fri 18/08/2017

CD: Gerard Presencer & Danish Radio Big Band - Groove Travels | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Gerard Presencer & Danish Radio Big Band - Groove Travels

CD: Gerard Presencer & Danish Radio Big Band - Groove Travels

Brilliant, multifaceted big band album from the British trumpeter and composer

Presencer, whose playing blasted from every radio in the land in 1993 (remember the Us3 hit 'Cantaloop'?) delivers the most intensely vital album of his career
Feeling groovy: Gerard Presencer

There's a moment in album-opener “Another Weirdo”, just after the one-and-a-half-minute mark, that powerfully captures the dramatic heft and textural surprise of this outstanding big band album. A subdued call and response in the brass snakes its way over an unchanging cadential figure in the bass. And then, from nowhere, a sudden shift up a semitone and the full might of the big band comes crashing in, a blaze of colour over which its composer takes flight.

Groove Travels, a celebration of the rhythms that Gerard Presencer has absorbed on his various travels, has been incubating since 2010, when he moved to Copenhagen to join the estimable Danish Radio Big Band. Suffice to say, it's been worth the wait. Presencer, whose playing blasted from every radio in the land in 1993 (remember the Us3 hit “Cantaloop”?) delivers the most intensely vital album of his career.

The West African inspiration of “Blues for Des” conjurs up the spirit of Loose Tubes, and you almost expect to hear Django Bates weigh in with one of his hair-raising solos. Instead it's the impassioned tenor sax of Karl-Martin Almqvist, followed by a towering Presencer solo. Great work here, too, by guest Cuban percussionist, Eliel Lazo. The dancing polyphony of the closing bars is one of the most joyous sounds you'll hear this year.

“Ballad or Tango of the Misunderstood” possesses something of the melodic beauty of the late, great Kenny Wheeler (I can think of no higher praise), and if you've ever wondered what Lennon and McCartney's “Eleanor Rigby” might sound like cast as a Blue Note boogaloo, or Wayne Shorter's “Footprints” as a heavy Afro-Cuban groove, now's your chance.

And, to finish, a touching (overt) tribute which sees “I Can't Stop Loving You” conclude with a quote from Wheeler's classic 1990 ECM album, Music for Large and Small Ensembles.

@MrPeterQuinn

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