Monthly Archives: January 2010

Beats & Pieces Big Band EP

From its explosive opening bars until its final lingering hum, the Beats & Pieces Big Band’s first EP is nothing less than a bombardment of the senses. The brainchild of Manchester based composer Ben Cottrell, this sizable affair unites the cream of Manchester’s emerging jazz talent, including Sam Andreae (t. sax), Fin Panter (dr), and Graham South (trp).

At its core the ensemble is traditional big band, but by cross-stitching a multitude of genres to its already rich tapestry of sound, something both unique and fresh has emerged. On tracks such as Yafw (part iii) there are reminisces of Quincy Jones’ more malevolent 1970s blaxploitation soundtracks; the underlying latino groove being almost chased along by the dangerously edgy horn section.

Elsewhere, the compositions also show a real elegant restraint, with classy arrangements that show the record’s maturity. This is most notable in the EP’s final track, Broken, which also manages to combine subtle electronic elements successfully. Bjork is evidently an influence, and here the highly lyrical playing is matched with an almost Nordic chill, which acts as calming digestif after some of the more frenzied earlier tracks.

This is a rich and colourful first CD that comfortably combines Hendrixesque guitar riffs, Herbie Hancock style funk, and even inflections of Eno’s ambient music. While for many groups this osmosis of ideas would produce a conflicting overall sound, Beats & Pieces Big Band have created something that’s both catchy and original.

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