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COFID- 19

In the current climate we are doing our best to keep everyone up to date. All gigs, as we all know, are off.

However, good old YouTube has plenty to offer both old and new to help us survive whilst housebound. Plus now is a good time to stock up on your CDs.

Also, keep an eye out for live streaming sessions.

Alternatively, you could do as they do in Italy and sing from your balcony.

Today

As we all know there are no live gigs taking place in the immediate future. However, any links to jazz streaming that are deemed suitable - i.e. with a professional approach - will be considered for posting.

Tuesday, December 31, 2019

CD Review: Andy Scott + Group S - Ruby & All Things Purple

(Review by Frank Griffiths)


Saxophonist and composer Andy Scott, based in the Manchester area formed his first saxophone ensemble, Sax Assault, in 1994. He is also a charter member of The Apollo Saxophone Quartet as well as having received a BASCA award for his tenor saxophone concerto performed by Branford Marsalis with The Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 2012. The name of his current ensemble, Group S came about when performing alongside veteran, iconic saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter. Andy asked Wayne "what do you call a group of saxophonists?" Wayne paused and gazed, looked up, and said, "Group S!" This was in 2016, with Andy, a member of the sax section in the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra and later that year, Group S recorded this CD.

Andy writes "my musical aim with Group S is to feature the classical contemporary musician as equally as the improvising musician, to write for specific musicians, explore solo and ensemble colours and textures, and to try and develop my writing over time." And what a concoction of saxophones it is. Ranging from the sopranino to bass sax and all the others in between joined by a four piece rhythm section, Group S produces a highly effective sound capable of generating an impressive array of collective textures, colours and timbres. Many outstanding soloists adorn the sections including Andy, Mike Hall, Krzytsztof Urbanski, John Helliwell, and Rob Buckland as well as Gwyilym Simcock's piano, James Pusey on guitar, bassist, Laurence Cottle and drummer, Elliot Henshaw.

As Dave Gelly writes "you haven't heard what the saxophone is capable of until you've heard a mixed bunch of them in the hands of nine virtuosi. Of all wind instruments, the saxophone has the most flexible, almost human tone of voice and it's Scott's mastery of this that makes these 12 pieces so appealing. The variety of sound and mood is astonishing." When each soloist is given the space to play, the result is riveting proving that an orchestra of saxophones can easily be as effective as more conventional groupings.

Mike Hall's frantic and propulsive Sabretooth, combines complex harmonic and rhythmic ideas with a funky blues sensibility. This, along with a healthy dollop of Urbankski's serpentine soprano and Hall's blistering tenor trading solo exchanges lead to a skilful graduation of drama and dynamism. Simcock's, Chapters,  is more reflective and peaceful with a lush orchestration and willowy melodies. Bassist Cottle's solo, with its pattering and longing cries, also stands out, not to mention Simon Willescroft's lyrical alto and soprano sax musings arouund the melody. Scott's Tin Can, (influenced from a line in David Bowie's "Space Oddity") has an angularity over a variety of time signature changes allowing Scott's virtuosic tenor saxophone to navigate through a striking and unpredictable rhythmical canvas. Tin Can also gives the listener a brief respite from the full "S" with just the rhythm section joining the leader's ferocious tenor.

Group S, indeed. While there is a wide variety of styles on Ruby... no idea outstays its welcome with the quality of both the writing and playing ensuring the listeners' attention throughout. One hopes that the group will get "S tablished" sufficiently sooner rather than later to appear live at a venue near you.
Frank Griffiths

Andy Scott (tenor sax); Rob Buckland (sopranino/soprano saxes), Krzysztof Urbanski (soprano sax), Simon Willescroft (alto/soprano saxes), Dave Graham (alto sax), Mike Hall (tenor sax), Rob Cope (tenor/baritone saxes), John Helliwell (tenor sax), Chris Caldwell (baritone sax), Jim Fieldhouse (bass/baritone saxes), Gwilym Simcock (piano), James Pusey (guitar), Laurence Cottle (bass guitar), Elliott Henshaw (drums), special guests Barbara Thompson (tenor sax) & Jon Hiseman (drums).

Recorded 2017, released on 2017 on Available on Basho Records - SRCD 52-2.

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