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Bebop Spoken There

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Sunday, March 20, 2016

CD Review: Darren English - Imagine Nation.

Darren English (tpt); Kenny Banks Jr. (pno); Billy Thornton (bs); Chris Burroughs (dms) + Carmen Bradford (vcl); Greg Tardy (ten); Russell Gunn (tpt); Joe Gransden (tpt).
(Review by Lance).
I must confess that when confronted with an album of originals, I tend to flinch and prepare to bite the bullet. I realise that is the wrong attitude as every tune that was ever written was once an 'original'. However, not all of today's jazz musicians are Monk, Miles, Duke, Dizzy or Bird when it comes to laying down a tune, irrespective of their instrumental skills.
English, a South African-born resident of Atlanta Ga, combines the best of both worlds with six standards and four originals - three of which are part of a suite that pays tribute to Nelson Mandela.
Pledge For Peace cleverly intertwines a radio interview with Mandela who talks about being a freedom fighter. English blows a chorus without a mouthpiece, Tardy is far from tardy on tenor and English retrieves his mouthpiece to great effect.
The Birth represents the birth of a new nation with some frenetic tenor playing - an agonising, ultimately triumphant representation of the battle against apartheid.
Bullet in the Gunn - I don't know quite what the title's all about but I do know that it swings its ass off!
The standards display his lyricism, bringing to mind Clifford Brown or Lee Morgan.
Carmen Bradford adds her distinctive vocals to What a Little Moonlight Can Do and Skylark - I want to hear this lady again!
Three trumpets blow on Cherokee - perhaps the best trumpet tear up since Ellington's Trumpet no End! Maybe the best trumpet carvery ever!
Russell Gunn (one of the trumpets) recalls that English's request to sit in at one of his gigs was the first time any of the students on the "Jazz Programmes" of the local universities had done so.  This indicated to him that this young man was serious, That he knew that jazz is a life choice, not a fallback career, a supplemental income or something to do until you're tired of being broke.
Apologies for not mentioning the rhythm guys but they're right on the money. On a disc like this it was put up or shut up - they put up!
Lance.

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