Beats & Pieces Big Band – All In ★★★★

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Ben Cottrell (comp, arr, s) with big band featuring Finlay Panter (d), Nick Walters (t), Sam Healey (s), Graham South (flgh) and others. Rec. Jan 2014

Since their highly acclaimed 2011 debut Big Ideas, Ben Cottrell’s Mancunian big band, Beats & Pieces, have been breaking down barriers between jazz musicians and audiences both in the UK and internationally with their exuberantly direct approach to live performance. Theirs is a sign of a return, if not to the big band’s original role to make people get up and dance, then to the idea that contemporary jazz for big band can still generate the kind of direct impact more associated with rock and pop music, but without undermining its essential craft and sophistication.

On their second album All In Cottrell has as successfully as it’s possible recaptured the collective high spirits and infectious energy of the band live in the studio. At the core is a driving rock band set-up of guitar, keys and rhythm section. There are shades of Colin Towns and Gil Evans’ 1970s’ work in the grungy lower brass riffs and screeching noir-jazz horns with solos that have an instinctive edgeof-the-seat feel about them from a line-up that’s been practically unchanged for the best part of a decade. All tracks are Cottrell’s originals aside from a wonderfully crafted, atmospheric arrangement of David Bowie’s 1980’s hit ‘Let’s Dance’ that never tries to sound clever but succeeds nonetheless. Highly recommended.

– Selwyn Harris

This review is from the June 2015 issue of Jazzwise which is out now – to read the full review section click here to subscribe and get a FANTASTIC FREE CD