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recorder and jazz ensemble

Perfect Houseplants

"This band are perilously close to becoming a national tresure" Mojo

Pamela’s highly successful collaboration with the hugely respected contemporary jazz group Perfect Houseplants continues into its 7th year! Most recently they have taken their memorable, multi-styled compositions and startling arrangements to York Jazz Weekend, Llangollen Jazzin’ and Chelsea Festival.

New Folk Songs is a radical reworking of traditional songs (or fragments of them) as well as new compositions influenced by the landscape and people of East Anglia. The simple beauty of the source material is re-arranged and deconstructed to produce a unique fusion of jazz, folk and classical; the three composers of Perfect Houseplants (Huw Warren, Mark Lockheart and Dudley Phillips) have woven strands from both traditional music and new music to create an innovative yet highly accessible suite of pieces.

Perfect Houseplants is is acknowledged as being "at the cutting edge of contemporary music" The Guardian.

Through their radical collaborations with early music group The Orlando Consort and violinist Andrew Manze they are regarded as one of the most interesting cross–over groups to have emerged from Britain. As well as heavily drawing on the Jazz and Contemporary Classical world, examples of Ragtime, Brazilian and even Cartoon music can be found on many Perfect Houseplants recordings.

Whilst spectacular virtuoso skills are virtually compulsory for Jazz or Contemporary Music groups, Perfect Houseplants' intuitive, humourous and subtle interplay are a far rarer jewel which clearly gives Perfect Houseplants it's unique and special voice.

The group has performed throughout Europe and frequently records for BBC Radio 3. Recent performances include: Bath Festival,Vienna Jazz Festival , Cheltenham Jazz Festival, La Biennale di Venezia and Henley Festival.

Individually the members of Perfect Houseplants have played with a glittering array of British talent, including Django Bates, Kenny Wheeler, Dave Holland, Colin Towns, Andy Sheppard, Prefab Sprout, June Tabor, etc.

More drama than the RSC” The Wire

New Folksongs is available on Linn Records (AKD 130)


Perfect Houseplants are:

Mark Lockheart saxophones and clarinet

Huw Warren piano,cello and accordion.

Dudley Phillips acoustic and electric basses

Martin France drums and percussion


New Folk Songs - Reviews


MOJO, May, 2001

Excellent fifth album by the artful British jazzers.

One of the things that makes this brainiest of contemporary jazz groups so special is that they have always been able to balance their genre-hopping plethora of ingenuity with a palpable beauty. Here, they return to the virtuosic quartet of Head Boys that formed in '92 - Mark Lockheart (saxes), Huw Warren (piano, accordion), Dudley Phillips (bass), Martin France (drums) - for a series of Eastern Arts-commissioned pieces inspired by East Anglia. Smart composers all, you won't find any of these 'new folk songs' reworked on singers' night but there's much here that's moving, in addition to being impressive. Warren particularly has an alluring melancholy streak in his writing, as witnessed by the lovely Old Song New Song, an adaptation of the ancient Brigg Fair, and Dunwich & The Sea, a haunting portrait of the Suffolk town crumbling over eroding cliffs. This band are perilously close to becoming a national treasure.

Chris Ingham


JAZZWISE, April, 2001

The fact that New Folk Songs was directly inspired by the folk music and landscape of East Anglia may set pulses racing for all the wrong reasons (evoking as it does the stereotypically nightmarish vision of unkempt beards, jesus sandals and horrid sweaters). Let me immediately assuage any doubts: this is a remarkable album, constantly surprising and brilliantly coloured, with some acutely sensitive interplay. The opener 'Pageant' is framed by a circular, minimalist piano riff (with particular echoes of Steve Reich - East anglian Counterpoint?) before settling down into a loping and catchy 7/4 vamp. 'The Lighthouse' is particularly haunting, a tour de force of restraint - once the beguiling slow groove has been established by bass and drums (the excellent pairing of Dudley Phillips and Martin France) a telling dialogue ensues between soprano sax (Mark Lockheart) and recorder (special guest Pamela Thorby, used to great effect on four of the album's 12 tracks). In a typically felicitous use of colour, the track's long fade sees pianist Huw Warren ritualistically marking time with an unchanging two-chord figure, with the 'prepared' piano made to sound like a cimbalom.