Contrasts Brett Baker (Trombone) Accompanied by Black Dyke Band Doy CD383 review by the British Bandsmen


 Original works for Trombone and brass band Brett Baker (Trombone), Black Dyke Band conducted by Nicholas Childs

What stands out as the USP of Brett Baker's latest release is the audible rapport between the band and its long-serving principal trombone. We tend to take for granted the agility of his technique, his fabulous high register and the burnished quality of his sound – with its light, 'bel canto' quality – but Brett is on his finest form throughout this release.

Three of the works of this album, which takes his solo CD count well over 30, are Brett Baker commissions. Kenneth Downie's high-wire show-piece Trombone Time, Stephen Roberts' Piazzolla-inspired concert piece Trombango and Jan Van der Roost's two movement concerto Contrasts. This is the most substantial work on the album, with a modernist first movement – full of contemporary Sounds – and a light hearted, but no less technically challenging Caprice. John Golland's short Serenade is all-too rarely heard these days. It's an early work, dating from the time of his brass masterpiece Sounds. Like many of Golland’s slow melodies, it reveals his admiration for the romantic melodic style and rich harmonic palette of Richard Strauss. A little gem rediscovered.

Peter Graham's early work The Guardian inherits a lineage of Salvation Army trombone solos from the likes of Erik Leidzen and Ray Steadman-Allen. Its based on a beautiful setting by former ISB conductor Ray Bowes of Jesus Loves me. Gareth Wood's Berstein- inspired Dance Sequence and Gordon Langfords ear-catching Rhapsody remind us of the suave and sophisticated playing of Don Lusher, for whom both were composed.

As Brett Baker reminds us in his notes, Dance Sequence isn't heard all that much because of the complexity of the band parts, which require almost as much close attention as the solo part. This is a fine performance all round.  For this listener, the highlight of the CD is Gordon Langford’s 43-year old inspiration, commissioned for the 1975 National Finals Gala Concert by Geoffrey Brand. The band score is a model of its kind and the solo part, played here in consummate relaxed style, is pure magic, especially the accompanied cadenza at its heart.

 Paul Hindmarsh

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