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Malcolm Strachan: Point Of No Return


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Malcolm Strachan: Point Of No Return
Something exciting seems to be happening with Scottish jazz musicians—artists such as Fergus McCreadie, Matt Carmichael and Georgia Cecile are gaining awards and international acclaim. They are now joined by Scottish trumpeter Malcolm Strachan, with his second album of original material, Point Of No Return . A former member of the Haggis Horns, he has been in high demand as a session musician and played with such artists as Amy Winehouse, Jamiroquai and Lou Donaldson.

Strachan's first album, About Time (Haggis Records), was a word of mouth lockdown hit and the new album takes that same mix of cinematic themes, ballads and samba beats and builds on it to produce a standout set of classic acoustic jazz with a vintage feel that might take you back to the 1960s and the days of hard bop.

The opening track, "Nossa Dança," immediately points the way forward, a mighty rhythm section of double bass, drums, percussion and piano underpinning the tightly blended horn attack from tenor sax, trombone and trumpet. It's obvious from their immaculate timing and interplay that these musicians have played together for a long time (percussionist Sam Bell being the only newcomer). "The Wanderer" features wordless vocals from guest, Jo Harrop, they are perfectly judged to add to the vintage feel. Strings on three tracks are also used to excellent effect to enhance rather than overpower. This is certainly shown on the album highlight "Elaine," sounding like a theme tune you'd expect to hear as the hero, having solved the case and saved the girl, grounds out a cigarette and wanders off down the street and into the night.

The first single, "Cut To The Chase," is as exciting, infectious and funky as they come; it hits the groove and doesn't let up. Like on most of the tracks here, Strachan, whose style owes a lot to Freddie Hubbard, shares the solos out pretty evenly. Atholl Ransome on tenor sax and Danny Barley on trombone offer excellent support with inventive solos and George Cooper on the piano is impressive and creates interest and texture whenever he plays.

The album was launched at Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club in London in late February to a standing ovation. The most compelling aspect of the album? The high quality of the compositions. All the tracks are melodic and trying to choose a stand-out is hard. And if it's a little short at 42 minutes, well just press "Play" again and have another crack at it. There may well be another Scottish jazz musician joining the awards list at the end of the year. Highly recommended.

Track Listing

Nossa Dança; Soul Trip; The Wanderer; The Last Goodbye; Elaine; Cut to the Chase; Maybe Next Time.


Malcolm Strachan: trumpet; Atholl Ransome: saxophone, tenor; George Cooper: piano; Jo Harrop: voice / vocals; Sam Bell: percussion; Danny Barley: trombone; Courtny Tomas: bass; Erroll Rollins: drums.

Album information

Title: Point Of No Return | Year Released: 2023 | Record Label: Haggis Records

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