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Benjamin Croft: 10 Reasons To...

Roger Farbey By

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Benjamin Croft: 10 Reasons To...
British keyboardist and composer Benjamin Croft began piano and trumpet lessons at age seven and later earned a BA (Hons) Music degree at Leeds College of Music. In his debut album 10 Reasons To..., Croft dedicates four tracks to his heroes Allan Holdsworth, Keith Emerson, Christopher Lee, and Gustav Mahler. A disparate bunch to be sure, but Croft's compositions, written over a period of two years, hang together surprisingly well.

A dark recitation over the atmospheric "100 Years At Sea Introduction" channels Vincent Price's famous voiceover on Michael Jackson's Thriller (Epic Records, 1982), which is appropriate since the piece is dedicated to Edgar Allan Poe. This melodramatic precursor soon drifts away into the more substantial jazz-rock of "100 Years At Sea." Benet McLean's violin was crucial on the opener and he plays an even more prominent role here. McLean establishes the catchy melody over lustrous electric piano, often evincing a sound similar to early Jean-Luc Ponty, particularly when he double-stops. The short, synthesizer-rich "One Million Years At Sea" is considerably heavier than its predecessor, but "Bad Reputations" calms things down a tad. McLean's violin, soaring into the highest registers, is again of critical importance here.

"T.T.E (Time, Talent And Electricity)," written in memory of the late Keith Emerson, contains a subtle sideswipe at DJ John Peel, who criticized Emerson, Lake & Palmer as being a "waste of time, talent, and electricity." Andy Davies also plays some elegant flugelhorn on this track. McLean delivers more Ponty-esque progressive jazz on "The Sycophant" and even manages to insert a short quote from John Coltrane's A Love Supreme. (Impulse!, 1965). The elegiac "No Oil For Sale Here," written for Gustav Mahler, contains more of Davies's sumptuous flugelhorn. "The Legends Of Bray" is a gently lugubrious paean to actor Christopher Lee, with McLean's echoey violin conjuring an appropriately plangent mood. Croft works overtime with synthesizers and piano on the intricate progressive rock of "See You In Another Lifetime." On the majestic "Future Past," dedicated to Allan Holdsworth, the voice of the late Peter Miles (also heard on the first track), ironically intones the words of Dylan Thomas's poem "And Death Shall Have No Dominion."

Track Listing

100 Years At Sea Introduction; 100 Years At Sea; One Million Years At Sea; Bad Reputations; T.T.E (Time, Talent And Electricity); The Sycophant; The Whispering Knight; No Oil For Sale Here; The Legend Of Bray; Inside Immortality; See You In Another Lifetime; For Future Past.

Personnel

Benjamin Croft: piano, keyboards, synthesizers; Andy Davies: trumpet, flugelhorn; Benet Mclean: violin; Henry Thomas (1,2,4,6,9,11,12): bass, electric bass; Mario Castronari (5,7,8): bass; Tristan Mailliot (1-4, 6, 9, 10), Saleem Ramen (5,7,8,11,12): drums; Peter Miles (1,12): Voice.

Album information

Title: 10 Reasons To... | Year Released: 2019 | Record Label: 33 Jazz

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