Mercy and Grand: The Music of Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan | GB Records BCGBCD18

Mercy and Grand: The Music of Tom Waits & Kathleen Brennan


Currently out of stock at the UK suppliers. Available to order, but is likely to take longer than usual to despatch

Label: GB Records

Cat No: BCGBCD18

Format: CD

Number of Discs: 1

Release Date: 23rd April 2012



Conceived by Opera North Projects, 'Mercy and Grand' celebrates the music of Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan, and includes other works arranged by Gavin Bryars, James Holmes (former Head of Music at Opera North) and violinist Joe Townsend.

There are two pieces by Kurt Weill, some folk music, a John Tams fairground ballad, a tango and a gypsy waltz, so at the same time it expresses something of the great American and European songwriting traditions from which they spring. The music is performed by an unusual seven-strong ensemble (in which Gavin Bryars plays the double-bass) with mezzo-soprano Jessica Walker.

Bryars says: “It is not a pastiche of Tom’s own band nor does it replicate Tom’s inimitable performing style. Our singer, Jess Walker, is classically trained, female and English, and this can help to draw a different kind of attention to the words and the music, especially for those more used to Tom’s unique qualities as performer.

He adds: “In the song ‘Whistle Down The Wind’ the words ‘Mercy and Grand’ refer to a place, a corner where two roads meet on the edge of a town. We too have tried to find meeting places: between musicians and between song-writing traditions, making intuitive connections across a range of styles and musical genres. We focused on particular themes - memory, loss, journeys, the circus… - and although there is no specific narrative in the sequence of songs, there is a sense in which the music does take us on a kind of journey.

Tom Waits and Gavin Bryars famously first worked together in 1993 on the hypnotic full length recorded version of Bryars’ 'Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet'.

I’m honored to have an artist of Gavin Bryars’ stature dress these songs up and take them out to an elegant night on the town.” - Tom Waits.

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