A Jazz Odyssey – The Magnificent 7 Jazz Band (2015)

Irthling Records – IRMAG002
Amy Roberts – flute, clarinet, alto sax

Richard Exall – clarinet, alto sax, tenor sax, vocals and arrangements

Ben Cummings – trumpet, vocals

Ian Bateman – trombone

Craig Milverton – piano

Bill Coleman – double bass

Nick Millward – drums, vocals

Recorded at Ian Riley Studios, 2015

There may be a little hubris in the band name but when you consider that each member of the group has performed across the world as musicians in the bands of Chris Barber, Acker Bilk and Kenny Ball then you realise that this is a justified label.

For their second outing on CD since forming in 2013 Richard has assembled a set of tunes that acknowledge the band’s former employers and showcases newer material in an attempt to broaden the palette of their audience.

After an introduction by Richard Strauss, the album settles down into a great selection of jazz that showcases the melodic and solo chops of the band. Ian Bateman evokes a true Ellingtonian trombone sound in his rendition of Caravan with a stunning solo from him and pianist Craig Milverton. This tune, amongst others features an excellent bit of arranging from leader Richard Exall. The sudden pairing of this tune with Oyo Como Va jars a little but any fears are put to rest by Amy Robert’s magnificent flute playing. Ben Cummings is not only a great trumpet talent but sings with a soul and control that many first study vocalists would be envious of. Georgia and My Girl are swinging and entertaining in equal measure.

The rhythm section of Milverton, Coleman and Millward is sublime in the accompaniment nowhere more so than Tanga. A Dizzy Gillespie composition, it features a bright tempo and beautiful chord changes that the horn players negotiate with skill and delicacy.

For me the standout track though is But Beautiful. Bateman again shows his chameleon-like qualities with a J J Johnson inspired sound for the melody and his solo. Then again, as a trombonist myself I am incredibly biased.

That there are 7 in this jazz band and that they are magnificent is just fact. That you should check out their recorded and live performances is merely compulsory in my opinion. The Magnificent 7 is entertaining, skilled, slick and swinging.

The album is available via their website http://www.bookajazzband.com/mag7.html and of course at their live gigs.

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