Sarah-Jane Morris is Britain’s most influential jazz and R&B singer who topped the UK pop charts for a month in 1986 (with The Communards’ disco version of ‘Don’t Leave Me This Way’). Morris’s magnificent soul voice and emotional power has garnered praise and admiration worldwide for over 30 years. Inspired by the unwavering belief in the power of song to change hearts and minds, Sarah Jane has always followed her own star. That independence has brought her a loyal audience, devoted to her feisty, independent musical style.
John Martyn was a sublime genius, and an innovative musical talent who sadly died at 60. He produced a canon of music that is both breathtakingly bold and achingly tender in its complex, atmospheric beauty. Martyn’s music influenced a generation of his peers, friends and fans alike. His contribution continues to resonate many years after his passing. He has picked up endless acclaim worldwide from those fortunate enough to be seduced by his unique voice and instrumental mastery; and his music will live forever in the annals of popular music history.
Sarah Jane, through her own brilliant interpretive vocal talents, has picked up this torch to shine a light on this great musical maverick, illuminating his life’s work. As a woman she can demonstrate Martyn’s gifts through filters of her own vocal identity and her commitment to sexual politics which might seem at odds with the dark, pained side of John Martyn – but which, in practice, makes it possible for her to re-invent his art without fear of pastiche.
Tony Remy is one of music’s most exciting guitarists. His relentless invention and incredible raw energy make him the perfect pairing to Sarah Jane’s vocals on this project. He is able to bring a rich, jazz and blues imbibed virtuosity that respects and revives Martyn’s melodies and structures. His hard-edged rhythmically driven approach is enriched with jazz intuition and bluesy soul. The reputation he has gained within the jazz community worldwide is fast making a legend out of this North London musician. He has toured and recorded with a wide range of musicians which include: Courtney Pine, Jason Rebello, Julian Joseph, Freddy Hubbard, Jean Toussaint, Steve Williamson, Lonny Liston Smith, Lenny Whit, Omar, Steps Ahead, Gary Barlow, Simply Red, US3, Cleveland Watkiss, Pee Wee Ellis, Ronny Laws, Nelson Rangell, Connor Reeves, Maysa Leak, Down to the Bone, Matt Bianco, Karen Ramirez, Noel McKoy, Annie Lennox, Craig David, Icognito, M-People and many more.
Tim Cansfield was born in Trinidad. A self-taught musician, this enigmatic and self-effacing genius is the first choice of many recording artists, including Bee Gees, Steve Winwood, Elton John, Heaven 17, Billy Preston, Chaka Khan, Tina Turner, Whitney Houston, Seal and many more. He is currently working with Swing Out Sister, Barry Gibb, Kevin Roland and various outfits in and around London.
Sarah Jane is collaborating on “Sweet Little Mystery” with activist / journalist / comedian / writer / director Mark Thomas and filmmaker Rod Morris.
2019 is 10 years since Scottish singer-songwriter John Martyn died at the age of 60 – the age Sarah Jane will be this year. Like John Martyn, Sarah Jane is a singer-song-writer in my own right and one of those touched by his influence and genius. This performance work explores form by moving dynamically between an oratorio format and theatre.
There are challenges in presenting a life which was often troubled, and a personality capable, on the one hand, of exquisite sensibility, on the other of cruelty and dysfunction. But the story of Martyn’s life is inevitably conjoined with his art, which gives Sarah Jane the opportunity to tell that story, using his own words and music.
She has included Martyn’s music in her core repertoire for more than twenty years; has lived in some of the places Martyn lived in; and has played music with some of those who played with Martyn. Sarah Jane believes she can lay claim to Martyn’s artistic culture without pretence or exaggeration.
“…a transcendent mix of cold fury and compassion” THE OBSERVER
“…this is a remarkable album…for its ambition, its sound world, its powerful stories and, at its centre, the breath-taking range and timbral richness of Sarah Jane Morris’s voice..” JAZZWIS