All About Jazz

Home » Articles » CD/LP/Track Review

2

Brass Mask: Spy Boy

Jakob Baekgaard By

Sign in to view read count
It is somewhat rare to encounter a brass band in modern jazz these days, but saxophonist and composer Tom Challenger's octet, Brass Mask, is an intriguing example of a brass driven band. The eclectic nature of the band is underlined by the cover of the album: Spy Boy, which suggests the contours of a man holding a saxophone surrounded by a rainbow of feathers.

The music is just as sprawling and colorful as the cover and the opening composition "Onnellinen" immediately grabs the intention with an irresistible melody with humorous saxophone hiccups and tuba-player Theon Cross getting deep into groove, while the trumpet section of Rory Simmons and Alex Bonney shine with their muted playing. Challenger has mentioned composer, saxophonist and flautist Henry Threadgill as an inspiration and his sophisticated approach to composition and improvisation looms large over the album.

The funky vibe continues on "Shallow Water," whereas "I Thank You Jesus" recalls the funeral-marches of New Orleans. The horns sway and growl in anguish, but it is nevertheless a lament imbued with vitality.

The scope of the band is impressive as they embrace the lush charts of a big band and the intimate blues of a funeral procession. It is a carnival of sounds, a Mardi Gras of music, where the scholarly approach of Challenger is felt in the diversity of sounds and musical traditions that have been taken in from around the globe. Here's anything from deep blues and gospel to polyphonic sophistication and funky African grooves. However, there isn't anything dry and academic about the music. This is music meant for the streets. Go out and a have a ball with Brass Mask.

Track Listing: Onnellinen; Shallow Water; I Thank You Jesus; Nighty Night; Francis P; Indian Red; Rain Rain Rain; Meniscus; Wizards; Israfil; Indians; Don't Stand Up; Zubr Dubr.

Personnel: Tom Challenger: saxophone, clarinet; George Crowley: saxophone, clarinet; Dan Nicholls: bass clarinet, saxophone; Rory Simmons: trumpet; Alex Bonney: trumpet; Nathaniel Cross: trombone; Theon Cross: tuba; John Blease: drums, percussion.

Title: Spy Boy | Year Released: 2013 | Record Label: Babel Label

Tags

Related Video

comments powered by Disqus

CD/LP/Track Review
Read more articles
Live

Live

Babel Label
2017

buy
Spy Boy

Spy Boy

Babel Label
2013

buy

Related Articles

Read Alive In The East? CD/LP/Track Review
Alive In The East?
by Chris May
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Love Stone CD/LP/Track Review
Love Stone
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Empty Castles CD/LP/Track Review
Empty Castles
by Mark Corroto
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Myths and Morals CD/LP/Track Review
Myths and Morals
by Jakob Baekgaard
Published: June 22, 2018
Read The Sum Of My Pardon CD/LP/Track Review
The Sum Of My Pardon
by Jim Olin
Published: June 22, 2018
Read Postcard Collection CD/LP/Track Review
Postcard Collection
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 21, 2018
Read "Unbroken" CD/LP/Track Review Unbroken
by C. Michael Bailey
Published: May 30, 2018
Read "After The Fall" CD/LP/Track Review After The Fall
by Karl Ackermann
Published: February 13, 2018
Read "Trollskogen" CD/LP/Track Review Trollskogen
by Friedrich Kunzmann
Published: December 22, 2017
Read "50" CD/LP/Track Review 50
by Doug Collette
Published: July 22, 2017
Read "Dirt In The Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Dirt In The Ground
by Dan Bilawsky
Published: July 13, 2017
Read "Wonder Trail" CD/LP/Track Review Wonder Trail
by Roger Farbey
Published: May 3, 2018