This morning we are delighted to welcome Fran and Flora, the London-based string duo of Francesca Ter-Berg and Flora Curzon, to select some Sunday morning tunes with us on MailTape.
Well known in London’s experimental folk and jazz scenes, Fran and Flora acknowledge a wide range of musical influences, from Bach to Alice Coltrane by way of Shostakovitch. Their playing is, by turns, vibrant, mournfully expressive, creatively imaginative and imbued with elegance.
Their debut album, Unfurl, was released earlier this year and they will be on tour throughout the UK until mid-December.
Fran & Flora’s selection
Hejira – Joyful Mind
Fran & Flora: “This mantra-like tune reconnects me with the knowledge that it’s the journey which is important not the destination; that it is how we conduct ourselves in each moment that counts, and not necessarily our goals. This song reminds me how we can actually create joy, and of the importance of looking after our mental health. But it’s not just the message of the song that lifts and strengthens me, the whole spirit of the song fills me with happiness, and make my body and soul dance!“
Mike Block – Sarabande for solo cello in D major from Suite no.6 BWV 1012 (JS Bach)
Fran & Flora: “This track is meditative, introverted, emotional, enigmatic, contemplative and fiendishly hard to play. The trick is to make it sound easy. The rhythm is in a lilting 3/4 with an emphasis on the 2nd beat. Apparently the rhythm comes from a Moorish women’s dance, but it has its roots in many sources. The chord progression is like that of a modern singer-songwriter ballad, but it was written in the early 1700’s. Everyone knows Bach invented the modern notion of Western harmony in all its wonders and complexities. I like to listen to this piece as it takes me on a different journey every time. Mike Block is an amazing cellist and teacher from Boston, MA. His CD ‘Echos of Bach’ is full of stunning solo performances but this is my favourite.“
Abdul Wadud – Camille
Fran & Flora: “Why do I like this? Well, no one plays like Abdul - he could improvise like no-one else and plays the shit out of the Cello. Abdul was mostly performing with different jazz outfits and solo in Chicago in the 80’s. He was doing things with the cello no-one else got close to. His style encompasses so many different influences and instruments which you can hear in his improvisations. Every time I listen to this album I hear something different, and it always makes me laugh because his playing is so cheeky and goes wherever it wants to go. No expectations or prerequisites. The heart of improvisation!“
Fran & Flora – Jurjuna for Leyli
Sanjay: “Recorded at The Vortex in London for the LIAF festival, this is a wonderfully haunting piece. Interweaving, simultaneously reverent and intelligently informed, it bears many characteristics of Fran & Flora’s output: otherworldly and unfussy with a cool charm. A fitting accompaniment to early evenings.“
William Parker – For Don Cherry
Sanjay: “William Parker began his musical career in the early 70s playing with Don Cherry and Cecil Taylor among many others. In this dedication to Don Cherry he plays one of the late trumpeter’s side instruments, the dousn’gouni, an African guitar, accompanied by his vocalising over the top. Recorded at Somewhere There in Toronto this track, alongside ‘For Ella Parker’, act as effective leavening agents to the uncompromising intensity and energy of the 50-minute title track, ‘Cathedral Wisdom Light’—perfectly expressed by the artwork of the album.“
Tomeka Reid Quartet – The Lone Wait
Sanjay: “Tomeka Reid is one of my favourite cellists around today. Her compositions involve intriguingly complex textures while leaving ample room for individual expression and adventure. I love the abstract and atmospheric sound of this track, and I can’t wait to listen to the new record from her quartet, Old New.“
Soumik Datta – Jangal
Sanjay: “Taken from the Urdu word for ‘jungle’, this is the title track from sarod-player Soumik Datta’s latest EP, Jangal. Resting somewhere roughly between a mellifluous sonic dance and lament, this track contains the tension and release felt throughout the EP, crescendoing into grievous rage as it progresses.“
That’s it for this morning. As always, thank you so much for joining us this Sunday. Much love and respect to Fran and Flora for their Sunday selections, and to one of our newest illustrators Julie Wojtczak for her brilliant illustration!