Harlem Nocturne Brett baker Trombone with Ratby Co-operative – Reviewed by Philip Harper BBW March 2011

Brett Baker's prolific CD output continues with this release accompanied by the excellent Ratby Co-operative Band. There is an eclectic mix of repertoire on offer here and an unusual Fanfare by John Kenny opens the disc with an ambient synthesised backing. The title track, Harlem Nocturne by Earle Hagan, arranged by Bill Geldard, makes a starling impression, and both the soloist and band deliver the urban American Blues-inspired music with great panache. A great start to the disc! The next track provides evidence of the stark dichotomy of presenting such an eclectic mix on one disc – a new virtuoso arrangement by Dorothy Gates of Eric Coates' The Dam Busters! This provides a totally unexpected change of musical style, again played brilliantly and either providing welcome variety, or slightly jarring depending on your viewpoint! The remainder of the disc continues similarly, with standards such as Georgia on my Mind and Londonderry Air rubbing shoulders with original and weightier works by Bram Wiggins and Kevin Bolton, as well as unusual arrangements such as Adrian Drover's My love is like a Red Red Rose, which is moody and melancholy. Whether or not you can stomach the crunching of musical gears, the standard of playing is beyond question. Brett again presents his credentials as maybe the best brass band trombone player in the world, but the Ratby Co-operative Band, under Michael Fowles, is often equally impressive, providing compact accompaniments when required, but also some arresting and exciting playing at times too.

The recorded sound is very clear, helping to enhance this picture of excellence, and the CD notes are extensive and well written. The CD booklet is of the foldout cardboard variety with a quality feel to it, as well as an opportunity to include some good images, although the cover image seems to be the weakest of those included. Overall there is much to commend this disc, especially the very high standard of playing achieved by the musicians featured.


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