Sunday, 14 February 2016

Brett Baker's latest album ‘Myths and Legends’ features all 12 tracks as World Premier recordings. The CD has a continuous presentation of music from fresh and exciting composers within the brass band movement and opens with Christopher Bond's ‘The Fire and the Phoenix’, that has a very cinematic feel and features Black Dyke's principal euphonium Gary Curtin with his thunder throat movie trailer voice over in the opening of the album. Brett’s incredible trombone playing and wonderful band possesses the unmistakeable aura of which is phenomenal from start to finish. Divine Odyssey by Andrew Mackereth is a rhapsody for trombone that is stylistically linked to Ray Steadman-Allen classic ‘The Eternal Quest’. Brett’s musicality follows the narrative of the lyrics and is magnificently exciting in both affection and wonderful depth of tone. From a ‘Kingdom of Clouds’ is a short, conceptual piece for trombone and marimba by Andrea Price that explores the relationship between these two contrasting timbres with a sound that positively glows with warmth, coupled with emotion from both outstanding soloists. ‘The Collapse of the Silver Bridge’ from the ‘Legend of Moth Man’ by Simon Oliver opens with the panic of a sighting of the alleged beast, then a beautiful lament unfolds that is exquisite and allows the soloist to demonstrate his elegant tone and clear note production, followed by a race to the rescue with a performance of the highest level. ‘Myfrydodau’ composed by Richard Huw Cole is a series of reflections based around the central theme that unfolds gradually to reveal a startling brilliance of energy and jazz section. The soloist demonstrates the ease of adapting the many different musical styles of trombone playing. ‘Slipstream’ from the pen of Paul Lovatt-Cooper demonstrates Brett’s technical playing, and although the piece is light hearted it is very demanding for the soloist with range in dynamic control and with amazing double and triple tonguing that was handled with complete ease. This is quite brilliant right from the super Ab concert and pedal F concert outset of the solo, and the playing is quite simply stunning throughout. ‘M6 TROLL’ is a solo trombone with backing tracks by Lucy Pankhurst which illustrates the imagery of a troll surrounding the motorway, and you can even hear the constant sound of moving traffic. Brett premiered this piece at the ITA Festival in Rochester, New York and encompasses the virtuosic skills of this amazing soloist. Roger Trigg’s ‘Pursuing Atalanta’ has a light foot-tapping Manhattan skyline feel to the music. Next we are treated to ‘At the Royal Parks’, which is the 2nd movement from the major work ‘In Old London Town’ composed by Jonathan Bates originally for the co-principal trombone player of the London Symphony Orchestra, Peter Moore with the NCBBGB. The piece also features Ruth Webb on keyboard and Guy Conter on trumpet complete with humming bird and Big Ben in the mixture. Brett is very much on the top of his form performing this demanding work with rare artistry.  The ‘Legend of Sleepy Hollow’ by Richard Rock has a mysterious feel as the music encounters a cloaked rider on his journey home in the infamous ‘Headless Horseman’, and the playing is well executed from both the band and soloist. ‘Cloud Rider’ by Dan Price takes the inspiration from the legend of the Valkyres and is a powerful display from the soloist in musicality and interpretation. The final piece ‘Fandango’ for trumpet and trombone is by Joseph Turrin and was commissioned for the University of New Mexico Wind Symphony for Philip Smith and Joseph Alessi. This duet makes for a subtle complement and completes the album. This is another brilliant display of the virtuosic talents of Brett Baker and the 2016 Butlins Champion Band, The Flowers Band conducted by Paul Holland. The playing is superb throughout, the booklet is well documented and the recording is equally outstanding.

Chris Jeans  

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