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

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Lake LACD 283



1. King Porter Stomp
2. Roy's Blues
3. The End of a Love Affair
4. That's How I Feel
5. The Theme from The Pink Panther
6. Walkin'
7. No More
8. Delta City Blues
9. Stardust
10. Cute
11. Ladyless and Lachrymose
12. Whistle While You Work
13. Maxine
14. Not Like This
15. Drop Me Off in Harlem
16. Home

Andy Flaxman, Adrian Fry, Ian Bateman, Chris Gower - Trombones
John Pearce - Piano
Jerome Davies - Bass
Pete Cater - Drums
Mark Nightingale - Trombone (tracks 1, 3, 6-8, 10, 14, 15)
Roy Williams - Trombone (tracks 2, 4, 9, 11, 14)
Alistair White - Trombone (tracks 5, 12-14, 16)


In some ways, the trombone may seem a rather unforgiving instrument, but this CD shows what it can do in the hands of versatile players. They make their instruments scream, shout, growl, snarl and even burp. Mutes can be added to create all kinds of special effects. But trombones can also sound smooth and sweet, as in several examples where the "trombone choir" is used to good effect. There are also delicate solos on some of the ballads. And, of course, the trombone is ideal for glissandi, which the instrument's slide facilitates like few other devices.

This is the debut album of The Bone Supremacy - a trombone quartet whose members are all part of the Back to Basie big band. Ian Bateman suggested to his colleagues that they might emulate the British trombone band called Five-a-Slide, which was popular in the 1970s and 1980s. The Bone Supremacy was lucky enough to be given the arrangements which were used by Five-a-Slide, and these have been augmented with new charts by Adrian Fry. The four usually add a fifth trombonist and this album features three such guests: Mark Nightingale, Alistair Fry, and Roy Williams (who was an original member of Five-a-Slide).

I was afraid that an ensemble consisting of trombones would sound cumbersome but - unlike such a group as Brass Jaw, composed entirely of front-line instruments, The Bone Supremacy wisely uses a rhythm section of piano, bass and drums to supply the beat. This leaves the trombonists free to play as they will. And excellently they play! There isn't a dud track on the album, and the band deliberately tackles a diverse repertoire to vary the moods and styles.

For example, the CD opens with Jelly Roll Morton's King Porter Stomp, which is in no way stodgy, thanks to some well-arranged choruses from trombones and piano, followed by a high-flying solo from Mark Nightingale. Roy's Blues was written by Roy Williams and features his educated playing, as well as a clear solo from pianist John Pearce, whose tempered solos throughout the CD make a nice contrast with the trombones.

Ian Bateman is best known in the world of traditional jazz but he handles The End of a Love Affair with beautiful restraint. Other slightly unexpected items are the theme from The Pink Panther (which captures the slinky mood of the original); Michael Brecker's Delta City Blues, which opens with a glorious cadenza from Mark Nightingale and suitably slides into a New Orleans feel; Stardust, which makes the most of the trombone harmonies; and Whistle While You Work, which threatens to lumber along but lightens up nicely when it enters swing tempo.

Stardust makes the most of the trombone harmonies; Cute spotlights drummer Pete Cater; and Donald Fagen's Maxine contains some rich harmonising. Not Like This makes even more of the harmonic possibilities by showcasing all seven trombonists without the rhythm section. The album ends with Home, a lovely tune which merits wider exposure.

On the evidence of this debut disc, The Bone Supremacy is supreme.

Tony Augarde

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