273

Brass Jaw: Branded

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to view read count
Brass Jaw: Branded Branded is Brass Jaw's third album since baritone saxophonist Allon Beauvoisin formed the band in 2005. It appears at the end of a hectic year for the Scottish quartet which has included performing at the Rochester Jazz Festival, and gathering great reviews for its series of London Jazz Festival gigs. The band's name is a little misleading, for the line-up actually features three saxophones and a trumpet. Brass Neck might be more appropriate, because this is a band that brims with an in-your-face swagger and confidence, whether it's playing live or on record.

Brass Jaw's four members each contribute compositions, taking responsibility for arranging their own tunes: alto saxophonist Paul Towndrow takes the major share with nine writing credits. The arrangements enable the quartet to play in every imaginable combination: all four players can solo, play rhythm or take the lead line. Combining this flexibility with the different tempos, rhythms and emotions to be found in the album's 17 tunes ensures that Branded is full of variation, invention and surprise.

Baritone saxophonist Beauvoisin is the key to Brass Jaw's strength as a rhythmic, danceable, quartet and it's fitting that his throaty and rich sound opens the album, on tenor saxophonist Konrad Wiszniewski's "Siddharta." Towndrow's "The Well Dented Clavicle" opens with some speedy and precise ensemble bebop, before Beauviosin duets with each of his fellow musicians in turn.

Trumpeter Ryan Quigley's "I Like You" is a more reflective and considered tune, with echoes of a Duke Ellington horn arrangement. Towndrow's "Arthur Digby Sellers Blues" is an upbeat, hard bop-ish tune that showcases Quigley's exceptional ability—his upper register playing is outstanding. Quigley and Wiszniewski are to the fore on Beauvoisin's "Flat Pack Frog," a prettier tune than the title promises, while Quigley is at his most affecting on Beauvoisin's beautiful "Left Unsaid."

Towndrow's arrangement of Frank Zappa's "Peaches En Regalia" gives it a funky edge, followed by Quigley's arrangement of Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart's "Little Girl Blue," the beautifully mellow and fluid playing on this tune offering a clear contrast to the Zappa composition.

The cover of Branded features toy cattle painted by the group members in bold and colorful patterns: a hint, perhaps, that the music's power is akin to the red hot metal of a branding iron. But the title of "Arthur Digby Sellers Blues" suggests a link to The Big Lebowski (1998), the cult movie in which Sellers was supposedly the writer of Branded, the '60s TV Western series.

The contradictory and slightly mysterious hints about Branded's title are indicative of the band's humor; the music itself is proof of its talent. Brass Jaw's swagger and confidence is more than justified—Branded is full of powerful, affecting, superbly played music.

Track Listing: Siddharta; Duck's Chickens; Broken; Drive My Car; Left Unsaid; Rochester Rumble; March to Happiness; Branded; Frontiere Incarcerated; Arthur Digby Sellers Blues; Flat Pack Frog; The Well Dented Clavicle; I Like You; The Nightmare Room; String Theory; Peaches En Regalia; Little Girl Blue.

Personnel: Ryan Quigley: trumpet; Paul Towndrow: alto saxophone; Konrad Wiszniewski: tenor saxophone; Allon Beauvoisin: baritone saxophone.

Title: Branded | Year Released: 2010 | Record Label: Keywork Records


Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read Eleven Cages CD/LP/Track Review Eleven Cages
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Afro-Caribbean Mixtape CD/LP/Track Review Afro-Caribbean Mixtape
by Mark F. Turner
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Wake Up Call CD/LP/Track Review Wake Up Call
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 27, 2017
Read The Late Trane CD/LP/Track Review The Late Trane
by Roger Farbey
Published: June 27, 2017
Read Developing Story CD/LP/Track Review Developing Story
by Edward Blanco
Published: June 26, 2017
Read Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall) CD/LP/Track Review Inspirations (featuring Matthew Halsall)
by Phil Barnes
Published: June 26, 2017
Read "The Arrangement" CD/LP/Track Review The Arrangement
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: June 11, 2017
Read "Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete NPR Jazz Alive! Recording" CD/LP/Track Review Truth, Liberty & Soul Live in New York: The Complete...
by John Kelman
Published: May 20, 2017
Read "Luma" CD/LP/Track Review Luma
by Geannine Reid
Published: March 28, 2017
Read "Around The Horn" CD/LP/Track Review Around The Horn
by Jeff Winbush
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "The Roc" CD/LP/Track Review The Roc
by Geno Thackara
Published: May 6, 2017
Read "In the Still of the Night" CD/LP/Track Review In the Still of the Night
by Nicholas F. Mondello
Published: May 22, 2017

Smart Advertising!

Musician? Boost your visibility at All About Jazz and drive traffic to your website with our Premium Profile service.