Don Lusher is one of the Uk's most revered and cherished trombone players and was a long time supporter of the British trombone Society, having been President twice. Don grew up as part of the Salvation Army Brass Band tradition and always retained his passion for brass bands, despite moving into the blossoming Big Band scene after WWII. He was a remarkable player and his silky tone and punchy lead playing can be heard on many recordings with his own Big Band, the Ted Heath Orchestra, Geraldo and his Orchestra and many more. His association with brass bands continued throughout his career making records with the GUS Band, the Black Dyke Mills Band and Hammonds Sauce Works Band, as well as having several pieces written for him and even composing a few himself (some of which can be heard on this album). Dr. Brett Baker has taken on the daunting task of paying tribute to this true legend of the UK trombone and music scene with this album.
When I first heard Don play I was struck by how beautifully he shaped and 'sang' a melody on his trombone. His rich sound, lucious vibrato, singing legato style and of course, his use of the upper register were always an inspiration. These traits are all taken into consideration by Dr. Baker right from the first track. Dons own composition Aspects of Life. This style of ballad playing is woven through the album on gorgeous tunes like Michel Legrands What Are You Doing the Rest Of Your Life, the firm favourite Londonderry Air, the classic ballad Stardust and the achingly beautiful in The Wee Small hours of the Morning. Dr. Baker handles the style effortlessly. Dr. Baker also tackels the more playful side of Dons personality, picking up a plunger mute and attempting the swing style on tunes like DL Blues and Makin' Whoopie. The arrangements from Ian Jones, Kevin Holdgate, Mark Leigh and Dons old friend and colleague and equally legendary Bill Geldard are cleverly done for the small ensemble, especally on pieces like Earle Hagan's Harlem Nocturne and the latin/funk version of Without a Song. An electric bass underpins many of the tracks, alongside the versatile musicans of the JSVB Legacy Band with Conductor Dr David Thornton. Of the many contributions of the band, I should mention Mark Harrison's roaring trumpet solo on The Peanut Vendor and some blistering soprano cornet on By the time I get to Pheonix. Gary Curtin on euphonium is also worth a mention, his classy playing can be heard throughout this album. A full personnel list and programm notes from this album can be downloaded.
Dr. Bakers technical ability is prominant throughout with tracks like Leroy Andersons The Typewriter and the ever popular Dark Eyes, but I can also hear that he has strayed into the world of improvisation, this is a brave but welcome addition to his perfromance and something unavoidable when paying tribute to one of the countrys most prominant jazz trombonists.
This album is a wonderful tribute to Don Lusher with a well considered selection of Dons favourite pieces. Dr. Baker delivers a wonderful and thoughtful homage with his usual display of muscianship and virtuosity.