Jacqui Dankworth & New Perspectives: Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff
Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff (from "5 Housman Settings')
5 Housman Settings & Other Jazz Works (Spotlite 559)
Jacqui Dankworth (vocals),
Dick Pearce (trumpet), Mike Revell, Lynn Bottomley (french horns), Gabrielle Byam-Grounds, Julie Robinson, Elizabeth Elliott, Andy Panayi, Peter Hurt, John Williams (reeds), Phil Lee (guitar), Patrick Gowers (bass), Trevor Tomkins (drums).
Composed by Patrick Gowers; words by A.E. Housman (from “A Shropshire Lad”).
Recorded: Surrey, England, April 10 and 11, 1996
Rating: 98/100 (learn more)
Written for a suite of A.E. Housman settings (with each movement set by a different British jazz composer) Patrick Gowers� �Terence, This Is Stupid Stuff� is a complex setting designed to show off the extraordinary talents of vocalist Jacqui Dankworth and the ensemble New Perspectives. Jacqui, the daughter of vocalist Cleo Laine and saxophonist John Dankworth, shares the same wide vocal range as her mother and has performed in a vast range of musical settings.
The movement starts with a rhythmic cymbal pattern which in turn becomes the background for serpentine lines from the saxophones. Dankworth enters for the opening verse which admonishes the poet Terence for wolfing down his food and drink. In this short section (just over a minute of music), we hear an astonishing number of ideas, including the distinctive three-note motive for the words �stupid stuff� and the sudden change to waltz-time, both of which Gowers returns to throughout the work. The next section, which mourns a dead cow, is in a slow 3/4, subtly changing back into duple time before a dramatic unaccompanied turn for Dankworth featuring an angular vocal line that could have come from a 20th century opera. There is a brief return to the opening style with fragmented lines performed by Dankworth and the saxes, with the �stupid stuff� motive played in the background by the brasses.
Then, to lighten the mood, Dankworth invokes Terence to pipe a tune to dance to. The ensuing drinking song, again in 3/4, features wide leaps and exaggerated glissandos in the vocal lines and Dankworth sings it in a comic quasi-operatic style. After a brief return to the section with fragmented lines, guitarist Phil Lee introduces a rolling figure in 12/8 (which combines the duple and triple meters heard earlier). This final section is the most relaxed of the entire work, setting Housman�s sage advice to Terence to face life as a wise man would, and train for ill and not for good . Gowers� vocal line is melodic rather than angular, and any necessary minor tension comes through short figures in the horns. And on the final line And I may friend you if I may, in the dark and cloudy day, the quiet ending grows slightly menacing with the final return of the �stupid stuff� motive in the reeds.
Reviewer: Thomas Cunniffe