Faith Encounter – Chris Thomas

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This new release from Polyphonic sees Brett Baker team up with  Boscombe Citadel Band under the baton of Howard Evans.

The opening track, Intrada: To a God Like This (Larsson), sets the standard for the CD and the band immediately impresses with its warmth and breadth of sound. Brett's first solo offering is Sarah, which is dedicated to Mrs. Baker and played with the warmth and expression that one would expect. Kevin Norbury's Flourish for Trombone is a far spikier affair initially, but the band and soloist more than rise to the challenge. Band and soloist let their hair down in Barrie Gott's Up Yonder, before getting stuck into the heart of the recording.

The main offering is Ray Steadman-Allen's Faith Encounter, a new and most welcome addition to the repertoire. Although quite demanding in terms of stamina and technique, band and soloist take the challenges in their stride. The music tells the story of a pilgrim, who has his faith tested and strengthened through experience, and it passes through a wide range of styles and moods before ending in a bravura style.

Not to be outdone, the Boscombe trombone section gives a beautifully sustained reading of From That Sacred Hill. Another jewel on this CD is Broughton's Variations on Nicely Saved, which is a real vehicle for the band to display some neat ensemble playing and a beautifully restrained sound.

Brett shows his lyrical side in the final two solo contributions – Redhead's Whisper a Little Prayer and Kurt Weill's My Ship. Again, Brett shows that there are few who can match his control and ability to get to the heart of a melody.

This recording finds Brett and the Band on top form, delivering a varied, musical and well-prepared programme. A very engaging listen from start to finish!

Chris Thomas
British Bandsman, Saturday 2nd December 2006

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