Sparking. Crisp. Clean. Like an effervescent champagne on a summer afternoon. That is how one should describe the magnificiant playing of Brett Baker on this recording. From the opening notes of Kenneth Downie's Trombone Time to the ending tones of Jan Van der Roost's Contrasts, Brett Baker and the Black Dyke Band deliver unbridled joy and artistry.
This compact disk features premiere recordings of works by Kenneth Downie, John Golland, Stephen Roberts, and Van der Roost alongside works by Peter Graham and Gordon Langford, who have all contributed many pieces to the brass band repertoire. Most well-known is Langford's Rhapsody for Trombone in which Baker delivers some wonderfully lush lyrical playing and tasteful use of vibrato along with expert handling of some stylistic surprises. Golland's Serenade for Trombone presents a melancholy mood reminiscent of a Henry Mancini movie ballad. Light-hearted and playful selections like Wood's Dance Sequence, Robert's Trombango, and Trombone Time add a nice balance to the recording. The final work is the two movement Contrasts by Jan Van der Roost. The first movement, titled Sounds, begins with a serious, complex atmosphere in the band followed by the trombone utilizing gilssandos and muted effects. In Caprice, the second movement, a jovial, march-like melody gives way to an extended cadenza and rousing finale.
Baker's playing is consistently superb. He showcases his ability to play an astonding range of the instrument from deep pedals to soaring high notes along with crystal clear articulation and extremely rapid multiple tonguing. He legato playing is some of the smoothest you will ever hear and he changed styles effortlessly.
Complementing Baker is the expert artistry of the Black Dyke Band and its director Nicholas Childs. The ensmeble presents the widest array of colours possible from a brass band and the virtuosity of the individual players in this group is readily apparent.
Contrasts is an excellent recording from top to bottom and highly recommended for listeners who have not heard much of the brass band genre. Brett Baker and Balck Dyke are the perfect pairing of virtuoso soloist and world-class ensemble.