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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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DAVE LEE

Under the Influence

NIMBUS ALLIANCE NI 6151

 

 

  1. The Ogre: Suite (1996) by Michael Nyman
  2. Celan Songs (6): no 3, Psalm (1990) by Michael Nyman
  3. Die Dreigroschenoper: Die Moritat von Mackie Messer "Mack the knife" (1928) by Kurt Weill
  4. Sea Eagle (1982) by Peter Maxwell Davies
  5. Gymnop‚dies (3) for Piano: no 1, Lent et douloureux (1888) by Erik Satie
  6. Spiegel im Spiegel (1978) by Arvo Pärt
  7. Tabla y Trompa by Jaco Pastorius
  8. Life on Mars by David Bowie
  9. Blood Count (1967) by Billy Strayhorn
  10. The first time ever I saw your face (1937) by Ewan MacColl
  11. Birdland by Weather Report
  12. Shine on You Crazy Diamond by Pink Floyd
Dave Lee (horn) with ensemble

 

Dave Lee's discs are now being distributed via Nimbus, and this is the second such to come my way. A long-time member of Michael Nyman's band - surely one of the most propulsive and enjoyable to be found - he has been a distinguished orchestral horn player for many years. But he also has an inquisitive, seemingly semi-omnivorous musical appetite and whilst the disc's title dallies with one's clich‚d view of horn players as proppers up, and then sliders down, at the bar, it also alerts one to the wide range of his enthusiasms.

He has arranged a number of the songs himself, but there are other collaborators in this department, not least Steve Bentley-Klein who does the honours on Col and co-arrangers on others, as well as playing the electric violin on Life on Mars. Colleagues fill out the arrangements with extra horns, trumpet, saxes, flutes, keyboard, synth 'sounds', guitar, percussion, strings and 'kitchen sink' - well, Andy Findon, long-time Dave Lee cohort, does also play sax and flute so why not acknowledge the kitchen sink nature of his contribution.

Bowie's Life on Mars has a Berlin Phil style horn section and the sound overlaps dramatically - a Brucknerian interpretation of the Thin White Duke's masterpiece. The first time ever I saw your face features the singer Skye Edwards from Morcheeba, and she sings nicely, the piece moving off into oddly groovy directions at one point. Given his association with Nyman it's predictable that he should want to play some of the music. He's chosen well; the little-known suite from the film The Ogre. This is in four movements, the second of which features that echt-Nyman sax chuntering. The last movement is truly lovely. Along with the chunter Nyman has always been able to produce a lovely melody. There's also his own piano reduction, adapted by Lee, of Psalm, one of the Celan songs, an increasingly passionate piece.

Lee obviously likes Weather Report and their erstwhile electric bassist Jaco Pastorius as he plays Birdland, arranged by Paul Hart and featuring trumpeter Derek Watkins and sax player Any Mackintosh, as well as Tabla e Trompa, where the tabla player is Sirishkumar. We get a slow, moody Mack the Knife - ditch memories of Bobby Darrin and Louis Armstrong - with Skye taking the first lines over a bass accompaniment before the arrangement simultaneously opens up and kicks in courtesy of Bentley-Klein and Lee. Colin Skinner thankfully keeps it simple when arranging Billy Strayhorn's Blood Count. Peter Maxwell Davies's Sea Eagle is represented by its second movement only - the horn soaring slowly, and high, circling on the current. One track that disappointed me was Pink Floyd's Shine on You Crazy Diamond which has a sticky sounding introduction and is rather overblown for my tastes. We also get another arrangement, possibly the four thousandth, for horn and keyboard/synth, of Arvo Pärt's Spiegel im Spiegel. I prefer the violin, but you can't blame Lee for trying.

So the next time you prop up the bar with Dave Lee, don't hold back; ask him what he likes. He'll probably play it for you.

Jonathan Woolf



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