It’s been a long time coming…but well worth the wait.

Efpi Records: FP042

Ben Cottrell: director; Anthony Brown, Emily Burkhardt, Oliver Dover: saxophones; Simon Lodge, Rich McVeigh, Phil O’Malley: trombones; Owen Bryce, Graham South, Nick Walters: trumpets; Anton Hunter: guitar; Richard Jones: piano, Rhodes; Stewart Wilson: bass; Finlay Panter: drums; Tullis Rennie: sounds design

Recorded 20th-23rd January 2020 by Garry Boyle at Castlesound, Pencaitland

It’s been a long time coming, this third album from the Beats and Pieces Big Band (some 5 years since their last release) but well worth the wait.

The band’s name implies a mix and match of musical styles and a hodge-podge of genres, which is exactly what you get. But rather the mixture being haphazard there is great method in the band’s delightful madness. The two opening tracks are compositions from Brown and from Panter, all other tracks are Cottrell’s. Beginning with a field recording of bird song (recorded by Cottrell during his sojourn in Berne) the piece segues into a Rhodes solo that is part music-box and part Donny Hathaway in its soulful lyricism.

Following this, Jones switches to rhythmic piano to underpin the horns in their simple, repeated riff before the band breaks off to leave space for a liquid piano solo over pattering drums and gentle bass, and then a burst of horns before a gentle coda.

This seeps into the stately pulse that introduces ‘elegy’ and Dover’s mournful alto solo. Again, the horns are used to colour the piece and lift the mood as Dover’s solo takes off in the final third before a gentle close. The pattern of gentle introduction rising to crescendo reappears in ‘Cminriff’, with Brown’s tenor saxophone taking centre stage.

Reviewed by Chris Baber