Harp player extraordinaire Tori Handsley releases her first musical offering in the form of a self titled four track EP. Her trio comprises of herself, Harry Pope on drums and Misha Mullov-Abbado on bass, alongside guest vocalist Chantelle Nandi.
The trio who first performed together at the end of summer 2013 sound like a well oiled and seasoned jazz combo, playing off each other to maximum effect. This is evident from the get go with one listen to the opening track ‘Settling into the Sun’, an impactful and punchy track with a chugging urgency that once it grips you draws you in further.
The unity, oneness and intuition between the musicians is a joy to behold as they bounce off each other, with Tori’s subtle, teasing harp playing dancing in between the drum and bass. The mystical air of ‘Mistake of Thinking’ is embellished by the gentle and soothing introduction of Chantelle Nandi’s vocal inflections towards the tail end of the tune, which intertwines with the musical notes beautifully.
With at least three changes of tempo and rhythm throughout, ‘What’s In A Tune’ definitely keeps the listener in the moment. As if giving a musical narrative to the short story of ‘The ‘Tortoise and the Hare’, the tune races away at one hundred miles an hour, with all guns blazing, before abruptly arresting after two minutes and thirty seconds leaving just the clear, crisp and compelling solitary harp playing of Ms Handsley to slow the BPM down dramatically for the next minute or so. Once again first the bass and then the drum are stealthily reintroduced as the tune builds to another full on high tempo musical attack. The tune continues to undulate throughout; eventually leaving the listener washed up on imaginary seashore completely spent but satisfied.
The more measured and sympathetic tones of ‘Kestrel’ give vocalist Chantelle Nandi an opportunity to exercise her Cassandra Wilson-esque delivery and phrasing to maximum effect, prior to Harry Pope and Misha Mullov-Abbado letting off steam in a drum and bass trade off. The trio finally bring the craft back down to earth with a gliding approach to terra- firma.
Overall the Tori Handsley Trio have served up a very impressive introduction to their sound and musical styling. Be ready to be beguiled by Ms Handsley’s perfectly precise laid-back tones; her plucking of the harp strings will definitely pluck at your heartstrings.
Michael J Edwards