Music Camerata Ritmata in concert – Friday 8th Oct. 8pm, 2 hours including interval, age 12+
Simon Thacker is a well-regarded Scottish guitarist and all-round musician, consistently pushing musical boundaries. Recent projects have seen him accompanying soprano Claire Debono in popular classical songs, collaborating with Asian musicians to create The Nava Rasa Ensemble and directing Camerata Ritmata, a quartet with jazz pianist Paul Harrison, drummer Stuart Brown and bass-player and composer Mario Caribé whose album “Hands On”, recorded at Lyth last year, is now on sale here. The musicians arrive on Thursday to allow for a day of schools workshops. http://www.simonthacker.com
Glasgow Herald review of a performance of Camerata Ritmata in Haddington by Rob Adams
An audience so unexpectedly large that it almost exhausted the Town House’s chair supply, forcing a slight delay in starting the music, was treated to an imaginatively put together programme by Simon Thacker and his classical-jazz crossover group.
Thacker, who attended the local Knox Academy along with his pianist Paul Kirby, is now one of the UK’s leading classical guitarists – and, as well as having the instrumental mastery to play demanding pieces with apparent ease, boasts a disarmingly natural and entertaining presentational style. His relating of Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos and Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia’s wildly differing versions of their first meeting somehow made the resulting Prelude No 1 for solo guitar all the more human. And his witty introduction to the main event, French pianist/composer Claude Bolling’s Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Trio, set the scene perfectly.
Longer than usual for a concerto, this is an intense work, requiring the guitarist to cover the entire fretboard, sometimes working against the trio’s swinging approach and at others trading agile phrases almost conversationally with the piano. Thacker played it beautifully, and Kirby’s touch – whether in vigorous Spanish dance mode, Bach-influenced intricacy or Bill Evans-like reflection – was hugely impressive.
Brazilian bassist Mario Caribé, who earlier provided native insight into the trio’s gently attentive playing of three Antonio Carlos Jobim pieces, was a sure presence throughout the concerto’s contrasting moods, and drummer Stuart Brown played with the discretion that has earned him first-call status on the Scottish jazz scene. The enthusiastic reception, resulting in a beautifully restrained quartet arrangement of Wild Mountain Thyme, was no more than the four musicians – and Thacker in particular – deserved.
The Scotsman Review of the same performance by Susan Nickalls
Outside the weather might have been whipping up a storm, but inside Haddington's elegant Georgian Town House a packed audience was basking in sunny, irresistible Brazilian jazz rhythms. Camerata Ritmata, led by guitarist Simon Thacker, came together with the main aim of exploring the classical side of jazz, in particular Claude Bolling's Concerto for Classic Guitar and Jazz Piano Trio. Having discovered it languishing in obscurity, Thacker persuaded his friends – pianist Paul Kirby, Brazilian bass player Mario Caribé and percussionist Stuart Brown – to help him revive the 1975 work.
Changing styles sometimes every few bars, Bolling shamelessly plunders the musical canon for whatever takes his fancy – mainly the classical piano repertoire of Bach, Chopin and Rachmaninov – and gives it the soft shoe jazz shuffle. While the overall effect is dazzling, one can't help get the feeling it was written with the Frenchman's tongue firmly in his cheek.
Villa Lobos is another master showman and his Prelude No1, part of a series written for Spanish guitar legend Andres Segovia, sets a technically gruelling benchmark which Thacker more than met in this virtuosic performance.
The jazz piano trio introduced a more laid-back atmosphere with some standards by the Brazilian king of song Antonio Carlos Jobim including Oscar Peterson's arrangement of Wave, the slow samba Modinha, featuring some smouldering bass playing by Caribé, and A Felicidade. All that was missing were a few escapees from Strictly Come Dancing to wriggle their hips across the stage.