"Melange by name, melange by nature… this jazz-inflected world music release from cellist Shirley Smart’s London-based collective is gloriously difficult to categorize...The overriding impression is of live, interactive music, joyfully played – easy to imagine a distant, energized pulse or lyrical phrase caught on the breeze, gradually intensifying with each closer footfall until this impassioned music is seen and heard in all its colourful splendour... Melange are a complete delight, and Via Maris an enthralling debut release." - Adrian Pallant, AP Reviews
"Via Maris conjures up a compelling fusion of modern jazz and Mediterranean and Middle East musics. Built around a quartet of cello, oud, guitar and percussion, and with guests on accordion, saxophones and trumpet, the unconventional configurations of Melange and their strange brew of influences is proven to be no obstacle to some seriously tuneful pieces." - Bird is the Worm
Melange was formed in 2009 by world music and jazz cellist Shirley Smart. Their music spans a huge range of styles from the Gnawa music of the south Morroccan desert, popular North African rai and chaabi songs, exotic Middle Eastern and Turkish melodies and improvisations, through Central Asia, and across to the fiery Tango of Argentina and the street Choro of Brazil. The Collective's music is given fresh arrangements, and much space for jazz-influenced improvisations. This diversity of styles is brought together by the backgrounds and musical interests of the bands members - and a shared love of acoustic music.
Four members of the Collective will be performing at Book and Kitchen:
Shirely Smart – Cello
Cellist Shirley Smart has had a varied and unusual career. After a brief period of study in London, she left the UK for Jerusalem and ended up staying for 10 years. She joined Moroccan jazz fusion group Sound of the Ground, and has played Arabic, Oriental and North African music with groups including Sabreen, Tarshika Orchestra, Khaled Jubran, Radio Effendi, al-Farabi Trio, Maurice El-Mediouni, and oud players Bilal Irshed, Haytham Safia and Nizar Rohana. She has toured most of Europe, Russia, Jordan, Egypt and Morocco, including performances at the Jerash Festival, Jordan and International Oud festival in Tetouan, Morocco as well as playing all over Israel and Palestine. Now resident in London, Shirley continues to be active on the jazz and world music scenes, and performs regularly with many of the UK's leading musicians.
Stefanos Tsourelis – Oud
Stefanos is originally from Greece, and he first learned how to play the laouto (Greek lute) before also taking up the oud and guitar. Performing professionally on oud and guitar from the age of 17, he currently performs as a freelance oud and guitar player, and teacher, in a wide variety of venues around London, with both his own jazz trio and a range of other artists - such as Noraay’s Creation Project, the Iota group and Melange Collective.
Peter Michaels – Guitar
Peter Michaels is a highly versatile musician and composer. He has made an extensive study of Brazilian music, especially choro and also plays with the band Pocket Caravan.
Demi Garcia Sabat – Percussion/ Drums
Originally from Barcelona, Demi moved to the UK in 1999 and works full time as a freelance drummer and percussionist. Demi specialises in Flamenco music, Jazz, Pop, and he performs regularly with musicians such as Alec Dankworth, Nicolas Meier, Kuljit Bhamra, and La Tipica.