Iain Ballamy & friends

Music, song, film, poetry...

Iain Ballamy – saxophones
Stian Carstensen – accordion
Matthew Sharp – cello
Kit Downes – piano

Small but perfectly formed, the Pepper Street Orchestra made it’s debut in with ‘Pepper street interludes’  for Feral records in 2000, featuring Matthew Sharp on cello and voice,  Iain Ballamy on saxophone and Stian Carstensen on button accordion.

In 2015 the band expanded to include Kit Downes on piano and the superb Swedish vocalist Emilia Mårtensson for a joint commission to celebrate the 20th Jazz Festival and 10th Manchester Literary Festival. The commission featured the group performing a unique, multi-media performance entitled "An apes progress”  which incorporated words and poetry read by Irish poet Matthew Sweeney and film images by the renowned graphic artist and film director Dave McKean

The music is an unusual blend of chamber and jazz with hints of eastern european folk creating a captivating and evocative atmosphere when they perform.

Ballamy’s music ebbed and flowed throughout, creating complementary atmospheres and accompaniments to the episodes of the tale; a meeting with the ghost of Dr John Dee, another with L S Lowry, an imagined love affair with Emmeline Pankhurst, and the ape’s eventual decline in the taverns of Portland Street...
— Peter Woodman, Manchester Evening News
The score was an exemplary demonstration of how to create an expansive score, which moves effortlessly between moods and genres, out of a small ensemble.
— James David Ward, The Manchester Review