The eponymously titled Bansangu Orchestra is the brainchild of British saxophonist Paul Booth, guitarist Giorgio Serci and trumpeter Kevin Robinson. Booth, who is the band's musical director, has played and recorded with Steve Winwood, Eric Clapton, and Snowboy, and from the jazz world, Michael Janisch, Sax Appeal, The Mike Garrick Big Band and Tim Garland's Northern Underground Orchestra to name just a few.
Booth's multi-layered "Cross Channel" kicks off proceedings and both Steve Fishwick on trumpet and Booth on tenor make their presence felt with equally coruscating solos. The South Asian atmosphere of Jonathan Mayer's hypnotic "The Long Road" is clearly signposted by Mayer's sitar which elegantly complements Jason Yarde's serpentine soprano solo. Following Shanti Paul Jayasinha's flugelhorn solo, Alex Wilson adorns his barnstorming composition "Currulao Cool" with a melodramatic piano solo and Georgio Serci's electrifying "Takes Three To Samba" benefits from a robust trombone solo from Trevor Mires and a fluid guitar outing from Serci.
Guest soloist and pianist Oli Rockberger's "My Old Life," taken from his album Sovereign (Whirlwind, 2017), is transformed by the big band arrangement into a veritable classic and the net effect is not a million miles from the dynamism of Blood, Sweat And Tears. Davide Mantovani's chiaroscuro "Choice Is Yours" is sumptuously embellished by Seckou Keita's delicate kora playing and some neat guitar work from Serci.
The Doors' "Light My Fire" is afforded added impetus by the inclusion of a reggae beat which strangely works perfectly and benefits from Sammy Mayne's soaring alto solo. Barnaby Dickinson gives an exhilarating trombone solo on Booth's "The Village." The set is rounded-off with Trevor Mires's funk-laden "The Reason" which evokes memories of Loose Tubes at their loosest.
The album draws on an eclectic range of influences: Brazil, Africa, Cuba, the Carribean, India and the Middle East are all represented here and this multicultural "X Factor" undoubtedly contributes to its strength. The music is alive, vibrant and engaging and offers an aural punch that only a great big band can deliver. Incidentally, the band's curious name derives from the compliment Airto Moreira pays to his band in his Brazilian accent: "Ban San Goo," which actually means "Band Sounds Good!"
Cross Channel; The Long Road; My Old Life; Currulao Cool; Takes Three To Samba; Choice Is Yours;
Light My Fire; The Village; The Reason.
Paul Booth: alto and bass flute, melodica, accordion, soprano and tenor saxophone, percussion,
keyboards, voice; Sammy Mayne: alto saxophone, flute; Jason Yarde: alto and soprano saxophone;
Richard Beesley: tenor sax, clarinet; Gemma Moore: bass clarinet, baritone saxophone; Ryan
Quigley, Kevin Robinson, Andy Greenwood, Shanti Paul Jayasinha, Steve Fishwick: trumpet,
flugelhorn; Trevor Mires; Barnaby Dickinson; Robbie Harvey; Martin Galddish: trombone; Richard
Henry: bass trombone, tuba; Giorgio Serci: guitar, oud; Jonathan Mayer: sitar (2); Alex Wilson, Oli
Rockberger (4): piano; Davide Mantovani: electric bass; Satin Singh , Edwin Sandz: percussion; Rod
Youngs, Tristan Banks: drums; Plus Seckou Keita: kora (6).