Since 2001, Matthew Herbert has performed all over the world with his big band, from Montreux Jazz Festival to Trafalgar Square, from the Hollywood Bowl to the Sydney Opera House. For the last few years, however, the band has taken a backseat to more of his experimental work made out of pigs, bombs, and bodies. Now in 2017, Herbert has announced that he is to restart the Big Band in response to the challenges of Britain’s departure from the European Union.
The project started when article 50 was triggered and will continue over two years with live shows, recordings and workshops until the point that the UK leaves the EU in 2019. The project will end with the release of an album recorded across Europe. The public can contribute to the project by leaving a sound or recording on brexitsoundswap.eu and these many sounds will find their way onto the final release.
‘Almost everything that has been the most rewarding in my musical life over the years has been to do with collaboration. this project then aims to be a huge collaboration, with hundreds of UK and European musicians and voices. A chance to say goodbye, a chance to say thank you, a chance to say see you soon.’
As a DJ and producer in the late-90s, Herbert sampled organic sounds generated by everyday objects into dance remixes and original tracks. He’s taken that spirit with him in his two big band projects, bringing together leading Jazz artists and creating music responsive to the political landscape.
The title of the album is ‘Reisezehrung’, after a poem by Goethe. It roughly translates as ‘Provisions for the journey’. During the planning of the record and the live shows, it became clear that this was in effect an extended farewell party. To that end, Matthew has drafted in world-class writers, directors, choreographers, and designers to bring shape to the new live
show and to try to work out what Brexit means to us as a nation and as a group of individuals. If there is an overriding theme, it is one of separation.
Spanish multi-award winning composer & interdisciplinary choral conductor Esmeralda Conde Ruiz leads the concert. She is a strong collaborator and the face of innovation in the U.K., specializing in vocal work and interdisciplinary projects. Her unique collaborations with contemporary artists, theatres, art institutions and film directors have created mesmerizing choral sound landscapes all over the world. Esmeralda composes, arranges, conducts, produces, and consults.
Esmeralda has been appointed as a project consultant for the 2 year period, sourcing choirs all over Europe and supporting all rehearsals. Additionally, she is the Choral Music Director of the Barbican show, putting together a choir of 100 singers initiating the beginning of the project.
In October, Matthew Herbert will bring this project, along with some songs from previous albums (‘Goodbye Swingtime‘ 2002, ‘There’s me and there’s you’ 2008 ) for a debut concert at the Barbican in London. He will be joined by British and European musicians as well as singers and a choir for what should be an emotional evening.
Matthew Herbert’s Brexit big band and the London Brexit Choir led by Esmeralda Conde Ruiz
At Barbican London, Monday 23rd October 2017