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Monday, June 01, 2015

CD Review: Beats and Pieces Big Band - All In

(Review by Russell)
Alright! exclaims Ben Cottrell. The Beats and Pieces Big Band explodes into action from the downbeat. Seven tracks, massive energy, no messing around. The first cut rocky (it is all lower case as far as the song titles go) hits the listener straight between the eyes (ears) – you will listen! A glorious noise; full on, hip, knowingly retro kitsch, these Manchester-schooled musicians know how to entertain.
Director Ben Cottrell is a dance floor demon, never still, conducting (encouraging a band of thirteen friends), clapping, dancing, stamping. And what a band! Quincy Jones’ 1980s pop world success, Radiohead, Loose Tubes’ irreverence, conventional big band sections - all deconstructed and lovingly reassembled as Beats and Pieces’ signature sound.
 A raft of soloists step up; Nick Walters (trumpet) on pop, Patrick Hurley’s Fender Rhodes (rain) and on hendo the brilliant takes-no-prisoners Sam Healey (soprano saxophone). The other side of Beats and Pieces (there is more than one dimension to the band) is in evidence on the final track. fairytale is a straight reading (if there is such  a thing) and a feature for the sensitive trumpet playing of Graham South.
The one cover on All In is David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, a ‘jazz’ cover (not one for Bowie diehards?) intent on disguise. Languid, loose, tight – in performance audiences are asked to ‘name that tune’. The band can turn its hand to anything such is the musicianship. The lynchpin is drummer Finlay Panter (a big band drummer for the twenty first century), the sections respond to Cottrell’s promptings and the soloists are top drawer.
All In is the band’s second album on Efpi. It is good as the first (Big Ideas from 2012). A third CD would be nice and a ‘live’ recording would capture something of the band’s all- consuming, visceral performance. All In by Beats and Pieces Big Band (Efpi FP022) is released on Monday 8 June. Two gigs follow in July at the Soup Kitchen, Manchester on Tuesday 7th and at Ronnie Scott’s, London on July 8th.
Beats and Pieces Big Band: Ben Cottrell (director), Anthony Brown, Sam Healey, Ben Watte (saxophones), Owen Bryce, Graham South, Nick Walters (trumpets), Ed Horsey, Simon Lodge, Rich McVeigh (trombones), Anton Hunter (guitar), Patrick Hurley (piano & Fender Rhodes), Harrison Wood (bass) & Finlay Panter (drums)
Highly recommended.     
Russell.  

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