Orfeo 5 formed in 2002 out of a series of text/music projects curated by The Word Hoard artists’ co-op. They’ve composed and toured a number of commissions in different line-ups, and released two CDs, a year on the ice from The Word Hoard in 2009, and in the green castle from Discus in 2017. The core of the group’s sound comes from longstanding members Shaun Blezard on electronics and Keith Jafrate on saxophones, with other players from an extended family of musicians and poets joining them from time to time.
This excerpt from Keith’s liner notes can serve as an introduction to their new release, the long view: “A week before lockdown began in the UK in March 2020, I recorded the first part of the long view, to attempt some kind of perspective on what was happening. While making the piece, it occurred to me that I could use the enforced period at home to make new work that had some bearing on this strange confinement we were all about to enter. Composing and recording over the following weeks, I listened again, as part of a kind of idle stock-take, to a series of trio recordings orfeo 5 made in 2007-08, with Shaun Blezard and I joined by the singer Ali Rigg. To my immense joy, they not only sounded great, but seemed to fit perfectly with my idea of addressing lockdown as an incentive to travel in the imagination. I promptly messaged Shaun with a proposal to combine the new material and this old unreleased session in a new orfeo 5 release for Discus.
He called immediately to tell me Ali was dead. I can’t listen to it now without crying, for sorrow and for joy. Our intention to develop and refine the material was never realised, because Ali unexpectedly withdrew from the process for her own reasons, and I think Shaun and I felt it would be inappropriate to question them. It’s like a gig, everything recorded live to two-track, including the technical problems. Only the poems aren’t improvised. Listening now, I ask myself why I wrote the way I did, and in different circumstances I would probably have revised the whole series. But Ali’s singing justifies my words, and I stand by the story we made between the three of us, in the hope it can be some sort of antidote to the hopeless narratives currently peddled by heartless fools worldwide.”