This recording of "Upswing" ,in the year they were voted Best Big Band in the UK, is the perfect and complimentary foil to the debut CD "Playing with Fire" (JITCD 9812).Whilst the initial cd set out the bands no nonsense approach,this record adds a subtle depth and width of repertoire without conceding anything to their stated intent of performing present day straight ahead music -NO SOUNDALIKE BAND HERE !
There is no let up in superb quality and performance,from the flagwaving opening arrangement by pianist Matt O'Regan of "The Song is You"-full of finesse and freshness, to the last track "Nomad" an exciting jazz/rock chart with Liam Kirkman featuring on his EVI(Electronic Valve Instrument).An arrangement by Frank Griffith which typifies the bands exciting approach to music.
In between Frank Griffiths .whose original arrangements were the basis of the debut album,weighs in with a superb,subtle and softly swinging "Silver's Serenade" where Dave Jones on bss treads a fair measure,then offering a tantalising mixture of tone and shading in "Phineas" featuring Matt O'Regan(pno),Ollie Preece(flugel) and Scott Garland (lead alto) and then allowing a melodic "Autumn in New York" to be finessed by trombonist Barnaby Dickenson .
The mixture contains intriguing and powerful tracks in "All Blues" and "Meaning of the Blues".The first with an attention gathering solo from Pete Wareham(tnr) and the latter allowing tenorist Ben Castle the opportunity for a superb and evocative solo of the highest order.I'lll bet you play these again and again.They will demand it of you.
A reborn "Laura",newly dressed,sophisticated and vibrant,highlights the arranging talents of another emerging talented British arranger in Martin Williams .
Martin is also responsible for the writing of "King Size Skins" as a feature for Pete Cater. Pete normally spends his time providing a solid platform for the band,-meticulous, precise, controlling,cajoling here,punching things along there,subtly filling in and always swinging- all in all a great world class technical and musical drummer.soloing on this track and confirming his musicality,subtlety and precision ,whether with sticks or brushes.
A raft of gifted soloists.This band is blessedwith such a fine array of musicians who all have the ability to more than fill any solo spots,and probably the best rhythm section in Europe .A first class aggregation and a tremendous performace here.
This band is on the right track. It is so refreshing to hear somone joining the great tradition ot British Big Bands and who,unlike the soundalikes, is trying to move music on and re-invigorate the big band scene world-wide - as this band surely will.
The insert liner notes and photo's are excellent.