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Tom Green Septet: Skyline

Bruce Lindsay By

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Skyline is the debut release from the Tom Green Septet, a young band from the UK led by trombonist and composer Tom Green. A graduate of the Royal Academy Of Music and winner of the 2013 Dankworth Prize for jazz composition, Green wrote all of the tunes on Skyline with the exception of Hoagy Carmichael's "Skylark."

The eight tunes range from the upbeat "DIY," influenced by New Orleans second lines, to the quickfire, skittish "Sticks And Stones" and the cool, sophisticated "Mirage"—evidence of Green's wide range of influences and his talent for putting them together in a myriad of combinations. Green offers plenty of space for solos and his bandmates take up his offer with alacrity.

He puts his own stamp on the solos, too. "Mirage" probably shows his playing to best advantage, the relatively spacious accompaniment enabling him to play with subtlety and to reveal a rich tone that conveys emotion as well as demonstrating his technical command. "Winter Halo" also features a fine trombone solo. It's a tune that readily evokes the beauty of a crisp winter's day, with Matthew Herd's soprano darting and fluttering like a happy robin and the pairing of Misha Mullov-Abbado's bass and Sam James's piano capturing the sparkle of the sun on the morning frost.

"Equilibrium" hands the spotlight to the saxophonists, Herd and tenorist Sam Miles, both of whom deliver energetic and inventive solos. The tune shifts from its slinky, swaying, first half to a slower and more dramatic closing section—a free-blowing, aggressive, mid-section disrupts the melodic flow but is over pretty quickly. "Arctic Sun" builds more consistently, from its calm beginning towards a swinging conclusion. The ensemble playing is particularly fine, a mellow horn section sound flowing over the assertive rhythm section.

Although the Tom Green Septet owes much to its leader—compositions, arrangements, organisation and some strong solos—it comes over as much more than a bunch of hired hands. This group of seven players has the genuine feel of an ensemble: each musician matters as an individual, a personality whose particular approach to his instrument is integral to Green's compositions and to the success of Skyline.

Track Listing: Sticks And Stones; Equilibrium; Arctic Sun; Peace Of Mind; Mirage; Skylark; Winter Halo; DIY.

Personnel: Tom Green: trombone; Matthew Herd: soprano saxophone, alto saxophone; Sam Miles: tenor saxophone; James Davison: trumpet, flugelhorn; Sam James: piano; Misha Mullov-Abbado: double bass; Scott Chapman: drums.

Title: Skyline | Year Released: 2015 | Record Label: Spark


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