Music

Grand Union has been recording music for the last 25 years. Our recordings are available on CD from our online shop.

Twenty Favourite Tracks

A selection of tracks demonstrating the amazing musical range and distinctive sound of the Grand Union Orchestra. To get the best results, we suggest you listen on headphones or through good quality hi-fi!

Edited from live performances, recordings and broadcasts – complete versions can be found on the original CDs, direct from us and/or under the album titles below.

All music composed or arranged by Tony Haynes

...joyous, rhythmic world jazz

1: Freedom Calls (5’ 25” – Freedom Calls)
Brass ensemble based on West African rhythms with 2 contrasting trumpet soloists

2: Bhangra Brass (3’ 35” – Bhangra, Babylon and the Blues)
Big band take on the popular dhol rhythm powered by drums and bass guitar

3: Cano (3’ 15” – The Rhythm of Tides)
Kora, djembe and voice lead in a typical Mandinga tune, with punchy brass riffs

4: Eleggua Kó, Eleggua Ra (4’ 10” – Bhangra, Babylon and the Blues)
Call and response brass, saxes and drums based on a Yoruba chant.

…full of drama

5: Ça Ira (5’ 35” – Freedom Calls)
Implacable drums and preachy trombone driving the iconic song of the French Revolution

6: Song of Reconciliation (2’ 50” – The Rhythm of Tides)
A gentler take on West African guitar, kora and drum patterns for brass and saxes

7: The Radiance of a Thousand Suns (4’ 40” – If Paradise…)
Based on the Indian classic Rag Marva and 12-beat time-cycle Ektal

…a glorious range of voices (more on track 25)

8: Mirage (4’ 15” – Now Comes the Dragon’s Hour)
Haunting song evoking travel along the ancient Great Silk Road

9: Meu Amor é Marinheiro (2’ 30” – The Rhythm of Tides)
Soulful Portuguese love-song reminiscent of fado

10: Rimjhimamim (2’ 25” – Now Comes the Dragon’s Hour)
Up-tempo Bengali song with brilliant flute and tabla

11: Nodir Srote Ektaratir (3’ 45” – Now Comes the Dragon’s Hour)
Bluesy duet based around a classic song by the Bengali poet Nasrul

…and atmospheric textures

12: Silence is Consent (3’ 45” – Freedom Calls)
Fragmented voices floating over panpipes, vibraphone, steel pan and bells

13: The Perfumes of Paradise Blues (5’ 30” – If Paradise…)
High octane electric guitar and spine-tingling vocals over Indian rag-based harmony

14: The Flame of Love (3’ 20” – Now Comes the Dragon’s Hour)
A trio of women’s voices blended with exquisite instrumental backings

…including many non-European instruments

15: Rag Mumbai (2’ 30” – The Rhythm of Tides)
Sitar and soprano saxophone freely intertwined in 7-beat Indo-jazz workout

16: Picking Betel Palm (4’ 15” – Bengal Tiger, Shanghai Dragon)
Gu zheng (Chinese harp) in a richly harmonised Chinese folk-song

17: Yemen (3’ 40” – Around the World in 80 Minutes)
Turkish baglama (saz), Anatolian vocal and plangent flugelhorn solo

…and irresistible dance rhythms

18: Mexe Mexe (3’ 40” – Around the World in 80 Minutes)
Calypso-style invitation to dance, from Mozambique

19: Guinea Corn (4’ 35” – The Song of Many Tongues)
Our take on ska with lyrical steel pans, a song much loved by children

20: Can’t Chain Up Me Mind (3’ 55” – Freedom Calls)
High energy reggae alternating with samba with guttural baritone sax solo

Three bonus track of more extended compositions:

21: Collateral Damage (6’ 35” – If Paradise…)
Four great jazz soloists go head to head, spurred on by powerful big band riffs

22: Dolce Catalunya (6’ 50” – The Song of Many Tongues)
Nostalgic lament for three voices, giving way to defiant alto sax and big brass

23: Music at Last (5’ 50” – The Rhythm of Tides)
Four contrasted voices in drifting melody and powerful close harmony

…and a preview of the title song of Grand Union’s next big show at London’s Hackney Empire Theatre, scheduled for spring 2012:

24: Golden Highway (5’ 20”) - a biting, forceful portrayal with rich orchestration and blistering jazz solos of the dominance of global corporate culture – the Silk Road revisited!

…and two more chorus favourites

25: If Music Could… (8’ 30”) – five very different voices with beautiful individual melodies combine to produce amazing harmonies and a celestial epilogue

26: Raise the Banner (4’ 15”) – upbeat celebration of London’s multicultural life and energy reminiscent of the music of South African townships

Recordings

Now Comes the Dragon's Hour

Now Comes the Dragon's Hour

Grand Union Orchestra

RGR309D | CD £10 |

Buy this CD from our shop

The singer in the bar of an airport hotel somewhere (it could be Singapore or Bangkok) is expecting a baby. Contemplating the world the baby will be born into, and what the future holds for her child, she conjures up a series of songs about life along the Great Silk Road past and present - of migration, wars and political upheaval, the seductive sounds of the desert and fantastical visions of Chinese dragons - stories told with the aid of some remarkable musicians passing through the hotel that night...

Performed live by the Grand Union Orchestra, compiled from recordings made by BBC Radio 3 at the Queen Elizabeth Hall and Sadler's Wells Theatre in London for broadcasting nationally. Music by Tony Haynes, lyrics by Masud Ahamed, David Bradford, Vladimir Vega and Li Yan, and featuring seven great singers worldwide, Indian and Chinese virtuosos and all Grand Union's renowned international jazz soloists.

Listen/download MP3s:

Rimjhimamim
The Flame of Love
Nodir Srote Ektaratir
When We Left (ballad section)
When We Left (jazz section)
The Bird of Heavenly Bells

You can buy this CD from our shop.

Around the World in 80 Minutes

Around the World in 80 Minutes

Grand Union Orchestra

RGR307D | CD £10

Buy this CD from our shop

20 tracks, recorded in live performance by various formations of the Grand Union Band in different parts of the world over the last seven years. Most of the music is dance-based, and features a wide range of rhythms from calypso, reggae and soca, through salsa and samba, West African drumming and South African township music to bhangra and Bollywood, with a touch of the Andes, Turkey and China along the way. But don't expect stylistic purity - these are free-wheeling, exuberant collaborations with some of the world's finest and most creative musicians!

Listen/download MP3s:
Kwela
New Day
Mexe Mexe
Ciao Baby Samba
Feelin’ Nice

You can buy this CD from our shop.

The Rhythm of Tides/Por Mares do Imaginário

The Rhythm of Tides/Por Mares do Imaginário

Grand Union Orchestra

RGR 306D | CD £10

Buy this CD from our shop

Featuring seven leading Portuguese and Portuguese African performers based in Lisbon, alongside the Grand Union Orchestra's regular singers, jazz soloists and Asian musicians. Music by Tony Haynes, lyrics by Manuel Alegre and David Bradford. A series of songs and dramatic instrumentals, loosely tracing the history and legacy of empire from the voyages of Vasco da Gama, through the exile of Camões and establishment of colonial rule, to the wars of independence in Angola, Guiné and Mozambique.

Listen/download MP3s:
Cano
Meu Amor é Marinheiro
The Song of Reconciliation
Music at Last

You can buy this CD from our shop.

Freedom Calls

Freedom Calls

Grand Union Orchestra

RGR 303D | CD £10

Built around the Orchestra's Caribbean, African and South American musicians, with a wide range of singers and soloists. Music by Tony Haynes, lyrics by Valerie Bloom, John Matshikiza and Vladimir Vega. Reflections on oppression and liberty in Africa and the Americas from slavery to apartheid - intensely moving and personal, but ultimately joyous and uplifting.

Listen/download MP3s:
Ça Ira
Can’t Chain up Me Mind
Freedom Calls
No More Apartheid

The Song of Many Tongues – shortly to be reissued on CD, cassette version available
Bhangra, Babylon and the Blues – to be reissued soon, 6-track demo currently available
If Paradise… – currently being edited for release in autumn 2012, demo version available
Bengal Tiger, Shanghai Dragon – currently being assembled, demo available shortly

Grand Union main image Quote from Roots

Latest news

Bengal to Bethnal Green

A new series of this popular monthly programme returns to Rich Mix.

Undream’d Shores

Preparations for a new Hackney Empire spectacular in the autumn begin with a creative workshop programme at Wilton’s Music Hall.

World Jazz Festival

Great review of On the Edge at Wilton’s Music Hall.

RIP Vladimir Vega

An appreciation of the life and work of one of GUO’s most loved and valued musicians.

European project launch

Supported by a European Union Culture Fund grant, our project got off to a great start with partners in Portugal and France.

Supported by the European Cultural Foundation
For regular updates of Gathering, Travelling – Grand Union’s ECF-funded project in collaboration with partners in Portugal and France – please click here.
Supported by the Arts Council England
Youth Music