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The Charlie Bates Big Band: Silhouettes

Roger Farbey By

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Born in Essex in 1994, British jazz pianist Charlie Bates was introduced to jazz in his teens and later studied for a BMus Jazz degree at the Birmingham Conservatoire. In June 2016, Bates won the Birmingham Conservatoire Jazz Composition prize with an arrangement of Cole Porter's "Everything I Love," adjudicated by Tim Garland.

This forty-minute session opens with "Cyanopsia," which essentially means seeing everything with a blue tinge. A strong and memorable head played by the ensemble leads into solos, of which the first is guest Percy Pursglove, an increasingly in-demand trumpeter (and currently a tutor and alumnus of the Birmingham Conservatoire). "Almost Gone" is predominantly pastoral in nature, punctuated by some more effervescent ensemble playing and fine soloing from Pursglove.

The light and shade of "High-Rise" follows in the footsteps of the great jazz orchestra leaders, notably Duke Ellington and the UK's Sir John Dankworth, whose various big bands were populated with some of the greatest jazz musicians in the world, including Cleo Laine, John McLaughlin, Dave Holland, Michael Gibbs, Dudley Moore and Kenny Wheeler. Pursglove again turns in a bravura trumpet solo.

"Eyes Shut" begins ruminatively but is consolidated by more strident ensemble passages. The finale, "Eyes Open"—at just over ten minutes the longest track on the album—begins in a pastoral vein but gradually gathers momentum, ending climactically.

This debut big band album, written and recorded whilst Bates was still studying for his first degree, is highly commendable. Replete with sophisticated arrangements, moments of sheer delight and exuberant playing from a youthful ensemble, it speaks very well of the state of jazz today in the UK.

Track Listing: Cyanopsia; Almost Gone; High-Rise; Eyes Shut; Eyes Open.

Personnel: Charlie Bates: composer, conductor; Percy Pursglove: trumpet, flugelhorn; Nick Dewhurst: trumpet, flugelhorn; Alex Asbury: trumpet, flugelhorn; David Tibbitts: trumpet, flugelhorn; Christos Stylianides: trumpet, flugelhorn; Elliot Drew: alto saxophone, soprano saxophone, flute; Josh Schofield: alto saxophone, clarinet; Sam Craig: tenor saxophone, clarinet, flute; Daniel Spirrett: tenor saxophone, clarinet; Vittorio Mura: baritone saxophone, bass clarinet; Richard Foote: trombone; David Sear: trombone; Josh Tagg: trombone; David Hamilton: trombone (1-3); Andrew Clennell: bass trombone (4-5); Daniel Kemshell: guitar; Jacky Naylor: piano; Sam Ingvorsen: double bass; Jonathon Silk: drums.

Title: Silhouettes | Year Released: 2017 | Record Label: Self Produced

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