Nick Dewhurst Band: Suspect In You
(ND Records NDR001. CD review by Peter Bacon)
This is the debut recording from trumpeter Nick Dewhurst and features the band he formed in 2015 for a performance at the Blues and Jazz Festival in his hometown, the small cathedral city of Lichfield just north of Birmingham where he grew up and still lives.
Nick, tenor saxophonist Callum Roxburgh, keyboardist Tom Lindsay, bassist Tom Moore and drummer Carl Hemmingsley are a close-knit bunch, friends as well as musical collaborators, and, with the exception of Hemmingsley, whom Dewhurst met through Walsall Jazz Orchestra, all part of that cohort of Midland musicians who are making their way in the professional world having graduated from Birmingham Conservatoire’s jazz course.
The basis of the band’s sound is hard bop, and Lindsay’s use of organ in addition to piano adds to that 1960s Blue Note feel. But that is just the start. The trumpeter has always had a soft spot for funk and fusion as well, and in his compositions he cleverly mixes these elements.
The experience he has gained from writing and arranging for the larger forces of Walsall Jazz Orchestra (highly skilled) and the community band he runs (mixed ability) he translates most effectively into his writing for this band, with nice little twists on the conventions in each of the eight originals (the only standard, Easy Living, he leaves alone).
He also has just the band to give the instrumental and stylistic flexibility he needs. So Moore is most often heard on electric bass but plays upright too; Lindsay adds Rhodes tones and edgier funk keyboard sounds where needed. Roxburgh can be woozily retro – as he is on Dark – or soul-funky in the Bob Mintzer mould – as he is on Funky Thing – and Hemmingsley comes from the Gadd/Erskine school where adding the faintest swing suggestion to a straight rock beat is as natural as breathing. On Dark he also shows a penchant for that sloppy New Orleans thing.
Dewhurst and Roxburgh are as naturally tight in the ensemble sections as you’d expect best friends to be, and their solos are finely structured: listen to Roxburgh do the slowly build on Machine Operated, and Dewhurst so natural, fluent, relaxed and “composerly” on the title track. An accomplished debut.