The Music Lounge

Julie Sassoon UK Tour

Review of the Julie Sassoon recital at the Terry O’ Toole Theatre in Lincoln

ju-oneRetro Culturati travelled to the Terry O’Toole Theatre in Lincoln to see a performance by the very talented pianist, Julie Sassoon. Originally from England but now residing in Berlin, Julie has won great critical acclaim for her work which blends classical and jazz traditions to stunning effect. The evening was organised and hosted by Lincoln Jazz Pac, a not-for-profit making, volunteer group dedicated to bringing jazz artists to Lincolnshire.

Julie studied classical music and art at Lancaster University before taking a post-graduate course at Leeds in jazz piano and Indian violin. Half German-Jewish and now married to a German, Julie’s latest work is an offering to her family’s history and those dark days before and during the Second World War and she played some of the tracks from her album tonight.

Her music cannot be categorised, it is quite impossible. The music ebbs and flows with grace, beauty, aggression and real soul. The listener is taken on a journey, never knowing where the next notes are coming from or where they will lead and often, Julie, immersed in the improvisation doesn’t know either. There were moments of blistering speed, running through incredible, atmospheric scales before returning to an introspective, dark lament. At times the lead notes are accompanied by her voice, hauntingly beautiful, they emphasise the harrowing melodies which describe her family’s history and the soul of her new home, Berlin. I know of no music quite like it, forget trying to play her CD’s and videos as background music, it demands your attention throughout and her live performances are compelling.

I felt very lucky to watch this wonderful talent from barely six feet away, the feel of the acoustics coupled with her animated performance style gave the pieces another depth than can be felt watching her videos and I would urge anyone to seek out her live performances and experience it for themselves. Personal highlights were; ‘Forty-Four’, ‘Land of Shadows’ and the magnificent ‘What the Church Bells Saw’. She was a gracious hostess, talking to the audience between pieces and playing an encore. Music of this quality deserves a receptive audience and Lincoln provided that tonight.

‘The Land of Shadows’ CD  has a bonus DVD live performance of ‘What the Church Bells Saw’ and is on the jazzwerkstatt label. The album ‘New Life’ from 2006 which features ‘Forty-Four’ is available on the Babel Label.

For more information about Julie visit her website at: and you can find Lincoln Jazz Pac on Facebook and Twitter.


4 replies »

  1. Thanks for this generous but deserved review but Would like to point out that it was promoted by the venue as part of ArtsNk’s music programme. They are a professional team who are part of the Lincolnshire Jazzpac promoters collective, a small detail but when an organisation shows the foresight and courage to program such quality arts its good to give credit where its due.


      • I’ve worked with Julie in the past and there are plans to bring her back to the UK in 2015, possibly with her husband German saxophonist Luther Altmeier. I’ll keep you updated. There’s likely to be a gig in Leicester and possibly in Nottingham.


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