Tom Green Septet – Skyline

skyline(Spark Label SPARK 001)

I don’t know how many times I’ve gone back to the personnel on the CD cover to check. Gosh! Yes, there really are only one trombone, one trumpet and two saxophones in this horn section. Such is the skill of Tom Green’s arranging that you’d swear it was a big band.

But nope, with trombonist Tom are Sam Miles on tenor, James Davison on trumpet and flugel, Matthew Heard on alto and soprano, Sam James on piano, Misha Mullov-Abbado on double bass and Scott Chapman on drums.

The Tom Green Septet

The Tom Green Septet

They all look young enough to be still taking their washing home, but they sound mature beyond their years, blending tightly, and soloing with an unhurried poise and comfortable in their characters. Apparently the personnel is essentially unchanged since late 2012, and this cohesiveness is clear right through the album.

All the tunes are by Green with the exception of a rather lovely arrangement of Skylark, which is something of a warhorse for modern jazz orchestras and so it’s a challenge to bring something fresh out of it, a challenge that Green more than meets.

There is flexibility of mood and a range of influence, from Equilibrium which might sound a little too much like a Maria Schneider piece (but, hey, when Schneider appears to be the model, who’s complaining?) to the New Orleans, open and relaxed Second Line feel of the closer, DIY.

Tom says: “I have always been fascinated by light, colour, balance and harmony, both in nature and in music. On Skyline many of the tracks are inspired by the interaction between natural landscapes and light in some way[they have names like Winter Halo, Mirage and Arctic Sun, and thoroughly apt they sound, too].”

There’s little point in picking out highlights – the whole album is a highlight. And beautifully recorded by Alex Killpatrick at Real World Studios. Highly recommended.

  • The Tom Green Septet is curently touring and comes to Symphony Hall’s cafe bar in Birmingham on Friday 13 March for the Jazzlines free early evening session. For a full list of their dates go here.

Categories: CD review

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2 replies

  1. Agree absolutely – the album is an absolute gem. There have been some fantastic British jazz debut albums in recent years and I think this tops the lot. The choruses swapped between alto and tenor on Equilibrium and the way the theme re-emerges towards the end is breath-taking!


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