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Friday, February 16, 2018

CD Review: Better Than TV - Song From No Man's Land

Alastair Appleton (sop sax); Gabriel  Bliard (trumpet); Louis Day (trumpet on 3 tracks); Simon Fothergill (trombone); Luke Congdon (piano); Ben Comeau (piano on 4 tracks); Daniel Duffy (guitar); Sergio Contrino (bass); Joe Davighi (drums); Cassie Gorman (voice); Rowan Haslam (cello. voice on 2 tracks).
(Review by Lance).
The second album by this Cambridge based band is somewhat different from the first. Late, reviewed here in 2015, was a tight contemporary sounding quintet whereas this current version is a larger, looser ensemble with bassist Contrino who composed the material the only common denominator.
Before I Go is a bit of a free for all with both vocalists pitching in and a lyrical trumpet solo from Bliard. One could almost call it Avant-garde Dixieland!
Gerico develops over an insistent drumbeat with Congdon's piano opening the batting followed byAppleton's soprano and some tightly muted Milesian trumpet, again from Bliard. Fothergill blows some lusty trombone riding the storm beneath him.
Standing With Sally - the vocal version - has Gorman dramatically seeking Sally. Davighi thumps the tubs effectively, the band riffs and Gorman takes it out.
Da Lontano: Ragtimey piano intro by Comeau,  swingy trumpet solo by Day who, respectively, make this a jaunty romp. Appleton's soprano and Fothergill's 'bone bounce phrases off each other before the latter goes it alone. More piano and Contrino's bass ever present.
Latin Song, ponderous voice by Gorman using the words of Ovid. This is Vatican Latin, not Brazillian.
Norway, delicate Comeau piano, searching soprano, muted trumpet then, suddenly, it becomes alive. Drums driving, soprano steering. There's an almost classical theme running through - P.Gynt perhaps?
For Louis - Louis being Louis Day who's well featured on the track. There's also a Hava Nagila quote from pianist Comeau in his intro.
Hey Joe features Haslam's expressive vocal chords. Fothergill's trombone, Appleton's soprano and Congdon's piano before drum 'n bass take over until Haslam sees it out.
Samba per mi is perhaps Gorman's best vocal.
Bus Stop Blu features a male voice (Contrino? the sleeve doesn't say)
L'attesta e' lunga; cello, soprano, piano are all in there pitching and,, in the end, the cello emerges triumphant. It's a strange ending with several bars of silence followed by girlish laughter then some unrelated piano!
A difficult disc to classify. I imagine that if you'd been to a Better Than TV gig you'd be on a high and want the album as a memento to relive the evening. However, listening to the album without the live experience I found it hard going at times. Having said that, there were still plenty moments that I loved and Better Than TV is definitely better than tv.

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