482

Jim Rattigan: Jazz French Horn

Chris May By

Sign in to view read count
Jim Rattigan: Jazz French Horn Say what? While the French horn is not exactly unknown in jazz—step forward players Julius Watkins and John Graas and orchestrators Gil Evans and Miles Davis, amongst others—it's still enough of a novelty to raise at least one of your eyebrows.

But this is by no means a novelty album. It's actually a very beautiful and credible set of covers ("Linmere" is the only original), by turns limpid and muscular, on which Jim Rattigan entirely overcomes the technical challenges of the instrument.

The French horn can sound cumbersome, with a turning circle about the size of a supertanker's, but Rattigan coaxes out elegant, fast flowing lines throughout the set, and produces a lush and chilled tone (with occasional contrasting snatches of raucous vocalisation) for which the word mellifluous might have been invented. In his fleet-fingered hands the instrument sounds like a nimble, muted trombone. And very nice too.

The Wagner tuba, however, which Rattigan plays on an up-tempo (and then doubletimed) reading of Johnny Mercer's "Autumn Leaves," is undeniably a novelty. Designed to architect Albert Speer's, I mean composer Richard Wagner's, specifications, for use in his epic operas, it hasn't previously got any closer to jazz than Bruckner, Richard Strauss, and Stravinsky. It sounds like a slightly deeper-pitched French horn and negotiates the rapid tempo with apparent ease.

Rattigan has picked some class A standards to cover here, and his interpretations of Steve Swallow's "Eiderdown," Billy Strayhorn's "Upper Manhattan Medical Group" and "Chelsea Bridge," Monk's "Reflections," and Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus" are gorgeous. Koller, Whitford, and Calderazzo provide virile, inventive support and all three contribute strong solos (there's some great Fender Rhodes/drums dialogue on "Autumn Leaves" and a lovely unaccompanied piano solo on "Chelsea Bridge").

With its playing time of just under 45 minutes, you may be surprised to find yourself wishing Jazz French Horn goes on a little longer.


Track Listing: Eiderdown; Upper Manhattan Medical Group; Chelsea Bridge; Autumn Leaves; Reflections; Central Park West; I Will Wait For You; Linmere; Black Narcissus; The Sweetest Sounds.

Personnel: Jim Rattigan, French horn and Wagner tuba; Hans Koller, piano and Fender Rhodes; Dave Whitford, bass; Gene Calderazzo, drums.

Year Released: 2005 | Style: Straight-ahead/Mainstream


Shop

More Articles

Read Transparent Water CD/LP/Track Review Transparent Water
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Billows Of Blue CD/LP/Track Review Billows Of Blue
by Dan McClenaghan
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Love Dance CD/LP/Track Review Love Dance
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 20, 2017
Read Honest Woman CD/LP/Track Review Honest Woman
by James Nadal
Published: February 20, 2017
Read June CD/LP/Track Review June
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 19, 2017
Read The Final Concert CD/LP/Track Review The Final Concert
by John Sharpe
Published: February 19, 2017
Read "Binary & Mysteries of the Deep" CD/LP/Track Review Binary & Mysteries of the Deep
by Troy Dostert
Published: October 20, 2016
Read "Zanshin" CD/LP/Track Review Zanshin
by Karl Ackermann
Published: September 3, 2016
Read "East West Daydreams" CD/LP/Track Review East West Daydreams
by Budd Kopman
Published: February 9, 2017
Read "King Of Xhosa" CD/LP/Track Review King Of Xhosa
by James Nadal
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Peace" CD/LP/Track Review Peace
by Budd Kopman
Published: December 18, 2016
Read "Duo" CD/LP/Track Review Duo
by Karl Ackermann
Published: June 20, 2016

Post a comment

comments powered by Disqus

Sponsor: ECM Records | BUY NOW  

Support our sponsor

Support All About Jazz's Future

We need your help and we have a deal. Contribute $20 and we'll hide the six Google ads that appear on every page for a full year!

Buy it!