Sunday 7th April was to be something fairly new for us – we generally go and see loud Punk and Rock bands, but we fancied something different for a change. We had listened to Don Kipper online but never had the fortune to witness them in a live setting until then.
We turned up to find a semicircle of chairs laid out near the Nave of the Abbey facing a bizarre collection of seldom seen instruments which immediately intrigued and surprised us.
Clarinet player Daniel Gouly was off to the side playing a little tune to his ancient Jewish counterparts before practically skipping back down the aisle to join the rest of the band pre-gig.
We didn’t have to wait many minutes before welcoming the whole band to the stage area – a mesmerising set of characters, each an individual and impossible to take your eyes off.
They struck up their instruments… and it was quite possibly the most sublime sound I’ve ever heard. Each note hit every part of the inside of that beautifully dark Abbey – even Gouly had a “Wow, I’ve never heard anything like this before” look on his face. Truly joyful, completely triumphant.
This was the first time ever that this ancient Saxon heritage Abbey had resonated to the almost alien but breathtaking tones of the near Eastern and Yiddish scales.
There is a heavy influence of Romani Music in what they do, but don’t go thinking that’s all they are – there is a Heinz 57 variety hot pot of complimentary eastern styles; fascinating Jewish Klezmer, stunning Turkish love songs, energetic Northern Greek & Macedonian dances and pulsating North African rhythms.
Drummer Timmy Doyle seemed to have the look of a Baltic Norseman and played like a demon. I never realised drums could be so musical sounding, but when combined with the complimenting acoustics of the church it blew my mind.
The eccentric Ian Anderson-esque accordion and duda (I’m pretty sure that’s what it’s called!) player Josh Middleton and the little Jewish hat loving Gouly had an obviously special bond and worked off each other each inspiring and delighting the other in their interplay.
Tim Karp is a guitarist with subtle Jazz chops as well as a smooth Hungarian Minor byzantine scale phrases, however he really shines when picking up the 12 string oud and the haunting tones of this traditional Turkish instrument transports us to the Bosporus and Constantinople.
Then there is singer Dunja Botic. Oh my. I have honestly never heard a voice so entrancing. She has an intense richness to her voice that is rare to hear. Because she sings in languages other than English, you notice it a lot more as you’re not focusing so much on the words she is singing. It makes you realise the voice truly is an instrument and when practised can be something incredibly special.
I’m still stunned by what I witnessed that Sunday evening and we are so glad we chose to attend. We will definitely be seeing them again.