Sean Gibbs’ Fervour – Taking Flight
(Bandcamp. CD review by Rob Mallows)
You know that feeling when you walk down the street and unexpectedly you come across a pound coin? Serendipity, a pleasant surprise, call it what you will, it lifts your mood a notch and brings a self-satisfied smile to your face. This album does much the same thing.
I’d not heard of young Scottish trumpeter Sean Gibbs before, so I had no expectations when I started playing this music. The portents seemed good: he’s a seasoned big band player and side man with established names like Calum Gourlay, the music’s original and has influences from jazz, blues and rock. The result? This is a ballsy, listenable album.
Fervour is Gibbs’ debut album as group leader, and on it he’s joined by Ben Lee on guitar, Andy Bunting on piano, Nick Jurd on bass and Euan Palmer on drums. It’s clean-cut, straight-ahead jazz but with more twists than a Curly-Wurly, and enjoyably hip.
First cut Go on then is all about swagger. It’s a track with an upturned lip and attitude and knows it, kicking off the album with a punch. Lee’s guitar playing makes this track, and his solo has Chuck Berry guitar overtones which sound dated yet contemporary at the same time. One to play in the car, loud, with the windows down. Whereas second track What’s all the rush? is about taking things slow. It’s a classic blues jazz number with some filthy dirty, muted trumpet from Gibbs and a foot-tappingly catchy rhythm. It’s a fun conversation between the band that says, musically: “Hey, take it easy man!”
Spring at Last has a trumpet sound that sprays a riot of musical colour and a vibe that encourages the listener to relax and sink into the soft guitar rhythms. It’s a very ‘up’ tune, one for the back garden with a pint of beer and good company as you look longingly at the barbecue and anticipate the coming of summer. Jurd’s bass line is as satisfying as kicking a pebble down the pavement and getting it to land right on the edge, without it falling into the gutter. A simple, but effective tune.
The album goes on in this vein, offering a mix of options. I liked particularly Don’t hold back: imagine a ’60s spy thriller set somewhere like Gdansk, where the camera zooms in on a spy as he runs through snow-covered streets from his pursuers before nipping into a basement jazz cafe where he meets his beautiful Russian contact. This track would be playing in the background on the soundtrack. It’s peppy, nightclub jazz which swings and pulses satisfyingly well.
Eighth track Cheer Up Old Bean you should play to any friend who’s down and needs a pick-me-up. It’s as infectious as a runny nose yet as effective as a single malt in brightening your spirits. The shuffling drums by Palmer create an insistent push to the track that Lee’s guitar fights back against in a dialogue mid-track that sounds like two mates arguing playfully in a pub. A particularly well-constructed track, the piano loops and warbles nicely and there’s plenty of fast-slow tempo changes and melodic stumbles to catch the ear.
Fervour sign off with Adieu, a bluesy ballad with undertones á la Hancock and some lovely drawn-out notes on the trumpet which wrap around the ear and demand to be listened to. It’s a friendly tune that really breaks out with a spunky, 1950s rock-style guitar solo that preens and plumps itself up nicely. A satisfying listen. There’s much to be complimented in this album and I would happily hear more from this band.
Taking Flight is released on 5 April. The public link to the album on bandcamp, where one preview track can be streamed, is here. The album will also be available on itunes, amazon and spotify once it’s released. The band will also be touring from 5 April.
LINKS: Interview with Sean Gibbs
Review of Gibbs’ album Burns, played by Birmingham Jazz Orchestra