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Alice Zawadzki's Songs to the Moon

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by David Vincent (subscribe)
Occasional blogger and sometimes freelance writer, hammering away in the West Midlands.
An out-of-this-world musical experience
As far as spectacular gigs go, it's pretty spectacular - singing James Horner's Oscar-winning soundtrack to Titanic in front of a huge cinema screen and back by a world-class orchestra.

"Singing My Heart Will Go On during the end credits with full orchestra is not something I ever thought I'd do, but I LOVE it!" cries London-based musician, singer and composer Alice Zawadzki who is just back from touring the 'cine-concert' in Taiwan and Japan.

"[I was singing in Japan with the] Tokyo Philharmonic and it was such a treat. They are eye-wateringly good!"

Alice Zawadzki
Anglo-Polish composer and musician Alice Zawadzki

It's not the first time Alice has performed a live soundtrack.

"Last year I was asked to sing in a tour of the Planet Earth live in concert in Germany, the Richard Attenborough programme with a beautiful score by George Fenton. It was with the Prague Philharmonic, who are brilliant."

And she's also done a fair bit of TV and film work.

"I've enjoyed singing for various bits of film and television, including Disney's African Cats, Charlie Brooker's Black Mirror, and loads of other things," she says. "I love the process of working on the vocal sound with the composer until it's exactly the right thing, and most evocative of the emotion or action that it's supporting on the screen.

"I find it enriches my palate of sounds and finds it's way into performances of my own gigs, and helps, I hope, to make communication of a feeling to the audience even more direct and explicit."

When not involved in such high-profile projects, Alice has her own solo career. Broadly jazz, but with a myriad of other influences, including classical and European folk, her 2014 debut album China Lane earned her fanatical reviews and two major jazz award nominations.

Alice Zawadzki
Alice Zawadzki's Songs To The Moon

Her most recent releases find her more in collaborative mode, guesting on Corrie Dick's Impossible Things album, working with jazz pianist Dan Whieldon on Lela. Released in the autumn of 2015, Lela was actually recorded in 2014, around the same time as China Lane.

Making an album is a lot of effort and thought and time and money. But that's the easy bit!," she laughs. "Actually releasing something is months or even years of preparation and planning. Releasing two at the same time is just not feasible for me.

"My debut album, China Lane, is very much 'me' - I wrote and arranged the majority of the music in it, and as my first offering as band leader out into the world, I wanted to make statement about my music and identity I suppose. It's whacky and there are places that are rough around the edges but I'm proud of it and people have said that it sounds original or different.

"As most musicians would probably agree, we are all fairly multi-faceted in terms of the music we've played at different stages of our development, how our tastes change, how we come back to some things, how other things remain in your system or your subconscious forever and come out in the music you play, even if it's not immediately recognisable.

"I think the album with Dan is a different part of me as a musician in some ways. It's an album of standards, essentially. Which is very much part of who I am, and something I'll always do, but it's a different sort of creativity. Dan is a very special musician, and I'm really glad that we have this album that documents our having played together for almost a decade now. Playing music with him is like going home."

Invited to Birmingham by Jazziness, she'll be concentrating on her new trio for Alice Zawadzki's Songs to the Moon - a collection of songs and pieces inspired by the moon.

"I feel a real, tangible shiver down my back if I look at it for a while," she says of her lunar inspiration. "She's the governess of our emotions, and is the guardian of the poetry that is the night!"

Alice Zawadzki's Songs to the Moon can be seen at The Glee, Birmingham, on Friday 22 April 2016 as part of the Jazzlines programme. Support comes from Holly Thomas and Gareth Fowler.

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Why? Finding musical inspiration in the night sky.
When: Fri 22 Apr 2016, 8pm
Where: The Glee, Arcadian Cente, Birmingham
Cost: £10
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