Dear All About Jazz Readers,

If you're familiar with All About Jazz, you know that we've dedicated over two decades to supporting jazz as an art form, and more importantly, the creative musicians who make it. Our enduring commitment has made All About Jazz one of the most culturally important websites of its kind in the world reaching hundreds of thousands of readers every month. However, to expand our offerings and develop new means to foster jazz discovery we need your help.

You can become a sustaining member for a modest $20 and in return, we'll immediately hide those pesky Google ads PLUS deliver exclusive content and provide access to future articles for a full year! This combination will not only improve your AAJ experience, it will allow us to continue to rigorously build on the great work we first started in 1995. Read on to view our project ideas...

2

Onyx Brass: Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet

Gareth Thompson By

Sign in to view read count
Jazz has often been described as America's classical music, so hearing a British classical group tackling jazz is bound to intrigue. Even more so when it's a brass quintet and we recognise the key role of brass bands in the birth of jazz.

Onyx Brass trombonist Amos Miller was at the Banff International Jazz Summer School in 1994. One of the tutors taking part was Kenny Wheeler. Move ahead to 2012 and Miller phoned Wheeler asking him to compose something for Onyx Brass. Only two years before he sadly passed away, the great trumpet and flugelhorn player responded with typical grace. He reworked two of his earlier tunes into the piece "1 For 5" which delivers a mix of sultry swing and romantic waltzes. Nino Rota's soundtracks come to mind here, with a sense of la dolce vita being lived up.

This is jazz played by classical musicians, so the result is more stately than subversive. It might be very English in essence, but American roots music is noted among the twelve composers who contribute original pieces. Devoid of any percussion, the quintet relies on its own sense of internal rhythm. Nowhere more so than opening cut "Stomper," which sashays in with a bright pulsation, like a Mardi Gras wedding dance. "Holy Chalcedony," by veteran bassist Laurence Cottle, is solemn and soulful, yet laced with Southern gothic. "Firebox" pays homage to steam trains, from its chuffing puffing intro that rolls into "Sunny South Sam" and "The Federal Express," nodding at Britain's heritage of colliery brass bands en route.

Onyx Brass celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary with this album, and despite forging a repute for chamber music, the five-piece knows how to transform. "The Mighty Pencil" sees them throw the party open to improv, with each player chirping together. "For Rosie" is tinged with quiet nostalgia and "Imaginary Dance" shows balletic grace amid its call and response boomings.

Jason Rebello offers "Inevitable Outcome," a piece inspired by life's pathways that treads cautiously before the strident chords flow. "Symbols At Your Door" by tuba maestro David Powell quite reasonably has a warming tuba solo, with a touch of tango and hymnal motifs. The title track sees film music arranger Guy Barker take his movie know-how and site it on the corner of 73rd Avenue in a trench coat. The tuba suggests a brooding private detective, as shifty trombones lurk in the shadows.

David Lefeber's recording places each number in the present with a vivid production, linking up many facets of jazz composition. Onyx Noir is a brave and often brilliant collection of works.

Track Listing: Stomper; Holy Chalcedony; 1 For 5; The Mighty Pencil; For Rosie; Inevitable Outcome; Symbols At Your Door; Imaginary Dance; Onyx Noir; Hamlet Stories; Firebox; Let Her Go.

Personnel: Niall Keatley: trumpet; Alan Thomas: trumpet; Andrew Sutton: horn; Amos Miller: trombone; David Gordon-Shute: tuba.

Title: Onyx Noir - Jazz Works For Brass Quintet | Year Released: 2018 | Record Label: NMC Recordings

Tags

Watch

comments powered by Disqus

Shop

Start your shopping here and you'll support All About Jazz in the process. Learn how.

Related Articles

Read Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz Album Reviews
Kresten Osgood Quintet Plays Jazz
By Dan McClenaghan
January 21, 2019
Read The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two Album Reviews
The Poetry of Jazz Volume Two
By Victor L. Schermer
January 21, 2019
Read Mesophase Album Reviews
Mesophase
By Glenn Astarita
January 21, 2019
Read Rasif Album Reviews
Rasif
By Chris M. Slawecki
January 21, 2019
Read Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981 Album Reviews
Live at the Black Musicians' Conference, 1981
By John Sharpe
January 20, 2019
Read More Than One Thing Album Reviews
More Than One Thing
By Gareth Thompson
January 20, 2019
Read Wandering Monster Album Reviews
Wandering Monster
By Roger Farbey
January 20, 2019