London Jazz Festival Review (29): Gareth Lockrane Big Band

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?

Categories: miscellaneous

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