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ALAN BROADBENT

Developing Story

Eden River Records ERR-CD-02

 

 

 

 

Developing Story:

  1. Movement 1

  2. Movement 2

  3. Movement 3

  4. If You Could See Me Now

  5. Naima

  6. Blue In Green

  7. Lady In The Lake

  8. Milestones

  9. Children Of Lima

    Alan Broadbent - Piano, composer, arranger, conductor

    Harvie S - Bass

    Peter Erskine - Drums, percussion

    London Metropolitan Orchestra:

    Andy Brown - Music Director

    David Juritz - 1st Violin, Leader

    Ralph De Souza - 2nd Violin

    Garfield Jackson - Viola

    Caroline Dale - Cello

    Chris Laurence - Double bass

    Anna Noakes - Flute

    John Anderson - Oboe

    Anthony Pike - Clarinet

    Alan Andrews - Bass clarinet

    Gavin McNaughton - Bassoon

    Martin Owen - Horn

    John Barclay - Trumpet

    Chris Dean - Tenor trombone

    Owen Slade - Tuba

    Christine Pendrill - English horn

    Gill Tingay - Harp

    Gary Kettel - Percussion

    Tristan Fry - Timps

    Earlier this year, the New Zealand-born composer, arranger and pianist, Alan Broadbent toured the UK with singer Georgia Mancio, promoting their forthcoming Songbook album. Broadbent had provided the tunes and arrangements and Mancio the lyrics for the disc. Fruitful musical partnerships seem to be the order of the day for the prolific Mr. Broadbent. For instance, he can also be found on Diana Krall's latest release, Turn Up The Quiet, writing, arranging and conducting orchestrations for four of the tracks. The double Grammy-winning musician has often accompanied singers, among them Natalie Cole, Irene Kral, Sue Raney and Sheila Jordan. His most recent Grammy nomination (2017) was for his arrangement of I'm A Fool To Want You. Broadbent arrived in the USA from his native land when aged only 19, the recipient of a Downbeat Magazine Scholarship to Berklee School of Music in Boston. Subsequent to his time in college, from September 1969 onward for two and a half years he was pianist and arranger for the Woody Herman band. He was to perform a similar function with Charlie Haden's Quartet West during the 1990s. And these are only selected highlights!

    So to another creative collaboration, in this case between Broadbent and his trio and the London Metropolitan Orchestra. Diana Krall has described the result in glowing terms, referring to the three movements of the work for jazz trio and orchestra, Developing Story, from which the disc takes its title, as Broadbent's 'masterpiece'. The chosen material overall is suitably eclectic. After the initial opus already mentioned, there are four jazz ballads arranged for trio and orchestra. Broadbent adds one of his own compositions to those by Tadd Dameron, John Coltrane and Miles Davis and it doesn't seem out of place. The remaining tracks are the classic Miles Davis piece, Milestones, and one from Broadbent's back catalogue, Children Of Lima, written for Woody Herman and the Houston Symphony Orchestra in the early 1970s, in the aftermath of a devastating earthquake in Peru.

    The three movements of Developing Story are characterised by a recurrent 'Song Theme' (as Broadbent describes it) but also by the composer's facility and sensitive touch on piano and the orchestra's collective excellence which reinforces the strength of the writing. There is lyricism, passion and drama apparent in the music. I especially liked the gentle and tender second movement, a slow waltz dedicated to Broadbent's wife, Alison. In the third movement, the unobtrusive but effective contribution of Peter Erskine on drums and Harvie S (birth name Harvie Swartz) on bass can be discerned. All in all, I was reminded of a film score of particular quality. The four jazz ballads which follow maintain these high standards. There's a Gordon Jenkins type arrangement for If You Could See Me Now, a long time favourite of Broadbent's. I mean no disrespect when I say that this is dinner jazz, played with panache. As elsewhere on the recording, John Barclay on trumpet seems to be an especially potent member of the London Metropolitan Orchestra's part in the proceedings. John Coltrane's composition Naima, named for his first wife, is subtitled in the liner notes, On A Starry Night. For Broadbent, it suggests the heavens so he has added these words to describe the nature of his interpretation. Variations On Blue In Green, based on a Miles Davis composition from the famous Kind Of Blue album, is one of the strongest tracks from Broadbent the pianist. It is romantic, tinged with ennui. Lady In The Lake demonstrates again Broadbent's capability as a composer, evoking the Chandler novel of the title and the world of film noir. Short but sweet.

    The unmistakable notes of Milestones are here arranged by Broadbent with a nod to Leonard Bernstein. This exhilarating version could easily have been a number from West Side Story. The moving orchestral piece, Children Of Lima, concludes the album. It is rightly described by Broadbent as a lullaby but manages, too, to capture the tragedy of the event it remembers. It is dedicated to the memory of Woody Herman. I found the CD overall pleasing in its consistency and a reflection of a highly imaginative and satisfying talent who, for me, successfully inhabits in particular the borderlands of jazz with both the classical tradition and cinema.

    James Poore

 


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