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BIG SHAKE UP BAB003 [32:58]




The Big Shake-Up

Don’t Block The Box

Big Shake Up

God Bless The Child

On The Move

Bhangra And Mash.

Jean-Paul Gervasoni, Paul Munday, Gavin Broom (trumpet, flugelhorn); Jon Stokes (trombone); Sam Bullar (soprano, alto, tenor saxophones); Gemma Moore (baritone saxophone, flute); Mike Poyser (sousaphone); Jimmy Norden (drums, percussion); Sharleen Linton (vocals on "God Bless The Child")

Recorded at Assault and Battery, and Stowe School, undated


The Big Shake-Up, formerly known as Bad Ass Brass – which sounds better, probably, in an American accent – is a London octet featuring some well-established names. The lineup of two trumpets, trombone, two saxes, sousaphone – a bit of a wild card, this, but with Jazz pedigree going way back to the 1920s – and drums generates plenty of heft and more than earns the soubriquet of Big Shake-Up. If an ensemble like this brings to mind the shade of Loose Tubes, I’d probably redirect that kind of thought to funk-meets-Tuba Fats plus quite a bit more. Though this disc only lasts 33 minutes, itself LP sized in length, its five tracks lay out the group’s ensemble wares with unfailing enthusiasm.

Three of the compositions are by Russell Bennett. Don’t Block The Box has a stalking, rather New Orleans vibe – rich, deep, and graced with vibrant solos - whilst On the Move is slower, with fine dynamic gradients (this band has a good ear for volume and when to reduce it) alongside a Streetlife, filmic quality. A track like this shows plenty of contrast, catchy themes and a skippy series of solos, notably from the flugelhorn and trumpet that generate a more effusive ensemble sound and an exultant peroration. Bennett’s final composition is the groan-inducing piece called Bhangra and Mash – a title that probably won’t fly well overseas. Nevertheless, it’s Asian-fusion ethos is well established via the saxophone, its cross-cultural ethos eminently avid and extremely approachable. There’s nothing didactic here, where everything is put to the service of a good, exciting and enjoyable time.

Dave O’Higgins’s Big Shake Up is taken up-tempo alongside some sonically interesting episodes – frantic but controlled – with a funky tenor solo from Sam Bullar over strong percussion work from Jimmy Norden. There’s a solitary vocal from Sharleen Linton though it could hardly be one more iconic – God Bless the Child in this arrangement by Callum Au. Highly effective all round, Linton makes no attempt to emulate Billie Holiday being abetted by a soulful saxophone solo and sinewy brass backing all the way through.

Both exciting and enjoyable this eight-piece generates a big, sonorous corporate tone. Their rocking, funky vibe can even imply an Old School two-beat. Their live gigs must be a smash.

Jonathan Woolf

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