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Reviewers: Tony Augarde [Editor], Steve Arloff, Nick Barnard, Pierre Giroux, Don Mather, Glyn Pursglove, George Stacy, Bert Thompson, Sam Webster, Jonathan Woolf



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FRANK GRIFFITH
BIG BAND

Holland Park Non-Stop

Hep 2095

 

 

1. Oh You Crazy Moon
2. Strollin'
3. Baby Won't You Please Come Home
4. Antonia
5. That's All
6. Shine
7. Body and Soul
8. JCC
9. Holland Park
10. Travellin' Light
11. Ricochet
12. These Foolish Things

Frank Griffith - Leader, tenor sax, clarinet
Tony Dixon, Freddie Gavita, Steve Fishwick, Ed Benstead - Trumpets
Adrian Fry, Simon Walker, Mattias Eskilsson - Trombones
Chris Gower - Trombone (track 12)
Roger Williams - Bass trombone
Sam Mayne, Matt Wates - Alto saxes, flutes
Bob Sydor, Karen Sharp - Tenor saxes, clarinets
Richard Shepherd - Baritone sax, bass clarinet
John Turville - Piano
Spencer Brown - Bass
Matt Home - Drums
Tina May - Vocals (tracks 1, 5, 10)

 

Frank Griffith hails from Oregon but has been resident in the UK since 1996. In a comparatively short time, this amiable, enthusiastic man has made a big impact on the UK jazz scene as a performer, arranger and educator. His nonet has recorded on Hep and played at Ronnie Scott's Club but this is the debut CD of his occasional big band.

Griffith has impressive big-band credentials, having played lead alto with the Glenn Miller orchestra, and also depped in the big bands led by Toshiko Akiyoshi and Mel Lewis. Indeed, the great Thad Jones-Mel Lewis band is an obvious influence on his arranging. As leader, he takes several solos himself but his band has an excellent range of top-class soloists in all sections. Tina May adds her classy vocals to the jauntily-paced Oh You Crazy Moon and Travellin' Light as well as a ballad arrangement of That's All.

The ensemble work is so precise that it sounds more like a band that spends weeks on the road rather than one that gets together occasionally. Baby Won't You Please Come Home is an outstanding track that would do credit to the Basie band circa late 50s. On this and on Shine, Griffith shows his dexterity on the clarinet and there's some excellent muted soloing from Steve Fishwick. Another star soloist is young trumpeter Freddie Gavita, a product of Nick Smart's RCM jazz course. He is heard to good effect on Horace Silver's Strollin' and the Griffith original, Holland Park. In the sax section, there are standout contributions from altoists Sam Mayne on Strollin' and Matt Wates on Antonia, and the warm Zoot-like tenor of Karen Sharp on Ricochet. The rhythm section of Turville/Brown/Home provides solid support throughout.

This is an excellent recording and is strongly recommended to all big-band enthusiasts.

George Stacy



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