CD: Iain Ballamy and Stian Carstensen 'The Little Radio', The Independent, BBC Music

The Independent April 23, BBC Music April 2004

28/04/2004 ::  

lAIN BALLAMY and STIAN CARSTENSEN opt for a whimsical menu for their duo album. Duets for tenor saxophone and accordion aren't exactly thick on the ground, even in this polyglot age, and the two players must have felt free to set whatever agenda they pleased. It turns out that tunes as disparate as 'Body and Soul', 'Windmills of Your Mind' and 'Teddy Bears' Picnic' push their boat, and one could be forgiven for expecting a surfeit of kitsch. Instead, the record is charming. Ballamy is very good at combining wistfulness and a more astringent viewpoint, and Carstensen, even if he tends to be stuck as second fiddle, is clever at threading an orchestral counterpoint into their collectivity. This might lack the gravitas of the beautiful sax and accordion dialogues by Gianluigi Trovesi and Gianni Cosca, but it falls very pleasingly on the ear.

BBC Music


The ex-Loose Tubes sax-man and the oddball Norwegian accordionist go head to head on a crazy duet that has the chutzpah to mix “Body and Soul” with “The Teddy Bears Picnic” and still come out winning. Logically, it should be pretentious and twee but such is the dotty duo’s evident sincerity that you can’t help feeling that music should be this unplugged and off-the-cuff more often.

Phil Johnson

Send this article to a friend
Print version