A big band made up of massed French horns–it might well be a best-seller. The French horn may not be an instrument generally associated with jazz, but here some 19 horn-players from leading British orchestras have come together to play “big-band” jazz numbers. In most items they are marshalled and accompanied by pianist Gwilym Simcock, nominated as “jazz musician of the year”, though in one item the versatile Simcock returns to play a horn solo, with great effect. In other items he also acts as composer and arranger.
The results are attractively varied, generally alternating between upbeat numbers–with the players giving everything they have got in phenomenally precise ensemble–and cool numbers, including blues, which generally begin with Simcock playing an evocative piano solo. The opening item, Los Jaraneros, sets the vigorous tone in an arrangement by Richard Bissill, leading promptly to the first cool number with a warmly lyrical solo on a low register of the horn. Other members of the team who also provide arrangements are Tim Jackson and Jim Rattigan.
This leads in turn to the number which gives the title of the whole collection, Give It One, wild in its jazz syncopations with percussion adding spice. The piece nicely goes down to a pianissimo before the final coup de grace at the end. Fat Belly Blues brings a particularly evocative solo on a low horn, while The Trolley Song, one of Judy Garland’s most popular numbers from the film 'Meet Me in St Louis', is more straightforwardly melodic than the rest, effectively so, and expands at one point into slow time, again providing necessary contrast.
Edward Greenfield, Gramophone
This unique compact disc by The London Horn Sound is matchless in numerous ways... a must for both the seriously minded jazz buff and the stalwart long-haired classical defender.
It may well be regarded as an indication of what could be the road ahead for modern jazz, as it successfully marries the two cultures, forging a link where previously a great divide was evident.
Bert Booth, Kings Jazz Review
As you can tell from the line up this is definitely an entertaining big band disc. There is something for everyone here from the Latin up-tempo Los Jaraneros to a pensive, introspective, “piano bar” type Not Like This, to an up-tempo and driving Give it One and even a down and dirty Fat Belly Blues (yes, expect a terrific pedal register display).
This recording shows not only that fine French horn players have the versatility and talent to excel in the big band idiom, but that they produce an amazing collective sound, like no big band ever heard before. The music goes from red hot to velvety cool. This disc is not to be missed by any hornist, or jazz enthusiast for that matter.
John Dressler, Horn Call Magazine
Judged as a jazz album Give it One is a serious piece of work and as such it is a triumph on all fronts. It definitely extends the perception of what is possible in jazz on the horn: upwards—some amazing solos by Pip Eastop; downwards—Fat Belly Blues written by Richard Bissill for Tony Halstead is a great piece; and in the virtuosity of the scores written by Bissill, Jackson, Rattigan and Simcock. Jackson’s Three Point Turn starts and finishes with Frank Lloyd and himself duoing on chords. It is quite astonishing...
It will be interesting to see what the reaction is to this CD outside the horn-playing fraternity...
The immaculate playing has great verve and style and shows the strengths of the London horn scene at the moment... I would recommend downloading Tim Jackson’s Sound Of Music Jazz Suite from the website. Jeff Bryant’s playing on the Edelweiss track is really beautiful and the suite also has the most effective writing for Wagner tubas, lending weight and richness to the bass at various key points.
Paul Sawbridge, Horn Player Magazine
Give It One covers the jazz spectrum with a dazzling array of standards and new compositions. Highlights include the sultry Not Like This, Richard Bissill’s irresistible Fat Belly Blues, a sophisticated arrangement of Duke Ellington’s Daydream, Gwilym Simcock’s swinging Blues For Hughie and the delirious title track.
The sound recording is excellent and the musicians clearly relish this chance to let their hair down as ‘the world’s first French Horn Big Band’ before getting back to the day job.
New Classics; new-classics.co.uk/html/jazz.html
...Seriously good fun all round... Fine sound.
There’s also an opportunity to download Tim Jackson’s Sound Of Music Jazz Suite, which I recommend you do. My foot tapped.
Jonathan Woolf, MusicWeb International
This CD project asserts that jazz and the classics are certainly artistically entwined. Gwilym Simcock has penned some brilliant arrangements for the project. Hamlisch's The Way We Were has to be reckoned with—jazz and the classics meet on equal terms in Simcock's fine effort here.
I'm so pleased to recommend highly the artistic content of the project to my readers. ‘Formidable’ and ‘exacting’ are a couple of words that come to mind for the combined effort of this orchestra. One can easily assimilate both the jazz as well as the classical influences in the group's musical delivery: the band's attack has a musical foundation characterized by solid melody, essentially lyrical and florid... rhythm that is both compelling and challenging... and all this with a firmly centered tonality... with lovely choices in the area of melody and jazz harmony.
George Carroll, The Musician's Ombudsman
This is apparently the world's first ever French horn jazz big band, but it immediately impresses, not as a novelty, but as swinging, skilfully arranged jazz, its textures and dynamics cleverly varied, its ensembles crisp and punchy, its solos (spread round the band, but including telling contributions from Pip Eastop, Richard Bissill and Jim Rattigan) vigorous and cogent.
With occasional settings involving four Wagner tubas giving depth to the overall sound, or with guitar and marimba leavening the mix, this is a richly varied and wholly enjoyable album.
Chris Parker, The Vortex; vortexjazz.co.uk