Gareth Lockrane Big Band
(Spice of Life, Sunday 21 November. Review by Fran Hardcastle)
Two years after their London Jazz Festival debut in 2008, the Gareth Lockrane Big Band made a welcome return last Sunday, to the relaxed atmosphere of the Spice of Life. The Big Band provides not only a vehicle for Lockrane’s virtuosic flute solos, but a perfect platform for the rest of the band’s hand picked players, for whom Lockrane’s utterly satisfying original compositions are written.
‘I remember the X-Men’, on a slightly 60’s groove set the afternoon off with a buzz. A predictably enjoyable hard blown solo came from Brandon Allen on alto sax. My personal favourite of the day, Roots opened with a righteous solo from popular pianist Ross Stanley, a man who can preach gospel-vibed piano like no other, before locking into tight bluesy groove. Robbie Harvey’s eloquent trombone solo was followed by a riotously hot moment from tenor sax player, Ben Somers.
Lockrane told us that the last chart of the set, a dedication to bassist Denis Irwin, came out of his slight obsession with the gospel turnaround, with a sample provided by Ross Stanley, which he referred to as ‘the augmented axis’. Entertaining theory lesson finished, a tasty hook from bassist, Ryan Trebilcock set up the next chart, which included a great battle between tenor sax players George Crowley and Ben Somers. Gavin Broom settled into the groove with a laid back trumpet solo.
Scottish guitarist, Kevin Glasgow was featured on one of the charts in the second set. A fine player, and definitely a name to look out for. Lockrane’s standout soloing performance came in Dark Swinger, a tricky chart with a super speedy theme, which also provided a great platform for trumpeter Steve Fishwick.
I would like to hear more of Lockrane’s smile inducing Big Band. In fact I would like to carry them all around in my pocket and have them play to me every day. Where is that elusive first album?