - up-tempo song to Bengali lyrics (about rain pattering on a tin roof in Sylhet and Brick Lane!) sung by Akash Sultan with brilliant flute solo (Louise Elliott) and tabla (Yousuf Ali Khan), from Now Comes the Dragon's Hour.
5: Mirage - haunting song evoking travel along the ancient Great Silk Road, with full classical orchestra, sung by Richard Scott with Tony Kofi (alto saxophone), from Now Comes the Dragon's Hour.
...sometimes telling stories that are chillingly contemporary...
6: Chaeridike Aj - highly dramatic song describing the fate of rebel soldiers being hunted down in the mountains somewhere in the Middle East/Central Asia, featuring Bengali singers (Akash Sultan, Lucy Rahman) and an incandescent baritone sax solo (Tony Kofi), from If Paradise.
7: The Golden Highway - the ancient gu zheng (Chinese harp - Zhu Meng Xiao) introduces a biting, forceful song in which a global businessman and his critic (Richard Scott, Stephen Douse) argue about the benefits of multinational corporate culture, against a background of rich orchestration and blistering jazz – the Silk Road in the 21st Century! From The Golden Road, The Unforgiving Sea, commissioned by the BBC Concert Orchestra and Radio 3.
8: Riding the Iron Tiger - angular, dissonant mini-drama with lyrical interludes, describing working for a gang-master on the relentless production line of a car factory, from Undream'd Shores..
...or combined to create spine-tingling vocal ensembles...
9: Silence is Consent - women's voices interweave with atmospheric instrumental textures (panpipes, vibraphone, steel pans, tubular bells) to deceptively dreamy effect, from Freedom Calls..
10: Dolce Catalunya - an exile's nostalgic lament for his homeland, sung by Vladimir Vega with Gail-Anne Dorsey and Avelia Moisey, giving way to defiant alto sax (Chris Biscoe) and powerful big band, from The Song of Many Tongues.
11: Depois o Bosque se Fez Barco - a beautiful lament of loss and disillusion, to words by the distinguished Portuguese poet Manuel Alegre, for two voices (Victoria Couper and Richard Scott), with Shanti Paul Jayasinha (flugelhorn), from The Rhythm of Tides.
12: The Flame of Love - a trio of women’s voices (Lucy Rahman, Brenda Rattray, Wei Li) blended with exquisite instrumental backings and poignant harmonies, from Now Comes the Dragon's Hour.
...with glorious brass, saxes and percussion...
13: Eleggua Ko, Eleggua Ra - call and response brass and saxes based on a Yoruba chant with blistering trumpet solo (Kevin Robinson) and African drums.
14: Bhangra Brass - big band take on the popular dhol drum rhythm powered by drums and bass guitar, from Dancing in the Flames, recorded live in Melbourne.
15: The Perfumes of Paradise Blues - high octane electric guitar solo (Gerry Hunt)and spine-tingling Bengali vocals over Indian rag-based harmony, from If Paradise.
...featuring great jazz soloists in unusual musical structures...
16: Freedom Calls - brass ensemble based on West African rhythms with two contrasting trumpet soloists (Aneel Soomary, Claude Deppa), from Freedom Calls.
17: A Country Conscript - unusual big band composition with trumpet and alto sax (Claude Deppa, Chris Biscoe) in dramatic conflict, with powerful backing riffs, from The Rhythm of Tides.
18: Collateral Damage - featuring two alto saxophones (Chris Biscoe, Tony Kofi) and two trumpets (Claude Deppa, Byron Wallen), beginning with searing ballad theme and building up a great head of steam with big band riffs, from If Paradise.
...and a radical approach to big band writing...
19: The Radiance of a Thousand Suns - based on the classic Indian Rag Marva and 12-beat time-cycle Ektal, with soprano sax and trumpet solos (Phil Todd, Shanti Paul Jayasinha), from If Paradise.
20: Ca Ira - implacable drums from three continents and crowd-raising trombone (Rick Taylor) drive this powerful version of the iconic rallying song of the French Revolution, from Freedom Calls.
...showcasing less familiar instruments from around the world...
21: Picking Betel Palm - Zhu Xiao Meng on gu zheng (Chinese harp) and the bluesy tenor sax of Louise Elliott feature in this richly harmonised Chinese folk-song, from Bengal Tiger, Shanghai Dragon and the touring show Trading Roots.
22: Song of Four Seasons - version of Chinese folk song blending traditional Chinese instruments with jazz solos and backings, from Trading Roots.
23: Rag Mumbai - sitar (Baluji Shrivastav) and soprano saxophone (Chris Biscoe) freely intertwined in a 7-beat Indo-jazz workout, from The Rhythm of Tides.
24: Cano - Sadjo Djolo from Portuguese Guinea on kora and voice leads this typical Mandinga tune, with punchy chromatic brass riffs, from The Rhythm of Tides.
25: The Song of Reconciliation - intertwining string figure (kora, guitar, Portuguese guitar), reworking the melodic figures of Cano with brass and saxes in township style across an African 12/8 feel, from the The Rhythm of Tides.
26: Yemen - Turkish baglama (saz) and Anatolian vocal (Cemal & Sabahat Akkiraz) with plangent flugelhorn solo (Shanti Paul Jayasinha), from Around the World in 80 Minutes.
The Grand Union Orchestra's music is written and arranged by Tony Haynes, with lyrics written by Valerie Bloom (1), Manuel Alegre (2,11), Masud Ahamed (4,6,15), David Bradford (5,8), Colin Sell (7), Sara Clifford (6,12,15) and from traditional sources (3,10,19,21).
Many of the tracks above are described and analysed, with notated examples and full scores, by Tony Haynes on his monthly composition blog