Brett Baker and Friends – Brett Baker (trombone) – reviewed by Malcolm Wood 4barsrest Aug 2014

Brett Baker’s latest release has been put together to support an admirable initiative to help raise funds to buy student trombones for aspiring youngsters wishing to take up the instrument.

With support from manufacturers Michael Rath and John Packer Ltd, the CD enables Brett to bring to fruition a project he first got his teeth stuck into when he was President of the British Trombone Society.
34 tracks

whilst most of us were still enjoying our Christmas holiday, Brett and an army of friends descended upon Peel Hall in Salford to record this double CD, which contains no less than 34 tracks.

And it’s an impressive line-up of colleagues from Black Dyke and other bands that provide close on two and half hours of trombone inspired (although not exclusively) music making. 

Disc one features Brett with three Black Dyke trombone quartets (as well as a Salford Brass quintet), whilst disc number two sees his other friends and colleagues take centre stage.

With some excellent understated accompaniment throughout the various tracks from pianists John Wilson and Ruth Webb along with White River Brass, all of the performers are allowed to blossom, with a host of première recordings, established and less well known repertoire featured.
Light work

Brett makes light work of the old standards such as 'Autumn Leaves' and 'Stardust' whilst Ludovic Neurohr's interesting 'Ira' depicts the various attitudes to anger – be it from a Catholic or Buddhist perspective.
Elsewhere we get everything from ‘James Bond’ to ‘Georgia on My Mind’‘Gospel Train’ to ‘Grandfather’s Clock’ and bags more in between.

There is literally, something for everyone to enjoy and a chance to hear some unfamiliar soloists too. 

Black Dyke's Director of Music, Dr Nicholas Childs will no doubt be keeping his eye on the players in the Junior and Youth Quartets, whilst you can hear the sense of enjoyment with some of the more established stars just pushing themselves a bit in the show pony stakes.

James Stretton takes the award with a bobby dazzler on ‘Gallipoli March’, whilst there are some intriguing combinations too – with a few trombone and percussion duets to savour. 
Big but accessible

Superbly recorded by Richard Scott and with comprehensive programme notes by Joanna Cambray-Young, this is a bit of a leviathan in listening terms, but one that is easily and enjoyably accessible nonetheless.

All that and it helps a fine cause too.

Malcolm Wood

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