Review: Big Band Metheny

Review: Big Band Metheny.
(The Bulls Head , September 27th 2009, Review by Luke Pinkstone)

You really don’t want to be sitting inside on a beautiful sunny day unless you have very good reason. But, thankfully, I had a great reason: Big Band Metheny. And I had a good setting too: the welcoming, homely, well-lit, good value Yamaha Music Room at the Bull’s Head in Barnes.

Big Band Metheny overflowed the low stage at The Bulls Head, filling the intimate venue with a warm, balanced sound, and not quite outnumbering the summer’s day audience. The atmosphere was that of an open rehearsal, with band members swapping music, joking among themselves and clearly enjoying the performance. This relaxed feeling proved contagious.

As the name suggests, the 16-piece band is based around the music of jazz guitarist, Pat Metheny, and plays an impressive repertoire that spans most of Metheny’s career. Led by Simon Gilby on alto saxophone, this refreshingly energetic band made a fantastic sound. Slick saxophones, punchy trombones, screaming trumpets and specially catered arrangements all combined to showcase the bands’ skill and versatility.

Are We There Yet? saw the band at it’s best, with drummer Nigel Appleton supplying solid foundations with a-go-go bells and tribal sounding drums. Disjunct stabs and opposing sectional phrases gave way to a blistering solo from Nick Wilkinson before the reprise of the tune.

Even in more challenging charts such as 5-5-7, Big Band Metheny navigated this complex music with style. When in full unison, the band showed its full might but always ensured that phrasing was unanimous, and leant back on the rhythm section’s metronomic grooves.

The ballad Always and Forever gave a somewhat overdue contrast to the torrent of hard and fast big band arrangements. Matt Winch took the melody on flugel horn followed by a beautiful solo that soared high above the harmonic swells and cymbal rolls.

The band finished with Song For Bilbao from Pat Metheny Groups’ 1983 album, Travels. It was a fitting end to an enjoyable performance, using typical big band styles while still doing justice to Metheny’s music.

With another performance at The Bulls Head on 25th October, Big Band Metheny is definitely worth a listen.

Luke Pinkstone

Categories: miscellaneous

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