Saira Clegg is a rare talent

- 07-Feb-2017 -

Bandmaster Andrew Mackereth reviews Water's Edge for SA Bandsman

The Bandmaster of the Salvation Army's Symphonic Wind Ensemble reviews Saira's debut solo Album.

Saira Clegg is a rare talent. Her debut solo CD Album, Water's Edge, offers a sublime mix of sacred and secular melodies arranged semi-biographically to narrate her recent life story. The collection of tracks is a much a journey and testimony as it is a showcase for her ability as through the music choices and accompanying sleeve notes, we can trace her faith journey and her musical journey in parallel.

Despite qualifying as a teacher, Saira makes her living as a professional musician in an eclectic range of band and guises with a similarly varied and multifarious wardrobe to match! She has recently risen to prominence as alto sax soloist with the Salvation Army Symphonic Wind Ensemble when her professional commitments permit.

Saira's sound is simply mesmerising! In every register, the quality of her sound is exceptional. Eric Ball probably never envisaged that his 'Begin the day with God' would ever be presented by an alto saxophone, but the soaring majesty of the title phrase sounds like it was made for the instrument.

It is unlikely that another solo CD anywhere in the world would be able to present Ball, Bozza, Blyth and Bulla in one collection, so Saira and her team are to be commended for their courage and vision, as it really does work. Picking favourite tracks is a challenge, but a couple of the slow melodies, "In the quiet moment' and 'Water's Edge' probably most effectively demonstrate her control, her tone and musicianship.

In lighter vein, the impish 'Cindary Noel' (Stephen Bulla) provides Saira with an opportunity to use multi-track technology to enable her to play three separate parts in the middle section - I defy you to listen without tapping your feet!

Saira is in fine company on this project and her accompaniment is especially sensitive and often understated, with some really excellent piano playing from Elliot Launn. What is particularly nice about the arrangements is that the bass guitar and drums are used sparingly and enhance the pieces rather than dominate or distract.

This disc is certainly easy to listen to and will have a wide appeal. I for one hope it will inspire and encourage other players of orchestral instruments to see the importance of their musical ministry and witness within The Salvation Army too.


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