CD Review: Robbie Harvey – Blowin’ That Old Tin Can

CD Review: Robbie Harvey – Blowin’ That Old Tin Can
Diving Duck Recordings DDRCD020. CD Review by Adrian Pallant.

A splendidly straight-down-the middle album from trombonist Robbie Harvey, Blowin’ That Old Tin Can celebrates the less-frequent jazz leadership of a particularly lyrical and exciting instrument. With an impressive background – including tutelage by Denis Wick and lead trombonist with NYJO, as well as numerous international awards and high-profile big band appearances – Ronnie Scott’s regular Harvey now releases this fine debut recording. Joining him on an eight-track outing of standards and originals is the wonderfully buoyant team of Alex Garnett (tenor sax), Leon Greening (piano), Tom Farmer or Giorgos Antoniou (double bass), and Steve Brown (drums).

Particularly impressive are the two opening numbers, both penned by Harvey, which suggest a distinctive and promising compositional talent. Blowin’ That Old Tin Can presents a classic, pacy big band-style swing, the trombonist sharing lead duties with tenorist Alex Garnett. With slick soloing throughout and structured punctuation of the relentless drive maintained by bassist Giorgos Antoniou, this is a title track of considerable animation and verve. Following this, smooth ballad You’ll Ask Why glides to the sumptuous-yet-lithe legato of Harvey’s trombone, all upheld by assured piano/bass/drums momentum, Garnett turning in his own sublime improvisation.

Soon due its centenary, Raymond Hubbell’s popular standard, Poor Butterfly, is given a bravely up-tempo feel thanks to the solid bluesy piano work of Leon Greening and shimmering with the joyful, metronomic ride rhythm that Steve Brown delivers with customary panache. Carn Galva iridesces with Brown’s soft cymbals/toms and Greening’s precise high-end keys; muted trombone and low tenor sax providing the rich, smoky extemporisations – a true delight! Cranking up the ‘old tin can’ again, Harvey’s trombone bristles energetically in Alex Garnett’s brisk Delusions of Grandma which almost tumbles over itself in unbridled vivacity. The high jinks of the quintet is palpable here, and credit to Garnett for this rollercoaster winner of a number.

Opening with strong unison lines, much-covered standard I Should Care relaxes into a pleasingly mid-tempo arrangement, Harvey confirming his aptitude for bright, lissome soloing. In contrast, Ellington’s Tonight I Shall Sleep reveals an exquisite late-nighter, Greening’s pianistic delicacy matching Harvey’s impeccably mellow tone and deftly-mobile technique. Closing with the familiar melody of Baubles, Bangles and Beads (from the musical Kismet), Garnett and Harvey converse concisely over Brown’s bubbling rhythm, Tom Farmer adding solo bass clarity to this chipper curtain call.

For a consummate, feel-good programme of jazz quintet arrangements, fronted by a young trombonist with impassioned feeling for his genre and a glimpse of further compositional delights to come, Blowin’ That Old Tin Can is certainly worth tracking down.

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