How many people do you know who play the trumpet? I’m quite partial to a bit of brass. Being brought up in the North of England brass bands were never too far away. The annual Oldham and Saddleworth Whit Friday Brass Band Competition used to be staged in the villages not too long a drive away from us. And every town I lived in until I moved abroad had its own bandstand. We even had a brass band play at our wedding. So when I think of the trumpet it’s normally in the context of an ensemble of other brass, not really as a beautiful solo instrument.
That view has changed. A couple of weeks ago we went to see The Unthanks. If you’ve not heard of them they are a band from the North-East of England fronted by two sisters Beck and Rachel Unthank. A few years ago they were nominated for the Mercury Prize. This time they were touring promoting their new album; Mount the Air. My wife got me tickets to see them as a Christmas present (we tend to get each other experiences rather than big presents) since there’s only so much ‘stuff’ you need. The album title track is based a poem one of them found and features the piano and trumpet as accompaniment. I’ve not really heard any tunes with this combination before and this particular arrangement is beautiful. The actual album track is over 10 minutes long, but the band has uploaded to Youtube a ‘single’ length version.
I’m sure if you look hard enough you can find the album version, but I’ve linked to the official one.
What do you think of it? I love piano and trumpet combination. And it sounded great on the night with the Rachel’s husband on the venue’s big concert grand piano and a classically trained trumpeter Victoria Rule.
I hadn’t heard much of their music before seeing them, my dad said he had thought their music was “stick their finger in the ear folk music” by which I presume he means ‘too earnest’. But I don’t think that’s true at all and I suspect this is not based on hearing much of their work. I’m off to look through some of their back catalogue.