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Bebop Spoken There

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Friday, June 03, 2016

CD Review: Ben Crosland Quintet - The Ray Davies Songbook

Dave O'Higgins (ten/sop); John Etheridge (gtr); Steve Lodder (pno/keys); Ben Crosland (bs); Sebastiaan De Krom (dms).
(Review by Lance).
The Kinks were one of my favourite sixties pop bands and the singles, Sunny Afternoon and Dedicated Follower of Fashion, two of my all-time faves from those heady days of Radio Caroline, the rising mini-skirt, MM and NME.
The songs were great, they still are, but how do they stand up after being given the jazz treatment and without the clever and often witty lyrics?
The answer is simple - Cole Porter's did and so does Ray Davies'!
Ben Crosland, who penned the arrangements, successfully captures the spirit of the originals without losing his own identity.
All Day and All of the Night: funky Etheridge, sensitive keys.
Waterloo Sunset; deeply reflective as the title implies with O'Higgins as cool as tomorrow's cucumbers and Etheridge reflecting the sunset in his playing. Crosland adding gentle melodic interpretation of the theme.
You Really Got me: funky soul. O'Higgins again emerging from the freezer - this time on soprano. Etheridge wails, Lodder hits B3 mode and De Krom blows away the cobwebs - I almost said Kinks!
See My Friend: I'm not familiar with the original so I can't compare but Crosland's 6/8 arrangement has some great piano, soprano, guitar and the leader's bass underpinning everything.
Everybody's Gonna be Happy: And everybody was!
Sunny Afternoon: The test piece! Can they make it without that great lyric: 
My girlfriend's run off with my car, And gone back to her ma and pa, Telling tales of drunkenness and cruelty. Now I'm sitting here, Sipping at my ice cold beer, Lazing on a sunny afternoon.
From O'Higgins first blast followed by Crosland's bass you know they can. The lyric's great but so is the tune and this arrangement.
Dedicated Follower of Fashion: Once again O'Higgins takes us downstreet - but it's not Carnaby, more like Gerrard or Frith.
Tired of Waiting for You: Bass feature over a floating rhythm.
Dead End Street: Soprano to the fore, Street lives again!
I Need You: Nice shuffle, tenor, piano, guitar trade 4's.
Set me Free: A gentle bossa - elevator music? Maybe, but only in Harrod's!
A Well Respected Man: A swinger! Etheridge puts down the benchmark for O'Higgins who  moves it up a notch.
The project was specially commissioned for the 2015 Marsden Jazz Festival and the concert sold out well in advance.
This is probably the longest CD review I've ever done so draw your own conclusions!
Lance.
Release date:  July 8, 2016. Jazz Cat - JCCD116.

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