Reviews

NONSENSE

"The final gig of my festival certainly provided something completely different. A collaboration between the Homemade Orchestra (itself a meeting of minds between jazz saxophonist Tim Whitehead and composer Colin Riley) and children's poet Michael Rosen, this gig proved not just hysterically funny but also creatively sophisticated. Rosen's nonsense poems are ostensibly expressions of the simple joys of inventive rhyming, but many of them are not as nonsensical as they might first appear. Their scheming wordplay and sharp observations on commercialism and chaotic modern life offer food for thought for grown-ups too. Whitehead and Riley's music is sophisticated, but in an apposite way ? it is by turns slithery, slimy, frantic and mischievous. The quotations from Match of the Day and The Simpsons theme raise a smile, but the hilarious deployment of various toys and gizmos, combined with unashamedly physical playing provide both support and a neat counterpoint to Rosen's exaggerated readings. Whilst space for improvising is understandably limited, this provided a brilliant introduction to the worlds of jazz and contemporary composition for the younger members of the audience as well as breathtaking entertainment for all."

"I was at the lively Sunday morning family breakfast gig in the Town Hall by "Children's Laureate" Michael Rosen with Colin Riley/ Tim Whitehead's Homemade Orchestra in "Nonsense". This was a show ideal for children of any age including this blogger. Michael Rosen is like the anarchically inspired teacher all kids should have at some point in their lives- maybe Year 5 or Year 6 would be the best time. His poems, with extra kick in every rhythm from the compositions, certainly captured the imagination and the undivided attention of the children sitting round me. A top pro band with the likes of Liam Noble and Oli Hayhurst was an essential part of this project. And adults I met in the street later also kept quoting lines from it at me, like...There's a Toad. In the Road. There's a nice clip from Nonsense on the Homemade Orchestra's website. I hope many more schoolkids get to hear and see this: it's fun!"

London Jazz blogspot, May 2009

"Rosen's verse for children finds a happy home in jazz - the rhythms and concision and playfulness can easily be illustrated and amplified and complemented by a good band, and in Tim Whitehead and Colin Riley's Homemade the poet has a very good band. Liam Noble in on piano, Oli Hayhurst on bass and there are vibes, guitar and drums too.?Had I been taken along as a child to hear Michael reading his poetry and Tim playing some lovely saxophone, I would have considered it a fine start in life and setting the bar high for poets and saxophonists in years to come. Come to think of it, I feel that way now and I'm 57 - ?I'm 57 you know,? he shouts in true Eddie Izzard fashion."

Peter Bacon, Birmingham Evening Post, May 2009

TIDES

"Some of the most beautiful music you will hear this year ... lithe and buoyant .... has the hairs rising on the back of your neck."
Peter Bacon, Birmingham Post

"Here are wondrous ideas, perfectly executed and with exquisite sound."
Garry Booth, BBC Music Magazine

"Intensely sad, celebratory, ruminative. Thoughtful and impressionistic contemporary music that rewards repeated listenings."
Andrew Vine, Yorkshire Post

"A dark, cinematic, gorgeous thing filled with strange grooves."
Time Out

"Jazz and classical music should go together more often if the new album 'Tides' is anything to go by. Intelligent, confident, accessible ... a labour of love rather than a product. "
John L Walters, The Guardian

"A very English, very appealing fusion."
John Bungey, The Times

"Unusually colourful and seductive depths ... created by Riley's restless sense of personal odyssey."
Selwyn Harris, Jazzwise Magazine

"A very special event."
The Guardian

"An extremely intelligent and enjoyable experimental fusion, similar to a spider-web in all its extreme complexity, beautiful to watch, and absolutely unpredictable."
Lara Bellini, Musica Jazz Magazine

"More gigs like these please."
John L Walter, The Guardian

INSIDE COVERS

"... treasure troves of harmonic and rhythmical possibilities ... moon-bright clarity ... an intricate web of ?cello, vibraphone and trip-hop inflected drum machine ... intimations of chaos ... mischievously dissonant attack ... intriguing sound collisions ...a fearless lucky dip of a concert."
The Guardian, April 2004

"Modern pop is now a legitimate source for jazz. The trend reaches a peak with the album Inside Covers by the Homemade Orchestra. The devilishly inventive arrangements bring unsuspecting depths to familiar songs. This attempt to expand the range of jazz is an unreservedly good thing"
The Metro, April 2004

"Deftly interweaving scored and improvised music, Inside Covers is an affectionate and at times overtly tongue in cheek homage to popular song in the twentieth century. Mining a characteristically British seam of surrealist humour, it prompted me to ask when the last time a CD had made me laugh out loud."
Jazzwise, April 2004

"The textural inventions are fascinating ? classical singing and quietly swaying string parts, humming drones and chiming vibes. A brave enterprise."
The Guardian, March 2004

"An audacious venture ... tantalising new territory ..."
Times, April 2004