Betty Accorsi is ‘Growing Roots’

On the 15th July, 2022, up and coming jazz saxophonist and composer Elizabetta ‘Betty’ Accorsi will release her new album Growing Roots. This follows the success of her debut recording The Cutty Sark Suite released in the December of 2020. The latest release is inspired by her first year in Brighton following three years of living in London. Each album track relates to a photograph of one of six favourite places in and around Brighton taken by Betty, all the compositions are original.

‘Ampollo’ is inspired by a stained-glass window in Brighton’s Royal Pavillion and opens with a repeating phrase on the double bass played by Andy Hamill. The piano of Daniel Hewson and Betty Accorsi on soprano sax bring in the tune’s central theme and I was immediately struck by Betty’s playing: controlled, engaging and melodic. The middle section piano solo is very expressive, and the drum patterns played beneath by Scott MacDonald are a subtle accompaniment until he too gets the opportunity to solo. This is a good contemporary jazz opener and a strong indicator as to how Betty Accorsi uses the range on the soprano sax to such good effect.

I was delighted by the melodic line played by Betty on ‘Looking At The Horizon’, I found it easy to relate to and enjoyed the way she wove it in and out of the number. The energy of the piece wis driven by the piano and bass combination. There is a variation on the tune from Betty before she slips effortlessly back the main theme. The number then reverts to the punchy opening bars played on repeat until a relatively quick fade out. ‘Like A Tree’ slows the tempo to a ballad and features Betty as vocalist as well as saxophonist. The melody is introduced by Daniel Hewson at the piano and flows with ease, as do Betty’s vocals. This is a very relaxed tune, one to wallow in and soak up the atmosphere while admiring the lyrical sax playing, and subtle drumming of Scott McDonald.

‘King Arthur Walk In Rottingdean’ changes the musical style completely. There is more than a nod to medieval folk music on this track. This is a sedate tune gently driven by the placed drum beat and the effective use of the upper register on the saxophone. It is so easy to imagine oneself walking through the historic village of Rottingdean behind King Arthur as he takes the air. ‘Lively House’ maintains a regal link but this time to The Prince Albert pub in Brighton. There is a light cheeriness and energy about this number, nothing is forced. The tune ebbs and flows with echoes of Weather Report, particularly from the keyboard of Daniel Hewson.

The final track of the album is another seaside related number in ‘Blue Wave’. The tune opens with what I would describe as free form jazz styling before the musical theme is introduced on the sax and picked up by the piano. Just as you think that the number has settled into a light funk groove it fades out and in comes Betty Accorsi as vocalist with a nod to Bjӧrk. The sax then picks up the melody and the tune moves on once more before repeating. I enjoyed the structure of this track, its layering, texture, variation of tone, and wonderful playing.

This is a very good album that I will be playing for some time to come. Betty Accorsi is easy to listen to both as vocalist and saxophonist but that is not to say that what is heard is simplistic. Many composers indicate the source of their inspiration but, for me, do not always match their music to their words and this is where Betty’s strengths lie. Her compositions take you where she says the music belongs; I was walking with King Arthur; I was watching the ‘Blue Wave[s]’ at the seaside; and I was enjoying the atmosphere of the ‘Lively House’. Add to this the musicianship of the band and the clarity of tone Betty gets from the soprano sax and you are left with a compelling contemporary jazz album that is a joy to listen to.

The album is available via Bandcamp.

Musicians: Betty Accorsi – soprano sax and vocals; Daniel Hewson – piano; Andy Hamill – bass; Scott MacDonald – drums.

Tracklist: 1. Ampollo. 2. Looking At The Horizon. 3. Like A Tree. 4. King Arthur Walks In Rottingdean. 5. Lively House 6. Blue Wave.

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