Album Remarks & Appraisals:
The music of Tom Waits in new versions authenticated by the gravelly-voiced singer himself! Says Waits: "I'm honored to have an artist of Gavin Bryars' stature dress these songs up and take them out for an elegant night on the town." Mercy and Grand celebrates the music of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan alongside other composers: pieces by Kurt Weill, some folk music, a John Tams fairground ballad, a tango, and a gypsy waltz. The project was put together by Opera North Projects in arrangements by Gavin Bryars, Jim Holmes, and Joe Townsend.
Originally presented by Opera North, this unlikely but gripping project merits the wider audience that this live recording will bring. Gavin Bryars and his team take the songs of Tom Waits and his wife, Kathleen Brennan, and present them incongruously but superbly sung by the pure-voiced English mezzo Jess Walker, accompanied by a wheezy, circus-style band that features harmonium, accordion, musical saw, and trumpet-violin. Some Kurt Weill/Bertolt Brecht ditties and Gypsy dances make perfect complements.
Tributees: Kathleen Brennan; Tom Waits.
Personnel: Jess Walker (vocals); Gavin Bryars (double bass); James Woodrow (electric guitar); Joe Townsend (violin, trumpet); Dai Pritchard (flute, clarinet, bass clarinet, tenor saxophone); Karen Street (accordion); Jim Holmes (piano, harmonium); Simon Allen (percussion).
Audio Mixer: Dennis Patterson.
Recording information: West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds (10/25/2008/10/26/2008).
Editor: Dennis Patterson.