Convincing is a factor that you don't often think about. But when you believe in a certain sound, it might only take a few seconds, then bingo. That point here does not take long to arrive. Perhaps it is the confidence. And certainly there is a deserved pride here that translates into something.
Trumpeter Malcolm Strachan is usually heard in a funk setting with the Haggis Horns and if you are a Corinne Bailey Rae fan you will know that the Scot is on the 2006 smash hit 'Put Your Records On'. Here the Leeds scenester goes strictly jazz, influenced by Freddie Hubbard and CTI, specifically hard bop teetering in a soulful direction with some great percussion at the bottom of it all, very tightly blended horns and yes strings ('The Last Goodbye,' 'Elaine' most obviously) but it's the riff/groove foundations and the quality of the tunes that really impress. Certainly a vintage reverie more than a period piece is part of the formula. And you obtain the galloping swagger even of acid jazz era Britjazz bravado on top of far older crate digging even embedded within the Horace Silver-esque dash of 'Cut to the Chase' that gives the metrical design of it all a heat. Solos are pretty truncated, maybe a little too much at times, it's more about the head and the way the whole thing is resolved via careful extemporisation and attention to the core of the tune to hand.
Strachan's first album as a leader About Time appeared almost 3 years ago just as Lockdown hit.
One clever touch is the way Jo Harrop's voice singing wordless lyrics tucked inside an instrumental blend is used very subtly a few times to give literally an extra voicing. A tiny break out passage on 'The Wanderer' has future loop written all over it.
With Strachan, whose sound is reminiscent of Belfast player Linley Hamilton, who also acknowledges the Freddie Hubbard influence in his playing, on the record are Haggis Horns saxist/flautist Atholl Ransome, pianist George Cooper also from the Horns, trombonist Danny Barley, bassist Courtny Tomas who goes into a 'Love Supreme'-type riff to usher in 'Soul Trip', Haggis Horns drummer Erroll Rollins plus percussionist Sam Bell and strings by Richard Curran. Pick of the whole thing? 'Maybe Next Time' right at the end which has a really convincing, that word again without wishing to harp on, melody that the simmering production knows what to do with. That final point and something so many jazz albums lack, the sonic dressing makes a difference, the dynamic levels particularly suit lounge and evening home listening (without being at all cheesy easy) and the ordering of tracks certainly mucho continuous play. Out on 27 January. 'Cut to the Chase' is streaming