extraordinary tale – extraordinary singing from the idea of north

As always, The Idea of North delight listeners with their  new CD. Their freshness,  purity of tone and unerring pitch, blend like the strands of a braid that start and end their journey together, meandering their own part in between, independent, but never losing sight of being part of the single design.

Extraordinary Tale (ABC Jazz 476 4524), nominated for for Best Jazz Album in the 2011 ARIA awards, is a collection of 13 tracks arranged for the ensemble by alto Naomi Crellin and bass Andrew Piper. The tracks are an eclectic mix of ballads ( Joni Mitchell’s Both Sides Now, Lennon and McCartney’s In My Life  rhythmic Latin numbers (Chick Corea’s Armando’s Rhumba) , the Motown sound (Aretha Franklin/Ted White’s Sweet Sweet Babe) and what might be called conventional jazz (Sting/Dominic Miller’s  La Belle Dame Sans Regret). Also on the playlist is Andrew Piper’s own  composition and arrangement One Minute More – an amusing look at ‘Mondayitis’.  The TION version of It don’t mean a thing is decelerated to a slow swing without losing any of its rhythmic contagion, and Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home is re-invented with tempo changes and ingenious modulations. Having arrangements done by the singers themselves affords an intimacy and an understanding of the music since they know their voices best. 

Reflecting on the CD,  Piper says: “We had been performing just about all of the tracks from Extraordinary Talelive in concert for a number of years now. It was only a matter of time before we recorded them with countless requests from our fans. There is an underlying jazz influence in our arrangements throughout including some beautiful lush ballads by Stevie Wonder, Joni Mitchell, Sinead O’Connor and Sting. The previous album we recorded was in collaboration with Australia’s own jazz legend, James Morrison which was such a fun project to work on, recording with some of Australia’s finest musician’s. The album, Feels Like Springwon best jazz album for the 2010 ARIA’s. Extraordinary Taletakes us back to our a cappella roots recording entirely with just our four voices”. Every single sound on the album is made by the singers – the rhythm section, percussive effects and scats. Piper adds: ” We are all perfectionists too which is both good and bad”!

For TION, making a recording demands an even higher degree of perfection – if such a state exists – than the live performance.

“We love the opportunity to create in the studio. It is very different from performing live as you don’t have the connection that you get with an audience to help build a performance, you are totally on your own. That said, you have a lot of tools to create with that you don’t get in a live setting such as the ability to multi-track our voices. So, a four piece a cappella group might sound like an eight piece a cappella group on some tracks. We have even sounded like a choir on tracks on past recordings. Now that was fun!”

  The CD is beautifully packaged to create the image of an old parchment map with the four singers setting off on a sea journey of discovery accompanied by fantastic creatures that include a whale and toy birds.

This talented quartet sings with beguiling ease and a sincerity that lulls us through an extraordinary tale that is perfect for a musical journey that asks simply that you listen and enjoy.

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