Brett Baker is accompanied by the Enfield Citadel Band on a release that includes many new compositions and arrangements.
Several of the composers represented are noted trombonists themselves, ensuring the music, whilst placing considerable demands on the soloist at times, is idiomatic.
It gets off to a lively start with Roger Trigg’s ‘Rejoice’, showing that both Brett and the band are more than capable of adapting to the jazzy style required.
There are two contrasting ensemble works: Philip Wilby’s ‘Still Small Voices’, for trombone trio, is based on the tune ‘Repton’ – this being the first recording with band accompaniment.
The second, ‘Soul Origin for Trombones and Band’, was written for Bones Apart when they were Enfield’s guests in 1999. Dorothy Gates’ music can be uncompromising, a challenge both to players and listeners, but she always has something worthwhile to put across, and so it is with this work.
Her other contribution may surprise listeners who know ‘His Provision’ in its choral version though. Dorothy has set this in Latin-American style, and it works remarkably well, a totally different concept, but one which is most effective.
There are two extended works; ‘Life’s Command’ and 'The Light has Come’. Dudley Bright’s solo draws on the chorus ‘Follow, follow, I will follow Jesus’, also referring to Christ’s sacrifice and the joyful affirmation of following Jesus ‘anywhere, everywhere’.
The tune ‘The Light has Come’ may be familiar from Peter Graham’s ‘Shine as the Light’, but Kenneth Downie has taken it as a starting point for a rhapsodic solo that originally started off as a duet for euphoniums.
Technical challenges in abundance
‘Song of Joy’ is modelled on Leslie Condon’s ‘Song of Exuberance’, using thematic material from an old children’s chorus, ‘He Loves Me Too’.
The composer cites Stravinsky and Shostakovich amongst his influences, but the lively solo he has produced here reveals his own unique voice.
‘The Follower’ has references to the popular hymn-writer and one-time slave ship captain John Newton, using a recent melody by Canadian Rhonda Venables to depict stages of the writer’s life, with the full appearance of the tune heralding an extended cadenza.
Aspiration and reflection
The song ‘Hope’ was written for the opening of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, with words by Nelson Mandela, but the tenor Siphiwo Ntshebe, who had already recorded the song, succumbed to meningitis just before the event. Arranged by Andrew Wainwright, it makes for a moving, life-affirming anthem.
‘Beneath the Cross of Jesus’ receives a sensitive treatment from Mark Freeh, whilst‘Sweet Hour of Prayer’ by Wilfred Heaton has been idiomatically arranged by Paul Hindmarsh.
Also originating as a piece for trombone and piano is ‘He Gave Me Joy’. Written as a duet for Maisie Wiggins and the composer, Robert Redhead later arranged it for band, recording it with Robert Merritt and the Canadian Staff Band.
Brett makes the most of this soulful and reflective music.
This is a well-produced (and well-filled!) recording, with music in a variety of styles played by performers on top of their game.