Summon the Rhythm Brett Baker Trombone accompanied by Leyland Band conducted by Howard J. Evans – Review for 4barsrest by Peter Bale 2011

Brett Baker (trombone)

Leyland Band
Conductor: Howard Evans
Polyphonic QPRL 230D
Total playing time: 76.48 mins

In ‘Summon the Rhythm', Brett Baker continues to promote new works for the trombone.

Six out of the eleven items are premiere recordings, although he was pipped by Cory's Chris Thomas, whose version of Philip Sparke's ‘Capriccio for Trombone'was released first. The Leyland Band under the baton of Howard Evans, who has accompanied Brett previously, provides first class support.

Production glitch

The extensive sleeve note give a useful background to the music, much of which was commissioned by, or written specifically for, Brett, although the centre sheet does not match up with the rest, with one sentence ending in mid-air and later repetition of four lines of text. Also, the track listing in the booklet is accurate, but not that on the back cover.

Eclectic mix

The disc opens in fine style with ‘Capriccio', with particularly clear definition in the repeated notes that are a recurring feature. The short glissandi are most effective, although there seems to a slight running out of steam in the final ascending run towards the end.

The ensuing ‘Song of India' provides an excellent contrast, with Brett switching styles to evoke the great Tommy Dorsey, much aided by Bill Geldard's idiomatic arrangement.

Another trombone player, Ralph Pearce, has provided a rather unusual solo in ‘Four Miles from Texas', drawing on country and western influences, including an imitation of blue-grass fiddle music that is a considerable challenge for the soloist. 

There is also the chance to spot the references to other writers and players in the opening cadenza.

Brett's silky smooth playing, especially in the upper register, is heard to good effect in ‘Someone Cares', ‘Sweet Nightingale', ‘Evergreen' and Ray Farr's setting of ‘Why did I Choose You?'

Full of character

Peter Meechan's ‘Scene from the River Plate' has its origins in a duet project involving Brett and Chris Houlding, and elements of this remain as other instruments at various points join the soloist.

The unaccompanied opening is quite striking, as is the incorporation of tango rhythms in what is described as ‘quasi-incidental music from a fictional film', complete with a chase and love interest. It is another positive contribution of new music from a writer who is able to introduce fresh ideas and sounds without alienating the audience.

Marc Owen's ‘Excursions for Trombone' was originally written with piano accompaniment, with nine of the ten movements comprising this re-scored version.

Each is full of character, the individual titles being largely self-explanatory, although they are not necessarily intended to be played all in one go, and listeners may prefer to make their own running order. Brett's playing is most impressive, as he discovers the essence of each individual vignette.

Substantial concerto from Barry

Darrol Barry's ‘Concerto for Trombone' is a substantial work, with reflective sections found in all three movements, in-between technically testing and lively passages exploiting the full range of the trombone.

Darrol uses several themes throughout, some introduced by the soloist and others by the band, with the third movement being particularly memorable. 

The varied scoring of the accompaniment adds considerable colour, with the band's trombones backing the soloist at the opening of the second movement.

South American mysticism

The title track ‘Summon the Rhythm' which closes the disc draws its inspiration from South America, and particularly the world of shaman, folk tales and magic, and there is imaginative use of percussion to support the soloist as the music passes through its four continuous sections.

With excellent playing all round this is another enjoyable release from Brett, with the new works in particular being well worth hearing.

Peter Bale


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