Before the ukulele spring of recent years, there was Andy Eastwood. Playing ukulele and ukulele-banjo (as well as violin and guitar) Andy has kept cabaret buzzing in theatres across the world with his animated virtuoso salute to the music hall tradition for many a year, working along side many of the greats. With a further fervor for jazz and pop he is regarded as a ukulele master endorsed by the authenticity of being the first Oxford graduate to give his recital on a ukulele!
Andy’s latest release (2015) is a freshly arranged suite of classical pieces for solo ukulele, perhaps arcing back to his revolutionary Oxford twist but certainly with the intent to inspire others to explore the ukulele’s potential…
My hope in writing and recording this little suite of classical-style pieces is that I might help encourage people to recognise it as such, and invite you to appreciate the ukulele’s possibilities in the context of another musical realm.
The opening piece is an arrangement of Danse des Mirlitons from Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker, a well thought out choice to perhaps gently entice the non-classical enthusiast with a melody everyone is familiar with (Frank Muir anyone?). As can only be expected, the performance is delightful with subtle and effective expression weaved into Andy’s adroit technique culminating in a powerful crescendo to the last harmonic chord.
Secondly comes Chopin’s Étude (Op 10, No.3) and true to the origin of the musical form in showcasing the performer’s talent, the delivery is quite exquisite with a dazzling display of dexterity. The finesse and vivacity Andy puts into this particular piece is stunning and gives a sparkling edge to the arrangement.
The finale of the suite is an up-tempo adaptation of a song melody from 1902 made famous by Caruso (1913), soulful in the beginning and building to an enthusiastic accelerando and towering conclusion.
As a bonus track we’re treated to a live performance of Andy’s famous and rather clever banjo-lele version of William Tell’s Overture putting us back in the music hall territory Andy is perhaps most famous for.
A natural born entertainer, it’s a real treat to hear Andy’s skilful artistry rendered in this passionate classical style pushing that vintage Martin sound into a more scholastic genre to produce an utterly masterful EP.
Head on over to Andy’s website to find out all about him and more importantly buy yourself a copy of this delightful EP straight from the artist himself (or it’s available in iTunes & Amazon). You can also follow him Twitter just like we do and if you want to try before you buy, you can see Andy perform these tracks on YouTube for the grand total of nowt!