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Reviewers: Don Mather, Dick Stafford, Marc Bridle, John Eyles, Ian Lace, Colin Clarke

THE PETE CATER BIG BAND
UPSWING!
Vocalion CDSA6801

Crotchet
 

The Song is You
Silver's Serenade
Autumn in New York
All Blues
Laura
Phineas
King Size Skins
Angel Eyes
Meaning of the Blues
Nomad

Trumpets. Andy Cuss, Darren Wiles, Oliver Preece, Henry Collins
Trombones. Liam Kirkman, Barnaby Dickinson, Adrian Lane, Adrian Hallowell
Saxophones. Scott Garland, Paul Fawcus, Simon Haysom, Pete Wareham, Bob McKay
Piano. Matt O'Regan
Bass. Dave Jones
Drums. Pete Cater
On tracks 2,8,9&10. Ben Castle replaces Simon Haysom and Dave Williamson replaces Barnaby Dickinson

I have known of Peter Cater long before he was the drummer in the MYJO Band. A friend of mine had been at a Dinner Dance at the Manor Hotel in Meriden, when Peter Cater Snr. (Pete's Dad) had been unwell and sent his then very young son to do a dep. for him. "That young man", said my friend, i"s going to be a great drummer, look out for him"! How right he was. The first time I saw Pete in action was with MYJO and by then he was already a good Big Band Drummer. Having led a Big Band myself for many years, I know that two absolute essentials are a good Lead Trumpet and a good Drummer and there are no problems here in either of those departments. The Band is precise, brassy and exciting, the arrangements are different without being weird and it certainly swings. Good dynamics and intonation are also at the heart of a good Big Band and again there are no complaints to be made.

'The Song is You' is one of the greatest standard tunes and the Matt O'Regen arrangement shows it off to advantage, the Scott Garland solo on Alto is outstanding.

Frank Griffith's arrangements always appeal to me and 'Silver's Serenade' is well up to his usual high standard. Barnaby Dickinson plays an immaculate solo on 'Autumn in New York', another great standard. 'All Blues' is next up, Barnaby Dickinson is featured again along with Pete Wareham on Tenor, This brings me to my only beef on what is a very fine album and it's a personal one at that. Why do all young Tenor players have to sound like John Coltrane? It makes them all sound alike and there have been such a wealth of other greater(?) tenor players. Perhaps we have to look at the people who teach them for the answer, the Tenor players here are undeniably very good but they lack variety. 'Laura' is a Martin Williams arrangement and Martin can again always be relied on to come up with the goods, there is a fine Bass solo by Dave Jones. 'Phineas' features the excellent Scott Garland again on Alto and some nice Flugel from Oliver Preece. 'King Size Skins' is another fine chart from Martin Williams, Pete himself kicks the band into action and Bob McKay manages to make the Baritone sound as though it is easy to get round. There is also a fine contribution from Paul Fawcus on Alto, before some first class ensemble playing takes us to a close, but not before Pete has shown us just what a fine Big band Drummer he is.

'Angel Eyes' has always been a popular ballad with 'jazzers', this arrangement by Dick Lieb shows the band off to good effect, neat ensemble passages, matching vibratos and good dynamics, once again Scott Garland is outstanding both as a section leader and soloist. 'Meaning of the Blues' is a showcase for Tenor Man Ben Castle already established as one of the up and coming musicians on the UK jazz scene and on this showing deservedly so. The band backing is just fine and helps the soloist to give of his best on this Dan Gailey chart. 'Nomad' an unusual arrangement by Frank Griffith which is very demanding of the Brass and finds Liam Kirkman on Electronic Valve Instrument, something new to me. There are further solos from Pete Wareham and Matt O'Regan.

In the days when there were regular UK tours by the Big Bands of Woody Herman, Buddy Rich and Maynard Ferguson, you attended knowing that in these bands you would hear the young men who would be the stars of the jazz scene in the future. Pete Caters Band has the same feel about it, this is a very good album by a very good band.

No wonder they are so popular on the Jazz Festival circuit.

Don Mather



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