This is one of the more interesting recent jazz offerings for large ensemble. In fact, it’s one of the more interesting recent jazz records, full stop. Leader Lockheart provides all of the compositions and arrangements, and also the Shorteresque tenor sax contributions.
It starts in a quite through-composed vein, with just single soloists (Lockheart and Herbert) on the first two tracks, but then it opens out into something more groove-based with more solo offerings as the album progresses. The overall sound (produced by the core ensemble listed below plus John Ashton Thomas’s 30-piece orchestra) has echoes of Loose Tubes, Maria Schneider and Pat Metheny, amongst numerous other influences that the leader cites, some of which are much more historical.
“This Much I Know Is True” is the first groove-based track, and also the first here to include a conversation between large ensemble and soloists (Lockheart and Parricelli) and rhythm section. “Party Animal” continues the groove-based trend, initially in smaller numbers of players, but then the larger ensemble join in, interspersed with an array of soloists including Laura Jurd, Leggett, Noble and Lockheart. There’s a sense that the track might build more, but overall it’s quite understated.
The groove of “Believers” is fired by Parricelli’s rock-style riffing, and the aforementioned possible build seems more present here, in places sounding suitable for a detective/crime film or programme. The orchestration on this track fully utilises the large ensemble, which is not always the case elsewhere, where sometimes the ensemble’s overall effect sounds Loose Tubes-like despite the much larger size of the ensemble here, the sum of the parts not always having more effect than that of, e.g., a Bates arrangement for 18-piece big band.
Jackie Shave’s solo violin provides welcome contrast on “Triana”, as does the African-influenced harp work by Helen Tunstall on the closer “Long Way Gone“, with some telling contrasts between chamber and orchestral sound, and another opportunity for pianist Liam Noble to stretch out a little, in quite Mehldau-like manner.
A View From Above; Brave World; This Much I Know Is True; Party Animal; Believers; Triana; Long Way Gone (50.26)
Lockheart (ts); Alice Leggett (as); Liam Noble (p); John Parricelli (g); Tom Herbert (b); Sebastian Rochford (d); John Ashton Thomas (cond). London, 13 and 14 December 2017.