The Umbrellas album

Lounge Suite Tango


Umbrellas resDespite the shared suffix can any two instruments be more dissimilar than the sousaphone and vibraphone? The former suggests some lumbering earth god and the latter is all flitting notes and air. That both happily cohabit in the Umbrellas says much about this little orchestra and the breadth of Peter Dasent’s compositions. Each piece is either an evocation or a little drama or comedy in which the various instruments are finely or more broadly drawn characters.

Dasent uses improvising musicians because his pieces demand it, but rather than being an end in itself as with jazz compositions, the improvising fleshes out the characters in each playlet. I call the Umbrellas an orchestra because the range of colours created by just six people makes “band” seem inadequate. Dasent’s own piano, organ and accordion are joined by James Greening’s trombone, pocket trumpet and sousaphone, Andrew Robson’s alto and baritone saxophones, Andrew Wilkie’s vibraphone and marimba, Zoe Hauptmann’s bass and Toby Hall’s drums. This is clever, witty, elegant, and wonderfully diverse music from an ensemble now 35 years old.