Home » Jazz Articles » Album Review » Peter Horsfall: Nighthawks

3

Peter Horsfall: Nighthawks

By

View read count
Peter Horsfall: Nighthawks
The title of Peter Horsfall's Nighthawks may call to mind the iconic Edward Hopper painting, or maybe Tom Waits' Hopper-inspired Nighthawks At The Diner (Asylum, 1975). A few bars into "Nighthawks" it becomes obvious that Horsfall and Waits both take inspiration from the painting ("Nighthawks lead a lonely life...")—but Horsfall's melancholy vocal stands in sharp contrast to Waits' gritty growl.

Peter Horsfall is probably best known as the trumpeter and vocalist with Kansas Smitty's House Band, a young London-based band with its own bar (called Kansas Smitty's, unsurprisingly). Nighthawks is Horsfall's first album under his own name, with support from a bunch of Smitty's members -and it's one of the year's most original releases.

On the surface, there's nothing too unusual going on. A young jazz singer (the trumpet stays in its case), a bunch of original songs (co-written with saxophonist Giacomo Smith, whose alto playing is excellent throughout) plus a couple of covers, an acoustic band that swings but stays sympathetic to the singer's needs—it all stays pretty close to the standard template employed on any number of okay-but-forgettable jazz vocal albums. But Horsfall veers away from that template in a number of ways: a lyrical and instrumental mood that harks back to the '30s, a focus on song structure and melody rather than extended solos or vocal gymnastics, a love of the ballad, a set of laid back songs that supply a perfect backing to early-hours slow dances.

"Bittersweet" is an adjective that's been applied to Horsfall's voice, but while repeated listenings to this album emphasise the sweetness in his sound, there's little if any bitterness. Plaintive might be a more apposite description. It's great to hear a young male singer who's channelling Al Bowlly rather than Kurt Elling and who does so with great sincerity (making even the rather kitschy tweety-tweets and creme de la creams of Barry Harris's "Paradise" sound romantic).

Nighthawks' finest moment comes with "Couldn't Stop Loving You": a song that sits as firmly in '60s soul territory as it does in the world of '30s jazz, thanks to Joe Webb's piano, David Archer's subtle guitar and the graceful backing vocals of Cherise Coryna Adams-Burnett and Renato Paris. Al Bowlly metamorphoses into Al Green? Not quite, but Horsfall's long, soaring, notes are heading that way. "I say to you, our love is through, this is goodbye" sings Horsfall on the album's heartbreaking closing track. Hopefully, it's not goodbye to Horsfall, just "So long."

Track Listing

Nighthawks; Then I Saw You; Interlude 1; Secretly; Paradise; Interlude 2; Sunset & The Mockingbird; Couldn’t Stop Loving You; Interlude 3; This Is Goodbye.

Personnel

Peter Horsfall: vocals; Giacomo Smith: alto saxophone; Joe Webb: piano; Ferg Ireland: double bass; Pedro Segundo: drums; David Archer: guitar (8); Cherise Coryna Adams-Burnett: backing vocals (8); Renato Paris: backing vocals (8).

Album information

Title: Nighthawks | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: A.P.P Records


Comments

Tags


Support All About Jazz

Get the Jazz Near You newsletter All About Jazz has been a pillar of jazz since 1995, championing it as an art form and, more importantly, supporting the musicians who create it. Our enduring commitment has made "AAJ" one of the most culturally important websites of its kind, read by hundreds of thousands of fans, musicians and industry figures every month.

How You Can Help

To expand our coverage even further and develop new means to foster jazz discovery and connectivity we need your help. You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky ads plus provide access to future articles for a full year. This winning combination will vastly improve your AAJ experience and allow us to vigorously build on the pioneering work we first started in 1995. So enjoy an ad-free AAJ experience and help us remain a positive beacon for jazz by making a donation today.

More

Painter Of Dreams
Misha Tsiganov
Eclectic Vibes
Ken Silverman
The Recursive Tree
John Blum / David Murray / Chad Taylor
Aloft
Natsuki Tamura, Satoko Fujii

Popular

Get more of a good thing!

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories, our special offers, and upcoming jazz events near you.