3

Peter Horsfall: Nighthawks

Bruce Lindsay By

Sign in to 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

Post a comment about this album

Tags

Shop Amazon

More

Read Son Of Nyx
Son Of Nyx
Tamil Rogeon
Read Solo/Duo
Solo/Duo
Eli Wallace/Beth McDonald
Read Solo
Solo
Daniel Rotem
Read Immigrance
Immigrance
Snarky Puppy
Read Rites of Fire
Rites of Fire
Kelvin Sholar Trio
Read BB XL
BB XL
Walter White

All About Jazz needs your support

Donate
All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, shelter in place and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary effort that will help musicians now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the bottom right video ad). Thank you.

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.