This excellent debut by British trumpeter Gary Alesbrook is notable for four reasons: 1) he's leaping straight from well-known session musician to frontman; 2) he's been playing for 33 years, mostly for high profile, non-jazz bands in the UK like The Super Fuzzy Animals and The Scissor Sisters; 3) while eclectic in his taste and experience, he says "his heart lies in jazz music," and 4) the quartet is terrific, with three fine vocals as well. The standout there is the heartfelt version of "Smile," by Elliott Cole, with its thought-provoking ending.
Alesbrook has wonderful tone and technique. His runs are light and fluid, his melodic choices as natural and swinging as if he'd only been playing this kind of material throughout his career. There's no danger of being blasted with screechy high notes; start to finish, it's uncluttered, well-arranged and delightful.
The CD package is basic, with no liners, but when asked Alesbrook e-mailed this: "I'm driven by the idea of 'swing' and I love movie soundtracks with their link to some of the finest jazz standards around...I love jazz, especially the old school west coast artists like Chet Baker, Art Pepper, Stan Getz, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan. All of those cats really inspired me." Their influence is clear here, particularly on the beautiful ballads "Marlowe's Theme" and the lovely, noir-ish piece with the unfortunate name: "Death Theme," by Ennio Morricone (from "The Untouchables").
The only down side to this sterling debut is that it's far too brief: the CD runs less than 40 minutes (this affected its star rating a bit). The longest track, at 8 minutes, is "On The Street Where You Live," where the band really gets to stretch out with impressive solos and trades all around. The good news is that there's another record on the way, with more of Alesbrook to look forward to.
I'll See You In My Dreams; Smile; On The Street Where You Live; The Death Theme; Pure Imagination;
Marlowe's Theme: Alfie; If I Only Had A Brain.
Gary Alesbrook: trumpet, flugelhorn; George Cooper: piano; Will Harris: double bass; Scott Hammond: drums. Also featuring: Phil King: vocal (7); Elliott Cole: vocal (2); Tom Meighan: vocal (5).
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