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Sunday, February 02, 2020

CD Review: Nigel Hitchcock - Hitchgnosis

Nigel Hitchcock (Alto/Soprano Sax): Chris Dagley (Drums); Miles Bould (Percussion); Laurence Cottle (Fretless Bass) + Hitchgnosis Orchestra/Symphony Orchestra of Marat Bisengaliev (tracks 3, 8 & 11).

(Review by Steve H)

Nigel Hitchcock seems to have been around forever, his first solo album (Snake Ranch Sessions) was recorded in 1997 his second (Smoothitch) in 2013. His latest album, Hitchgnosis, is his most ambitious to date incorporating a symphony orchestra in addition to a rhythm section  of electric bass, drums and percussion.

In-between times Hitchcock has played saxophone solos on numerous pop albums, TV ads and film scores. No doubt these experiences influenced his approach on this, his latest jazz work.

It is only fair that I confess early on that I am not a great fan of orchestral music, be it Brahms, Beethoven or for that the matter The Beatles. One of the few exceptions to this rule is the fabulous Bird with Strings so I was not without hope when given this album to review. Unfortunately, for me this album fits into my first list rather than the second.

This album was inspired by Hitchcock’s 5 year stay on the Island of Skye and, by his own admission, was influenced by New Age books quantum physics and AI.

Hitchcock is a tremendous soloist and writes some lovely melodies. I enjoyed the playing of the rhythm section and there were fine solo from various instrumentalists throughout. Various styles and genres are incorporated from the very cinematic Enki’s Dream, through a tango Heart in a Tango, the folksy Panharmonia, the ballad Blaven Mist and finally the blues logically titled Skye Blues.

For those who like cinematic, melodic,  orchestral jazz this may be the album for you sadly for me when it comes to symphony orchestras and jazz  I feel much the same as Mark Twain when he said  ‘golf is a good walk spoiled’
Steve H

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