Ben Crosland Brass Group – An Open Place
(Jazz Cat JCCD 114. CD Review by Chris Parker)
A glance at the titles of bassist/composer Ben Crosland‘s previous recordings demonstrate just how well suited he is to provide, as he has done on this sextet album, a ‘soundtrack’ for visitors to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park: The Northern Run (featuring Alan Skidmore), A Dales Day (for quintet), Echoes in the Valley (octet).
Thus experienced in capturing a ‘spirit of place’, Crosland has taken particular sculptures – by Henry Moore, Sophie Ryder, Barbara Hepworth, Elisabeth Frink, David Nash and Anthony Caro – as inspirations for an eight-piece suite for a supremely accomplished band, completed by trumpeters Martin Shaw and Steve Waterman, trombonists Mark Nightingale and Barnaby Dickinson, and pianist Steve Lodder. Lodder and Waterman, of course, form the elegant trio Threeway with Crosland, and their rapport lies at the heart of the cohesiveness and poise demonstrated throughout this satisfying set of Crosland compositions, Lodder particularly adept at ensuring the whole band sound gels in the absence of a drummer.
Solos on Crosland’s richly varied but consistently approachable pieces are shared pretty democratically between the bandmembers, but if this feature of the suite showcases its roots in jazz, the softly crooned chorales and more forceful ensemble passages also nod towards a suitably northern tradition: brass band music.
Appropriately airy, spacious and bright, An Open Place is at once striking and memorable, even in the absence of the open-air sculpture park that inspired it.
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