A magnificent record from start to finish.

Amp Music & Records CD: AT0151 / LP: AT0151L

Henry Spencer (trumpet, flugelhorn); Ant Law (guitar); Matt Robinson (piano, Fender Rhodes); Andrew Robb (bass); David Ingamells (drums)

Recorded April 2019

This is a powerful statement from trumpeter Henry Spencer and an album that packs quite a punch. From the outset, the band means business, and Spencer’s well-conceived and masterfully constructed compositions provide the fuel needed to ignite the music.

“The Defector,” by its very title, can at times evoke a sense of loneliness and desperation, but Spencer’s compositions, while embracing and understanding the plight of defectors, always seem to come across with a more optimistic feeling, as if the reasons behind the defection have been wrestled with and can finally be justified and accepted as the right course of action.

The music has a complex and logical feel. It does not solely rely on the soloist but is based on tightly structured compositions that are beautifully integrated with a string quartet, adding depth to the arrangements.

The title track crashes in on the listener with a powerful theme and equally powerful and passionate playing from Spencer. The trumpeter has a lovely, clear sound that he is not afraid to dirty with tonal effects and smears as the music dictates.

After the rush of the opening number, things take a calmer approach with ‘Perfect Hindrances,’ featuring an excellent solo from the leader and pianist Matt Robinson.

‘Undone’ has a dark and ominous undercurrent with a magnificent performance from guitarist Ant Law, who excels throughout, whether providing a counterfoil to the trumpet or merging with the rhythm section and the string quartet to provide texture and color.

The strings blend seamlessly into the fabric of the music; it is inconceivable without their presence. Just listen to their haunting ensemble on “Introduction to Without A Voice,” and as the music transitions into the full composition, it powers into being, with the strings muscling their way in to bring additional voices into the mix, enriching the music even further.

If Spencer squeezes notes out of the horn with a pained and fragile sound on the aforementioned “Without A Voice,” the following piece, “Here (for Chicca),” brings a more optimistic note to the proceedings.

With his sensitive guitar intro, guitarist Ant Law, along with the trumpeter’s taut and lyrical phrasing, brings the album to a glorious finale with “Not My Country.”

A magnificent record from start to finish, “The Defectors” crosses boundaries, incorporating elements of rock, jazz, and even a hint of minimalism in music that is perfectly balanced and executed by a group of musicians who play selflessly for the music. As such, it comes highly recommended.