Any recording of a brass soloist with brass band will conjure up images of compositons with a particular style and sound. Thoughts of that “turn of the century” sound, personified by Herbert L. Clarke and Arthur Prior for example, come to mind. The Southern Cross not only has works of this genre, but a great mixture of contemporary compositions and beautiful jazz standards. All works are stunningly performed by soloist Brett Baker and the Kew Band Melbourne.
The featured soloist, trombonist Brett Baker, performs this diverse repertoire with great command and dexterity. His renditions of the ballads on this CD, All the Way and Autumn Leaves, are silky smooth, with a singing, floating sound. He shows his technical mastery through such peices as The Southern Cross, where all articulations are clear and the playing has great excitement and energy. He plays with a wide spectrum of tone colour, always appropriate to the composition. His range is extraordinary, even leading up to a double-high Ab in The Nightingale by Harold Moss. All of his playing sounds comfortable, no matter what pitch or dynamic register he is playing.
The Kew Band Melbourne, one of Australia's leading brass bands, is quite versatile, sensitive, rhythimically precise and has a beautiful ensemble sound. The fluid technical passages and uniformity of ensemble are showcased on all the works on this CD.
Also enjoyable about this recording is the flexibility and nuance demonstrated by both Brett Baker and the Kew Band Melbourne. The freshness of performance that results catches this listener's attention and adds musical spice, making these performances special.
Congratulations to Brett Baker and the Kew Band Melbourne for a CD of fine quality and enjoyable repertoire!
James T. Decker,Texam Tech University
International Trombone Associaton Journal, July 2008