Latest Bill
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Latest Bill

Brighton, England, United Kingdom | INDIE

Brighton, England, United Kingdom | INDIE
Band Country Singer/Songwriter


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"The Life and Death Orchestra"

"A fun musical about the horrors of Auschwitz sounds like an oxymoron. But the writers and producers of the Life and Death Orchestra have created a powerful new work, which premiered at Komedia on Holocaust Memorial Day. With a first half based on daily life in Auschwitz and the second about the present-day tragedy of Darfur, the musical trod a fine line between the horrors of genocide and the optimism of the human spirit.

The story mainly revolved around Holocaust survivor Tadeusz Borowsky (Beth Morgan). The show's epic song, This Way For The Gas Ladies and Gentlemen, was adapted from his tale of an ordinary day in Auschwitz.

Other characters included Polish deputy Kapo (Ross Gurney-Randall), who was forced to work in the gas chambers, Borowsky's girlfriend Maria Rundo (Adele Ziz), Micheline Maurel (Angi Mariani), and the artist Arnold Daghani (Guy Picot) and his wife Nanino (Jenny James), the sole survivors of Mikhailowka forced labour camp. These last two later emigrated to the UK, becoming residents of Hove.

The show also featured Joan (Kerry Mclean) playing a Darfur refugee. Composer Bill Smith believes Borowsky's account to be one of the great works of world literature. "Even though prisoners were not complicit in these barbaric acts, Tadeusz Borowsky felt immense guilt," he said.

Although the characters were based on real people the words they spoke were drawn from many sources, including their own texts. Written by Smith, Guy Picot and Angi Mariani with music by Smith and Bim Sinclair, the score was performed by the Brighton Youth Orchestra conducted by Andrew Sherwood, and the Rainbow Chorus. Far from a superficial sing-along musical, this was a performance that treated its audience like intelligent people concerned with real issues." - The Argus - Brighton's Daily Newspaper

"Edinburgh Festival Reviews"

"Well done, somebody; candles and red tablecloths bring a welcome degree of nightclub intimacy to the cavernous barn that is the Southside Theatre.

Bill Smith, the composer of all the songs we are going to hear today, greets us as we sit down and tells us that the words are written by people who survived the Nazi concentration camps, or visited them afterwards. The orchestra of seven take their places. The music begins.

"After Auschwitz, poetry is barbaric," wrote the German critic Theodor Adorno. But the Life and Death Orchestra adhere to the greater imperative; the need to give voice to feelings of guilt, anger, despair and human betrayal, to speak of the unspeakable.
As they play and sing, pictures begin to form of a terrible, monochrome place; a place where real and desperate people throw their last messages from trains and gas is carried to the chambers in Red Cross vans; a place where children are flung in the air for target practice and parents must scour the ground for little naked bodies.

And so what was billed as "an astonishingly dramatic musical performance" was, in many ways, the opposite; a simple, delicate, respectful and utterly moving collection of songs, narratives and instrumental pieces, eschewing the blatancy of drama in favour of the power of words and music and the sheer weight of history.

The songs are rich and intense - from strong narrative works like "Five Men" or "Death Fugue", musically reminiscent of Bob Dylan's best work, to melancholy gypsy paeans and exceptional, emotional pieces like "This Way to the Gas". At times the violin becomes a train, then the screams of its human cargo; Herbie Flowers's bass talks of foreboding and doom; Angi Mariani's voice soars sweetly and the sense of engagement is total. I would have liked a little more from Bill Smith in the way of introductions to some of the pieces and the stage lighting was a bit on the harsh and static side. Other than that, it lives long in the memory, one of the most moving and enriching shows on the Fringe." - - Scotland's Number 1 Newspaper

"The Stage"

"The musical programme of this piece, based on writings from and about the Holocaust, is a deeply moving experience. It is very much to the credit of the creators and performers that it is also ultimately more uplifting that depressing.

The seven piece orchestra is led by Bill Smith, who set the poetry, letters
and memoirs that make up the text to music. He alternates vocal duties with Angi Mariani, and while neither has a conventionally trained voice - he leans toward Dylanesque nasality while she has a church singer's tremolo - the roughness of their delivery gives it all a passionate sincerity.

Texts range from survivor memoirs to the works of poets like Zbigniew
Herbert and Czeslaw Milosz. The juxtapositions of prose and music can prove very affecting, as when the mode of a torch song supports lyrics about the ultimate separation. Most movingly, the programme ends with a waltz and the affirmation of love and life.a fully worthwhile hour." - Gerald Berkowitz

"Theatre Review"

"Gallows humour is fused with words of unfathomable poignancy by Brighton's Life and Death Orchestra in their musical about the Holocaust and genocide, "This Way For The Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen". Based on the writings of Holocaust survivors and poets, the production by the seven-piece orchestra harmonises the harrowing recollections of the Nazi concentration camps in a series of 18 songs, interspersed with stark narrative passages.

Incorporating the outer limits of what humanity has proved capable of doing to itself in a song may seem incongruous, but Bill Smith and Bim Sinclair's compositions prove a compelling amalgam of Tom Waits' black vision with String Driven Thing's tortured humanity - and are searing in their simplicity.

From the wispily haunting despair of 'Never', to the jauntily ironic despair of the Ravensbruck inspired 'Be Happy', via the casually destructive velocity of a bullet in 'Five Men', the message may be unerringly bleak, but there is also a delicate beauty in pianist Mike Hatchard's instrumental, 'Klara's Escape', and for all their horror the lyrics also look out across history to find universal, albeit unedifying truths.

Angi Mariani is superb in the title piece, based on the words of Tadeusz Borowski, - who survived Auschwitz only to commit suicide in Warsaw." - The Jewish Chronicle

"The Life and Death Orchestra"

"Go placidly amid the noise and haste of the Fringe and remember what peace there is in silence. We sat in silence, stunned by the sheer emotional waste of humanity portrayed in the almost informal performance of songs and narrative taken from the victims of the Nazi Death camps. Bill Smith introduced each section with heartfelt conviction and the accomplished musicianship of the orchestra was evident immediately. The acoustics of the venue were well mixed and suited the sombre nature of the pieces incredibly well.

Nick Pynn;s violin, shrieking a discordant wail in the opening cacophony of Deathfugue and then soaring into wonderful rapture with Angi Mariani's
ethereal vocals, singing of 'naked little bodies with bloated skin' was enough to make you weep.

It is a masterpiece.Humanity is listening and long may the voices from the Holocaust of man's making be heard." - Metro


is love love?
The Night Closed In - Song Noir
Songs For The Betrayed World - The Life & Death Orchestra
Gatecrash Nashville - To be released in 2010



Latest Bill is the next Serge Gainsbourg. He writes viciously honest songs about love and life. is love love? is the soundtrack to infatuation. Fifteen songs tell the brutally honest story of the love? life of mister b and illustrate the thin line between love and hate, between sexual ecstasy and murder!

The Night Closed In - Song Noir is about as dark a record as you could imagine. It includes Auschwitz songs like This Way For The Gas, Ladies & Gentlemen, alongside a Charles Bukowski story - The Most Beautiful Woman In Town and a playboy drug dealer's short but exciting life in Trafficante. All in all, a record guaranteed to make you feel happy to be alive or as it says in Be Happy ”Be happy, millions of people envy you.”

Strangely he's now rebelling by making a happy album, Gatecrash Nashville, to be released in 2010.