Tales from the West Country Filton Concert Brass & Brett Baker (Trombone) by Scott Ruedger for the ITA

TALES FROM THE WEST COUNTRY provides listeners with compositions and artists that reflect the area of Southwest England known as the West Country. Trombonist Brett Baker, one of Europe's leading brass performers, joins the award-winning Filton Concert Brass in an exciting disc featuring a wide variety of works which showcase Baker's stunning lyricism and virtuosity. Gordon Langford's fine West Country Fantasy opens the disc and features numerous folk song quotes evocative of the southwest England area.

The Filton Concert Brass, led by conductor Tom Davoren, performs superbly with a balance and excitement that grasps listeners immediately. Derek Bourgeois's Nightmare for trombone and brass band, commissioned by Baker in 2007, receives an excellent performance with Baker capably negotiating its wide leaps, mixed meter, and technical demands with ease.

Brett Baker really shines on the lighter jazz and pop works, including Don Lusher's lovely Swinging Down the Alley, American jazz pianist Hampton Hawes's toe-tapping Jackie, and We've Only Just Begun, made popular by the Carpenters. Saint Anthony's Well, Duncan Stubb's showpiece dedicated to Brett Baker, receives its premiere on this recording and programmatically presents an image of monks visiting a well for their devotions, followed by an exciting dance with interjections between the soloist and ensemble which culminates in an exciting finale.

Conductor Tom Davoren leads Baker and the Filton Concert Brass in three of his own compositions which, in addition to Bakers excellent lyrical and technical musicianship, are amoung the highlights of the recording. Davoren's Song to the Sea is at once dramatic and reflective, reminiscent of the harbour in Bristol near the River Severn. As Davoren leads the group, he is able to create a fine ensemble balance and blend; add Brett Bakers lovely sound, and it creates a special experience for listeners. In For a Love Lost, Davoren was inspired by Latin romance and Brett Baker is at his finest int his lyrical ballad style, negotiating demanding leaps with an ease and consistency of sound. The Filton brass excels in Davoren's Living Power, which incorporates the hymn tune, Lord, for the Years. Recording quality is excellent and the liner notes are generally informative. Publisher information is also included for those wishing to perform works present on the disc. A wonderful variety of brass band works combined with an outstanding trombone soloist in Brett Baker make this a disc that needs to be a part of your collection.

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