BBC Music Magazine

This month: Brigitte Beraha


The days when the world of the jazz musician was a sealed environmen­t are long gone, if they ever existed. Brigitte Beraha’s discograph­y encompasse­s solo and ensemble projects alongside groups such as Babelfish and Solstice, the latter having released a new digital album, with a livestream on 13 May. ‘I’d always been passionate about music but jazz wasn’t the first thing I listened to,’ she says. ‘I always was and still am a lover of classical and contempora­ry music, including musique concrète and electronic music, and for a long time I thought I had to keep it all separate. I’d loved Chopin, Schumann, Bach’s organ music, then I studied contempora­ry music at Goldsmiths and continued with that.’

So when did jazz make itself known? ‘A friend subjected me to the music of John Coltrane. I resisted it for a while, but one night something clicked. I learned from the bebop scatting of Anita Wardell that you could improvise with your voice in that way, then I discovered people like Kenny Wheeler and Norma Winstone. I also wanted to sing jazz standards, so I did that and still love doing it, but it’s easy to get pigeonhole­d. People might say to me, “Oh, you’re a standards singer?” and I’d reply “Yes!”, but I kept finding ways of using my voice and realised that I didn’t have to keep everything compartmen­talised.’

All of which brings us to her current work with electronic­s, exemplifie­d by the group on her album Lucid Dreamers which she hopes will resume gigging in May. ‘A lot of the music I listen to doesn’t really have a place for the voice,’ she adds, ‘so I wondered how I could bring these two things together. I’m very happy to have received a personal developmen­t grant from the Arts Council, partly to create a new work, which is to do with conversati­ons between nature and the industrial world; some of it is acoustic, some completely electronic, although my use of electronic­s is deliberate­ly limited at the moment. I have a looper, a voice transforme­r, delay and freeze units and other things, all to do with manipulati­ng the voice, so again it’s nature meeting industry. It should be released as an album soon.’ Roger Thomas

‘I realised that I didn’t have to keep everything compartmen­talised’

 ??  ?? Vocal mix: Brigitte Beraha combines styles
Vocal mix: Brigitte Beraha combines styles

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