Adam Linsley: Locking Down

Trumpeter offsets bop chops with ballad profundities in a set of waltz, swing, shuffle, Dixie and funk with Dave O'Higgins and others


Like lots of other working musicians whose regular schedules came to a grinding halt last year, trumpeter Adam Linsley put his time out to good use and remotely recorded an album.

As an established session player in the UK, Linsley has enjoyed a long and diverse career. He’s worked in rock, pop, jazz, theatre and TV and been known to have blown over tracks by Bjork, Joss Stone, Sigur Ros and Aretha Franklin, not to mention rockier sessions with Deep Purple, Ginger Baker, Whitesnake and Level 42’s Mark King, to list a few.

Linsley’s real love and reputation though lies in jazz, and his work with the Nelson Riddle, Syd Lawrence, Matthew Herbert and the Back To Basie orchestras are testament to this. Having performed with such reputable ensembles (and many others), he’s naturally worked alongside some fine-swinging sidemen over the years too, some of which contribute to this impressive all-originals set.

The suitably titled Locking Down opens with the first of two tracks dedicated to his children, Ems, and hears Linsley playing a swinging waltz figure on flugel, dancing over brushes, light piano and some melodic fretless lines from bassist Simon Goulding. A more uptempo Matty Moo follows and see-saws between straightahead swing and a more gutsy shuffle groove. With Linsley now on muted trumpet, the tune throws out some soulful solos from Dave O’Higgins on tenor and Rick Laughlin on pitch-bent keys, driving towards more four-string gymnastics from Goulding.

Next, the set cools off with Rosie, a gentle piece which pops up twice in the set, first featuring the delectable vocals of the song’s lyricist Alison Jiear, and then later with Linsley himself beautifully handling the melody line on flugel. Without at all discounting any of the high-register runs and double-tempo bop chops Linsley displays on tunes such as Road Rat and Heene Blues, the rich lyricism he brings to ballads like Rosie, Des and the stunning My Shadow shows a weightier side to his playing, both in tone, mood and rhythmic ideas.

Given the record was assembled remotely the music throughout astutely preserves the feel of a live or studio recording in terms of vibe and band interplay. A great example of this is probably most evident in the lively, Dixie-styled standout Bessandon Parade. Here, over clarinet, jangling banjo and a slick second line-style groove from the rhythm section, Linsley and trombonist Trevor Mires deliver some of the punchiest playing of the set, second only maybe to that of of closing title track – a fast, funky, five-minute wah-trumpeted tune redolent of something you would hear from the Brecker Brothers. 

EMS; Mattie Moo, Rosie; Road Rat; My Shadow; Bessandon Parade; Penton Hook; Des; Heene Blues; Rosie; Locking Down (57.08)
Linsley (t, flh); Trevor Mires (tb); Dave O’Higgins (ts); Simon Bates (ts, cl); Alison Jiear (v); Rick Laughlin (kyb, arr); Andy G Jones, Jack Pennifold (g, bj); Don Richardson (b); Simon Goulding, Phil Laughlin (elb); Andy Bibb, Kevin Campbell, Mike Smith, Steven Vintner (d). Home studios, UK, 2020.