Here are some highlights from reviews from Grand Union’s recent performances. Click on the links below to view whole articles.
Neon Nettle on Undream’d Shores (2014)
“Anybody living in East London today is witness to the generations of migrants who moulded the city, creating an identity of multi culture across all spectrums. The Grand Union Orchestra new show - 'Undreamed Shores', does just that with an elegant ease with a compilation of hundreds of performers, each adding flavour and dynamic to the overwhelmingly impressive soundscape.” Full review here.
BBC Music Magazine on Undream'd Shores (2014)
"This show, based on themes of migration, is the latest Grand Union offering staged at the Hackney Empire. A dazzling display of instrumental and vocal talent, there are no doubts about its inclusive ambition. Music from Portugal, England, China, West Africa, Turkey, Latin America, Bangladesh, India and the Caribbean vies for attention with big band workouts, choral call-and-answer pieces and even the odd prog rock moment. It is an impressive feat of musicianship.
During the recurring rest points when fresh instrumental and vocal colours (including Chinese harp and Portuguese guitar) are given lyrical prominence, there are moments of true suspense and mystery. Equally electric, if speaking an altogether different language, is a jazz-rock explosion early in the show when trumpet, alto clarinet and alto saxophone soloists chase each other over a rollicking swing beat. The downside with allowing so many voices to be heard is that there is occasionally a feeling of wanting to lean in and allow some more time to a particular artist or tradition." Full review here
London Jazz on Undream’d Shores (2014) by Duncan Heining
“The Grand Union Orchestra has been making great, radical world jazz in the musical melting pot of London’s East End for thirty years. By rights, Undream’d Shores, their most elaborate and expansive show yet, should have filled the Festival Hall. Surely only neglect and ignorance keeps GUO out of such august venues. Wouldn’t you think these tales of migration, exile, loss and ultimate transcendence would strike a chord everywhere and melt even the most jaded and cynical of hearts? No matter, this is East End jazz in its rightful home at the Hackney Empire.” Full review here.
A more detailed review by the same author appeared in All About Jazz
Jazzwise on 11.11.11 (February 2012 Issue)
“There is really nothing quite like the Grand Union Orchestra. It reaches out to areas of the music and of life, that lesser ensembles would shy away from – or worse dabble in for vanity’s sake.” Full review here.
Hackney Gazette On Liberation Street (2009), reviewed in local paper
“It took 12 weeks of rehearsals with a dozen schools and some 150 participants, but when the Grand Union Orchestra’s collaborative show, ‘On Liberation Street’, finally hit the Hackney Empire on March 20th and 21st, it was a joyful and exhilarating sight.” Full review here
David Pullock, Australian evening news, Queen’s Hall in Melbourne, Australia (2003)
“Given the non-stop experimentation that’s obviously a by-product of fusing all these sounds together, the way they fit has a surprisingly practised naturalism, with the odd jarring moment which inevitably ensues, only colouring their vivid musical palette even more.” Full review here