Jess Gillam: Rise – Music by Pedro Iturralde, Kate Bush, Alessandro Marcello, Darius Milhaud, John Williams, Michael Nyman, John Harle, David Bowie, Kurt Weill, John Dowland, Rudy Wiedoeft, Dmitri Shostakovich, Francis Lai, Traditional.

Reviewed on Wed 15 May, 2019

Jess Gillam's recorded debut sets out her stall with a confidence matched by dexterous technique and admirable maturity.

With an appearance at the Last Night of the Proms closing her teens in 2018 and her own BBC Radio 3 show ushering in her twenties, Jess Gillam is a saxophonist on a mission with the evangelical zeal to see it through. Her recorded debut sets out her stall with a confidence matched by dexterous technique and admirable maturity. Produced by John Harle (who also provides several arrangements and his own deliciously drunken Rant!), it ranges with youthful brio – and not a little bravura – across genre boundaries to provide something altogether contemporary but solidly rooted in classical antecedents. The mix stretches from John Dowland ('Flow My Tears' a thoughtfully idiomatic duet with guitarist Miloš) and Bach’s peer Alessandro Marcello to Milhaud’s effervescent Brazileira, Shostakovich’s deliciously drunken Waltz, Michael Nyman and film music by John Williams and Francis Lai. Affecting takes on pop icons Kate Bush and David Bowie show Gillam as a musician with sincerity to match her remarkable, lightly worn virtuosity.
–Michael Quinn