After slurping down ramen at Wagamama and mulled wine at the Southbank Christmas Market, the scholars settled down to the final event of our day out in London: a performance by Chrissie Hynde and the Valve Bone Woe Ensemble. Best known as the frontwoman of The Pretenders, Hynde’s latest album explores the jazz sphere, covering a number of tracks from giants such as John Coltrane, Charles Mingus, and Frank Sinatra. At the final concert of the EFG London Jazz Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, Hynde showcased these new jazz chops.
The ensemble behind Hynde reflected this confluence of genres. Outfitted with both a grand piano and a synthesiser, an electric guitar and an upright bass, and a brass player wielding both a flugelhorn and valve trombone, the group produced a number of interesting timbres, integrating Hynde’s iconic sound with dense, clustered harmonies. While my coursemates might have been excited to identify all the metric modulations and polyrhythms that we had studied in our music theory classes, her performance was just as enjoyable without a conservatory degree.
As a rock icon performing jazz tunes in a symphonic hall, Chrissie Hynde’s concert proved an intriguing experiment in blended genres and artistic transformations.